2016 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited Review – Great Features, Sluggish Performance

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Over the course of a year of test driving all types of vehicles, there are always a few which are seemingly so perfect, they make you wonder why they don’t sell like gangbusters. The 2016 Subaru Outback is one such vehicle.


What makes the Outback so good? It simply hits the mark on so many things car buyers and owners care about. For example, it has a reputation for reliability, as well as capability with its all-wheel drive system and retains a good resale value. Plus, with the latest edition, it has all the features, styling and performance (depending on engine choice) car buyers are looking for as well. Add in an easy-to- use infotainment system, plentiful options and safety features, the Outback is so well put together it makes you wonder why other automakers don’t follow suit.

Beginning with the exterior, the new styling of the Outback (introduced two years ago), gives it a more robust and rugged look over the roundish previous generations. This look accentuated by the side rocker panels furthers the perception that this wagon can handle challenging terrain.

IMG_9210_1000Inside, the ruggedness is offset by a nearly luxurious interior with smartly laid-out buttons, quality materials and plentiful features. The fit and finish of the interior is top notch and, for the price of $36,148, is normally only seen in a more expensive vehicle.

IMG_9209_1000Also, cargo room is quite impressive with the rear hatch area boosting an impressive 35.5” of room. With the middle-row seats down, the cargo areas grows to 73.3” of room and is long enough for a 2×4.

On the road, the Outback surprises with a really smooth ride thanks to a fully independent raised suspension. Also, the road noise is really minimized. Once again, it feels like a higher quality of vehicle than the $36k price point. Also, with the AWD system, it is pretty difficult to lose control of the vehicle (even when attempting to do so). It is even more difficult when engaging the special X-mode with hill descent which adjusts the throttle response, optimizes the AWD system as well as actively engages the braking and traction control to maximize control.

Finally, the handy lane-departure assist, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control all using Subaru’s innovative EyeSight (optional equipment), reduce driver fatigue and increase safety.

IMG_9223_1000About the only issue I had with the Outback was in the powertrain. The test model was equipped with the base 2.5L four-cylinder and it just feels sluggish in this size of a vehicle. It is rated at only 175 HP and 174 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a continuously variable transmission. The CVT was also disappointing since it wasn’t also quick to engage when going from reverse to drive. My advice would be to opt for the 3.6L H6 engine which boosts output to 256 HP and 247 lb-ft of torque and is a good value with a reasonable up-charge of $3,000.

The downside to the larger engine is fuel economy. For the smaller 2.5L four-cylinder, EPA fuel economy is rated at 25/33/28 city/highway/combined MPG. Moving up to the 3.6L H6 brings the city and highway down to 20/27 MPG respectively.

IMG_9195_1000Whether you want the more performance of the H6 or the fuel economy of the four-cylinder, the 2016 Subaru Outback is a really good choice for a new vehicle. Just make sure you have the extra time to show it off to your neighbors.

2016 Subaru Outback Limited

Engine: 2.5L Four-Cylinder

Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission

Fuel Economy: 25/33/28 city/highway/combined


  • Limited Package (Power Moonroof, Navigation, EyeSight, Keyless Access with Push-Button Start)— $3,090
  • 120v Power Outlet – $402
  • Popular Equipment Package (Rear Bumper Cover, Splash Guard Kit, All Weather Floor Mats, Rear Seat Back Protector, Dim Mirror w/Blind Spot) – $674
  • Remote Engine Start – $437

Price: $36,148 with $850 destination and delivery fee


  • Price for amount of features
  • Styling
  • Capability


  • 2.5L four-cylinder performance
  • CVT transmission
Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl

Hailing from Western Nebraska, Tim has covered the automotive industry for many years. He has written for a variety of outlets including Truck Trend, Pickuptrucks.com, Tundraheadquarters.com and others. He is a married father of three and an avid golfer.