- Changes from 2015 update carry over
- Adds Subaru’s new STARLINK system
- 8.7-inches of ground clearance give it off-road capability
Even if it’s not quite a wagon or a full-fledged SUV, the 2016 Subaru Outback offers plenty of utility and off-road capability in a rugged package that gets technology enhancements for the new model year.
STARLINK is Subaru’s latest attempt to augment the technology in their vehicles and makes its debut across the lineup for 2016. It functions like a mix of infotainment and OnStar, controlling both in-cabin connectivity like Bluetooth and USB connections, as well as a mix of safety services as well. STARLINK comes standard on all Outback models, but features vary by trim level. On Premium, Limited, and Touring models, the system can read text messages and offers an extra USB port. There are two safety packages available on a subscription basis: Safety Plus, or Safety Plus and Security Plus. Safety Plus offers automatic collision notification, an SOS button, roadside assistance, and remote services like monthly diagnostics sent to your phone or email. Security Plus adds on stolen vehicle recovery, remote lock/unlock, and a vehicle locator.
The Outback’s two engine options carryover; the base engine is a 175-hp, 2.5-liter H-4 (boxer) with a more powerful 256-hp, 3.6-liter H-6 optional. All-wheel drive is standard and last year’s changes which included transmission updates and active grille shutters on four-cylinder models that enhance fuel economy carry over. Both hill-descent control and hill-start assist come standard.
Inside, the Outback offers a large rear cargo area with 35.5 cubic feet of space available behind the 60/40-split folding rear seat, about what you’d find in a compact SUV. A 6.2-inch touchscreen display, air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port, HD radio, and paddle shifters are standard on all models. There is a long list of available features, including navigation, the aforementioned enhanced STARLINK audio system, powered/heated front seats, heated rear seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a Harman Kardon audio system.
The Outback performed very well in crash testing, earning a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS and a full five-star overall rating from the NHTSA. Standard safety features include a rearview camera, antilock brakes, and electronic stability control. The available EyeSight safety system adds lane keep assist for 2016, which joins adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane departure warnings.