2023 Subaru Outback XT Touring (Turbocharged) Review

The Subaru Outback XT has finally arrived with a WRX derived turbo engine - but is it enough to fix the Outback's biggest flaw? Let's see!

Matt Brand
Expert reviewer
Updated on
February 9, 2024
Saucey score


  • Finally has the engine power it deserves!
  • Turbo scores better suspension tuning
  • Unreal luxury-esque interior


  • A bit boring
  • Safety technology can be very annoying
  • Technology could be better
Car specs

183kW + 350Nm

$61,856 + Including On-roads

9.0L/100km (Claimed)

5 Star ANCAP

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The Subaru Outback is one of Australia’s favourite family wagons, but there has always been that elephant in the room.

Ask most Subaru Outback owners, and they will tell you the worst thing about their car is the power – or lack thereof.

But it’s never an issue, it’s more like ‘meh, it’s fine’.

Well settle no longer, because Subaru have slapped a turbo-charger on the Outback and have finally brought in the Subaru Outback XT.

Powered by a slightly detuned WRX engine – one of Subaru’s most iconic performance vehicles – the all-new Subaru Outback XT has not only brought better engine performance, but a whole host of other changes to make this one of the most impressive family wagons you can buy.

So, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride! (it’s more enjoyable, thanks to the turbo)

How much does the Subaru Outback XT (Turbo) cost?

The Subaru Outback XT (i.e. turbocharged) commands a $5,000 price premium over the equivalent naturally aspirated (i.e. non-turbocharged) Subaru Outback.

Subaru Outback pricing including on-road costs:

  • Outback AWD - $47,993
  • Outback AWD Sport - $52,687
  • Outback AWD Touring - $56,646
  • Outback AWD Sport XT - $57,897
  • Outback AWD Touring XT - $61,856

Today we are testing the top-specification Outback AWD Touring XT, which truly is a luxury-esque wolf in sheep’s clothing.

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What do we think of the exterior looks of the SubaruOutback XT (Turbo)?

I’m not going to lie, the Subaru Outback is a car I have never looked twice at. That’s not at all a bad thing, it just means you will always fly under the radar driving one of these.

So how does this WRX powered Outback look any different to a standard, boring powered Outback? It essentially doesn’t.

But, the keen eyed of you will see the new LED foglights - and from the front, that is the only way to tell.

Usually for turbocharged, high performance Subaru’s you get a hood scoop to ram air into the turbochargers intercooler. So when I didn’t see a hood scoop, I literally opened up the engine bay to make sure it had a turbo.

Instead, for my fellow car-geeks out there, Subaru has hidden channels under the bonnet which funnels air into the classic intercooler mounted on-top of the engine.

Anyway, back to looks!

The side remains the same with 18” alloy wheels. This is the perfect size for this car, and the fat rubber on them really helps to make this ride incredibly well. More on that soon.

We’ve also got the Outback in god’s given body shape, the Wagon. For you SUV stans, the doors still open wide for ease of entry, your ride is still high enough for good visibility, but low enough that body roll is not an issue.

There is a reason that us car journalists almost ALWAYS recommend wagons.

The rear of the Outback is innoffensive, and functional. The XT gets dual exhausts and of course the XT badge.

To summarise, it’s a great looking, if not a little boring, family wagon.

What’s the interior and connectivity like of the Subaru Outback XT (Turbo)?

Every time I get into the Outback I am genuinely shocked by how nice it is.

You’d be hard pressed to find any scratchy plastics dotted around, everything is plush, leatherette… and monotone.

It’s super functional, but again, boring. I personally couldn’t care less, but just know you ain’t going to be wow’ed like in a Kia Sportage.

Speaking of, the 11.4” infotainment screen has a very strong ‘wow factor’ but upon closer inspection, is a little laggy, the colours are a bit washed out, but it works well enough.

FYI if you are a fan of good audio, get the Touring grade – because it comes with some of the best sounding 9-speaker Harman Kardon audio systems we’ve tested in any car sub-$100,000

It does have wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto, but considering there is no wireless charger even on this top-spec touring, it’s an almost mute point. You do get a USB-A, USB-C and 12V socket though so good connectivity there.

The top-spec Touring here gains Nappa leather seats, which are some of the best in the business. Incredibly well bolstered and adjustable, they feel so nice to the touch, and they are heated and cooled. Seriously up there with my favourites in any price bracket.

Same goes for the steering wheel. It’s a really lovely unit to hold onto, with buttons to control absolutely everything – including your heated steering wheel.

Arguably the biggest letdown of the interior is the instrument cluster. It’s a couple of uninspiring analogue gauges, and a small centre display that doesn’t show very much information. Meh, good enough.

Shoutout to the sunroof too that you score on the Touring, even if it is very small.

What about the Back seats of the Subaru Outback XT (Turbo)?

Again, the back seats are an awesome place to sit. The plush Nappa leather extends to the back, with both outboard seats heated exclusively in the touring.

Your kids will be happy too, scoring 2 USB-A ports for all their iPad charging requirements.

How much can it fit in the boot of the Subaru Outback XT (Turbo)?

And here is one of the main reasons you buy a wagon – you get the driving characteristics of a sedan, with the practicality of an SUV.

Open up the boot (using the powered tailgate, naturally!) and you will find 522L of storage space. If that means nothing to you, that’s a lot of space.

Put down the rear seats and that extends to 1267L of boot space.

Also you get a full size spare wheel – nice!

So yes, the Outback is very practical!

What’s under the bonnet of the Subaru Outback XT (Turbo)?

Speak to any owner of a Subaru Outback, and they are likely to tell you they love their Subie. And then they’ll slip in “I don’t mind that it is boring to drive” or something to that effect.

Can we be honest with each other for a second? That’s a concession, and in real world driving – overtaking, traffic light races, school runs, etc. – having more power without sacrifices to fuel economy is always a bonus.

Well guess what.

Subaru listened to customer feedback, and brought the turbocharged Outback that has been available in some other markets like the US.

Interestingly, the engine is a detuned variant of the enigma that is the high-performance Subaru WRX. A 2.4L turbocharged petrol 4-cylinder boxer engine that outputs a much healthier 183kW of power between 5200 and 6000rpm, and more importantly, 350Nm of torque between 2000 and 4800rpm.

Why is that important? Well, torque (i.e. pulling power) is available pretty much as soon as you put your big toe on that accelerator. So the engine actually works less hard than the standard naturally aspirated Outback (i.e. the one without the turbo) to move the same distance.

And so, in real world driving, you will likely find that the new turbocharged engine actually get’s a lower return on fuel economy – which we averaged about 8.1L/100km for our week of testing. Pretty great!

The engine is paired to Subaru’s CVT transmission, which works fine if not totally uninspiring.

But this is not a race car, it’s just got the power it deserves.

How does the Subaru Outback XT (Turbo) drive?

The Subaru Outback XT Touring is a dream to drive.

As I said, this thing is a major sleeper – it’s so uninspiring on the outside but being in it is frankly awesome.

First things first, the power. No it won’t break your neck, and even in sport mode it feels like smooth acceleration. But it also never runs out of power like the natural aspirated engine can feel like – especially at speeds above 80km/h.

The symmetrical AWD (i.e. permanent AWD) means this thing has loads of mechanical grip, and it hooks to the road. Melbourne being Melbourne, we experienced a bucket load of rain during our testing and not once did the Subaru Outback break traction.

As you can see in our full YouTube review, we gave the Outback PLENTY of Sauce around rural backroads.

The steering of the Outback has that goldilocks feel of being just enough to be fun(ish) and light enough for those pesky 3 point turns.

Turning a corner at any speed and yes, you will feel the body roll. It might have a WRX derived engine, but its suspension certainly is not.

The suspension has been revised for all Turbo Outback's, with revised dampers front and rear and new springs up front, which – cover your eyes naturally aspirated Outback owners – makes the Turbo even more comfortable.

No joke, this thing glides along the road. It is so dang comfy.

And yes, we timed the 0-100km/h sprint – and if you want to know that time go watch our full YouTube review!

How does the Subaru Outback XT (Turbo) perform off-road?

One of the major benefits of the Outback XT is that it is not an on-demand AWD, but rather a permanent AWD.

So of all family wagons / SUVs on the market, you’d be hard-pressed to want to take another family car Outback (yes, pun intended).

On some weather ruined backroads, the Subaru Outback was immensely comfortable – but more importantly – did not struggle in any way.

At speeds below 40km/h, you can also activated X-Modes. One is for snow and dirt that will reduce engine power and try and maximise the traction using some software trickery.

The other one is deep snow and mud, that sets power to maximum and disables traction control.

We didn’t try either, but if its anything like old Subaru systems of past, it probably works great.

Is the Subaru Outback XT (Turbo) Safe?

Yes, the Subaru Outback is safe – and the XT is of course no different.

In 2021, the Subaru Outback received a 5-Star ANCAP safety rating.

Standard safety equipment includes:

  • AEB (forward and reverse): Pedestrian, cyclist detection
  • Junction assist
  • Autonomous emergency steering
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Driver attention monitoring (which is very annoying, watch our YouTube review to find out why!)
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Lane centring
  • Traffic sign recognition

Shout out to the autonomous driving capabilities of the Outback. This thing has level 2 autonomous driving, which essentially means it can handle itself down a highway with minimal driver input.

A lot of competitors have these features to be fair, but it is a dream on commutes!

How much can the Subaru Outback XT (Turbo) tow?

A big benefit of extra power means extra braked towing capacity.

The Subaru Outback XT Turbo can tow up to 2400kg through its braked towing capacity, up by 20% from the 2000kg of the naturally aspirated Outback.

How much does the Subaru Outback XT (Turbo) cost to service?

Subaru provides a 5 year, unlimited kilometre warranty and 12 month roadside assistance.

Strangely the Outback XT Turbo is CHEAPER to service than the naturally aspirated Subaru Outback by about $100 bucks over 5 years.

Service intervals are evert 12 months or 12,500km, whichever comes first

For the XT turbo, you can expect:

  • Year 1: $376.61
  • Year 2: $518.40
  • Year 3: $460.15
  • Year 4: $819.68
  • Year 5: $404.47

Final thoughts - should you buy a Subaru Outback XT (Turbo)?

We really liked the Subaru Outback before, and like current owners, we simply excused the lack of power in the naturally aspirated engine.

“Meh, it’s fine.” – probably all current naturally aspirated Subaru Outback owners, 2023

It’s not like you will come to harm if you have the naturally aspirated engine, but it does always leave you feeling ‘what if?’

If you can stretch the budget, it is without a doubt better to get the turbocharged Subaru Outback XT.

Not only do you get a complete package, you get an engine you won’t be wanting more power from, better fuel economy, revised suspension for a comfier ride, and better towing capabilities.

We really struggle to fault the Outback, although the big three are it’s a bit boring, it has nannying levels of active safety tech (looking at your driver attention monitor), and the interior tech falls short of Korean rivals.

It’s a great package, and we at CarSauce are very impressed!

Saucey score breakdown

Maintenance Costs and Warranty
Fuel (or EV) Efficiency
Interior Design and Features
Value for Money
Technology and Innovation
Is it fit-for-purpose?
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Matt Brand
Matt Brand, the esteemed car critic from Car Sauce, offers unparalleled expertise on all things automotive. From new car releases to pre-owned options, he provides in-depth analysis and honest evaluations to guide readers through the car-buying process. Join us as he delves into the exciting world of motoring.
Car specs

183kW + 350Nm

$61,856 + Including On-roads

9.0L/100km (Claimed)

5 Star ANCAP

Buy a Car!
No Obligations, Hassle Free.

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