Review: Subaru Outback (2014)

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Rugged and genuinely capable off road. Comfortable and practical. Very well-equipped as standard. Impressive CVT gearbox.

High emissions and poor economy. No cheaper two-wheel drive option. Boxer diesel engine dropped.

Subaru Outback (2014): At A Glance

For the sixth generation of Legacy and Outback, the Legacy was dropped from the UK market due to anticipated poor sales.

The 2015 model year Subaru Outback stuck to the same formula of rugged, all-wheel drive capability allied to subtle styling. And the new model does nothing to break the mould. It does, however, take a big leap forward in quality, technology and handling, making it much easier to recommend than previously.

The latest car shares a lot with its predecessor but it has been heavily revised, with more modern styling, a much improved cabin, retuned suspension and a new standard-fit safety system called EyeSight. This combines one of the best adaptive cruise control systems available with automatic emergency braking.

The Outback uses four-cylinder boxer engines - as is typical for Subaru - in petrol or diesel. The 175PS 2.5-litre petrol is offered with a CVT automatic only, while the far more sensible 150PS 2.0-litre diesel is available with a manual or CVT automatic gearbox. Unfortunately emissions are high for both and fuel economy isn’t too impressive – though Subaru tends to have accurate official figures in Real MPG.

The Outback has a permanent all-wheel drive system which works very well in tricky conditions both on and off road, including wet mud and snow. The all-wheel drive system makes the Outback a good tow car for those who live in areas prone to poor weather, with a braked rating of up to 1800kg for the diesel and 2000kg for the petrol.

The cabin has taken a big step up in quality, with better materials and a cleaner, more upmarket dashboard. This includes a touchscreen infotainment system with navigation. The back row is roomy enough for adults while the boot is practically shaped and spacious, with a huge maximum volume of 1848 litres.

Standard equipment is generous, but the range is fairly limited. All models have all-wheel drive as standard, so the Outback is really meant for buyers who genuinely rely on their car in all conditions. For those who want rugged looks, but who drive in friendlier environments, there are cheaper alternatives on the market both in term of running costs and price.

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What does a Subaru Outback (2014) cost?

List Price from £32,995
Buy new from £30,810

Subaru Outback (2014): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4775–4790 mm
Width 1820–1840 mm
Height 1605 mm
Wheelbase 2745 mm

Full specifications

Subaru might be renowned for making rugged cars but it has always lagged behind rivals when it comes to its interiors, which are typically workmanlike rather than plush. This has been addressed with the latest Outback, which feels more upmarket and gets a snazzy, responsive new infotainment system as standard.

The centre stack and instruments have been revised, with a cleaner, less cluttered layout and a new soft-touch covering. The seats are comfortable and the controls are sensibly placed and intuitive, but there is still a feeling of hardwearing durability to the materials and switches.

The back row is big enough for adults to sit in comfort and the boot is a good square shape, with a wide opening tailgate that is electrically-operated on top SE Premium models. Two easy-to-reach levers flip the split rear bench forward to give a flat load area with a maximum capacity of 1848 litres - more than sizeable rivals like the latest Volkswagen Passat Estate, which has 1780 litres.

UK models get a seven-inch touchscreen with navigation as standard. This responds to common smartphone gestures like pinching and swiping, making it intuitive to use. It includes Bluetooth connectivity for telephone or music functions and the navigation can be set up with an off-road setting so it doesn't send you to the nearest road when travelling on unmarked tracks. 

Standard equipment on entry-level SE models is generous, with air conditioning, navigation, electrically adjusted driver’s seat and LED headlights among the basic kit. There is also an SE Premium equipment grade which adds a sunroof, keyless entry, leather upholstery and larger 18-inch wheels, which still give good ride quality.

Standard Equipment:

SE models get automatic LED headlights with washers, adaptive cruise control, EyeSight emergency braking, lane departure warning, 17-inch alloy wheels, all-wheel drive, active torque vectoring, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, privacy glass, touchscreen system, Bluetooth and heated front seats.

SE Premium trim adds leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, keyless entry and start and a power tailgate. 

Child seats that fit a Subaru Outback (2014)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Subaru Outback (2014) like to drive?

The Subaru Outback is available with a choice of two engines, both of which use a horizontally opposed ‘boxer’ four-cylinder layout. The petrol choice is a 2.5-litre with 175PS, offered with a CVT automatic transmission only, while the more sensible 150PS diesel is available with either a six-speed manual or a CVT automatic.

Subaru’s CVT gearbox is one of the best available. Called Lineartronic, it acts like any other CVT under low throttle loads, adapting to the best engine speed for the circumstances. However, when driven hard it changes to a shift pattern with seven preset ratios. In practice this makes it feel more like a traditional seven-speed automatic, with no coarse, unpleasant droning.

It works best with the diesel engine, which is quiet and refined for the most part. It does get a little loud at higher revs, but far less so than the petrol. The petrol is fine at a cruise, but under acceleration it gets overly loud and doesn’t sound particularly pleasant, nor does it feel as powerful as the 175PS figure would suggest.

The diesel is a far better all-round choice. It might be less powerful with 150PS, but it has a punchy peak torque figure of 350Nm. This is available from as low as 1600rpm, so the engine doesn’t need to be worked hard to deliver useful acceleration – plus it is more efficient than the petrol.

That said, boxer engines aren’t known for their efficiency. The petrol manages emissions of 161g/km and official economy of 33.6mpg, while the diesel manages 145g/km and 42mpg with a manual gearbox or 159g/km and 38.5mpg with the CVT. In the Outback’s defence it is all-wheel drive and Subaru models tend to come close to matching official figures in our Real MPG section.

Thanks to all-wheel drive and the boxer engine's low centre-of-gravity, the Outback has impressive stability on the road. Despite being a heavy estate car the handling is good, with lots of grip through bends and fairly little body roll. Despite this the suspension offers excellent ride quality and stability over broken and undulating road surfaces - even on the larger 18-inch alloy wheels.

Not only is the Outback good to drive on road but it is impressively capable off it. The all-wheel drive system makes light work of rough tracks, wet mud and even snow. It’s only extreme environments like very steep slopes, heavily rutted tracks or deep water that will stop the Outback, despite its estate body style.

Standard on all new Outback models is the EyeSight system. This combines one of the smoothest adaptive control systems on the market with lane departure warning and an emergency brake assist that will stop the car to mitigate or even entirely prevent collisions.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
2.0 D 48 mpg 9.7 s 145–155 g/km
2.0 D Lineartronic 45–48 mpg 9.7 s 159–166 g/km
2.5 Lineatronic 39 mpg 10.2 s 161 g/km

Real MPG average for a Subaru Outback (2014)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

28–51 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Subaru Outback (2014)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

How much weight is it safe to tow with our car?

I am interested in a 2.5i Subaru Outback which is plated to tow 2 tonnes. Our trailer plus horse is 1350kg. 85% of the Outback's kerb weight of 1612kg is 1370kg, so scrapes in the Caravan Club's old "85%" rule so I should be able to stay both legal and safe. Do you think I need to be aware of anything else? I have to say that I'm not sure about the CC's advice as it would mean that the big Land Rovers, Land Cruisers and Shoguns of the world would only be able to tow about 1.5 tonnes against the 3.5 they all claim.
The CC "85% rule" is for towing two wheel caravans with two wheel drive cars. It's because light and boxy caravans are less stable things to tow than, for example, a racing car on a trailer.
Answered by Honest John
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