Trucks and SUVs

2022 Best 2-Row SUV: Subaru Outback

Returning to reclaim the title of Best 2-Row SUV for 2022 is the Subaru Outback. The sixth-generation Outback previously topped this highly competitive segment when it debuted in 2020, but was nudged out by the Toyota RAV4 in 2021.

Two-row SUVs are hugely popular with Canadians: excluding pickup trucks, the RAV4 is Canada’s single biggest selling vehicle, so it’s no surprise it was among the five finalists our jury of more than 20 automotive experts voted for after considering and evaluating every single two-row SUV available on the market. In addition to the Subaru Outback and Toyota RAV4, the other finalists for 2022 included the Mazda CX-5, the Ford Bronco Sport, and the all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E.

Where the Outback stands out is its near-perfect balance of practicality, versatility, safety, and value. It delivers in spades in these key areas, while offering more pleasing, car-like driving dynamics than most small SUVs thanks to it’s wagon-based roots. It’s a vehicle that proves compromise can mean win-win.

“Its ground clearance and excellent traction make it a formidable choice for all weather conditions, while its cargo carrying capability is good enough to be properly useful,” summarizes AutoTrader reviewer Jeff Wilson in his comparison of the latest-generation Outback against its predecessor.

The 2022 Subaru Outback range includes seven trim levels, starting with the budget-friendly 182-hp Convenience trim at $31,195 (not including freight/PDI) and topping out with the turbocharged 260-hp Premier XT at $44,195. Rounding out the naturally-aspirated lineup are Touring, Limited, and Premier trims, while a ruggedly-styled Wilderness edition and a Limited XT trim complete the turbocharged range (the Wilderness edition replaces last year’s Outdoor XT trim).

The Outback’s practicality starts behind the rear seats, with 920L of space for adventure gear or groceries, which expands to 2,144L with the rear seats folded. It’s not the highest capacity in the segment, but it’s on par with most, and thanks to the Outback’s lower-than-average stance, it may be one of the easiest to load. This goes doubly so for the sturdy roof-rack with its built-in stowable crossbars: “The Outback’s roofline is lower than many crossovers … so hoisting items like kayaks or cargo boxes is less of a challenge,” notes AutoTrader’s Peter Bleakney in his review of the Outback.

Front or back, the Outback’s seats are roomy and comfortable, with the back seats offering increased legroom compared to the previous generation model. “The interior of the Outback really impresses in terms of materials, from the base model to the loaded Premier,” remarked AutoTrader’s Sami Haj-Assaad in his comparison of the Outback versus the Honda Passport. Bleakney summarized the Outback as “one of the more accommodating and comfy vehicles in this class.”

Safety is always a key criteria for two-row SUV buyers, and here the Outback has few peers. Its solid body structure scores top marks in independent crash tests, and the Outback comes with a wide array of standard safety equipment including Subaru’s comprehensive EyeSight system, which incorporates adaptive cruise control, lane centring assist, lane departure warning, lane sway warning, lane keep assist, lead vehicle start alert, pre-collision braking/brake assist, and pre-collision throttle management. Outward sightlines are better than most too, making it easier to spot and avoid trouble. “Subaru has been racking up safety awards for years,” notes AutoTrader’s Sami Haj-Assaad, “so it should come as no surprise that the Outback earned a … Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).”

Power for the 2022 Subaru Outback comes from either a naturally-aspirated 2.5L horizontally-opposed four-cylinder making 182 hp, or a turbocharged 2.4L version making 260 hp. In either case, power is routed to all four wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission. Fuel economy is excellent for the segment: 9.0/7.1 L/100 km (city/hwy) with the 182-hp engine, and 10.1/7.9 L/100km (city/hwy) with the 260-hp engine (the Wilderness edition takes an extra hit due to its bigger tires and taller stance, using 10.9/8.9 L/100km).

With its right-size packaging, car-like ride and fuel economy, renowned all-weather traction, strong safety record, and plentiful available features, the Subaru Outback does a stellar job of delivering what two-row SUV buyers are looking for. In a segment rich with excellent options, it’s AutoTrader’s choice as the best of the bunch.