2015 Subaru Outback Consumer Review

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

The Subaru Outback has carved itself a comfortable niche as a no nonsense, go anywhere, family hauler.

By utilizing Subaru’s reputation for safety and all-wheel drive control, the high riding wagon continues to find homes, especially in areas littered with hilly roads and messy climates.

Like the Legacy, for 2015 the Outback has been overhauled. Wearing new sheet metal, the 2015 model retains a similar profile to the 2014 model, but bigger changes can be found inside. With new levels of comfort, quality and technology, Subaru hopes the new Outback will continue the success of the old generation.

Engineered to have more mainstream appeal than Maroon 5, it’s the general consumer who snaps up these mid-size crossovers. So, who better to evaluate the new 2015 Subaru Outback than our own general consumer reviewer, Amanda?

The Specs

For 2015 the Outback continues to come with a choice of engines, a four-cylinder or a six-cylinder. Being a Subaru, both are boxer engines that use a horizontally opposed cylinder design. The volume seller for the brand is the 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 175 HP and 174 lb-ft of torque. It is paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

The Outback is a proper crossover and not just a pretender. With more ground clearance than a Honda Pilot and full-time all-wheel drive, the Outback can tackle gnarly country roads without issue. It is also fairly light for its size, tipping the scales at 3,593 lbs. That allows for the official fuel economy ratings to be listed at 25 MPG city and 33 MPG highway, although Amanda was only able to average 22 MPG during a week of city driving.

Pricing for the 2015 Outback begins at $25,745 after destination charges while Amanda’s 2.5i Premium with the power liftgate and moonroof options came in at a total of $29,540.

How Does it Drive?

Thanks to beefy tires and a comfort-orientated suspension, Amanda found the Outback to be smooth to drive. Despite the low power figures from the 2.5-liter engine, the response from the CVT and low vehicle weight make the Outback feel far quicker than it actually is. Even on the highway the Subaru could pull out and pass other vehicles with relative ease.

Despite the Outback’s size, Amanda found it easy to drive and appreciated its turning radius. This helped make parking a snap and spots that would normally be abandoned with a vehicle this size she would squeeze into without issue. Further aiding her to get in and out of spots are the backup camera and parking sensors. She found the camera display to be very clear and liked how well the rear-cross traffic alert warned her of approaching vehicles while reversing.

Like every crossover Amanda has driven, she finds getting in and out of the Outback a bit of a pain; literally. Although it was annoying to have to hop in and out of the vehicle, the added benefits of the Outback’s ride height are worth the trade-off for her.

The View from Inside

Inside, Amanda finds the general design and layout of the dashboard to be “safe” looking as it reminds her of Toyota designs because it is functional and conservative. She found there is nothing spectacular about it but the appearance also wouldn’t wear on her like crazier looking dashboards such as the one found in the Ford Escape.

The driver seat overall is comfortable, but she found the lower lumbar support has too much standard padding. Storage space in the front can easily be accessed from the driver’s seat, including the deep center console and storage nook below the center stack. This is one of the first vehicles Amanda hasn’t had to use the glove compartment to store anything.

Rear seat space is generous with 38.1 inches of rear legroom and Amanda doesn’t take issue with sitting back there despite her predisposition to being motion sick. The trunk size is great and with the optional rubber mat, items stay in place and don’t jostle around when driving.

What She Liked

Amongst Amanda’s favorite aspects of the Outback is its height. She loves how she never has to worry about bumping parking curbs or scraping over high speed bumps. In the winter, the high ride height would be an advantage for her as her side street is always last to be snowplowed.

Amanda likes the look of the 2015 Outback with its familiar, rugged look. The memory power seat and power liftgate are also great features in her opinion.

What She Didn’t Like

The Outback’s seat fabric has a texture that irritates her skin and she isn’t fond of how it looks. The center console cover does not slide forward and due to her seating position is useless as a right arm rest since it’s set too far back.

She also doesn’t like touchscreen stereo systems in general and found this one to be somewhat aggravating to operate.

The Verdict

Overall, Amanda came away impressed by the Outback. Easy to drive, it has a lot to offer and is a great blend of practicality, comfort and space. Although it could be better, she feels the decision to ultimately purchase an Outback would come down to price and personal preference compare to other crossover options.

Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder, 175 HP, 174 lb-ft
Transmission: CVT
Fuel economy: 25 MPG city, 33 MPG highway, 22 MPG average during city driving
Price: Starts at $25,745 after destination charges, $29,540 as tested for 2.5i Premium with power liftgate and moonroof options.

Discuss this story on our Subaru Outback forum.

GALLERY: 2015 Subaru Outback

Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

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2 of 10 comments
  • MemyselfandI MemyselfandI on Dec 22, 2014

    I agree with the review of the infotainment system. It is difficult to use and mine totally failed after only a month! Just a blank screen with indicator lights on both sides blinking at me. Had to be totally replaced. The dealer told me I was not the first one.

  • Gearhead4 Gearhead4 on Feb 23, 2015

    I agree with Kristen when she says the 2015 Outback fabric is much more comfortable than the 2010 model. The interior updates are the best parts of the 2015 Outback with the following exceptions: 1. The ambient temperature and clock displays are too small. 2. The infotainment system is a bad idea in ANY vehicle. It can't be used at a glance, unless the page of info you need is already displayed. Paging through menus and screen choices while driving is a horrible practice. I like the softer trim and the extra room on the 2015 model. The ride height is okay for me except when I'm driving into a headwind or crosswind -too much air is moving under the vehicle. Subaru has a great drivetrain, but made a bad choice for OE tires. The Bridgestone Dueller HP Sport AS tires on my 2015 Outback are some of the worst tires for snow, ice or wet pavement. The Continental Pro Contact tires on my 2011 Outback were much better. The 2015 engine is a little more powerful than the 2011 model. As a DIY owner, I like the top mounted oil filter. I often burned my hands on the exhaust pipes surrounding the filter on my 2011 Outback. The ride is smooth and quiet and so far, my gas mileage has been great. Overall average of 34 MPG (70% highway driving).