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The Subaru Outback is a crossover with a dedicated fan base. Critics and drivers often speak highly of the Outback’s reliability, and it is also known for being a fun vehicle for off-road driving. Subaru even offers a Wilderness trim that makes the Outback even more of an off-road machine.

What features do drivers love most about the Outback, though? J.D. Power surveyed Outback owners, and the results are somewhat surprising.

The 2022 Subaru Outback, like the 2023 Volkswagen Arteon, is one of the best family cars.
Subaru Outback | Subaru

J.D. Power surveyed Outback drivers

J.D. Power reviewed the 2023 Subaru Outback and also surveyed Outback owners to get their thoughts on the crossover SUV. This study discusses the demographics of Subaru Outback owners and asks owners how they feel about 10 different things about the Outback.

Because J.D. Power conducts these studies for other vehicles as well, this study also compares how the Subaru Outback compares to other vehicles in the midsize SUV segment.

The categories in the survey involved 10 general things about the car, and they covered everything from the car’s exterior style to its powertrain. When combined, the list includes most of the major things an average driver would consider about their vehicle. 

As part of the study, Outback drivers were asked to rank the 10 categories from best to worst according to their experiences with the crossover SUV. While some of the findings were expected, other categories ranked unexpectedly. 

High and low points of the Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback owners ranked the SUV’s driving feel as the best overall aspect of the vehicle from the 10 categories. This is not entirely surprising, as the J.D. Power reviewer noted how well the Outback handled on both city streets and in off-road driving.

Having different trims, like the Wilderness for off-road driving, would likely make the driving feel even better. 

The feeling of safety category ranked second in the survey, and this is another aspect of the Outback that is unsurprisingly strong. Subaru is known for its safety, and the company’s advanced driver assistance systems called EyeSight have previously received positive reviews.

With EyeSight, base Outback models have features like forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking. However, J.D. Power notes that the base trim does not offer some common features like blind-spot warning.

Meanwhile, the two categories that ranked the lowest in the J.D. Power survey were fuel economy and infotainment. Subaru’s infotainment system is known as Starlink, and the J.D. Power reviewer agrees that the Starlink system is a weakness of the Outback.

Drivers can connect to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but without connecting a mobile device to the system, Starlink is less responsive to voice commands.

Driver thoughts on the Outback’s powertrain are confusing

The third-lowest category in the J.D. Power survey was the Subaru Outback’s powertrain, and this might initially seem confusing. If drivers universally loved the driving feel of the Subaru Outback, then how could they dislike the crossover’s powertrain?

The easiest way to explain this confusion is that the Outback is not a fast SUV, but it is comfortable. Base Outback models are equipped with a 2.5-liter, 182-horsepower 4-cylinder engine. In the J.D. Power review of the Outback, the reviewer noted that the vehicle was slow, meaning that the powertrain was likely as mediocre as the survey respondents said.

However, not everyone is looking for a fast car, and Outback owners who are not expecting a fast vehicle are likely satisfied with how its ride feels. Thanks to the all-wheel drive and generous ground clearance, the Outback can tackle difficult terrains, and it also handles well on the road. Because of these benefits, it still feels good to drive, even if the powertrain is lacking. 


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