Buyer's Guide

2021 Subaru Outback
Select a Different Model (7 Available): Base
Fuel Economy $ 26 / 33 mpg
Cargo (Std/Max) 33/76 cu.ft.
Seating (Std/Max) 5/5
Horsepower 182@5,800
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2021 Subaru Outback MODEL OVERVIEW


  • Comfortable ride
  • Roomy interior
  • Good fuel economy


  • Subpar transmission tuning (especially on 2.4T models)
  • Intrusive driver assistance features
  • Complicated multimedia system

One look at the Subaru Outback and you'll immediately see the popular vehicle for what it is: a lifted wagon disguised as an SUV. Based on the Legacy sedan, the Outback adds practicality, extra ground clearance, and off-road capability. This makes the Outback one of the most well-rounded options in the midsize SUV class,  just as comfortable on or off the pavement.

For 2021, the Outback gains adaptive LED headlights, the rear seat reminder system, and front and rear seat belt reminders are now standard on all variants.

What We Think

Behind the Subaru Outback's evolutionary exterior design is a crossover-wagon that blends all the virtues of a traditional car with the ruggedness of an SUV. The Outback's suspension is tuned so comfortably that it rides like a luxury car. Road imperfections are nearly imperceptible. Once the asphalt begins twisting, the Outback stays planted; no, it's not sporty, but you still have plenty of confidence thanks to good body control. Get off the pavement and the Outback is right at home in the dirt courtesy of the standard AWD system providing plenty of grip.

Inside, you'll find a nicely appointed interior regardless of trim. Little touches like contrast stitching and available waterproof upholstery bolster the wagon's rugged credentials without making the cabin feel cheap or too utilitarian. The new Subaru multimedia system setup, however, could use improvement because it can be distracting to use and doesn't always respond quickly to your inputs. Subaru's driver assistance tech can be obtrusive, too, frenetically blaring out false alarms.

Both of the Outback's engine choices have their strengths and weaknesses. The standard 2.5-liter flat-four, while smooth, will require more planning for merging and passing maneuvers. The available turbocharged engine possesses significantly more power but suffers from excessive turbo lag. The CVT's tuning doesn't help, especially with the 2.4T engine. The transmission doesn't always keep the engine in an optimal part of its powerband.

The Outback successfully blends wagon and SUV into one vehicle, giving you comfort, utility, and rugged capability in a family-friendly package. Just don't expect it to turn into a high-riding WRX-like rally car with the optional turbocharged engine.

Performance and Fuel Economy

Both engine options are paired to a CVT automatic. Base, Premium, Limited, and Touring grades use a 2.5-liter flat-four with 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT variants employ a 2.4-liter turbo flat-four rated at 260 hp and 277 lb-ft.

EPA fuel economy ratings are 26/33 mpg city/highway for the base 2.5-liter. The optional turbocharged 2.4-liter is slightly less efficient at 23/30 mpg, but both engine options are on the more efficient side of the midsize SUV segment.


The Outback is an IIHS 2020 Top Safety Pick + thanks to Good scores in all IIHS crashworthiness tests and headlights that—at the time of the most recent test—were rated Acceptable and Good depending on trim. Because adaptive LED headlights are now standard on the 2021 Outback, the car's IIHS test scores might change. On the front crash prevention test, the Outback got a Superior rating on the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations (Superior is the highest rating).

Subaru's EyeSight driver assistance suite is standard on all Outback models and includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, front automatic emergency braking, automatic high beams, and lane keeping assist. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are optional on the Premium grade and standard on the Limited and up. Rear automatic emergency braking is standard only on the Limited and Touring models.

Cargo Space

Because the Outback is essentially a raised wagon, it has generous cargo capacity at 32.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 75.7 cubic feet with them folded. Competitors like the new 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe have 36.4 cubic feet with all seats up and 72.1 cubic feet if you drop the second row. Other rivals like the Chevrolet Blazer have less capacity at 30.5 cubic feet with all seats up and 64.2 cubic feet if you fold the rear seats.


The Outback offers two different infotainment systems. The base trim features two 7.0-inch touchscreens, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a four-speaker audio system. Moving up to the Premium grades adds a portrait-style 11.6-inch touchscreen and a six-speaker audio system. Built-in navigation is optional on the Premium and higher trims. A 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is standard on the Limited and Touring trims.

Key Competitors:

Engine Name
Engine: 4-Cyl 2.5 Liter BOXER
Transmission Name
Transmission, Lineartronic CVT Continuously Variable Automatic Mode Select with Manual Mode
Mid-Size Utility
Standard MPG
Body Style
Fuel Type
Unleaded Regular
Seating Capacity
Package Invoice Retail
Show Full Specs
Corrosion Warranty Miles
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Corrosion Warranty Months
Powertrain Warranty Miles
Full Warranty Miles
Powertrain Warranty Months
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Maintenance Warranty Miles
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IIHS Best Pick
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
IIHS Front Small Overlap
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
IIHS Overall Side Crash
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
IIHS Rear Crash
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
IIHS Roof Strength
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
Amount Description Expiry Date
$500 Subaru announces a Lease Loyalty program which allows current lease customers to have their first payment and disposition fees waived when leasing a new vehicle through SMF. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 12-31-2021
$500 Subaru announces Military Discount program to active-duty and reserve members of the US Military. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 12-31-2021
$0 0% Financing available for varying term lengths : 24, 36, 48, 63 Months - Subaru announces APR rates on select models. 02-01-2021
$0 0.9% Financing for a maximum term of 72 Months - Subaru announces APR rates on select models. 02-01-2021