Real-World Review

2015 Subaru Outback: Real World Review

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2014

It may be hard to believe, but the trusty Subaru Outback is now entering its fifth generation with an all-new model for 2015. Fully redesigned compared to its predecessor, the 2015 Subaru Outback boasts a new look, a new interior and a few new features, including a long-awaited new infotainment system. So how do we like the latest Outback? We've collected our thoughts after spending a week behind the wheel.

Infotainment Improvement

Although the Outback offers a wide range of new or updated items worthy of mention, we're most excited about the car's new infotainment system. Simply put, it's head and shoulders above the outgoing model's system thanks to a larger screen, more intuitive controls and a wide range of new features, including app connectivity and information about news and weather.

We're also impressed with how easy it is to use the new infotainment system. Subaru clearly did its homework when designing the technology and testing competitor units to see what works and what doesn't. The result is an intuitive, easy-to-use system that quickly responds to commands. We also like the fact that Subaru left on knobs for volume and tuning -- though one tester noted that the tuning knob could be a little more precise, with one "click" equaling one radio station change. Still, it's an excellent effort, and we're happy it's finally here.

And the Rest?

Of course there's more to the new Outback than its new infotainment system. We tested a mid-level 2.5i Premium model, which is above the base-level Outback and below the high-end Limited. In general, we found it to be a good value. Pricing for this model starts around $28,000 with shipping, and equipment includes alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, an iPod/USB interface, heated front seats, a power driver's seat, an infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen, and -- of course -- Subaru's standard all-wheel drive. That's a lot of features for the money when you compare the Outback to rivals like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

We're also highly impressed with the Outback's standard engine, which is a 175-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. Although it's not substantially different from last year's powerplant, every tester noted that it feels a lot faster than it did before. One driver mentioned that "the engine is responsive and quick," while another said he was "surprised at how powerful the 4-cylinder felt." Surprisingly, the Outback didn't sacrifice gas mileage, instead returning nearly 29 miles per gallon in mixed city and highway driving. In the end, the 4-cylinder engine is so quick that we probably wouldn't bother with the 256-horsepower 6-cylinder -- a good thing, since it starts at a pricey $34,000 before options.

Styling and Safety

Although styling can be highly subjective, we feel that it's necessary to compliment the latest Outback on its handsome look -- a huge improvement from the somewhat-awkward proportions of last year's model. Every one of our testers mentioned it, with one noting that "this generation offers a much improved look over the last," and another calling the design a "more muscular look" than the previous Outback's design.

Although our test car wasn't equipped with Subaru's EyeSight safety features, it's worth noting that this optional system is one of our favorite safety equipment bundles offered on any new model. The system features blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and precollision braking -- and it's offered for $1,695 extra. We think it's worth every penny for those looking for a family car and for those who consider safety to be a high priority.

Our Take

We really enjoyed our week with the 2015 Subaru Outback. While the car still has a few minor flaws here and there, we think the latest Outback has what it takes to go head-to-head with the best compact SUVs on the market. If you can get over its station-wagon image, we suspect you'll feel the same way.

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Used 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited
Used 2015 Subaru Outback
$20,891
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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Used 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
Used 2015 Subaru Outback
$21,988
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Used 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium
Used 2015 Subaru Outback
$20,950
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Used 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium
Used 2015 Subaru Outback
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Subaru Outback: Real World Review - Autotrader