Should You Take the 2021 Subaru Outback Off-Road?

The 2021 Subaru Outback offers the versatility of a family station wagon married to a light-duty off-road vehicle with moderate capabilities.
Written by Mary Alice Morris
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The 2021
Subaru Outback
brings a lot to the table in terms of versatility. It’s got the cargo room and comfort of a station wagon, with the capabilities of a modest off-roader that can easily tackle sand, snow, mud, and gravel. You won’t be climbing up any steep overlooks in the Outback, but you can get close enough for a nice view. 
Serious off-roaders look for high ground clearance, a body-on-frame construction, and generous approach and departure angles. Unfortunately, the 2021 Outback lacks in these departments so it’s not suited for intense off-road terrains. However, it is ideal for light off-roading—or soft-roading—as long as you’re aware of its limitations.
Read more to see if the 2021 Subaru Outback fits your needs in this guide from
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Can the 2021 Subaru Outback go off-road?

The 2021 Subaru Outback can easily go off the beaten path, as long as you don’t push your luck by attempting to crawl over big rocks or up and down steep riverbeds. It’s best suited for trails and even-ground excursions. Ideal off-road spaces for the Outback include moderate slopes, established off-road trails, sandy beaches, and snowy weather.
Here are some of the specs to help you determine just what kind of off-road action you can get with the 2021 Subaru Outback.

Ground clearance

One of the first things off-road enthusiasts check for in a vehicle is its ground clearance, which measures the distance between the lowest part of your vehicle’s unladen chassis and the ground beneath. An ideal off-road range is anywhere between 8.8 and 10.8 inches
This range provides enough space to pass over rocks, stumps, and even some wildlife without losing stability. However, the 2021 Subaru Outback is just slightly out of this range with only 8.7 inches of ground clearance
That doesn’t bar the car from off-roading. It just means that the Outback is not quite up to the low-end of the ideal off-roading ground clearance measurement. 


Torque, or the measurement of your engine’s rotational force, is best for off-roading when it peaks at a lower rpm in a lower gear. This allows lots of power at a slow, crawling pace which is vital for getting over steep inclines and rugged terrain. 
Unfortunately, the 2021 Outback doesn’t offer an impressive amount of torque, and it’s not at the low end, either. The Outback’s low-end torque hits 176 lb-ft at 4400 rpm. Ideally, an extreme off-road vehicle would offer much more torque somewhere between 2000 and 4000 rpm. 


The Subaru Outback comes standard with 17-inch wheels sporting Yokohama Avid GT tires sized 225/65R17. These are all-season tires known for great handling in winter weather—as long as you’re driving at a reasonable speed. 


Off-roaders will love to hear that all Subarus come standard with all-wheel drive. This lets the Outback easily gain traction and maneuver through loose rocks, shifting sand, snow, mud, and all other types of moderate terrain. 


Finally, you need to be aware of your vehicle’s approach and departure angles. If you’re not familiar with these, here’s a quick explanation to catch you up:
  • Approach angle: this tells us the maximum incline angle that your car can handle without interference
  • Departure angle: this number tells us the highest angle of descent you can take without interference
The 2021 Subaru Outback’s approach angle is 18.6 degrees, and the departure angle is 21.7 degrees. This gives the Outback more versatility than lots of family crossover SUVs, but it’s not enough to tackle canyon pits or big dips. 

Off-road rating: Rough and ready

With help from Jerry’s DIRT rating system, outlined below, we’ve assigned a score to the 2021 Subaru Outback for its off-road capability:
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
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The 2021 Outback gets an R rating. It’s rough and ready as long as you don’t push it past its limitations. It’ll do great on rutty dirt roads, established trails, camping excursions, and beach exploration. Most extreme off-roading should be left to more rugged—if less refined—models like the
Ford F-150 Raptor
or the
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon

The best off-road alternatives to the 2021 Subaru Outback

If anything about the Subaru puts you off besides the ground clearance and all-wheel drive—which simply isn’t matched by the competition—then you might want to consider a couple of alternate SUV models. These vehicles, like the Outback, could go on a moderate off-road adventure while still hauling the kids to and from school as a daily driver.
Best affordable alternative
2022 Honda CR-V
The 2022 Honda CR-V has a 7.8-inch ground clearance and a 190-horsepower, 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine.
Best mid-priced alternative
2020 Volvo V60
This somewhat luxurious crossover has a more suitable 8.3-inch ground clearance and a 250-horsepower, 2-liter, 4-cylinder engine.
Best off-roading alternative
2022 Volvo V60 Cross Country
The 2022 V60 Cross Country offers the same specs outlined above, except it also comes with all-wheel drive and a lifted suspension.
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How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

There’s a lot of fun to be had in off-roading, but one downside is finding a good price on car insurance. Off-road-capable cars tend to cost more to insure than other vehicles, but don’t lose too much hope!
You can find savings by using the
app. Jerry is
a licensed insurance broker
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Just download the Jerry app, answer some easy questions about yourself and your vehicle, and look over the list of custom car insurance quotes that Jerry retrieves for you. When you find the policy you like, you don’t need to make any phone calls or fill out any paperwork—Jerry does all the legwork for you. You can buy your new policy easily in the mobile app. 
Best of all—the average Jerry user saves more than $800 a year on car insurance!
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