When you think of a Subaru, you undoubtedly think of outdoor adventure. Subarus are one of the top long-lasting vehicles on the road and off road. As newer versions are released and SUVs and cross-overs become more popular, it begs the question of will the Subaru Outback finally come out with a 3rd row seat? We've taken the time to look into this question to bring you an answer.
The Subaru Outback does not have 3rd row seating. Going all the way back to the 1999 model and all the way up to the 2022 model, there is generous interior space, but still no 3rd row. Compared to the popular Forrester, the Outback will be 2 inches wider and 8 inches longer for a more roomy feel.
While the Outback may not be able to seat 7 or 8 passengers, it's still a great camping vehicle and daily driver. In this article, we'll be going into other options in the Subaru family that have 3rd row seating, plus comparing specs. If you're looking for how to camp out in your Subaru, we've also brought you tips on how to make it as comfortable as possible.
Seating capacity of a Subaru Outback
Taking a look back to the 1999 Subaru Outback and up to the new 2022, there have only ever been 5 seats. The driver and front passenger seat and the 3 seater row in the back. According to Cars U.S. News, the Outback ranks #5 in best wagons on the road, truly a high compliment. You'll be receiving all-around safety features for your passengers and a durability standard put out by Subaru.
One of the biggest downsides seen in the Outback forums is that a family of 5 can be a tight fit in an Outback. In particular, trying to fit children and car seats all into the back seat. If your heart is set on the Outback and you have a larger family, bring the car seats and crew to sit inside one to see how it'll be. You'll probably be able to say yes or no right away.
Taking a look inside the 2022 Outback CVT size, you'll find it's quite spacious. It starts off with a total of 109 cubic feet of passenger space and 39 inches of headroom for those in the back seat. No need to bump shoulders in the 2nd row with 57 inches of shoulder room plus 39.5 inches of legroom. Moving up to the front, the driver and front seat will enjoy 40 inches of headroom and almost 43 inches of legroom.
Are Subaru Outback Seats Comfortable?
After reading through the official Subaru Outback forum, the overall consensus is that the seats are very comfortable. Of course, this can be taken with a grain of salt as everyone's body requires different points of support. A majority of owners just get in and don't even think about the seats because they feel so familiar. Owners that use their Outbacks to go on camping trips also appreciate the heated leather seat options, which can be great for soothing out the strain from hiking.
Based on the comparison feature on the Subaru website, in the 2022 Outback, cloth seating is the standard feature on the base Outback and Outback Premium. The Limited, Touring, and Onyx Edition will come standard with leather upholstery. The Touring's heated leather seats are stand-alone due to their standard feature of also being ventilated. Also, since there is a liberal amount of leg space, taller drivers will be able to sit just as comfortably.
So far, the only reoccurring complaint on Subaru forums of the seats has been the plastic lumbar support in the driver's chair. Owners with back and hip problems or any sort of disk injuries have found that the lumbar support either isn't enough or is just in the way. Make sure to take a nice long test drive before settling down with any car to make sure the seats will form comfortably around your body.
Tip: If you currently own an Outback and need more lumbar support, try adding a separate lumbar pillow.
Click here to view this lumbar pillow on Amazon.
Which Subaru Has 3rd Row Seating?
While the Outback may not have 3rd row seating, the Subaru Ascent does. Coming in at the largest Subaru yet, the Ascent is meant for taking the whole gang on a trip. The Ascent can fit either 7 or 8 passengers with its second row option of either captain chairs or a middle fold-down bench. Plus, with so much space, you'll be getting a whopping 19 cup holders!
The Subaru page for the Ascent showcases key features such as 5,000 lb towing capability, all wheel drive, and up to 27 MPG. The base model will have a starting MSRP of $32,295 and go up to $45,445 for the top model Ascent Touring line. As for total passenger space, you'll be receiving 153.5 cubic feet and 86.5 cubic feet in cargo space.
Tip: A cubic foot is a square measuring 1 foot on each side.
How Much Cargo Can Fit In An Outback?
The 2020 Outback gives you 5 seats and 32.5 cubic feet of storage space. When you fold down the back row seats, it will increase your cargo space to 75.7 cubic feet. Compare that to the 2015 Outback which has 35.5 cubic feet with the seats up and 73.3 cubic feet with the seats down.
In the cargo space of an Outback with the seats down, you'll be able to fit in a twin-sized mattress and place the headboard and disassembled bed frame on top of it! That's roughly 38 inches wide and 75 inches long, according to Baldwin Subaru. Depending on how many people are on the camping trip, you'll easily be able to load a camping stove, tents, fishing poles, and other outdoor equipment into the cargo space.
Don't forget about the exterior of an Outback! The manufacturers of Outbacks know their buyers are here for adventure and outside activity. Most Outbacks come standard with a roof rack, perfect for canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. Plus, you'll be able to install a bike rack on the back for fast loading and unloading.
Click here to view this bike rack on Amazon.
Can You Sleep In An Outback?
Yes! Outbacks and other Subarus are a frequent choice for car campers. By sleeping in your car, you eliminate the extra weight of carrying around a tent and spending time setting it up when you just want to hit the hay. A twin and full-sized air mattress will fit into the back with the seats down.
Thanks to the length of an Outback, two adults will be able to fit into the back. It can be a slightly tight space for some but there is also 39 inches of headroom for when you sit up. In a statement from a seasoned car camper, he said that even with the back seat put at a slight incline, it can be a bit hard on the neck.
Instead of sleeping in the backseat, try out the front seats! That's right, this seasoned camper and his partner have found that sleeping in the front is much more comfortable. The front seat allows you your own space, having spacious legroom and tilting the seat as far back as you'd like. It also helps you don't have to move all your gear out of the way.
Click here to view this padded sleeping bag on Amazon.
What's needed to sleep in your Outback?
Sleeping in your Outback is pretty similar to sleeping in a tent. You'll need an air mattress or some sort of padded sleeping bag. It's a good idea to invest in an insulated blanket since cars can get just as cold as tents. To keep fog and moisture inside the car limited, crack your window ever so slightly. Take time to buy mesh and either tuck it into crevises or securely tape it down to keep bugs out.
The Outback models do not have 3rd row seating, but the Ascent model does. The Outback still comes with plenty of leg and head space for smaller parties on short road trips. There is enough cargo space in the outback to haul a twin mattress and even sleep in when camping! The best way to know if it's for you is to go on a long test drive.
For more information on SUVs and Subarus, check out these posts:
Can You Flat Tow A Subaru? [Everything You Need To Know]