2023 Subaru Outback Pros:
– The base 2023 Convenience is value-packed and lacking nothing.
– Extremely roomy cabin matches or beats all other similarly-priced compact and most midsize SUVs.
– New Onyx trim bridges the gap between the base model and top trim Premier XT.
2023 Subaru Outback Cons:
– 2024 pricing is out and about $1,250 more than 2023.
Let me set the record straight, once more, right off the bat: The Subaru Outback is not an SUV. Nope, not even close. In the words of my grandmother, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” and, in this case, the Outback is a station wagon – an exceptionally well-done one at that.
Now that we’ve cleared the air, let’s delve into what makes this vehicle such a joy to look at and, more importantly, to drive. Subaru’s iconic Outback has been a consistent frontrunner in the realm of family-friendly automobiles, and it’s still the case today.
Turbo is nice but 2.5L is good too
Peering under the hood, we find the heart of the Outback – a modest 2.5L 4-cylinder Boxer engine. Some might argue that it doesn’t sound like much, but believe me, this power plant has all the gusto you need for real-world driving. Whether it’s merging on the highway, zipping around the city, or taking a spontaneous off-road detour, this engine, with its refined delivery and generally smooth 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque, , will surprise you with its ability.
Linking the engine to the wheels to the always-standard Symmetric AWD system is Subaru’s latest iteration of the Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). Over the years, the brand has fine-tuned their CVT to the point where it has become a commendable alternative to traditional automatics. It works extraordinarily well, making transitions seamless and importantly, predictable, and ensuring the engine is always operating in its sweet spot. Over my week’s time with the car, I surprised myself having far more fun than a typical reasonable adult would behind the Outback’s steering wheel. Then again, I’m not entirely reasonable to begin with. Thankfully the global platform and generous suspension travel keep everyone onboard comfortable despite the road surface’s condition.
Onyx subtle ruggedness
On to the exterior, where the Subaru Outback has always been something to behold. It’s stylish yet practical, sporting a delightful extended roofline and still providing impressive ground clearance for when your adventure starts veering off the asphalt. The lines are bold, the curves are captivating, and overall, the styling remains distinctively Subaru. The updated fascias for 2023 give the big wagon even more visual muscle.
The tested $38,695 Onyx trim, new for ’23, is the most Wilderness-inspired version with its blacked-out trim and black 18-inch wheels. In the right colour such as my tester’s Cosmic blue, the Outback is a better-looking vehicle than any of its competitors.
Step inside the 2023 Outback and you’ll be greeted by an interior that’s as inviting as it is practical. The cabin is spaciously designed, ensuring more than enough room for the average family and their accoutrements. Whether it’s grocery bags, sporting equipment, or an ambitious Labrador Retriever, the trunks near 930L of available volume provides space to accommodate it all. Plus, high-quality materials lend an air of subtle luxury.
Big infotainment screens are all the rage and admittedly, I don’t dislike them entirely. However, Subaru’s 11.6-inch unit is slow to load, the screen isn’t entirely responsive, there are far too many controls built in (HVAC especially), and is prone to reflections. Otherwise, visibility and storage options are great.
Don’t be like everyone else
Yes, the Outback is laden with features and practicalities that match any SUV, but it remains unabashedly a station wagon. The best part, despite Subaru’s best efforts, it’s not trying to be an SUV. Instead, it’s a vehicle that’s confident in its abilities, identity, and purpose.
Now, here’s the kicker: If you want to be like everyone else, by all means, go buy an SUV. But if you crave a ride that combines driving fun, practicality, and a hefty dose of character, the Subaru Outback is the way to go. I really mean it.
I’ve been smitten by the Subaru Outback since 1995. Give it a chance and you too will fall for this station wagon.