2023 Subaru Outback
(Photo/Subaru)

Subaru Tries to Stay a Step Ahead of the Competition, Updates 2023 Outback

Subaru has built a loyal following with its rough and rugged lineup of sport utility vehicles over the years. But it’s facing increasing competition, especially in the compact crossover segment. So naturally, Subaru moves to launch a midcycle update of the Outback.

While it may not be the brand’s No. 1 seller, nothing has done more to establish Subaru’s reputation — and loyal customer base — like the familiar Outback, which made its original debut in 1995.

But with more and more automakers taking aim, and adding more rugged trim packages, Subaru is moving at unusual speed to refresh the compact crossover.

2023 Subaru Outback
(Photo/Subaru)

Subaru Outback Onyx Edition

The 2023 Subaru Outback made its debut at this week’s New York International Auto Show. It gets modest styling tweaks, an assortment of new tech features, and a new trim package: Enter the well-equipped Onyx Edition.

The latter model lands roughly in the middle of the Outback pack, between the Premium and Limited Lines. As the name suggests, the Onyx features black-finish exterior details, contrasted by a gray two-tone interior.

It adds several features not found on the Premium. These include a hands-free power liftgate, a front-view monitor, dual-mode X-Mode, Subaru’s off-road-oriented all-wheel-drive system, and a full-size spare tire.

Also, the Onyx Edition becomes the one version of the Outback to offer buyers the choice of two different powertrains. These include a naturally aspirated 2.5L boxer-four engine as well as an optional high-output turbo package previously offered only on the Outback XT and Wilderness trims.

2023 Subaru Outback
(Photo/Subaru)

Powertrain Specs

The 2.4L boxer turbo pushes out 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. But other than the new Onyx Edition, it’s offered only in the Outback XT and Outback Wilderness models, the last a recent, off-road-focused addition to the lineup. It delivers up to 23 mpg city, 30 highway, and 26 combined.

All other models rely on the naturally aspirated drivetrain making 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. This delivers 26 mpg city, 33 highway, and 29 combined.

Both engines are paired with an eight-speed continuously variable transmission with paddle shifters, allowing each to be used in simulated manual mode.

Tech and Design Changes

From a design standpoint, the changes for the 2023 model year are modest. And there are no updates at all to the recent Outback Wilderness. Other models feature subtle tweaks to the front cladding, a more prominent grille, and revised headlamps and fog lights. Outback’s cladding gets a bit beefier, as well.

There are some notable tech updates. Headed for a hard-to-find trailhead? All you’ll need are three words to define its location. The 2023 Subaru Outback becomes the first vehicle to integrate the what3words location technology that divides the globe into 10-foot square grids, each with a unique, three-word name.

Subaru updates Outback’s Eyesight technology for 2023 as well, giving it a wider field of view that helps spot potential problems earlier than before. The top-line Touring model adds a third camera to the original pair to make it even easier to spot bicyclists and pedestrians.

2023 Subaru Outback
(Photo/Subaru)

Availability and Pricing

The 2023 Subaru Outback will be produced at the automaker’s plant in Lafayette, Ind. As for pricing and availability, Subaru has yet to set a hard date for sales to begin later this year. That may be due to the ongoing semiconductor shortage that has forced it and other auto manufacturers to delay production over the past 18 months.

The appropriately named Outback Base model currently starts at $27,145, including delivery fees. The top-trim Touring package bumps that up to $40,145. However, few industry-watchers will be surprised if Subaru raises those prices for the upcoming year.

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Paul Eisenstein
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Paul A. Eisenstein is an award-winning publisher, photographer, editor, and one of the world’s most widely published automotive journalists. His work appears in a wide range of print, broadcast, and electronic outlets, including AutoWise, GearJunkie, NBC News, Forbes Wheels, and his own automotive website, TheDetroitBureau.com. He’s a North American Car and Truck of the Year juror, and board member and past president of the Automotive Press Association. J.D. Power also named him a “Pioneer of the Internet."