Whenever I get behind the wheel of a Subaru, I feel like I’m driving Oregon’s car. Subarus seem to be everywhere across the state. They’ve been popular here since their introduction in the mid-90s for being a versatile blend of a wagon, sedan and SUV with standard all-wheel-drive and lots of amenities and safety features.
Base Price: $36,995
As Tested: $39,965
Mileage: 22 mpg city/26 mpg highway/24 mpg combined
The Outback is the second-best-selling Subaru, behind the Forester. It got a makeover for 2020, some additional technologies in 2021, and for 2022, the new Wilderness trim joins the line-up. It provides more capabilities for exploring the great outdoors, including more ground clearance (9.5 inches compared to the standard 8.7 inches), front skid plate, upgraded roof rack, a beefed-up version of Subaru’s X-Mode traction control system, and all-terrain tires.
The five-passenger Outback comes in a whopping eight trims: Outback, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Wilderness, Limited XT, and Touring XT. Starting prices range from $26,945 to $39,945.
The standard engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. The XT and Wilderness trims get a turbo-charged 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 260 horses and 277 pound-feet. Both engines are paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission.
The standard engine does ok in everyday driving but it won’t knock your socks off. Acceleration is slow but at least the transmission shifts quickly and smoothly.
My Wilderness tester has the turbo and it makes for livelier handling than you might expect from a Subaru. There’s some turbo lag when you try to accelerate quickly but then the power kicks in and you’re off. Steering and brakes are responsive. There’s some body roll when cornering. Subaru’s standard all-wheel-drive system can tackle challenging weather conditions on- or off-road. The ride is nice and smooth as the upgraded suspension does a good job of absorbing potholes and bumps. Visibility is good all the way around.
Fuel efficiency is good for an AWD wagon. EPA ratings for my tester are 22 mpg city and 26 mpg highway with a combined rating of 24. I got 23 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The cabin is pleasant and comfortable with an airy feel, nice materials and a decent array of standard features and tech. Soft-touch plastics cover many touchable surfaces. There’s plenty of room for taller adults in both rows, and seats are comfy and supportive. seating. Controls are logically laid out
Standard features include keyless entry, rearview camera, head-up display, automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, manually adjustable front seats, infotainment system with two seven-inch touch screens, four-speaker audio system, HD Radio, satellite radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, two USB ports, adaptive headlights, automatic high beams, and a rear seat reminder.
Available features include proximity keyless entry, push-button start, front-view camera system, dual-zone automatic climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, real leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, infotainment system with 11.6-inch touchscreen, navigation, six-speaker audio system, 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, two additional USB ports, Wi-Fi hot spot, driver drowsiness monitoring, and a moonroof.
Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and pedestrian detection. Many of these are included in Subaru’s EyeSight suite. These systems tend to beep and sound alarms more than other comparable systems.
Available driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and rear collision warning.
The standard Starlink infotainment system has two seven-inch touchscreens. My tester has the larger 11.6-inch touchscreen with a vertical orientation which is easy for the driver to see and reach. The menus, though, could be organized better. When you use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, it takes over much of the screen. And the system can be slow to respond to touch and voice commands.
The Outback has lots of cargo space. There are 32.5 cubic feet behind the second row and 75.7 cubes with the second row folded. A manual liftgate is standard and a hands-free power liftgate is available.
Turbo provides lively handling
Decent fuel economy for the class
Roomy, comfortable cabin
New Wilderness trim offers increased off-road capability
Good array of features and safety tech
Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Standard engine has slow acceleration
Clunky infotainment system
My tester starts at $36,995. The moonroof, navigation and reverse automatic braking are $1,845. Destination fee is $1,125 bringing the grand total to $39,965.
The 2022 Subaru Outback does what an SUV can do with the easy-to-drive nature of a wagon. Those who want more off-road capability will find the new Wilderness trim appealing. It’s easy to see why the Outback is so popular here in Oregon with its practicality, smooth ride, pleasant cabin, decent fuel economy, and standard AWD.