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The Subaru Outback has plenty of appeal for anyone looking for a vehicle with versatility, ruggedness and value. The Outback straddles the line between wagon and compact SUV. It has a distinct exterior design that offers the appearance of a wagon but also has excellent ground clearance and many SUV level capabilities.
The 2021 Subaru Outback builds on a long line of excellent offerings over the past several decades. It offers great reliability and standard all wheel drive as with many of the past Outbacks. It adds an optional turbocharged four cylinder for added driving prowess. It also offers excellent standard equipment and recently updated technology for the long road ahead.
What's New for 2021?
The Outback was redesigned in 2020 with plenty of exterior and interior styling updates. The 2021 Outback has been fitted with two additional standard features. New for 2021 is steering sensitive LED headlights and a rear seat reminder.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Subaru Outback – The Pros
1. Standard All Wheel Drive
The Subaru Outback has long been a standout for offering standard all wheel drive. The Outback offers a symmetrical all wheel drive system at every trim level. The reassurance that the Outback will be able to tackle unforgiving terrain is bolstered by the ample 8.7 inches of ground clearance. The Outback is one of the few wagons that offers standard all wheel drive.
2. Ample Cargo Space
With the rear seats folded flat, the Outback offers over 75 cubic feet of cargo space. The Outback also offers under seat storage, an optional hands free liftgate and standard roof rails with tie downs. Even with an Outback full of five passengers, there is still 35 cubic feet of space behind the back seat. For added cargo hauling capabilities, the standard Outback can tow 2,700 lbs. while the fully equipped Outback increases towing capacity to 3,500 lbs.
3. Excellent Engine Options
The Subaru Outback comes standard with a 182 horsepower four cylinder engine. This capable powerplant gets a very efficient fuel economy rating with an estimated 26 miles to the gallon in the city and 33 miles per gallon on the highway. The turbocharged engine at the XT trim levels offers 260 horsepower. The extra horsepower offers more aggressiveness and capability on the highway. Fuel efficiency isn't compromised with the upgrade to the turbocharged four cylinder. The more powerful engine still gets 23 miles per gallon in the city and 30 miles to the gallon on the highway.
4. XT Trim Levels
The 2021 Outback offers XT variations of two trim levels. The Touring XT and the Limited XT trim levels feature the top level options for the Outback. Both the XT trim levels include the turbocharged engine and increase the towing capacity of the Outback. The Outback also offers an exclusive Onyx Edition XT with additional options not available at any other trim level.
5. Eyesight Safety Features Come Standard
All 2021 Subaru Outbacks come standard with the Subaru Eyesight safety suite. The Package includes adaptive cruise control, lane centering prompts and pre collision braking. The Subaru also comes standard with high beam assist technology and a rear view camera.
6. Advanced Safety Options
The Outback comes standard with plenty of safety technology, but there are optional upgrades that take the Outback to the forefront of driver assistance. The Outback can be outfitted with the DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System, Rear Brake Assist, a 180 degree front view camera, and blind spot detection with lane change assist.
7. High Quality Infotainment
The 2021 Subaru Outback comes standard with a two screen infotainment system, but it steps up to an oversized touchscreen display at all of the upper trim levels. All Outbacks come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Other infotainment options include navigation and an upgraded Rockford Fosgate stereo system. Subaru also offers a 4G wifi hotspot for all of the Outback trim levels above the base offering.
8. Excellent Interior Comfort
The Outback offers plenty of interior cargo and passenger space and also features premium interior upgrades. The rear seats of the Outback offer manual reclining capabilities for added rear seat comfort. Additional options include dual zone climate control, heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, ventilated seats, leather seating and premium leather seating.
9. Off Road Capability
The Outback is technically a wagon, but it can be quite versatile. With 8.6 inches of ground clearance and standard all wheel drive it can easily handle rugged terrain that would be off limits for some other wagons. The Subaru Outback is equipped with XMode at all trim levels which allows the driver to exercise additional caution while driving in slippery road conditions. The serious off road driver may be interested in the Outback Onyx Edition XT. The Onyx Edition comes with dual mode XMode capability for added traction in deep mud and snow.
10. Upper Level Options
The Outback can be equipped with luxury class features at the upper trim levels. The options include; a 12 speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system, a moonroof, premium Nappa leather seating and proximity entry.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Subaru Outback – The Cons
1. Lack of Luxury Options
The Subaru Outback serves as a functional wagon for most families and individuals looking for reliability and versatility. It does lack a few of the more opulent options available in a more refined wagon. While the interior is roomy and comfortable, the Outback does not offer top tier amenities like a digital instrument cluster or multiple drive modes. Buyers looking for the top options will want to look elsewhere.
2. Weaker Base Engine
Because the Outback is in competition with more luxury minded brands like Audi and Volvo, it falls behind when it comes to horsepower in the base engine. The Audi and Volvo wagons offer horsepower that is more on the level of the Outback's upgraded turbo charged engine.
3. Other Subarus Are Similar
While the Outback is technically a wagon, it is mostly in competition for buyers of a compact SUV. The Forester, Subaru's compact SUV offering, is very similar to the Outback. The Subaru Ascent and the Subaru CrossTrek are crossover SUVs that also compete for buyers in this general category's attention.
How it Stacks Up to the Competition:
2021 Subaru Outback vs 2021 A4 Audi Allroad
The 2021 Subaru Outback has distinct advantages over most of the wagons in 2021. It offers a very low entry price point compared to almost all of the wagons available. The Outback offers standard all wheel drive. This inclusion makes the price tag seem quite low compared to other vehicles with this option standard.
In comparison to the Outback, the Audi A4 Allroad also offers standard all wheel drive, but the base engine for the Audi is a turbocharged four cylinder that offers over 260 horsepower. The Outback's fuel efficient regular four cylinder comes standard in the Outback, but buyers can upgrade to Subaru's turbocharged four cylinder and the Outback will still cost less than the A4 Allroad. While it lacks real power from the gas pedal, the standard engine of the Outback definitely makes sense for many buyers looking to make a more sensible purchase.
The Outback also offers less luxury based features at the upper trim levels, so buyers looking to max out the opulence of their vehicle are more likely to look elsewhere. The Outback does deliver on the standard wagon experience with plenty of versatility and even high level off road prowess.
2021 Subaru Outback vs 2021 Toyota Rav4
The Outback actually matches up better in competition with compact SUVs. Compared to the Rav4, the Outback has a similar starting price point but offers standard all wheel drive. The Outback also has a larger touchscreen display and better standard equipment.
The Rav4 offers a hybrid engine at each trim level for a modest increase in price. The optional hybrid offers buyers supreme fuel efficiency that cannot be matched by the Outback.
The Rav4 also offers similar ground clearance and more advanced off road tech for better driving in rough terrain. However, the Outback offers a sleeker, more attractive cabin and better interior features at the upper trim levels.
The Outback is a unique entry into the wagon category. It has been around since 1994 and pre-dates many of the other entries in the wagon category by a significant amount of time. It offers buyers an affordable vehicle that is just as practical and versatile as most of today's compact and crossover SUVs. The Outback also received a complete redesign in 2020, so it offers some of the latest technology and infotainment features available. Adaptive cruise control and steering responsive headlights top the list of many excellent standard features of the Outback.
While it may not be as flashy as other wagons in 2021, it covers the main requirements of most buyers looking for a practical yet comfortable vehicle for the family. The Outback also offers versions of itself for buyers looking for a little more surefootedness and safety with advanced traction control, standard all wheel drive and a long list of driver assist technology. With seven trim levels, the Outback offers a good mix of value and luxury.
• Why buy a 2020 Subaru Outback? w/ pros vs cons