2016 Subaru Liberty 2.5i Premium Review

2016 Subaru Liberty 2.5i Premium Road Test and Review.

When someone mentions the name Subaru to you, what do you think of? For me, there are a few different images that come to mind. Extreme sports and arcade racing games (hello Subaru WRX); outdoor activities that I have an extreme aversion to, like camping (hello Subaru Outback); and even more activities that occur outdoors, like kayaking, that I’m physically incapable of attempting (hello Subaru Forester).

So I’ll admit, luxury isn’t an image that usually pops into my head when I think of Subaru. But after driving around in the 2016 Subaru Liberty 2.5i Premium for the past week, it’s safe to say that’s all changed.

Wow. What an absolutely pleasant surprise this car turned out to be.

With a 4 cylinder 2.5 litre petrol engine and automatic transmission (Lineartronic™ CVT with manual mode), plus a whole heap of luxury features as standard, at $35,990 (the base model starts at $29,990) I think this car is really great value and well worth considering if you’re in the market for a mid-size sedan.

So let’s talk features, which on this model are all standard. You’ve got black leather seats (also available in white) that are not only super classy, but incredibly comfortable, and make you kinda feel like you’re driving around on your couch.

Even better is that both the driver and front passenger seats are totally electronic, with 8-way controls and dual memory for the driver’s seat, so you can set your ultimate driving position and always return back to it at the touch of a button. Perfect for mild control freaks like me. Boom.

You’ve got an electric sunroof. Yes that’s right, it’s standard. Boom. 18 inch alloy wheels which I think are just the sexiest looking rims ever. Boom.

A fantastic infotainment system that includes all the usual suspects like Bluetooth and sat-nav, plus Pandora compatibility, 6 speakers and a 7″ touchscreen, and which is one of the best systems I’ve experienced. Easy, straightforward, intuitive… this is really plug and play tech.

I had music playing from my iPod in no time flat, and as you might now know, for me that’s a huge priority. Boom.

And then there are all the safety features that are, yep, you guessed it, standard. BOOM.

Seriously, this car has safety features up the wazoo; it’s unbelievable. Sometimes with these news cars it can be too much, too intrusive, with alarms seemingly going off if you even dare to break wind, but I can honestly say that this wasn’t the case here.

I never felt they were taking over, most just doing their thing in the background and in fact there were a number of them that I really enjoyed and appreciated.

The blind spot monitors found on each side mirror proved invaluable on a few occasions. Adaptive cruise control was great; I was using it whenever I could.

The reverse camera is also fantastic, with exceptional image quality particularly in low light and at night. With 3 forward facing cameras, the EyeSight® Driver Assist system is amazing. It constantly monitors the road ahead and then warns you when it senses bad stuff is about to go down, like you possibly running up the back of someone in front of you, by sounding a warning and flashing a light around the speedometer and rev counter.

And I really liked Subaru’s lane departure warning system; it wasn’t this screeching banshee jolting you back into your lane but rather a friendly alarm, along with a flashing colourful graphic on the display showing you which side you were preferring a little too much.

It made you feel like you were in a real-life game of Operation; don’t touch the sides or you’ll get pinged. I found that it actually made me more vigilant about staying put in the centre of my lane, and really isn’t that the mark of a well-executed safety feature, that it actually makes you a safer driver?

And with dual front, front side and curtain airbags, plus a knee airbag for the driver, all standard across the entire Subaru Liberty range, its 5 Star ANCAP rating clearly is more than well deserved.

There’s plenty of room in this car, with 5 adults fitting comfortably, but it doesn’t feel like you are driving around in a small yacht. That’s really important for a vehicle like this that would make a perfect family car - it should appeal to both the male and female drivers in the family.

And I know from my survey of my homegirls, they all said that for all its roominess, riding around in it they felt like it was a totally manageable car to drive. You could easily fit in some baby seats in the back and still have room for someone to sit in the middle.

There’s plenty of storage that’s well thought out and not just space filler. The other thing I loved was the field of vision out of the windscreen. Because the side mirrors are attached to the door panel rather than in the corner of the windows, that little triangle against the pillars is a window.

It sounds ridiculous, but you’d be amazed at what difference they actually make.

The interior is just so pleasant to be in. It feels high-end and European. You just don’t feel like you are driving around in a plastics factory in this car. When you close the doors for example, it feels and sounds solid. Plus it just looks great on the road… beefy enough to be masculine and have a presence but with a big dose of refinement to balance it out.

The Liberty 2.5i Premium handles like a dream. Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, synonymous with Subaru, makes it feel like you are glued to the road, and with a bit of wet weather about in Sydney I was able to really prove its mettle.

At no point did I feel like the handling was compromised.  And the way I drive, that’s an absolute selling point.

The steering is effortless and smooth… so effortless I reckon you could turn a corner just using your little finger to turn the steering wheel, maybe even just the Force if you’re a Jedi. It’s not a hard ride, even on unsealed and poorly maintained roads it just cruised along.

Whilst the engine is a 2.5 litre, you’ve still got plenty of power on the other end of the pedal without compromising on fuel efficiency.

I know I’m probably sounding like a Subaru groupie, which I think I may have actually become, but I will admit there are a couple of things that I’m not completely in love with. The auto stop-start… it’s not a feature I’m sold on. I felt like it wasn’t as seamless and smooth as it could be.

I could really hear and feel when it was switching off and on. Maybe that’s just me, but I’m not a fan. Luckily you can turn this off if you prefer.

There was a little more road and engine noise than I was expecting, but with my music playing or with the sunroof open, which it was at every possible overcast moment (because I’m practically a vampire), it wasn’t intolerable but worth noting.

Then there’s the boot. Don’t get me wrong, it’s more than big enough, but the boot lid is so narrow that it makes it awkward to get big and bulky items in there. Plus you lose a little height towards the back of the boot due to the speaker hanging down on one side and the centre sash seat-belt holder hanging down in the middle.

Does it pass the airport pick up test? Yes, you could fit a couple of medium to large suitcases in there plus a few smaller bags, but the boot opening may thwart your attempts a little.

I have a crush on this car, and on the brand, and I’m not even joking. It was so hard handing this car back.

Not really having much experience with Subaru in the past, being able to cruise around in the Liberty 2.5i Premium has been the perfect introduction. I’d highly recommend this car to anyone, so if you’re looking for something in that mid-size range get down to a Subaru dealer and at least take it for a test drive.

I promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

NUTS and BOLTS - 2016 Subaru Liberty 2.5i Premium

Engine: 2.5 litre petrol producing 129kW and 235Nm

Transmission: Six-speed CVT automatic

Safety: Five stars

Warranty: Three years

Origin: Japan

Price: from $35,990


  1. Hi Rachel

    I read your Liberty review and I find it really helpful. I was wondering if you could make your comment about the actual fuel economy. I purchased mine only in April this year and it is a brand new Liberty. It doesn’t give me anywhere near the declared 9L/100km. So I took it to Subaru dealer today and they didn’t find anything wrong in the engine.

    However, looks like there is a new problem. The Eyesight Driver Assist doesn’t seem to be giving warning for lane departure, nor does it give warning for possible collision with the car in front. It was working until yesterday. The dealer had to reset the computer to do something with the fuel economy. Do you think computer reset can do any harm to Eyesight technology? Thanks in advance for your comment.

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