2024 Subaru Outback Onyx Touring XT Review

Wilderness looks minus Wilderness pricing

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Positives: Adopts more rugged Wilderness trim styling cues, roomy and posh interior, great ground clearance, excellent safety ratings, great wagon aesthetics.
Negatives: Vague steering, rough power delivery, annoying reliance on touchscreen controls, lame CVT, overly intrusive EyeSight system, overstyled fender trim.
Bottom Line: The Outback is roomy, kinda-rugged, comfortable, and safe. Driving enthusiasts should look elsewhere.
The Subaru Outback is seriously popular for the outdoor and suburban sets, but it's still a station wagon even though it's touted as an SUV. For 2023, the venerable Outback got refreshed and now comes in a whopping nine trim levels. Overall, it borrows some of the more adventurous styling cues from the top Wilderness trim, minus the copper accents. The result is a more aggressive-looking Outback. The upgraded Onyx XT trim adds a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and black trim bits. It also includes Subaru's EyeSight driver assistance tech, a huge 11.6-inch portrait-oriented infotainment screen, adaptive cruise control, wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, and adaptive headlights, to name a few. We drove it for a week, and here are our full impressions.

Driving Experience



The regular Outback isn't a rubber roaster, nor can it be relied on to take corners well. It's just a comfortable riding wagon, really, even though acceleration is actually pretty good. There's not much spirit or verve going on in the driving experience, and the Wilderness only makes the Outback dowdier to drive. Where it shines is off-road.

Ride Quality: The ride is cushy and comfortable. The taller ride height allows it to manage bumps even better.

Acceleration: 0-60 happens in about 5.8 seconds, which is decent for the segment. The CVT, however, removes any excitement from the experience.

Braking: Braking distances are longer than average, and the pedal doesn't inspire confidence. There's some mild mushiness, but progression is decent.

Steering: The Outback Wilderness's steering doesn't provide much effort or feedback. It's about what we expect from the Outback. We're not sure how this bodes for off-roading confidence, but we imagine it's not great in terms of understanding the terrain.

Handling: The Outback Wilderness is taller and, therefore, floatier in the turns. You can't push this one hard when it comes to entering a turn and trying to hit an apex.




The in-car tech in the Outback is a bit polarizing. It's really big and vivid, but it's also a bit busy looking for our tastes. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. There's also onboard 4G LTE onboard Wi-Fi on all trims, It's a solid set of tech features, and the infotainment system works well, though it's not the easiest to use.

Infotainment System: The big 11.6" color screen is crisp and easy to read, but we think there are too many colors, and the menus take some getting used to. The big screen has a lot going on that the driver has to look at while in motion, and most of the vehicle's operations have to be performed via touchscreen and that's not beneficial compared to good physical controls.

Controls: Physical audio knobs and infotainment buttons are well-placed and well-sized. The steering wheel controls are also situated for easy operation while driving. HVAC control knobs are large and easy to read and to use.




No Subaru is what we'd call attractive, but the changes to the lineup that are borrowed from the Wilderness edition help matters. The Outback looks more distinct, more rugged, and even a bit menacing. It's not as in-your-face as the Wilderness Edition, but it does stand out.

Front: The front end borrows some black trim bits and a black grille from the Wilderness. The bumper is not as blocky, but it's more rugged-looking. It's on the busy side, but it's better looking than the 2022 model.

Rear: The rear end is pretty chunky with a bumper that matches the front. The reflectors sit a bit too high for our liking, but we do think the taillights on the Outback are less "toothy" than the ugly versions on the Forester.

Profile: From the side view, the Outback Wilderness looks seriously tall with the elevated ride height. While it mostly looks pretty good from here, we think the fender well trim is a bit overstyled with unnecessary cut-lines and shaping at the trailing edge.

Cabin: The interior looks fancier with brown SofTex synthetic leather. We don't love Subaru interiors, but at least it's not trying too hard to be different.




There's a lot to love about the interior of the Outback. There's ample room for all occupants, and its generally a nice place to spend time. Subaru did a good job of creating a family-friendly interior where passengers will likely spend a lot of seat time.

Front Seats: The front seats are on the firm side, but they're not overwhelmingly so. There's some bolstering. The StarTex fabric is pretty convincing and quite supple for fake leather.

Rear Seats: 39.5 inches of rear legroom is pretty spacious for tall adults, and a six-footer can sit behind another similarly tall front occupant.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The car is rattle-free, and the exterior keeps wind noise at bay, even with the roof rack. If you push the turbo four hard, you can hear it, but that's not much different from other, similarly powered vehicles.

Visibility: The outside views are very good all around, with some minor obstructions via the D-pillar. Compared to most crossovers, the Outback Onyx fares very well in this department.

Climate: The climate system fires up quickly, and HVAC duties are performed well with well-sized vents. The front and rear seats are also heated, a standard feature on the Onyx XT trim.




The Subaru Outback model attains the highest ratings across the board for the 2021 model year, and the Outback remains unchanged for 2023. Families should take comfort in its top safety scores across the board.

IIHS Rating: The Outback attained the Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS with top scores all around, including ones for crashes, accident avoidance tech, headlights, and LATCH ease of use.

NHTSA Rating: It earned a full five stars in crash testing with only minor demerits in the side crash test and rollover risk.

Standard Tech: The Outback Onyx XT comes with EyeSight Driver-Assist System w/ Automatic Emergency Steering, Driver Focus (Distraction Mitigation System), Reverse Automatic Braking System, Whiplash Protection Front Seats, Brake Override System & Safety Pedal System, Blind Spot Detection w/ Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Anti-Theft Alarm & Immobilizer System, Front View Monitor w/ 180 Degree Viewing Angle, Rear Vision Camera, and a Rear Seat Reminder.

Optional Tech: None.




The lifted station wagon has a ton of cargo space that rivals larger vehicles. The front row, however, lacks some small cubby storage options that should be present on a vehicle like this.

Storage Space: Aside from good door pockets, and a well-sized center console armrest compartment, there's really only cupholder and a small tray at the bottom of the center stack.

Cargo Room: The Outback Wilderness has 32.5 cubic feet behind row two (more than most crossovers) and 75.7 cubes with the seats folded flat. That's more than the Mazda CX-5 and the Ford Escape.

Fuel Economy



The Onyx XT's more powerful turbocharged boxer engine (compared to the naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter version in lower trims) drops EPA ratings. We were not able to match the EPA rated 24 combined mpg, but we weren't trying that hard.

Observed: 17.3 mpg.

Distance Driven: 143 miles.




Our tester came standard with the very good Harman Kardon audio upgrade. The system sounds great and fills the cabin with strong bass and rich sound.

Final Thoughts

We don't expect an Outback to be a great driving car. Really, only the Subaru WRX is good at driving dynamics when it comes to the brand's lineup. The CVT and spongy handling do not contribute to thrills behind the wheel, but it is capable when things get a bit rougher than standard pavement and gravel. Overall, the Outback Onyx XT does a good job of making the Outback better looking and sportier. If you don't want a full-SUV, we think it makes a strong case for a slightly off-road station wagon.

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