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The 6 Best Midsize SUVs For Visibility, The Subaru Outback And 4 You Should Avoid

If you value a car with excellent visibility, which is the best midsize SUV you can buy? An updated ranking from Consumer Reports says it's the Subaru Outback. Why is it the best, and which four models should you steer clear of? 

Do you want an SUV with the best visibility? Consumer Reports (by subscription) says you should put the 2024 Subaru Outback on your shopping list because it's the best new midsize SUV in outward visibility. Before I explain why, here's why the report from Consumer Reports is valid. 

When you test drive a car, you can't determine if it has any deal-breaking flaws or even superior or poor visibility. You discover if it does once you've driven it for a few thousand miles. Then it's too late. You are stuck with it for at least a few years or longer.

Like many new car shoppers, you read professional reviews from automotive journalists. But they only have the vehicle for a few days or maybe a week, so they aren't able to determine its best and worst characteristics in that short time. 

They play the review game. I know because I have test-driven hundreds of new vehicles for over twenty years and then wrote a review. If journalists keep writing positive reviews, they'll get cars from that car brand. If they don't, they'll stop getting cars. Who should you believe?

Consumer Reports says, "Our auto experts drive each car, SUV, and truck for a lot of miles—2,000, in fact—before we even begin to test it. This allows us to live with and use the cars in everyday situations, just like you do."

I will put more weight on someone who has 2,000 miles behind the wheel of the vehicle I'm researching over a journalist who's driven it for only 200 to 300 hundred miles. Which one would you trust more? 

CR says, "Through this process, we identify categories where deal-breaking flaws can make a buyer regret a purchase: how the controls work, visibility, rear-seat comfort, and cabin noise.  

Driving a vehicle with excellent outward visibility could keep you safer on the road and in traffic. You'll be able to see when there is a potential danger. Here is why Consumer Reports says the 2024 Subaru Outback is ranked number one in the midsize SUV category. 

The 2024 Subaru Outback

Why does CR say the Outback is the best Midsize SUV?

"The Outback delivers one of the airiest outward views of any vehicle on the market. It starts with the SUV-like raised ride height and slightly elevated seating position, both of which contribute to the generous view out over the hood. But it's the slim pillars all around combined with long and tall side windows that give the Outback excellent outward visibility." 

"Other helpful elements include the front triangle windows, which make it easier for the driver to see around the side mirrors to spot vehicles or pedestrians at intersections, along with a very large third side window to alleviate rear three-quarter blind spots. And last, the rear window is quite large."

I agree with Consumer Reports' assessment of the Outback's outward visibility, but there is more shoppers should know. 

It's not just the Outback; all of Subaru's SUVs have superior outward visibility. The Forester compact SUV, Ascent 3-Row SUV, Solterra compact electric SUV, and Crosstrek subcompact SUV are top picks. 

There's A Unique Reason Why They Are The Best 

The Subaru Boxer engine in the Outback sits much lower in the chassis, giving the vehicle more stability and a more dynamic driving experience. The lower engine height plays a significant role in a Subaru vehicle's outward visibility from the driver's seat.

The significant benefit is that the hood slopes downward because of the Boxer engine's height in the engine compartment. This gives the driver improved outward visibility and a better view of the road ahead. Even though the Outback is a midsize SUV, it feels like you're driving a much smaller vehicle.

The Outback is the best in the midsize SUV category for outward visibility from the driver's seat, but Consumer Reports says there are five other good choices. 

  • Honda Passport, 
  • Honda Pilot, 
  • Toyota Grand Highlander, 
  • Lexus TX 
  • Audi Q7

There are also some midsize SUVs to avoid. Consumer Reports says there are four you should steer clear of.

Midsize SUVs To Skip: 

  • Jaguar I-Pace 
  • Tesla Model X 
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio 
  • Jaguar F-Pace

The models above are sporty-looking and visually appealing but have the worst visibility in the midsize SUV category. 

If you are shopping for a small SUV, what are the best choices for visibility?

Subaru's smaller SUV, the 2024 Crosstrek, is among the best in terms of outward visibility in the subcompact SUV category. 

CR recommends the Subaru Crosstrek, Toyota Corolla Cross, and Kia Seltos. However, the BMW X1 wins the segment. 

There is one subcompact SUV to avoid. Consumer Reports says you should steer clear of the Mazda CX-30. 

CR's Best Midsize SUVs In Rear Seat Comfort

The rear seat is another area where a vehicle could have a deal-breaking flaw. You typically only think about this area once it's too late. Consumer Reports also says the Subaru Outback is one of the best regarding rear seat comfort

The Ford Edge wins the category, but the Subaru Outback and Nissan Murano are also good choices.  

CR says there are two midsize SUVs to skip if you want the best rear-seat comfort. The Ford Bronco and the Jeep Wrangler are not kind to rear-seat passengers. If you plan to take passengers on a long road trip, you'll want to put the Outback on your shopping list. 

Check back tomorrow, and I'll cover the Subaru model with the best cabin quietness. You might be surprised. 

What about you? Have you purchased a vehicle with deal-breaking flaws? Tell us about it. Click the red Add New Comment link below and join the discussion.

I am Denis Flierl, a top Torque News reporter since 2012. I’ve invested over 13 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role, working with every major car brand. I am an experienced Rocky Mountain Automotive Press member. You'll find my expert Subaru analysis here. Follow me on my X SubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

Photo credit: Subaru


Jack (not verified)    May 21, 2024 - 4:51PM

Hello Denis,

I have been reading and enjoying your reviews for some time now.
I have a 2006 Subaru Outback XT which I love.
I’ve been waiting for the rumored remodeled Subaru Outback XT Hybrid.
However, as much as I want one it would be a deal breaker if they do not change the terrible portrait screen with a horizontal one with more physical knobs.
Have you heard whether they may change the screen?

Thank you,

Teresa H (not verified)    May 22, 2024 - 12:38AM

Owned Outback. Now have Ascent. Outback is great , fun to drive & that gas mileage! The ascent is great too. The turbo gives it just enough punch to get up & go. Mich better than Outback to get into traffic. Vision lines are good, especially with the backup camera (mine doesn't have front camera). It is big enough to carry anything. It's kinda our second pickup truck. Love the AWD. Never worry about being g caught in weather. Subaru makes great cars.

Diane Cortelyou (not verified)    May 22, 2024 - 9:18PM

I had been a big Subaru advocate until I was just told by the dealership that my 2017 Forester needs a cam carrier costing between $3500 and $4500!!
Looking online I see that this has been an ongoing problem which Subaru seems to ignore.
My sister, daughter and niece all own Subaru's but may not buy one again.

Bryan (not verified)    May 23, 2024 - 1:35AM

In reply to by Diane Cortelyou (not verified)

Absolutely agree with this. I purchased a 2015 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5 and although I needed to replace the brakes, the rear bearing, two front lower arm assemblies, I felt relatively satisfied. However, after the third year of ownership, I noticed a lot of oil loss. I brought it up every single time I brought it in for an oil change and was assured every single time that everything was good and this was normal even though the oil warning light would come on every 5-7 months. Two months after the power train warranty ran out, I had it on for it's regular scheduled oil change and what do you know! A miracle. They discover a leak on the front camcarrier and it's going to be $4000+ dollars. Dealership and Subaru Canada would NOT offer to help with covering this after multiple complaints. They recalled almost every other forester EXCEPT my touring model which was the most popular. Shocker. Thanks Boobaru!