Also, your outback is a midsizer with a full-time AWD system, so 23 with an ancient transmission (any 4AT, which is essentially a 3 with an overdrive is going to have massive gaps) is not bad. My Volvo S40 got 23.5 in 50/50 mixed, and that had a 6M and was a proper compact (ford C1 platform)!
We complain about CVTs because most modern traditional automatics are quite good, especially compared to 15 plus years ago. If you want to compare a 4AT to a CVT vehicle, use something that was around when everything had a 4AT, like this
(The Justy was one of the first with a CVT. And the last with a carburetor, funnily enough)