2022 Subaru Outback

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Updated: December 30, 2021

2022 Subaru Outback

The 2022 Subaru Outback is a little bit of everything. It has the body of a wagon, standard all-wheel drive, the ground clearance of an SUV, a large cargo capacity, a roof rack, and a reputation for ruggedness and durability. It can be fitted with rubber floor mats, pet fences, and pet crates. For 2022 it goes one step closer to sounding like a full-blown SUV, with a new Wilderness addition with 9.5 inches of clearance, a softer suspension for a smoother ride on its all-terrain tires, plus copper accents for distinctive looks.

Its base engine is a poised if not overly powerful 2.5-liter 182-hp flat-4. The upgrade engine is a 2.4-liter 260-hp turbo-4 that’s better for passing, but really not needed. Both engines are mated to an excellent CVT with stepped ratios that make it feel like an automatic transmission.

The Indiana-made Outback’s chassis is well tuned. The cabin holds five adults and at least 32.5 cubic feet of cargo. The seats have good shapes for long-distance comfort. Every Outback has automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control.

The EPA rates the base Outback at 26 mpg city, 33 highway, 29 combined. The turbo-4 drops fuel economy to 23/30/26 mpg, and with the higher-riding Wilderness edition, it’s 22/26/24 mpg.

The 2022 Outback earns top crash-test scores. The NHTSA gives it five stars overall, with four stars for front-passenger impact. The IIHS says it’s a Top Safety Pick+.

Model Lineup

The Outback comes in eight models: base, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, Touring XT, and the new Wilderness edition.

The $28,070 base Outback has standard all-wheel drive, power features, cloth seats, LED headlights, 17-inch wheels, and twin 7.0-inch touchscreens with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The $30,270 Outback Premium adds an 11.6-inch touchscreen, heated front seats,
power driver seat, better sound insulation, and dual-zone climate control. Available options include a sunroof, navigation, a power tailgate, and blind-spot monitors.

The $36,270 Onyx XT uses the turbo-4 engine and 18-inch wheels. It has blacked-out body trim and durable vinyl interior, and a power tailgate.

The $36,995 Wilderness is equipped like the Onyx XT but with more ground clearance and all-terrain tires.

The $40,995 Outback Touring XT wears nappa leather upholstery and has a 180-degree front camera for parking.

Exterior

The Outback wears some flattering details, such as discreet body cladding and trim LED headlights. The front end is clean and simple, as is the sweep of lines down the side, never mind that it suggests the shape of a hiking boot.

The new Wilderness model carries copper-colored details and flat black fender flares, all jacked up over big all-terrain tires, plus black roof rails. The tweaks work, making it look rugged, sporty and fun.

Interior

The instrument panel stacks digital displays in the center for an updated look. Upper models get a technology statement in the 11.6-inch portrait-style screen. It’s the standout feature in a design that has a simple wall of controls, and plain but effective lines that grow more handsome when clad in leather.

The tall touchscreen is sharp and clear, but smartphone connectivity icons get crammed into a lower band on the screen.

With gradual improvements in refinement and comfort, the Outback cabin
has great strides from its bare-bones origins. There’s enough sound deadening to dull the engine noise. The interior is composed of soft material on the dash and durable-looking fabric or plusher leather. The Outback can carry five passengers in comfort for long distances, and has ample space for cargo.

The cloth buckets in base models have all the bolstering most drivers need, with manual bolster adjustment. Upper models add power adjustment for the driver seat, heating and cooling, and nappa leather upholstery. The Outback’s high roof guarantees head room for all but the tallest occupants.

Storage space for small items could be better. The low glovebox and phone bins need rubber liners.

The rear doors open wide to make entry for 6-foot passengers a breeze. Two broad adults fit easily, but three are not so easy.

The rear seats fold down to turn the Outback’s 32.5 cubic feet of cargo space to more than 75 cubic feet. The load floor is flat, and there are tie-down points and a roof rack to expand utility for adventurous owners. What’s more, the Wilderness’ fortified roof rack holds up to 700 pounds. The rear roof pillars inhibit outward vision, though.

Driving Impressions

The 182-hp 2.5-liter flat-4, with 176 lb-ft of torque, can accelerate to 60 mph in about nine seconds. That’s quick enough to be satisfactory for most Outback buyers. The 260-hp 2.4-liter turbo-4 is standard in the Onyx and Wilderness, optional in the Limited and Touring; it’s powerful enough to make passing easy on two-lane roads.

With its simulated gear changes, the CVT avoids that droning feel of other similar transmissions.

The handling is adept, as the Outback corners without much body lean. However the steering is light and numb. The brake feel is non-linear.

The ride is firm without being punishing like some big SUVs. The suspension uses struts in front and a multi-link setup in the rear. It works well on all kinds of roads, including unpaved trails. The standard 8.7 inches of ground clearance allow it to tackle muddy logging trails or lumpy dirt roads.

That’s where the new Wilderness model shines, with its 9.5 inches of ground clearance. It takes the Onyx trim and the turbo-4 engine, with final-drive gearing that provides better low-end response. The suspension is softened to give the Wilderness a more placid ride on its all-terrain tires.

Its 20-degree approach angle, 23.6-degree departure angle, 21.2-degree breakover angle, along with optional skid plates, bring it closer to rugged off-roaders like the Toyota 4Runner and Jeep Wrangler. But it’s a better daily compromise than either of those rivals.

Final Word

The 2022 Outback brings good value for less than $30,000. The engine is poised, and quick enough that you don’t need the turbo version. The new Wilderness version stretches the Outback and moves it even closer to more rugged SUVs in ability without extracting a big penalty.

 

—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection