2015 Subaru Outback Preview

Jeff Youngs | Apr 24, 2014
  • Same exterior dimensions as outgoing model
  • Bigger inside for people and cargo
  • Improved fuel economy
  • Upgraded AWD system
  • Standard CVT for both engines
  • Refined driving dynamics
  • New infotainment and safety technologies


The 2015 Subaru Outback is redesigned, retaining what has made this a popular SUV alternative for two decades while adding new levels of refinement. It continues with a choice between a 4-cylinder and a 6-cylinder engine, each paired with standard all-wheel drive (AWD), and is sold in Standard, Premium, and Limited trim levels.

Exterior Features

Completely redesigned, the 2015 Outback is claimed by Subaru to be "bolder" and "crisper" with styling that conveys "all-road capability" and "refinement." Models with a 4-cylinder engine are called Outback 2.5i, and have a new active grille shutter system designed to improve aerodynamics and fuel economy. The Outback continues to provide 8.7 in. of ground clearance, more than most crossover SUVs.

Interior Features

Although the new 2015 Subaru Outback is about the same size on the outside as the 2014 model, the interior of the new model is larger, offering more space for occupants and their belongings. Rear legroom increases, as well as cargo room, growing to 35.5 cu. ft. with the rear seat in place and to 73.3 cu. ft. with it folded down. Subaru has also taken steps to quiet the Outback's cabin while at the same time installing improved interior materials that the company believes will give the crossover a "more premium feel."

Optional Features

Subaru offers a power rear liftgate for the 2015 Outback, the first time it has done so for this model, and versions equipped with the optional EyeSight safety system get front fog lights that illuminate when the driver turns the steering wheel. Note, however, that they simply illuminate rather than swivel in the direction the Outback is turning. Additional upgrades, depending on the trim level selected, include leather seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, an All-Weather package, heated rear seats, navigation system, and a premium audio system.

Under the Hood

A 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard for the Outback 2.5i, one making 175 horsepower and 174 lb.-ft. of torque, the latter available across a broader rev range than before. Subaru says this model will get 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.

The Outback 3.6R continues with a 3.6-liter 6-cylinder engine producing 256 horsepower and 247 lb.-ft. of torque. Subaru expects the Outback 3.6R to get 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

Both engines employ boxer design with horizontally opposed pistons in order to reduce the center of gravity while simultaneously preserving ground clearance. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is standard in all 2015 Outback models, equipped with six pre-selected "ratios" that the driver can select using paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

The CVT feeds engine output to all four of the Outback's wheels through an updated Active Torque Split AWD system that distributes the power according to wheel slippage, acceleration, steering angle, and yaw rate sensors in order to optimize traction. A new X-Mode is designed to help the Outback tackle more challenging terrain, and it includes a new hill-descent control system. All Outbacks get a Hill Holder System with Incline Start Assist and an Active Torque Vectoring system designed to help improve cornering capability.


The 2015 Outback is equipped with a standard reversing camera and new front-seat cushion air bags, and offers a long list of safety-related upgrades on the Premium and Limited versions. The optional EyeSight suite of safety technologies now uses stereo cameras to power the adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane-departure warning systems. A new Rear Vehicle Detection System combines a blind-spot detection system with rear cross-traffic alert and a lane-change assist feature that can tell when traffic is approaching from behind at a rapid rate of speed and warn the Outback's driver if he or she signals a lane change.


Subaru installs its Starlink connectivity technology in the 2015 Outback 2.5i, pairing it with a 6.2-in. touch screen, HD Radio, Aha Radio, Pandora radio, Bluetooth music streaming, USB port, and more. An upgraded system with a larger 7-in. screen, voice-recognition technology, text-messaging capability, satellite radio, and additional functionality is included for the 2.5i Premium.

Upgrade to the Outback Limited for a 576-watt premium sound system with 12 speakers. Outback Limited models also offer a new Keyless Access & Start system with PIN Code Access technology, adding an extra measure of protection against unauthorized use of the car.
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