If you’re looking for used family vehicle that can take you to the great outdoors, but you also desire good gas mileage, a comfortable ride and excellent safety scores, a 2016 Subaru Outback is likely to bring a smile to your face. The 5-passenger Outback wagon has a huge back seat, offers 8.7 inches of ground clearance and can tow up to 2,700 pounds, making it the perfect cross between a comfortable family sedan and a rugged, year-round-capable SUV. Standard all-wheel drive makes the Outback a favorite in places where snow is a regular visitor, as well as places where paved roads are not always the norm.
Subaru’s reputation for safety is in full force with the Outback, earning excellent scores in all its crash tests, as well as offering the EyeSight collision avoidance system. A choice of four trims is offered on the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder model, while the 3.6-liter 6-cylinder is offered only with the most expensive Limited trim.
For 2016, the Outback Limited received new suspension dampers for an improved ride, the Starlink Safety and Security package was added to both Premium and Limited trims, and lane-keeping assist was added to the available EyeSight system.
What We Like
Good fuel economy; excellent safety ratings; great in snow and mild off-road conditions; well-equipped base trim; optional EyeSight driver assist; roomy interior
What We Don’t
6-cylinder only available on most expensive trim; touchscreen too easily shows fingerprints and glare; rear seat air vents only offered on Limited trim; HVAC and clock displays could be bigger
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The Outback’s standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder boxer engine develops 175 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. The EPA rates fuel economy for this engine at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. The optional 3.6-liter 6-cylinder boxer engine makes 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for this setup is 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy. Both engines are teamed to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and a standard symmetrical all-wheel-drive system.
Standard Features & Options
The 2016 Outback is offered in four trims: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited.
The Outback 2.5i includes 17-in steel wheels with full covers, a 4-speaker audio system with a 6.2-in touchscreen, Bluetooth, single CD and a USB/iPod port. Also standard is X-Mode with Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, an electronic parking brake and Active Torque Vectoring. Convenience features include a roof rack with folding integrated cross bars, cloth seats, cruise control, manual air conditioning, remote keyless entry with security alarm, a rear backup camera, a tilt-telescopic steering column and rear seatback release levers in the cargo area.
The Outback 2.5i Premium adds tinted rear privacy glass, 17-in alloy wheels, a 10-way power driver seat with 4-way power lumbar support, a 6-speaker audio system with a 7-in touchscreen and SiriusXM satellite radio, the All-Weather package (heated front seats, side mirrors and front wiper de-icers), auto up/down power front windows, dual-zone automatic climate control, fog lights, illuminated inner door handles and an air filtration system.
Optional equipment for the Premium trim includes EyeSight driver assist with adaptive cruise control, pre-collision warning and forward emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, steering responsive fog lights, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring and lane-departure warning. Other options include a power moonroof, navigation and a power rear liftgate.
The Outback 2.5i Limited adds 18-in alloy wheels, perforated leather seating surfaces, heated rear outboard seats, rear seat A/C vents, a 4-way power passenger seat, 576-watt 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, interior wood trim, a power liftgate, rear backup sensors with cross-traffic alert and folding side mirrors with integrated turn signals.
The Outback 3.6R Limited adds a 6-cylinder engine, a beefed-up CVT transmission and HID low-beam headlights.
Options for the Limited trims include the EyeSight system, navigation, keyless entry with push-button start, the PIN keyless access system and a power moonroof.
The 2016 Outback holds exceptionally strong resale values, meaning that finding a low-cost model may require you to accept a vehicle with high mileage. The Outback tends to be less expensive in areas of the country where snow is not a major issue, so you may be able to find a better price on an Outback in Southern California or Texas than in Washington or Maine. To get a good idea of the Outback’s price range, we suggest using the used car values at KBB.com. You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see which models are currently for sale in your area.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has issued the following recalls for the 2016 Subaru Outback:
A recall was issued for a possible problem with an improperly tightened driveshaft securing nut. If the nut loosens, the rear driveshaft may detach from the differential.
A recall was issued for a possible issue with an improperly machined steering column that could fail, causing loss of steering control.
A recall was issued regarding a possible oil leak from the CVT transmission.
Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you. You can also check the NHTSA website — simply enter your vehicle’s identification number for a list of performed recall repairs.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
NHTSA gives the Outback its highest marks, scoring five out of five stars in the front-end and side-impact tests, and four stars in the vehicle rollover test. The IIHS calls the 2016 Outback a Top Safety Pick+, earning Good ratings in every crash test category and a Superior rating in the crash avoidance and mitigation test when equipped with the optional EyeSight system.
All Subaru Outback wagons left the factory with a fully transferable 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. If you purchase a certified pre-owned Outback, it will undergo a 152-point inspection, offer 24/7 roadside assistance plus a 3-month free trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio. The CPO powertrain warranty period is extended to seven years and 100,000 miles, and owners have the option to buy plans that will cover electrical, steering, suspension, brakes, air-conditioning and fuel-system parts.
Other Cars to Consider
2016 Jeep Cherokee — The Cherokee offers a more powerful engine lineup and more models and trims, including the Trail Rated Trailhawk. The Cherokee can tow up to 4,500 pounds when properly equipped, but its resale and reliability history is nowhere near that of the Outback.
2016 Ford Edge — The Ford Edge offers a softer ride and more powertrain choices, but its fuel economy and resale figures fall short of the Outback’s. The Edge offers better tech options and bit more interior room.
2016 Subaru Forester — The Forester offers a taller cabin, better visibility and the same 2.5-liter engine as the Outback. There’s also a turbocharged engine option. The Forester costs a few thousand dollars less than the Outback, yet offers the same off-road ability, safety and reliability ratings.
If cloth seats are not a concern, we’d search for a 2.5i Premium model with the EyeSight system. When so equipped, you’ll get the best of everything the Outback has to offer with a reasonable price. However, if you need extra power for towing and passing, the 3.6R is the way to go, but it will cost significantly more than the 2.5i Premium.