2015 Subaru Outback: A Roomy, Capable Crossover SUV [Review]


Subaru is not in the habit of making wholesale or revolutionary changes in their vehicles, but rather of assessing changing needs and varied technologies and applying them in the improvement and enhancement of their products to better serve their consumers. The fifth generation Subaru Outback is a perfect example of the evolutionary process. It is an all-new version of what was the world’s first sport utility wagon that first appeared. Gen 2 followed 5 years later, then Gen 3 after another 5 years, and Gen 4 in 2010.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2015 Subaru Outback $24,895 – 2.5i Standard / $32,995 – 3.6R Limited $25,745 – 2.5i Standard / $33,845 – 3.6R Limited 2.5i 175 @5,800 rpm / 3.6R-256 @ 6,000 rpm / 2.5i 174 @ 4,000 rpm / 3.6R 247 @ 4,400 rpm
EPA Rating As Tested MPG
Rating: BUY IT! 20 mpg city / 27 mpg highway Not Tested


The Subaru Outback is virtually bulletproof, with 97 percent of vehicles sold in the last ten years still on the road today. The 2015 Subaru Outback will be available with two engine choices. The first is a 2.5i DOHC, 16-valve, horizontally opposed (BOXER) four-cylinder engine revised for lower weight, greater efficiency and quieter operation, with Active Valve Control System and sequential multi-port fuel injection with multi-spray injectors and Electronic Throttle Control System. It produces 175 horsepower at 5,800 rpm along with 174 pound feet of torque at 4,000 rpm.

The second choice is a 3.6R DOHC, 24-valve, horizontally opposed (BOXER) 6-cylinder engine with dual Active Valve Control System and sequential multi-port fuel injection with multi-spray injectors and Electronic Throttle Control System that makes 256 horses at 6,000 rpm while developing 247 pound feet of torque at 4,400 rpm.


Both engines mate to Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT). The 2.5i liter engines connect to a Lineartronic CVT that includes a 6-speed manual mode and steering wheel paddle shift switches, while the 3.6R liter motor delivers power to all four wheels via a high-torque Lineartronic CVT that also includes a 6-speed manual mode and steering wheel paddle shift switches. Both engine variants of the Outback are Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and feature Active Torque Vectoring and X-Mode for enhanced rough and slippery surface control. Other significant features include an electronic park brake with Hill Holder system, Hill Descent Control and Incline Start Assist. Four wheel disc brakes now implement rear vented rotors and ABS with electronic brake force distribution.


The 2015 Subaru Outback occupies a similar footprint as its predecessor, but provides more interior room. The wheelbase is increased by just 0.2 inches overall, length by 0.6 inches and width by 0.7 inches. Passenger volume is increased from 105.4 cubic feet to 108.1 cubic feet. The cargo area has been enlarged to 35.5 cu. ft. behind the rear seats, up from 34.3, while maximum capacity with the standard remote 60/40 split fold-down rear seatbacks folded is now 73.3 cu. ft., up from 71.3. In addition, the load floor provided by the lowered seats now lays flatter, and new rear seatback release levers in the cargo area add to convenience.


Visually, the new Outback showcases a bolder, more athletic look with sharper, sculpted lines, with a new front fascia that blends Subaru’s signature hexagonal grille and bumper into a single, smooth unit. The aluminum hood reduces weight over the front wheels, which aids in steering response provided by the electric power assisted steering and improves fuel economy by 2 percent.


The Outback continues to provide 8.7-in. of ground clearance, which is higher than some SUVs, yet with low step-in height for comfort. Approach angle is 19.3 degrees, departure angle is 22.7 degrees, and the breakover angle is 20.0 degrees. New step-style doorsills have been integrated to allow one to stand firmly when securing objects to the roof rails with integrated retractable crossbars and tie downs. A power rear gate with memory height is now available on Outback for the first time, and there is also another first in the form of a pin-code access located in the rear gate.


Trim levels for the Subaru Outback will start with a base or standard 2.5i model with 17-inch steel wheels, that starts at $24,895. The Premium 2.5i model starts at $26,595 and the top-of-the-line 3.6R Limited model starts at $32,995. A Limited trim model is also available with the 2.5i engine. Add $850 for Destination and Handling for all models. Add another $300 for 2.5i PZEV vehicles.


For the national press launch of the 2015 Subaru Outback, my driving partner and I started our test drive in a 2.5i –liter model in Premium trim with an exterior finished in Venetian Red metallic, with a Black interior. The base sticker read $26,995 while the final price tag came to $27,845. We wrapped up by testing a 3.6R powered Limited model with a Wilderness Green metallic exterior and Ivory interior. It started at $32,995 and wrapped up at $33,845.

Options were not factored in, but available options include a moonroof and power rear gate for $1,695, a moonroof, power rear gate and navigation for $2,195, EyeSight, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert for $3,390, moonroof package, keyless access and start, and navigation for $2,195, and a moonroof package, keyless access and start, navigation and EyeSight for $2,990.


SUMMARY: The 2015 Subaru Outback features the roomiest interior, the most capable chassis with 59 percent torsional stiffness and a 39 percent increase in bending stiffness, and the highest fuel-efficiency in the model’s 20-year history.


Infotainment and connectivity are top notch enhancing the driving and riding experience, and the new Subaru Outback is loaded with new thoughtful, innovative features that deliver a higher level of versatility and functionality than ever before in this crossover SUV. The wider step door sills provide solid footing when loading and securing items on the roof rails, which now feature cross rails that fold and stow longitudinally when not in use, thereby reducing drag and aiding in added MPG.

EPA estimated fuel economy, by the way is 25/33 city/hwy for the 2.5i-liter 4-cylinder powered Outbacks and 20/27 city/hwy for those powered by the 3.6R 6-cylinder.


The new Outback performs admirably, both on and off road. The 2.5i Premium model will likely be the volume leader, and it is totally adequate in terms of acceleration and is capable of towing up to 2,700 pounds with a 200-lb trailer tongue weight. The 3.6R obviously adds considerably more oomph and ups the towing ante to 3,000 pounds with a 200-lb trailer tongue weight.

The ride quality for all Outback models is firm, yet compliant, soaking up potholes and dips with ease and comfort. Handling attributes are ideal for on or off-road sojourns, with positive steering input and stable, road-holding capability with the revised and redesigned front and rear suspension geometry.

The Adaptive Cruise Control and EyeSight features are instrumental in collision avoidance, and will bring the Outback to a complete stop without driver intervention.


In the final analysis, people who own Subarus love them, illustrated by the fact that there are more than enough Subarus in operation in the Northwest to qualify them as the official vehicle of the Northwest. The 2015 Subaru Outback is a gem for those with active lifestyles, or for simply safe, dependable family transportation in comfort.

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2015 Subaru Outback a Buy It! for a rugged, dependable, go almost anywhere Sport Utility Wagon (SAW).

Watch everything you need to know about the 2015 Subaru Outback.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2015 Subaru Outback
Base Price: $24,895 – 2.5i Standard / $32,995 – 3.6R Limited

Price as Tested: $25,745 – 2.5i Standard / $33,845 – 3.6R Limited

Engine Type and Size: 2.5i DOHC, 16-valve, horizontally opposed (BOXER) with Active Valve Control System and sequential multi-port fuel injection with multi-spray injectors and Electronic Throttle Control System.

Horsepower (bhp): 175 @ 5,800 rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.): 174 @ 4,000 rpm

Engine Type and Size: 3.6R DOHC, 24-valve, horizontally opposed (BOXER) with dual Active Valve Control System and sequential multi-port fuel injection with multi-spray injectors and Electronic Throttle Control System

Horsepower (bhp): 256 @ 6,000 rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.): 247 @ 4,400 rpm

Transmission: 2.5i – Lineartronic® CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) includes 6-speed manual mode and steering wheel paddle shift switches / 3.6R – High-torque Lineartronic CVT includes 6-speed manual mode and steering wheel paddle shift switches

Drive Train: Front – flat mounted engine / Symmetrical AWD with Active Torque Split and electronically managed continuously variable hydraulic transfer clutch, Standard driver-selectable X-Mode optimizes engine output and CVT ratio position, increases Active All-Wheel Drive engagement and uses enhanced control logic for the Vehicle Dynamics Control system to reduce individual wheel spin. Vehicle Dynamics Control with electronic traction control Active Torque Vectoring; Hill Start Assist; Hill Descent Control.

Suspension: Front – Engine cradle, MacPherson-type struts, lower L-arms, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Rear – Double wishbone with subframe and stabilizer bar

Brakes: Power-assisted 4-wheel vented discs with Electronic Brake-force Distribution 4-channel / 4-sensor ABS, Brake Assist, Brake Override and Electronic Hill Holder®

Tires: Bridgestone Dueler H/P P 225/60 R18 mounted on sculpted “V” spoke Machined and painted alloy wheels

Wheelbase: 108.1 inches Length Overall: 189.6 inches Width: 72.4 inches Height: 66.5 inches with crossbars in position

Curb Weight: 3,593-3,810 lbs.

Turning Circle: 36.1 ft.

Fuel Capacity: 18.5 gallons

EPA Mileage Estimates: 20 mpg city / 27 mpg highway

Drag Coefficient: Not listed

0 – 60 mph: Not tested

Review by Arv Voss

Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.