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The wagon has fallen out of favor for many families who have made the switch to SUVs or minivans, but the Subaru Outback continues to hold its place in the segment among the few and best, options. The Outback offers the pragmaticism, price, comfort, capability, efficiency, and family-friendly features that can please almost any parent and their brood, evidenced by the model retaining its title as Good Housekeeping’s best station wagon in the publication’s 25 new Best Family Cars of 2023. The station wagon may not be as hip as an SUV in the school drop-off line, but that is far from reason enough to dismiss it as a top choice for transporting a family.

2023 Subaru Outback Parked in a Field - SUV Owner Loyalty Ranks the Outback Pretty High
2023 Subaru Outback | Subaru

The Subaru Outback is a wagon without ‘pretense’

Good Housekeeping praises the Outback’s family-hauling promise as it a “rarity” among the cars in 2023 in that it is “devoid of pretense.” Essentially, the Outback doesn’t cloak or present itself as anything other than it is. The publication heralds the Subaru’s standard all-wheel drive, variety of trims from basic to rather luxe, and generous feature list “without every betraying its functional roots.”

Though some are hard-pressed to consider station wagons as more pleasurable to drive than more vogue SUVs and crossovers, there’s no denying the more aero-friendly and lower-riding wagon are more athletic and efficient on the road. Additionally, the Outback earned praise for its rugged looks, practicality, ride comfort, and Subaru’s history of reliability.

The Subaru Outback is a tried-and-true family car

The 2023 Subaru Outback doesn’t deliver big power or performance with its standard 2.5-liter flat-four cranking out 182 horsepower paired with a continuously variable transmission (a turbo 2.4-liter offering 260 horsepower is available). But for hauling a flock, it lacks little convenience otherwise.

The Outback sports comfortable seats, plenty of rear leg and headroom, and a sizeable 32.6 cu-ft of cargo area behind the second row with a lower lift-over height than many midsized SUVs.

Go above the base model and the interior is nicely equipped with features like dual-zone automatic climate control with rear air vents, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an 11.6-inch vertical touchscreen.

Higher trims come standard with upmarket amenities like heated rear seats, a Harman Kardon sound system, sunroof, ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, a sunroof, and digital rearview mirror. The Outback also provides the convenience of standard all-wheel drive for rough weather or when traversing a rutted lane on the way to a soccer field.

Of course, a family hauler still needs to be relatively affordable, and the 2023 Outback fits the bill. It starts at under $30,000 with destination, well-equipped mid-grade models ring in around the mid-$30,000 mark with the top-tier Touring XT with its 260-horsepower engine doesn’t crest $45,000.

Additionally, the Outback has a five-star overall crash rating by the NHTSA with adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane-keep assist, and automatic high beams as standard with further driver’s aids available.

Other models earn spots as the best family cars of 2023

The Outback isn’t the only station wagon to earn a spot in Good Housekeeping’s 25 best new cars of 2023—the Volvo V90 Cross Country wears the crown of the best luxury wagon. And for those who still have a station wagon stigma, the publication has listed plenty of other options to consider.

The Ford Bronco, which is more off-road capable than the Outback, though not quite as practical, was named the best mid-size two-row SUV among mainstream automakers with the Kia Telluride retaining its title as the best three-row SUV. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 earned the title of best electric crossover, the Chrysler Pacifica was named best minivan and new-to-the-U.S. Toyota Crown took the top spot among full-size sedans.


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