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Subaru Outback Touring

Subaru Outback Touring (2020-2022)

Also referred to as: Subaru Outback Touring 2021 and Subaru Outback Touring 2023.
4.5 from 2 reviews · View Statistics
See the Best Large / 7 Seater SUVs in 2022 as rated by Australians on ProductReview.com.au.
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4 out of 5 stars

Introduction

The humble Subaru Outback is a staple vehicle in the Australian car scene. Its latest generation is used by everyone from the police to adventure seeking individuals.

Starting life as a subtly lifted wagon, the Outback has a name many Aussies can associate with. Subaru has evolved the Outback into a SUV crossed with a wagon. That means it’s got plenty of space and it’s high enough off the ground to appeal to SUV buyers.

This is the first Subaru I’ve tested, and I want to find out why everyone loves the Outback, as well as see if the latest generation has what it takes to convince me to love it too.


Build Quality

4.2 out of 5.
Subaru Outback headlight details

Subaru’s build quality isn’t as solid as some of its competitors; that’s the short of it.

The panels feel a little tinny, and the whole car certainly feels lightweight and not as hefty as its European competitors. This doesn’t mean that it’s a poorly constructed car, it just means Subaru hasn't placed additional weight behind the panels in this car to increase the perception of build quality on the exterior.

A big plus goes to the Enkei alloy wheels, which can be found on cars like the Toyota GR Yaris, going to show an excellent partnership ensuring a quality set of wheels.

Interior build quality is certainly above expectations, and is a little above my expectations from what the asking price of this SUV is. The displays, materials and fitment of trim pieces are all thoroughly well-built, although the thickness of the leather seats did feel a little on the thin side. I was a little worried that over time, these seats could be more susceptible to small tears created by unruly passengers or sharp corners from your cargo.

Value for Money

4.6 out of 5.
Subaru Outback outdoors exterior on fire trail

This is the top trim Subaru Outback; it’s called the Touring. Personally, it feels a little too family-friendly compared to the Sport trim for me.

I want my Subaru to look and feel like an off-roader, and that’s where the Sport trim comes in. It’s a little more affordable and loses some comfort features, but I personally think it has a little more ‘cool factor’.

For $54,198 drive-away, the Touring packs an almighty value punch for the features you get. Ignore my wants if I was to buy an Outback; the Touring is the logical better choice and lives up to its trim name.

With a sunroof, dual memory Nappa leather accented seats, Harmon Kardon speakers, heated steering wheel and strangely, a CD player, it’s the family hauler that’ll add a little more comfort for long road trips.

Missing out on a turbocharger, the engine could use a kick up the bum for a little more power, however it’s still enough power for many. Additionally, Subaru’s tried and tested AWD system is a reliable performer when tackling snow, gravel, light sand and a bit of mud.

Subaru’s price is sharp for an off-road capable and very refined road car.

Maintenance

4.5 out of 5.
Subaru Outback engine bay

Servicing over a 5-year period will set you back $2490, around $490 per service. If you’re wondering if that’s good, yes, it is. Compared to low-cost cars like Kia, that on average cost-per-service is as expected.

Additionally, you have Subaru’s 5 year/unlimited kilometre warranty as standard with the purchase of any of their cars.

Noise Level

3.7 out of 5.
Subaru Outback speaker grille

Although panels appeared to be more lightweight compared to the likes of Kia and Hyundai, the Outback did an excellent job of shielding most wind noise and almost all road noise.

Travelling around town, there were minimal noise intrusions into the cabin. Even when pushing the car through a corner, the symmetrical AWD system prevented any awkward tyre noise being generated.

At highway speeds, the Outback does have a little bit of wind noise generated from its roof rails, however outside of that, you get a refined cabin noise experience.

I really enjoyed the sound that the naturally aspirated flat-four boxer engine produced. Under heavy acceleration far more bass sound was produced, rather than a higher pitched whine that an inline four-cylinder would generate. It was almost reminiscent of a Porsche flat six in its sound profile.

The upgraded Harman/Kardon speaker system was a welcome addition, however it didn’t exactly feel like a massive step above its competition. Improved sound quality? Absolutely. A world’s difference from the base sound system? Not exactly.

Braking

4.3 out of 5.
Subaru Outback wheel, tyre and brakes on dirt road

I was really impressed with the braking ability of the Outback. There wasn’t a hint of jerkiness as you started to slow down this SUV/Wagon.

The smooth transition from the speed limit down to a complete stop makes this a very comfortable daily driver. Additionally, Subaru’s ‘Eye Sight’ camera system was able to do a far better job than some other radar systems at judging distances when operating during cruise control.

You can even adjust to three different types of driving modes when using cruise control, changing how relaxed you want the car to react during acceleration and braking.

You can bet the Outback’s braking system is one of the best for a family car under $60,000.

Acceleration/Power

3.5 out of 5.
Subaru Outback driver guages

Subaru’s iconic boxer engine is found right under the hood of the Outback. It’s a 2.5L non-turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine. Sadly, we don’t get a turbocharged option for this generation. That’s something that Subaru needs to bring here, as the US-spec car gets just that.

Naturally aspirated motors are not always ideal, as they require high revs to achieve peak power. 138kW at 5800rpm and 245Nm at 3400 - 4600rpm shows just that. You’ll need to push that accelerator closer to the floor to get the most out of the motor.

Without a full load, the Outback is just fine with the power provided to it via this motor. Although, I can imagine once you’ve got the family loaded up with all of their luggage, it’s going to struggle a little up some steeper hills.

I would love to see Subaru finally throw some turbochargers across its range, especially in the larger Outback which would benefit the most from an upgrade like this.

Gear Shifting

4 out of 5.
Subaru Outback gear selector

It’s a little controversial, but the only transmission option for the Outback is a CVT automatic gearbox.

For most, it’s suitable, comfortable and smooth. For others, it’s a little odd compared to a conventional automatic. CVTs operate along a continuous gear, with the occasional fake gear shifts programmed into the transmission in some cars.

Subaru has a lifelong commitment to these transmissions, which means you’re more than likely to have to use a CVT if you want an automatic Subaru. You can ‘manually’ shift, meaning you can hold revs when you need to; It’s something that might help to squeeze more power out of the motor. However, the benefit of a CVT motor means that the peak power is constantly delivered through to your top speed, and the car never has to change gears.

Alongside its braking ability, the smooth operation of the CVT gearbox made me forget about the debate that exists around this transmission. It never missed a beat, and simply added to the comfort level of the Outback. That’s another reason why this is a great family car option.

However, the operation of the gearbox via paddle shifters seemed redundant as there aren’t really any ‘gears’ found in this gearbox. This CVT is great for comfort, but it’s far from being a good sporty gearbox.

Suspension & Handling

4.4 out of 5.
Subaru Outback on dirt road, turning around

The softer suspension setup rounds out the comfort experience in the Outback. Speed bumps, potholes and uneven road surfaces were no match for the Outback.

Even on our fire trail off-road test, the Outback was still relatively composed, although larger holes pushed the car to its absolute limits. It’s a wagon that’s been turned into an SUV over years of evolution, so it struggles with proper off-road clearance. That’s where the Wilderness edition comes in, which is sadly only sold in the US for now.

Handling on-road was confidence-inspiring, although steering felt a little disconnected from the road at times. There were plenty of rotations found in the steering, meaning I occasionally had to guess where my wheels were pointing.

Subaru’s iconic AWD system never faltered, even when pushed to its limits by yours truly. You can even drift this family wagon on some loose gravel, in true Subaru rally car form.

Fuel Efficiency

3 out of 5.
Subaru Outback fuel filler cap

With no turbocharger, diesel or hybrid option, this car had a tendency to be a little thirsty with its petrol consumption.

Expect daily consumption figures to average between 10-12L per 100km, which isn’t the worst consumption figure imaginable, but it’s still a little thirsty, especially when just driving yourself around.

I think Subaru would benefit greatly from throwing that Forester hybrid powertrain into this thing, as it’ll prove to be more popular for the suburban crowd.

Interior Design

3.8 out of 5.
Subaru Outback interior from rear seats point of view

Spending time inside the Subaru Outback is a lot more pleasant thanks to a new update, the party piece obviously being the vertically mounted 11.6-inch infotainment display. Thank goodness there’s no base option for this screen, because the new WRX has been shown with this Nintendo DS-like split screen.

This screen uplifts this cabin and unlike VW’s new touch screens, it doesn’t prove to be a detractor. There are still physical volume knobs and climate controls that never move. Excellent.

Subaru Outback interior screen

I’m not a fan of the abundance of gloss-black plastic, but I can say that the simple interior design is minimalist, not spartan - at least upfront that is.

The leather seats, well-sized steering wheel, stitching and glowing driver’s display are at home here. It’s a light-filled cabin, it’s practical and it's family friendly.

Boot Size & Comfort

3.9 out of 5.
Subaru Outback boot space

522L for a medium sized wagon/SUV like this with all the seats up is respectable. A flat load floor and automatic tailgate makes life a lot easier when loading items in and out of the boot space.

A 60/40 split seat configuration is a bit of a let down, seeing as the middle seat is a little tight for comfort. Folding these seats down does reveal a lot more usable space, and the overall shape of the Outback is part of the appeal of buying this car. There are no odd lines or design choices, emphasizing the practicality of a wagon, but it’s lifted high up off the ground like an SUV.

Subaru Outback rear seats

Overall, the Outback is a comfortable family car that doesn’t just do a great job of tackling the daily grind, but also will live up to its ‘Touring’ trim name for those long road trips.

Features

4.6 out of 5.
Subaru Outback rear heated seat controls

For $54,198 as a recommended drive-away price, there’s plenty here to justify that. From the mechanical elements, like off-road modes and symmetrical AWD, through to comfort and convenience features like an upgraded speaker system, a large infotainment system and heated elements, you’re getting value for money. Not to mention, there’s a suite of safety features included with this car, including special airbags that prevent occupants from slipping under the seat belt and Subaru’s patented ‘Eye Sight’ camera system.

You can see why it’s a popular off-road capable SUV of choice, and you can also see all the features you get with a Subaru Outback Touring below:

  • 2.5L non-turbo flat-four petrol engine
  • 138kW at 5800rpm and 245Nm at 3400 - 4600rpm
  • CVT automatic transmission
  • Symmetrical AWD
  • 11.6" vertically mounted touch screen
  • 4.2" driver's display
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • 9 Harman Kardon speakers, subwoofer and amplifier
  • TomTom satellite navigation integration
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Traction Control System (TCS)
  • Active Torque Vectoring system
  • Driver Monitoring System
  • Reversing camera
  • EyeSight® Assist Monitor
  • Blind Spot Monitor (BSM)
  • Lane Change Assist (LCA)
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)
  • Reverse Automatic Braking (RAB)
  • Off-road drive modes
  • Paddle shifters mounted to steering wheel
  • 2000kg towing capacity
  • Full-size spare tire
  • Power tailgate
  • Power mirrors and windows
  • Smart key and push-start ingnition
  • Illuminated sunvisor vanity mirrors
  • Rear heated seats
  • Sunroof
  • CD player
  • Leather seats
  • x4 USB charging ports
  • Birthday and anniversary reminders in infotainment unit...yes it has this

Should you buy one?

Subaru Outback on fire trail, front three quarter exterior shot

In a world where small to medium SUVs are focused on being high-riding and comfortable for road use, there’s an obvious lack of attention for those that are off-road capable.

The Subaru Outback delivers everything you’d want in a modern-day SUV, but in the form of a lifted wagon. It’s practical, it’s comfortable and it’s more capable than competitors like the Toyota RAV-4 when it comes to tackling routes where the tarmac might not be the only way to get to your destination.

CameronPicture

About the author Cameron is our resident car expert. Aside being a source of knowledge about the automotive industry, he has also driven a wide variety of cars. From Porsche 911 GT2 RS's, through to a 1998 Toyota RAV4, Cameron has not only seen it all, but has most likely driven it.

Reviews

4.5
2 reviews
5
(1)
4
(1)
3
(0)
2
(0)
1
(0)
  • Build Quality
    5.0 (1)
  • Value for Money
    5.0 (1)
  • Cleaning & Maintenance
    5.0 (1)
  • Noise Level
    5.0 (1)
  • Braking
    5.0 (1)
  • Acceleration / Power
    5.0 (1)
  • Gear Shifting
    5.0 (1)
  • Suspension
    5.0 (1)
  • Fuel Efficiency
    5.0 (1)
  • Handling
    5.0 (1)
  • Interior Design
    5.0 (1)
  • Boot Size
    5.0 (1)
  • Comfort
    5.0 (1)
  • Features
    5.0 (1)
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Lili B
Lili BMurray Region, NSW
  • 12 reviews
  • 4 likes

Silent, competent, head turning, safe.

published

Purchased in May 2021 at Baker Motors Albury.

Build Quality
5/5
Value for Money
5/5
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Subaru Outback Touring (2020-2022)

Details

Compare all 11 Subaru Outback
CategoryLarge / 7 Seater SUVs
Release dateJan 2020
Compare all 11 Subaru Outback
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