Best Value SUV 2022

Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT shown in Autumn Green Metallic with accessory equipment
The Road to Adventure starts here
In a world that has gone SUV and Crossover crazy, one mighty all-wheel drive vehicle stands out as our choice for the best value SUV of 2022. We're talking about the ever-faithful Subaru Outback. This nimble compact SUV wagon launches into 2022 with a lifted suspension system to provide better ground clearance for off road thrills, ample cargo space for the family, loads of the latest tech features, and even a tent-ready roof that can hold 700 pounds. New this year, a more robust off-road ready Wilderness variant is available to take you forth confidently on the road to adventure.

Generation Outback

The Outback and Outback Sport first appeared in 1994 as an all-wheel drive station wagon family hauler. It came early to the car chassis-based utility vehicle party and by 2006, Crossover models comprised more than 50 percent of the SUV market in America. The plucky and versatile vehicle has gone through six generations since and was famous for its advertising campaign featuring Paul "Crocodile Dundee" Hogan in a series of TV spots where the Outback is seen trouncing other sport utility vehicles due to its superior stability, handling, and braking. Hogan was seen as the ultimate outdoorsman whose movies branded the actor as the spokesperson for rugged adventure and the Outback was his choice of ride.

Photo: KBB
By its fourth generation in 2009, the Outback was already evolving from a station wagon to a small Crossover SUV, both wider and taller than its predecessors. It was first to include a PIN code to unlock the vehicle lift-gate. The sixth generation appeared in 2020 with a new look and updated interior. It features better video cameras, and superior EyeSight 4.0 safety and driver assist features including roadside speed sign reading, adjustable speed limiting, and an intersection crash avoidance system.

As with all Subaru Crossovers, the Outback features Symmetrical All-Wheel drive, first developed in the 1970's by the automaker and consisting of a longitudinally mounted engine hooked up to a symmetrical drivetrain with equal length half-axles for better weight distribution and a low center of gravity. The combo makes for lighter steering characteristics and excellent traction in mud, rain, sleet or snow.

What's New for 2022?

The Outback continues to excel in a market packed with Crossover vehicles by every marquee imaginable, combining SUV prowess with the road manners of a conventional station wagon on steroids. This sleek, active lifestyle AWD renegade is available in nine trim levels, from Base to Touring XT, running the gamut of $26,945 to $41,070, respectively, depending on your need for various levels of off-road panache or luxury.
The big news for 2022 is the Wilderness trim version that offers up a more rugged off-road "go anywhere" appeal, extra ground clearance boasting 9.5 inches, upgraded suspension, all-terrain tires, and body work that suggests that the Wilderness is beefy enough to indeed take you anywhere. The Wilderness comes standard with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine for more "oomph," a heavy-duty roof rack for trips to active volcanos, and even a mud and water repellant interior. The honor of fording streams and climbing mountains in your Outback Wilderness to breathe the rarified air of the wilderness it is named for, will cost you 10K over the Base model price.

Engineered to Go Anywhere

When it comes to what is revving under the hood, the Outback line offers two choices:
  • 182 horsepower, 2.5-liter four cylinder
  • 260-horsepower turbocharged 2.4-liter motor (as used in the Wilderness). 
These are hooked up to a continuously variable transmission and all come standard with Subaru's excellent Symmetrical All-Wheel drive system. Steering is light and accurate, more than capable both on the highway and off the beaten path. Suspension is more than up to any task you can throw at it and the standard engine can tow 2,700 pounds, while the turbo version cranks that up to 3,500 pounds. As far as fuel economy, the EPA estimates that the Outback will take you 26 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway.

Inside the Cabin

Much like its brother the Subaru Legacy, the Outback is both comfortable and functional. The feeling is that the cabin is lined with quality materials that get the job done. The new Outback also gives you more interior room than earlier generations, both in the seating area and in the 33 cubic feet of cargo area behind the seats. With the rear seats folded down, you'll have an astounding 75.7 cubic feet of cargo space to play with.
All trim levels above the Base model include heated front seats, a power seat for the driver, several USB ports, and dual-zone climate control. The Wilderness trim and above variants kick in such goodies as heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, power adjustable front passenger seat and more.

Infotainment and Safety Features

While the Base model comes with two, 7-inch touchscreens, all other trim levels include a big 11.6-inch touchscreen with a volume/tuning knob and climate control buttons to accompany all the touchscreen controls. Infotainment includes a Wi-Fi hotspot, built-in navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard. From the Limited trim and up, you'll also get a premium Harman/Kardon audio system featuring 576-watts of unbridled power and twelve speakers!
No matter which version of the Outback floats your boat, all come with Subaru's EyeSight 4.0 suite of driver assist features. This includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control with lane-keep assist.

IIHS Top Safety Pick+

When it comes to accolades, the Outback is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ with Superior Front Crash Protection, won a Five-Star Safety Rating by the NHTSA, and garnered Kelley Blue Book's award for best resale value in its class, two years running as well as KBB's Most Trusted Brand award seven years running. J.D. Powers named Subaru Number One in Overall Brand Loyalty three years in a row and Experian was quoted as saying that 97 percent of all Outbacks sold in the last ten years are still on the road, beating Honda's CR-V, Toyota's RAV4, and Hyundai's Santa Fe.
Great Value All Around
When we say that the Subaru Outback is the Best Value SUV of the year, we compared it to all the competition. We were looking for the best all-around value across the board for real world use. Today, there are dozens of Crossover SUV vehicles to choose from. Starting with the tiny subcompact class where we believe the Subaru Crosstrek outdistances the Kia Seltos. The compact class is home to vehicles such as the Subaru Forester, Honda CR-V, and Nissan Rogue. Though smaller than the Outback, they are in the same price range.
Sitting on the throne of the midsize SUV class, the Outback shines in terms of quality and features and holds its own with such similar priced vehicles as the Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Venza, as well as the purely off-road warrior class dominated by the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco Sport, which cost significantly more.

We were looking for a vehicle that ticks all the boxes to transport your family in comfort, safety, and style and be as competent in the ice and snow as it is on a washed-out mud path. This must be a vehicle that is good for the long haul and that has plenty of room for groceries, pets, and adventure gear without buying a mammoth three-row SUV such as the Chevy Suburban or Ford Expedition that cost double the price of an Outback.

Let Lithia get you on the Road to Adventure
Take a test drive of the new 2022 Outback and you'll see why Subaru calls it their most adventurous Outback yet. Let us get you behind the wheel of the vehicle brave enough for Crocodile Dundee. You'll find your local Lithia Auto dealer here.