Tough and long-lasting, the Subaru Outback has long been a favorite among buyers looking for a family-friend and all-around practical vehicle. While the Outback is slated as a mid-size SUV, let's be real here: It retains the wagon-esque style. And we are not complaining one bit about that.
The 2021 Subaru Outback is slotted between the smaller Forester and the Ascent, which is bigger in size. Since Subaru equips all of their vehicles with standard all-wheel-drive, Outback owners get a vehicle that can handle slick road surfaces with ease. Not only that, but with its 8.7 inches of ground clearance and X-MODE (Subaru's name for hill descent control), the Outback has extra capabilities that make it an excellent off-roading SUV.
The Outback has its drawbacks too. The turbo XT models have choppier ride qualities than the other models, and the massive touchscreen that sits front and center compromises small-item storage space in the center console.
So, is the 2021 Subaru Outback the vehicle for you? This review will go over what is new for the model year (which should not be much), the style, the available trim levels, how the Outback drives, and what kind of a fuel economy you can expect from this SUV.
What's New For 2021?
Hot off of 2020's full redesign, the 2021 Subaru Outback should be relatively the same as its predecessor. Last year, the Outback was given an 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system that is designed along the lines of a tablet. It also got two new engine options: a 2.5-L 4-cylinder boxer and a 2.4-L turbo. These replace the old 6-cylinder boxer, and the 2.4-L turbo engine boosts both power and fuel efficiency. Just don't expect to see any changes to the engines this model year.
The 2021 Subaru Outback is only available as a mid-size SUV. It does have a wagon-like shape to it, which should appeal to buyers who previously owned a Subaru wagon. This style caters to practicality and cargo space while still leaving plenty of room for passengers and the driver inside of the cabin.
The 2021 Subaru Outback comes in your choice of seven different trim levels: the aptly-named Base, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT. The 2.5-L engine is standard on the Base through Touring while the turbo 2.4-L is equipped on the XT trims. Both engine options come with a continuously variable automatic transmission (otherwise known as a CVT).
Driving the 2021 Subaru Outback is nothing terribly thrilling since the vehicle is a tad slow for its segment, but it is solid aside from this issue. The turbo engine is zippier though, and the CVT shifts smoothly, providing steady power to the vehicle. This should help with merging and passing on the highway.
Body roll can be noticed while making turns, but it is nothing too terrifying. The ride remains compliant aside from this, and the steering gives the driver a good on-center feel. The standard AWD and 8.7 inches of ground clearance make for one stellar off-roading SUV.
Comfort is where the Outback truly shines. The front seats are padded for long rides, and the amount of bolstering you get is just right. The ride quality is decent, and aside from a few minor vibrations, the well-tuned suspension absorbs enough road imperfections to make the cabin feel totally cozy.
Subaru includes a bundle of driver aids known as the EyeSight suite, and it comes on every trim level. This means that all owners will get features like lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control. Although their warnings might seem intrusive, these features do work just like how they are supposed to and will help keep you safe on the road.
This lifted wagon style vehicle loses a few cubes when it comes to cargo capacity, but the cargo floor is flat and situated low enough to the ground to make loading and unloading cargo super easy. Installing your gear atop the roof rails is easy too due to the low roof height.
Fuel economy on the 2021 Subaru Outback is a bit lackluster according to real-world tests. The EPA rating for the 2.5-L engine is 29 combined mpg (with 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway). This engine is a bit sluggish though, and real-world tests have pegged it at around 20 mpg combined - a huge difference in numbers. Meanwhile, the XT models' 2.4-L turbo engine is rated at 26 mpg combined (with 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway).
The 2021 Subaru Outback is a strong vehicle in most aspects. While the boxer engine is not the most exciting, the XT is worth the upgrade since it blends power with efficiency. And the Outback abounds with comfort regardless of which model you get.
Formula for Calculating Dealer Cost:
Total Dealer Cost - Rebate and Incentive + Taxes / Licensing Fees = True Dealer Cost. (You can get rebates and incentives here)
Note: All Subaru Outback MSRP, invoice and dealer cost dollar figures above are approximate amounts. Prices are subject to change without notice.
A note about rebates: Most rebates are subtracted from the "on the road" figure. In most cases, you can have the rebate if you are arranging your own financing or you are paying cash. If you decide to use the manufacturer’s low interest financing, you do not usually get the rebate. Ask your dealer for details.