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To turbo or not to turbo, that is the Subaru Outback question. The Subaru Outback comes with one of two engines, a lazy 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a spunky 2.4-liter turbocharged engine in the Outback XT. Most who buy the Outback sweat over the decision between the two engines. But is the extra power worth the price?

How fast is a Subaru Outback XT turbo?

White 2023 Subaru Outback crossover SUV driving on dirt road
2023 Subaru Outback | Subaru

You can tell your friends with WRXs that their car uses an Outback SUV turbocharged motor. The standard 2.5-liter non-turbocharged engine makes 182 horsepower. The 2.4-liter turbocharged engine in the XT versions makes 260 horsepower. The differences are substantial, however. According to Car and Driver’s tests, the standard version can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 8.5 seconds, while the upgraded version is quite a bit quicker, hitting 60 in 6.3 seconds.

The Outback XT turbo motor has more low-end torque, which means that in around-town driving you’ll be able to sprint from light to light or hop on the highway a lot easier. Because of that torque, you can also tow more: the standard car can only tow 2,700 pounds, but the turbocharged version can tow 3,500 pounds, which is enough for a small trailer.

However, you do pay a premium at the pump. The 2.5-liter gets 26 mpg in the city, and 32 on the highway, which contributes to its low operating costs. With the turbo that drops to 22 city and 29 highway, and even further to 21 mpg city and 26 mpg highway when you add the beefy offroad tires and the suspension lift from the Wilderness edition. Whatever engine you pick, you do get a continuously variably transmission, or CVT, which is a love-it-or-hate-it system, though the Subaru’s system does have “gearing” steps so it doesn’t feel as strange.

Which Outback trim has the turbo?

All XT versions of the Outback have the turbo. Essentially, to get the turbo you pay about $10,000 more, or about $5,000 more when you compare trim to trim. The cheapest version of the Outback that comes with the turbo is the Wilderness edition, which starts at $38,445. Subaru seems to think that the turbo is worth a premium, too, as the four more expensive versions of the Outback automatically get the more powerful engine standard, though that gets into Audi price territory.

The base Outback starts at $28,395, however, once you step up to the Premium, for $30,695, or the luxury Limited version, you can see prices climb to more than $35,000. The Touring version with the 2.5-liter can compete with most luxury with its soft-touch leather and nice interior upgrades.

What’s new for the 2023 Outback?

Subaru Outback interior
Subaru Outback interior | Subaru
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The Outback hasn’t changed much since Subaru last refreshed the Outback in 2020. But for 2023, the Outback gets a new front-end look with new headlights and some trim. Also, the driver’s assistance aid cameras were improved.

Whether you get the turbo or not, every Subaru Outback has all-wheel drive. The turbo 2.4-liter will get the car moving quicker, and possibly provide more grins if you like that sort of thing. The two cars look about the same, but, for almost $10,000 more, it could be a big ask for most Outback buyers just for the extra boost.