After being redesigned in 2020, the adventure-ready Subaru Outback crossover returns for the 2021 model year with minor yet notable changes, two of which may save lives. To improve nighttime visibility, Subaru has added steering-responsive LED headlights to for the upcoming model year, along with a now-standard rear seat reminder so that children and pets are never left behind. Brilliant Bronze has also joined the palette for exterior paint color.


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Trims and Powertrain


The 2021 Subaru Outback continues to come in seven trim levels: Base, Premium, Limited, Limited XT, Touring, Touring XT, and Onyx Edition XT. All except the XTs get a 2.5-liter flat-four engine producing 182 hp and 176 lb.-ft. of torque. The XTs will get a turbocharged 2.4-liter engine whisking out 260 hp and 277 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines will have a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and all-wheel drive is standard across the range. The EPA estimates that '21 Outbacks with the base engine will achieve 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway, while the turbocharged versions will return 23 city/30 highway.


Comfort and Convenience


The 2021 Subaru Outback is built with high-quality materials and filled with the amenities that today's drivers want. The Base is nicely set up with LED steering-responsive headlights, roof rails, a 60/40-split fold-flat rear seat, automatic climate control, and a rearview camera. The Premium adds LED fog lights, side mirrors with integrated turn signals, windshield wiper de-icers, a power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Keyless entry with push-button ignition and a hands-free liftgate are optional. Those two features are added to the Limited as standard, along with a power-adjustable front-passenger's seat, memory functions for the driver's seat, heated rear outboard seats, leather upholstery, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A heated steering wheel can be added. The Touring is granted the heated steering wheel, a sunroof (available with the Premium and Limited), ventilated front seats, and upgraded leather upholstery. The Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT add a few stylistic upgrades.




While the 2021 Subaru Outback has yet to be crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2020 model was awarded a 5-star rating and deemed a Top Safety Pick+ by each respective organization. All trims will have Subaru's EyeSight suite of active driver aids (adaptive cruise control with lane centering, pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warning, and lane keep assist), high beam assist, and - as mentioned - steering-adaptive headlights and a rear-seat reminder. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is available with the Premium but is standard on the Limited and the trims with the XT suffix.




The Base has an excellent infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite radio, a four-speaker audio system, and dual USB ports. The Premium gets an 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen, HD radio, two more speakers, a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and a pair of USB ports for the second row. The Limited is enhanced with a premium 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, while the Touring also gets integrated navigation (optional on the Limited).