2014 Subaru Outback

By Tom Crosby

Subaru redid its popular Outback wagon last year, now in its fifth generation over two decades and for 2014 only made a few changes.

One was a $5,040 Special Appearance Package that includes, among other features, navigation with Aha® Infotainment smartphone integration and Subaru’s exceptionally well-designed EyeSight driver safety assistance system.

EyeSight includes Adaptive Cruise Control and Vehicle Lane Departure warning – both a boon on long Interstate trips – and Pre-Collision Braking when a driver doesn’t react fast enough.

It also beeps if you are stopped and don’t notice the vehicle in front of you pulled away – a nice wake-up alert for those not paying attention. Outback has three 2.5i four-cylinder models – base 2.5i, 2.5i Premium and the 2.5i Limited, our test drive. All, plus the six-cylinder 3.6R Limited Outback, use horizontally opposed “boxer” engines (2.5 and 3.6 refer to engine sizes).

The 2.5i Limited adds standard heated front seats and with the Special Appearance Package, larger 17-inch alloy wheels wearing all-season tires.

Subaru’s all-wheel drive all the time provides grip and confidence in snow and mud. The 8.7-inch ground clearance enabled easy wintery crawls over a frozen snow pack plowed across our driveway.

The Outback isn’t quick but it goes places more powerful vehicles cannot. It is only on paved roads that Outback suffers in acceleration power but manual paddles help augment the continuous variable transmission shifts.

Combining with responsive sedan-like handling, Outback’s comfortable ride comes via a MacPherson-type strut front suspension and double-wishbone rear suspension.

Safety features are top-notch, with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarding Outback the highest safety scores in their new frontal collision tests.

Cargo space of 71.3 cubic feet with rear seats folding 60/40 flat makes the Outback a viable workhorse for weekend chores.

Front seats are now heated in the Limited and rear seats recline with all five seating positions comfortable with good visibility, plenty of knick-knack spaces and under floor storage.

Roof rails fold inward; mileage is excellent due to reduced horsepower, and towing capability tops out at 2,700 pounds. Gauges are easy to read, except in sunlight with shades on.

Knob and flip audio/climate controls are easy to reach and manipulate and navigation programming is intuitive but some map details are missing, as noted in a screen warning requiring acknowledgement once the engine starts.

Outback’s profile is more station wagon than crossover, generating that interior cargo and passenger spaciousness. Outback’s are generally less expensive that most AWD competitors.

LIKES: Ride, handling, cargo space, mileage, price
BOTTOM LINE: Fun to drive on or off road, continues to improve


  • Base price w/destination fee $30,220
  • Vehicle weight 3,538 lbs.
  • Wheelbase 107.9 inches
  • Length 189 inches
  • Width 71.7 inches
  • Engine 2.5-liter, 4 cylinders, DOHC,
  • Horsepower 173 hp at 5,600 rpm
  • Torque 174 lbs.-ft. at 4,100 rpm
  • Transmission Continuous variable transmission
  • EPA Rating 24 mpg city/30 mpg highway
  • Range 18.5-gallon tank, regular
  • Performance 0-60 in more than 10 seconds