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2019 Subaru Outback: New Car Review

The 2019 Subaru Outback weds the ride comfort and roomy interior of a large family wagon with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and 8.7 inches of ground clearance to create a vehicle as competent off road as it is on. The Outback’s AWD system allows it to slice through unplowed roads, traverse unpaved trails and confidently round unwieldy curves. This setup is enhanced by the addition of X-Mode with hill-descent control and hill-start assist. The Outback is no Rubicon contender, but it’s more than capable of competing with popular crossover SUVs such as the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, the Ford Edge and the Hyundai Santa Fe.

Another Outback strength is its numerous innovative features, such as an integrated roof rack system with stowable crossbars, the EyeSight collision-mitigation system and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. Despite its standard AWD setup, Subaru’s Outback returns impressive fuel economy, especially when equipped with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. For those seeking the perfect blend of safety, reliability, fuel economy, resale value and impressive off-road capability, the 2019 Subaru Outback is hard to beat. See the 2019 Subaru Outback models for sale near you

What’s New for 2019?

Subaru makes the EyeSight driver assist system (adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist) standard on every 2019 Outback model. The base 2.5i also gets overhead shower lighting, two USB ports and a new high-grade instrument cluster with a 5-in LCD display. Also new for the base car is an upgraded audio system featuring a single slot CD player, SiriusXM satellite radio and a rear vision camera.

What We Like

Standard EyeSight collision-avoidance system; integrated roof rails; touchscreen audio and navigation system; impressive fuel economy; excellent safety and resale-value figures; real off-road capability

What We Don’t

6-cylinder engine only available on Limited and Touring trims; limited color options for Touring trim; missing competitive options such as rain-sensing wipers, ventilated seats and a panoramic sunroof

How Much?


Standard Features & Options

The Subaru Outback is offered in six trims: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 3.6R Limited and 3.6R Touring.

The 2.5i ($27,320) includes a CVT automatic transmission with a 7-speed manual mode and paddle shifters, EyeSight driver assist, 17-in aluminum wheels, a 6.5-in touchscreen radio with Bluetooth phone and music streaming, SiriusXM, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Starlink telematics and USB/iPod integration. Also standard is X-Mode with hill-descent control and hill-start assist, cruise control, manual air conditioning, remote keyless entry, a roof rack with integrated crossbars, a rear backup camera, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a rear window defroster, a rear wiper/washer, a hill-holder feature, a height-adjustable driver’s seat and seat-back release levers in the cargo area.

The 2.5i Premium ($29,420) adds a 10-way power driver’s seat, the All-Weather package (3-mode heated front seats, heated side mirrors and heated windshield de-icers), a 6-speaker audio system with an 8-in touchscreen and SiriusXM radio, the Starlink Safety and Security package, dual-zone automatic climate control, fog lights and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

Options for the Premium trim include navigation radio, rear cross-traffic alert, a blind spot monitoring system, auto high beams, a power moonroof and a power rear lift gate.

The 2.5i Limited ($33,820) adds keyless access with push-button start, perforated leather seating, a 4-way power passenger seat, 18-in alloy wheels, rear-seat air vents, dual-mode heated rear seats, a 576-watt Harman Kardon audio upgrade with 12 speakers and a subwoofer, blind spot monitoring, a rear vehicle-detection system with cross-traffic alert, a wood grain dash trim and a power rear liftgate.

The 3.6R Limited ($35,970) adds the more powerful 6-cylinder engine, a beefed up CVT transmission and dual exhaust.

Options for the Limited trims include high-beam assist, reverse automatic braking, LED steering-responsive headlights, a power moonroof and navigation.

The 2.5i Touring ($37,770) adds unique exterior color and interior trim, Java Brown leather interior, a heated steering wheel, high-beam assist, steering responsive headlights, navigation, silver finish low profile roof rails, unique lower body cladding and 18-in wheels plus a rear bumper cover.

The 3.6R Touring ($39,970) includes the same features as the 2.5i Touring but adds the larger 6-cylinder engine.

In addition to the factory packages, Subaru offers a plethora of dealer-installed accessories such as remote starting, protective side molding, rear-bumper protectors and speaker upgrades. Also on the list are numerous attachments for the roof rack, including bike, kayak and ski holders, as well as cargo carriers in various sizes.


Every 2019 Outback features numerous standard safety features, including front, front-side impact and full-length side-curtain airbags. Electronic traction and stability control is also standard, augmented by X-Mode, hill-descent control and hill-start assist. Available features augmenting the standard EyeSight driver assist system include reverse automatic braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert with lane-change assist.

In crash tests, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Outback a 5-star overall rating, with five out of five stars in the frontal and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Outback top marks in every crash-test category, plus a Superior rating in the collision-avoidance and mitigation test. The Outback’s combined scores earn it an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.

Behind the Wheel

While the Outback’s handsome interior and host of high-tech features make it an enjoyable highway cruiser, this car takes its off-road heritage seriously. The Outback may not be able to keep up with a full-fledged off-road SUV such as the Jeep Wrangler, but its 8.7-in ground clearance, torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and X-Mode give this rugged wagon the ability to go where most all-wheel-drive crossovers wouldn’t even consider. Even when not bounding over remote areas, the Outback’s design gives it superior abilities on paved surfaces that are covered with snow, ice or rain.

Last year’s revised suspension delivers a smoother ride on-road and a greater ability to absorb hard impacts when venturing off-road. The Limited and Touring trims’ 18-in wheel and tire setup does return a slightly harsher ride; we think the 17-in wheels on the base and Premium are the best choice. Acceleration with the 2.5-liter engine is surprisingly good, but it’s the 3.6-liter engine that allows the Outback to pass, merge and tow up to 2,700 pounds with confidence. However, the 4-cylinder’s impressive fuel economy is hard to ignore.

On the road, the Outback drives very much like a car — that is, until you throw it into turns. Then, the 8.7-in ride height makes itself known. The cabin is impressively quiet, and the controls are logically laid out, although we can’t say the same for the audio system’s maddeningly complex digital audio controls, which take the place of traditional bass and treble knobs.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk — The Cherokee Trailhawk may be the only compact crossover that can beat the Outback at off-roading, but the Cherokee isn’t as reliable, doesn’t hold its resale value as well and has an anemic base engine.

2019 Ford Edge — The Edge can handle modest off-road situations, and its ride is more comfortable than the Outback’s. The Edge also offers a choice of three powerful engines, but it can’t match the Outback’s fuel economy, safety ratings or resale values.

2019 Volkswagen Golf Alltrack — The Alltrack is nearly 10 inches shorter than the Outback and offers less interior room but a better driving experience, better fuel economy, a more powerful base engine and the option of a manual transmission. The Alltrack’s 6.9 inches of ground clearance pales in comparison to the Outback’s 8.7 inches.

Used Volkswagen Touareg — A 2012-2016 Volkswagen Touareg offers excellent off-road ability, a luxurious interior and numerous engine options, including a diesel.

Autotrader’s Advice

We think the best bargain in the Outback lineup is the 2.5i Premium. This model gives you everything you need in a family vehicle, offers excellent protection for everyone on board and still remains well under the $30,000 mark. Toss in a power moonroof, navigation, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring and a power rear liftgate, and you’re still comfortably under the $33,000 mark before negotiations. The 3.6R models offer superior power for passing and pulling, but they cost a fair bit more. Find a Subaru Outback for sale

Our editors are here to make car buying easier. We’ve driven, reviewed and compared thousands of cars. We’ve bought and sold more than our fair share, too. And as part of the sprawling Cox Automotive group of companies, we have exclusive access to a range of valuable data and insights. Whether you’re looking for the best car, the best deal or the best buying advice, you can trust... Read More about Autotrader

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