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2024 Subaru Outback Pros vs Cons, & How it Stacks Up to Competitors

2024 Subaru Outback Pros, Cons, and Competitor Comparison
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By Norman Ruckpaul
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch
Published: Feb 8, 2024

Imagine seamlessly transitioning from soccer practice to mountain trails. The adventure-ready 2024 Subaru Outback boasts standard all-wheel drive, a cavernous interior, and advanced safety tech. It seamlessly transitions from everyday errands to weekend escapes. Forget the overwhelming SUV search - dive deep into the Outback's strengths and weaknesses, compare it to rivals like the CR-V and RAV4, and discover why it might be your perfect adventure companion. So buckle up, let's uncover the Outback's pros and cons to see if its your trusty partner on life's journeys.

What We Like: The Top 11 Pros

The 2024 Outback brings meaningful upgrades making it stand out in the competitive SUV segment. From cushy ride comfort to ample safety features, it checks many of the right boxes for buyers.

1. Plush and Peaceful Ride Quality

Long commutes and road trips are a breeze in the Outback thanks to its smooth and quiet ride. Sound-deadening materials and insulation minimize road and wind noise from the engine, tires, and wind:

  • Acoustic glass reduces wind noise coming from the front

  • Foam injected body panels dampen road vibration

  • Extra insulation in the wheel wells and underbody quiets tire noise

The suspension ably absorbs bumps and ruts in the road to limit jolts reaching passengers. Some key components enhancing ride comfort include:

  • Shock absorbers and struts tuned to smooth out imperfections

  • Outback Wilderness edition has raised springs and re-tuned dampers

  • Optional dual-mode suspension better isolates on rough roads

Available ventilated front seats with a heated steering wheel - and heated rear seats dial up the comfort. Ventilation circulates air provides cooled seats through perforations in the leather to reduce sweatiness on hot days. Heated seat cushions and backs provide soothing warmth in cold weather.

Ergonomic front seats stay comfortable for hours behind the wheel with:

  • 12-way power adjustable driver's seat on most trims

  • Power lumbar support that bolsters the back

  • Cushy yet supportive foam inserts

Dual zone automatic climate control allows customized cabin temperature settings, ensuring a pleasant cabin environment in any weather. The standard power sunroof on upper trims allows the outside sunlight in. Add the standard power sunroof on upper trims and the hushed and pampering interior provides a relaxing oasis from the world outside.

2. Sure-Footed All-Wheel Drive with Off-Road Chops

Every Outback comes standard with Subaru’s revered symmetrical all-wheel drive system. It provides a more balanced distribution of power to all four wheels for enhanced grip and stability on slippery surfaces like snow, ice, gravel, and dirt.

Key components enabling the capable AWD performance:

  • Active torque split system continually adjusts power distribution

  • Electronically controlled multi-plate transfer clutch improves response

  • Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) detects and reduces traction loss

X-Mode optimizes throttle response and traction control for light off-roading or snowy/muddy conditions at the push of a button. It does this by:

  • Altering transmission mapping for better low-speed control

  • Increased activeness of the VDC traction control

  • Hill descent control for slowly navigating steep downhills

The Outback Wilderness model turns up the off-road capability further with its lifted suspension providing 9.5 inches of extra ground clearance - a full 1.4 inches over other trims. Further enhancements include:

  • Beefier skid plates protecting the engine and transmission

  • All-terrain tires with rugged tread for mud and gravel

  • Advanced X-Mode system with snow/dirt and deep snow/mud settings

With these upgrades, the Wilderness edition can venture deeper off the beaten path with confidence.

3. Confidence-Inspiring Outward Visibility

Superb visibility contributes to a feeling of control behind the wheel. Some standout features enabling the great outward views include:

  • Raised ride height provides an elevated driving position and hood sightlines

  • Narrow roof pillars minimize obstructions around the sides

  • Low dashboard profile enables better view of the road ahead

  • Standard heated side mirrors reduce fog and frost obstruction

The panoramic power moonroof available on Touring trims enhances overhead views and light.

Standard steering responsive LED headlights brightly illuminate the road and surroundings at night. Available driver-assist technologies like blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert further enhance awareness.

4. Proven Reliability and Durability

Subaru has refined the Outback over decades, resulting in a robust vehicle with impressive dependability. The 2020 Outback had the lowest 5-year cost to own in its class according to Kelley Blue Book, thanks partly to minimal maintenance needs.

Comprehensive warranties provide further peace of mind:

  • 3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty

  • 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty

  • 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain extended warranty option

Owners report regularly achieving 200,000+ miles when properly maintained. Its future-proofed design and quality materials make the Outback a smart long-term investment.

5. Cutting-Edge Driver Assist and Safety Technologies

The Outback provides the latest high-tech safety innovations as standard features across all trim levels.

Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist suite includes:

  • Pre-collision automatic emergency braking and throttle management

  • Adaptive cruise control

  • Lane centering and sway warning

  • Lane departure warning

  • Lead vehicle start alert

  • Forward collision warning

  • Automatic emergency steering

EyeSight uses stereo cameras to monitor the road and traffic ahead, acting like a second pair of eyes for the driver.

Additional standard driver assists:

  • Reverse rear automatic braking

  • Blind spot detection with lane change assist

  • Rear cross-traffic alert for backing up

Available upper trim safety upgrades:

  • Driver monitoring system detects distraction and drowsiness

  • Front view monitor improves visibility around tight corners

  • 360-degree surround view cameras for parking

  • Auto dimming rearview mirror

Top safety ratings from IIHS and NHTSA give owners confidence their Outback has their back.

6. Accolades for Collision Protection

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Outback a 2023 Top Safety Pick+ following stellar crash test performance and standard safety features.

Key results from IIHS testing:

  • Good ratings in 6 crash test categories

  • Superior rating for collision prevention systems

  • Acceptable headlight ratings across trims

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also awarded 5 out of 5 stars overall, with 5 stars in side crash and rollover tests. Across the board, the Outback aces impact tests, demonstrating its protective structural integrity.

Advanced airbags and other passive safety systems provide an extra layer of car safety as well. Overall, the Outback is one of the safest SUVs available based on rigorous third-party testing.

According to the Subaru Outback news site, it is was placed on the "Recommended" list for teen drivers by Consumer Reports.

(Reference: Subaru Media, IIHS, NHTSA)

7. Roomy, Flexible Interior Space

Even with its refined ride and ample ground clearance, the Outback avoids feeling like a lumbering truck. The airy roomy cabin provides generous room for up to 5 adult passengers.

Headroom, legroom and hip room measurements match or exceed key rivals:

  • Up to 41.3 inches of rear legroom

  • 39.5 inches of rear headroom

  • 56.3 inches of rear hip room

Shoulder room in the back seats is 57.4 inches so if you have to sit in the rear middle seat, you wont find it as snug as some competitors.

For maximum cargo flexibility, the 60/40 split folding rear seats create a flat load floor. With the seats down, the Outback swallows up to 75.6 cubic feet of gear—ample cargo area for bulky items like camping equipment or luggage for a group.

The wide rear opening enables fitting larger objects. And the hands free power liftgate available on higher trims is great when your hands are full. Thule cargo crossbars are integrated into the standard roof rails, making it easy to mount additional storage accessories.

8. Strong Resale Value

Outbacks have earned a reputation for retaining their value well over time compared to other vehicles in the class. For example, CarEdge projects the 2024 Outback will retain around 56% of its value after 5 years. Strong demand from subsequent buyers keeps resale values higher. J.D Power rated Resale with a score of 86/100. That ties the Honda CR-V and beats the RAV4 with 84/100.

Benefits of the excellent resale value:

  • Less depreciation compared to rivals like the Passport

  • Higher trade-in value when upgrading down the road

  • Increased peace of mind for buyers as a smart investment

Subaru's renowned reliability, build quality, and popularity in the SUV segment contribute to the Outback's high residual value.

9. Good Standard Infotainment and Connectivity

When it comes to tech, the 2024 Subaru Outback has you covered with its standard dual 7-inch infotainment system (On the base Model). All other trims have the 11.6-inch screen. We're talking Bluetooth for pairing your phone and streaming tunes, USB ports to plug in, and steering wheel controls so your eyes stay on the road.

Better yet, you can mirror your smartphone right on the touchscreen thanks to standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Your apps, maps, playlists - they'll all be there ready to roll. The system also comes SiriusXM-ready, so you can add a subscription for commercial-free radio.

Overall, the Outback's user-friendly infotainment system lets you seamlessly access your devices and media on the go. Whether you're navigating a new trail or just cruising down familiar roads, you'll stay conveniently connected.

10. Good MPG for an AWD

The Outback manages to blend SUV capabilities with car-like fuel efficiency. The standard 2.5L four-cylinder engine delivers up to 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway with 28 mpg combined.

This edges out competitors - the Outback matches or beats the mileage of front-wheel drive rivals like the RAV4, despite providing all-wheel drive traction.

Comparing the AWD versions of its competitors the Outback holds its own:

  • Honda CR-V AWD: 27 mpg city - 32 mpg hwy.

  • Toyota RAV4 AWD: 25 mpg city - 33 hwy.

  • 2024 Honda Passport AWD: 19 mpg city - 34 hwy.

  • 2024 Hyundai Santa Fe AWD: 20 mpg city - 28 hwy.

Clever engineering like active grille shutters and auto start-stop help maximize MPG. The continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) optimizes efficiency as well.

The turbocharged engine XT models only sacrifice a bit of fuel economy (23 mpg city / 30 highway) while adding compelling power.

Overall, the Outback strikes an appealing balance of performance and efficiency for an AWD SUV.

(Reference: EPA)

11. Good Price Range with Many Trim Levels to Choose From

Compared to its competitors, the Outback has a lower starting price and having many outback models to choose from makes it easier to dial into your preferred choice in ride:

  • Base $30,240 - AWD, driver assists, climate control, 11.6" screen, cloth seats, 17" wheels

  • Premium trim $32,490 - Adds power driver's seat, heated front seats/mirrors, rear vents

  • Limited $37,090 - Leather upholstery, power passenger seat, 18" wheels, chrome accents

  • Outback Onyx Edition $37,400 - Black trim, StarTex seats, orange accents

  • Onyx Edition XT $40,655 - Adds 260HP turbo engine

  • Wilderness Trim $41,255 - Lifted suspension, all-terrain tires, advanced X-Mode

  • Touring $41,640 - Nappa leather, ventilated seats, moonroof, Harman Kardon audio

  • Touring XT $44,090 - Turbo engine plus Touring luxury features

The outback has a price range of $30,240 to $44,090. The starting price is inline or lower than its competition:

  • Hyundai Santa Fe - $35,345 - $47,895

  • Honda CR-V - $30,850 - $41,550

  • Toyota RAV4 - $30,025 - $39,645

What We Question: 4 Cons to Consider

Along with its many strengths, the Outback does have a few drawbacks to consider:

1. Dated Infotainment System Interface

While the dual touchscreens look slick, the interface itself feels dated at times. Menus can be convoluted with inconsistent layouts between screens. Response time lags occasionally. Smartphone integration offsets native software limitations but an update would be welcomed.

2. Pokey Acceleration with Base Engine

The standard standard outback 2.5L four-cylinder engine provides sufficient engine power for most driving. However, drivers may want more oomph when rapidly merging onto high-speed roads or overtaking. The engine gets noisy when pushed hard.

The turbocharged option significantly improves acceleration with 260 hp and 277 lb-ft torque (versus 182 hp on the base engine). But it comes at a higher cost.

(Reference: Consumer Reports)

3. Suspension Can Feel Stiff Over Bumps

Despite comfortable ride quality overall, the suspension tuning doesn’t completely filter out sharper impacts. Hitting potholes or expansion joints sometimes sends a harsh jolt through the cabin. Competitors like the CR-V have an edge when it comes to cushioning riders from bumps.

Retuning the chassis and shocks towards a more plush ride could better isolate passengers from road impacts. The Outback emphasizes handling agility over softness.

4. Limited Front Storage Space

Storage space for small items up front is in short supply. The shallow covered tray ahead of the shift lever can't fit larger phones. Door pockets, map pockets, and cupholders are ample but more creative cabin storage would be useful.

Extra dividers, gaps, and bins would help wrangle keys, sunglasses, charging cables, and other daily carry items. This is a minor gripe but convenient interior storage is always appreciated.

How the Outback Stacks Up to the Competition

So how does the 2024 Subaru Outback compare to its key compact SUV rivals? Here’s a detailed look at how it stacks up:

Vs. the Honda CR-V

Outback Advantages:

Standard AWD, more room, higher ground clearance, stronger turbo option (260 hp vs 190 hp)

CR-V Advantages:

Smoother ride, peppier acceleration, newer tech, , better mpg from turbo (27/32/29 mpg vs 23/30/26 mpg)

Summary: The Outback wins for traction, space and off-road talents. But the CR-V counters with more refined on-road manners, superior efficiency from its turbo, and fresher tech. Choose based on your priorities.

Vs. the Hyundai Santa Fe

Outback Advantages:

  • Comes with AWD, more cargo room, increased ground clearance, lower starting MSRP

Santa Fe Advantages:

  • Available 3rd row and hybrid options, smoother ride, newer interior

Summary: The Outback excels at cargo space and traction, while the Santa Fe counters with an available third row and more powertrain options. Two great choices depending on needs.

Vs. the Toyota RAV4

Outback Advantages:

  • Quieter ride, more legroom/cargo room, higher ground clearance, stronger turbo (260 hp vs 203 hp)

RAV4 Advantages:

  • Lower starting MSRP, more trims including hybrids, better mpg from base engine (27/35/30 mpg vs 26/33/29 mpg)

Summary: The Outback leads in interior room, NVH levels, and power. But the RAV4 counters with better efficiency from its base engine, value, and hybrid options. Two excellent choices overall.

Vs. the Honda Pilot

Outback Advantages:

  • Lower MSRP/costs, better mpg, standard AWD, easier parking.

Pilot Advantages:

  • Optional 3rd row, stronger V6 (280 hp vs 182 hp), more cargo room, softer suspension.

Summary: The Outback makes for a more affordable two-row SUV option with better fuel efficiency and AWD traction. But families that need three rows of seating or max cargo space will prefer the Pilot.

The Verdict

We think that if an adventure-ready SUV with space and capability tops your list, you should consider the 2024 Subaru Outback as your next co-pilot.

Perks like a smooth ride, abundant safety tech, turbo power, and massive cargo room make the Outback a compelling all-around package. Its symmetrical AWD gives an edge in snow and light off-roading over non-Subaru rivals.

While competitors like the CR-V, RAV4, Santa Fe, and Pilot have strengths in certain areas, the Outback stands apart in blending car-like quality with SUV versatility. For those wanting a well-equipped two-row SUV ready for trails and road trips, the 2024 Outback is tough to beat.

Note: This article is based on our research and expert reviews. We are not affiliated with Subaru or any other automaker and do not receive any compensation for our reviews. This information is based on our opinions and the opinions of the expert reviewers we have referenced.