2017 Volkswagen Passat vs Subaru Outback
Family vehicles come in lots of different shapes and sizes these days, but most of the time we think of sedans and SUVs. But some vehicles out there don’t quite fall into either of those categories, and the Subaru Outback is one of them. So, let’s see how it measures up against of our biggest-selling sedans, the 2017 Volkswagen Passat.
2017 Volkswagen Passat vs Subaru Outback
Volkswagen isn’t trying to break the mold with the styling of the 2017 Passat, and that’s probably why it’s such a hit with buyers. A car doesn’t have to be look “cutting-edge” or “out there” to attract buyers; it has to look the way we expect it to look and not offend our own style and we will likely buy it. The 2017 Passat is living proof that not alienating anyone is a very real–and very successful–sales strategy.
If we are talking about only the way these vehicles look, it’s honestly hard to imagine that many people will buy a Subaru Outback because of how it looks. A strange sort of hybrid of sedan, SUV, and wagon, to say the Outback is a bit confused is probably fair. Regardless, the look is awkward and a bit perplexing, so the conservative but handsome Passat takes the honors here.
What’s under the hood matches the look of the Passat, two available engines that are both conservative and sensible. The majority of Passats come with a 1.8-liter turbo-four that develops 170 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque, but there’s also a 280 horsepower V-6 available if you’re prepared to go for the Passat VR6. The four-cylinder comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, while the V-6 gets a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. All Passat models are exclusively front-wheel drive.
Subaru also offers two engines for the Outback. The smaller of the two is a 2.5-liter flat-four that develops 175 horsepower, and the other is a 3.6-liter flat-six that puts out 256 horsepower. Both units are mated to a pretty good CVT transmission, and all Outbacks are all-wheel drive. The all-wheel drive option gives this one to the Outback.
For a midsize sedan, the Passat has a pretty spacious interior with 102 cu.-ft. of passenger volume. You’ll enjoy a generous 42.4 inches of leg room in the front, 39.1 inches in the back, and the trunk can swallow 15.9 cu.-ft. of cargo. That’s a lot of room for people and their stuff.
The Outback sounds more spacious as its passenger volume is 108.1 cu.-ft., and you will find an extra inch of leg room in the front than there is in the Passat. However, rear seat passengers get an extra inch of all-important leg room in the back of the Volkswagen.
It certainly doesn’t hurt the chances of a family vehicle’s success if it delivers decent fuel economy, which the Passat does. With the four-cylinder engine it’s rated by the EPA at 23 mpg in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg combined, which isn’t bad considering the VW isn’t packed with the latest fuel-saving technology. The V-6 is rated at 20/28/23 mpg.
Having all-wheel drive standard across the range is a nice feature, but there’s inevitably a price to pay in terms of fuel economy. The four-cylinder in the Subaru is still pretty good, though, with ratings of 25 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg combined, but the V-6 is below-par with ratings of 20/27/22 mpg. Although narrower than some might have expected, this is still another victory for the Passat.
Learn More about the Volkswagen Passat
The high-riding all-wheel drive format of the Subaru Outback means it’s a great all-round performer, but you pay a price for that if you want to take advantage. The first price is, well, the price, which is significantly more than the Volkswagen Passat. The second is the look, which even fans of the Subaru would have to admit is not attractive by any stretch of the imagination. The Passat’s impressive sales and long-term track record demonstrate its impressive pedigree, and we’d take it over the Subaru as an all-round good value family car that all the daily driving essentials very well.