Should I Buy a Subaru Outback?


Could you provide an unbiased review of the 2016 Subaru Outback? Have you done a review? The only critical reports seem to be about seat comfort, slow tailgate on the Premium, road noise, lots of buttons to deal with and overly intrusive beeps from the EyeSight system. I must be super sensitive about internal noise, which has been one of their problems for years. - Donald


Donald, I drove the Outback a few months ago - two different models, each for a week. Big step up on the predecessor. Especially aesthetically. They were typically Subaru - and everything I said about the Liberty in my Liberty review certainly pertains to Outback. (It’s the same architecture with a wagon body and slightly more ground clearance.) Now, on these reviews.

My 2015 Subaru Liberty review >>


Outback Model Range

2.5i CVT
2.5i Premium CVT
3.6R CVT
2.0D manual/CVT
2.0D Premium manual/CVT
$35,990-$47,990 (rrp)
Manufactured: Japan
Safety: 5-star
Warranty: 3yr/unlimited
Service: 12,500km/6mth
Towing: 1700kg

2.5-litre engine

Four cylinder
129kW @ 5800rpm
235Nm @ 4000rpm
6sp CVT
7.3 L/100km
Fuel: regular unleaded


3.6-litre engine

Six cylinder
191kW @ 6000rpm
350Nm @ 4400rpm
6sp CVT
9.9 L/100km
Fuel: regular unleaded

2.0-litre diesel

Four cylinder
110kW @ 3600rpm
350Nm @ 1600-2800rpm
6sp manual/CVT
5.7-6.3 L/100km
Fuel: diesel

Having trouble deciding between petrol and diesel? Comprehensive petrol V diesel report here >>


On the allegedly slow tailgate: on the list of things that can offend you - it’s a minor detail. On the seat comfort criticisms: I never noticed that. It seemed like a very comfortable car to me.

'Too many buttons.' Really?

'Too many buttons.' Really?


Reviewers criticising lots of buttons: Most reviewers are dickheads. Cars have lots of systems. Those systems need to be controlled. So the options are: buttons or menus. And here, whether it’s a camera or a car, buttons rock, and menus suck.

Cars with lots of menus - listen up, Audi and BMW - are atrociously complex to control. They look elegant and minimalist … because there are very few buttons … but they suck when it comes to changing particular settings. Nature of the beast.


Allegedly instrusive beeps from the EyeSight system: Yeah - all semi-autonomous warning systems love to beep. Still, I guess if it stops you running over a pedestrian one day, it’s all worth it. (For the pedestrian, especially, but also for you.)

Frankly, it’s time to consider the reviewers again: Most motoring journalists drive like dickheads. I have a list of the ones I will not drive with: it’s almost all of them. A simpler list: the motoring journos you would drive with. The bad ones routinely slash their safety margins, and this means they get more warning beeps routinely, than an average conservative-driving punter. If a safety system is well designed (and EyeSight is) and if it’s beeping at you incessantly, then - just maybe - you’re the problem, and not it. Beeping seems like a small price to pay for not killing someone.


Finally, in-cabin noise is completely subjective. If manufacturers make the engine quiet - by attenuating in-cabin engine frequencies of either acoustic noise or vibration, or both - then road noise and wind noise both become subjectively more apparent. The reductio ad absurdum of this is driving an electric car - every time you drive an EV the tyre and wind noise just about blows you away. That’s not because these are noisier in EVs. It’s because there’s no engine noise covering them up. You’re just sensitive to this stuff, Donald. It’s a subjective noise homeostasis thing… Make friends with it. If you can have a sotto voce conversation at 100km/h - it’s not too noisy. And if your mistress calls while your wife is in the car, a little bit of background noise might actually help.

More info on test driving and evaluating a new car properly >>


Biggest criticism of Subaru is the short warranty, which doesn’t match key competitors from South Korea, and the crappy six-month service interval with attendant high service costs. Despite this, I rate the Outback as one of the better SUVs - drive it against a CX-5 and a Tucson at the same price point, for comparison.