2016 Subaru Outback Road Test and Review.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m not really the outdoors type. I’ll be honest, the closest I get to being ‘outdoorsy’ is brunching al fresco at one of Sydney’s many wonderful cafes or spending a balmy summer evening at a rooftop bar basking in the ambience.
So when I was told I was going to be reviewing the Subaru Outback 3.6R I wondered if it would be a good fit; could the woman whose favourite weather condition is ‘indoors’ really be into a car that’s synonymous with all things outdoors?
Well after a week of driving around in this wonderful vehicle I was ready to hop onto the Behind the Wheel Car Classifieds, buy a second-hand surfboard, paddleboard, snowboard… anything board related to throw in the back, and go camping.
It’s really like a sportswagon version of the Subaru Liberty 3.6R, but that is in no way a negative.
Like the Liberty (which I reviewed here), the Subaru Outback has a whole heap of luxury features as standard, so at $48,490 (with the base model manual diesel version starting at $35,490) you’re getting value for the price.
With a six-cylinder 3.6 litre petrol ‘boxer’ engine and CVT auto transmission, you’ve got a lot of power under foot.
It does come at the expense of fuel economy, I won’t lie, using 9.9L/100km (combined) compared to 7.3L/100km (combined) for the 2.5 litre petrol version, but unfortunately that’s always going to be the compromise for having that sort of power.
Luckily you’ve got Subaru’s Intelligent Drive (SI-DRIVE) that features a few different driving modes: Intelligent (I) mode, Sport (S) mode and SportSharp (S#) mode, so it was easy to switch from having less power and better economy, or more power and responsiveness.
The engine just has that lovely low rumble to it, without the obtrusive engine noise. It’s a really quiet car, with not much road noise – perfect for driving around town or out on the highway.
It’s not a hard ride, even on the worst roads that Sydney has to offer, and of course with the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive that we’ve come to know and love with Subaru, the Outback feels like you are glued to the road, even in the wet.
It handles like an absolute dream, at speed or at Driving Miss Daisy speed, and the steering is so responsive and effortless.
Between the luxury features, safety features and the ‘let’s make life easy’ features, I was chuffed with what comes standard on this car – so many features, so little time.
This memory function allows you to set your ultimate driving position and always return back to it if someone else has faffed around with your settings (and let’s face it, it’s really annoying when someone faffs around with your perfect driving position!).
One of the best infotainment systems I’ve used to date – it’s plug and play baby. The minute this stuff gets remotely complicated I switch off, but Subaru’s system is just straightforward and intuitive – like that friend that just GETS you.
The Outback’s got Bluetooth, sat-nav, Pandora compatibility, 11 harman kardon speakers, and a very easy to use 7” touchscreen. I could easily play my music through the system from my iPhone, and have the song details come up on screen.
The controls on the leather steering wheel were simple and easy to use. It’s got an electric sunroof, very sexy 18” alloy wheels, privacy tint on the back passenger and rear windows and dual zone, climate controlled air conditioning.
But wait, there’s more! With a five-star ANCAP safety rating, this car is safe with a capital S. You’ve got dual front, front side and curtain airbags, plus a knee airbag for the driver.
It’s like Airbags’R’Us in there!
You’ve got blind spot monitors on the side mirrors, adaptive cruise control which is really easy to use, and a lane departure warning system which I really love.
Rather than it feeling like a flock of sulphur-crested cockatoos were screeching at you, it sounded more like a friendly yet firm warning ‘ding, ding, ding’ that you were veering out of your lane, accompanied by a flashing colourful graphic on the dashboard display showing you which side you were veering over to.
I really love the reverse camera. The image quality is exceptional even in low light and at night.
And with forward facing cameras, the EyeSight® Driver Assist system is brilliant.
The system constantly monitors the road ahead and then warns you when it senses when the proverbial is about to hit the fan, like rear ending the car in front, by sounding a warning bell and flashing a light around the speedometer and rev counter.
Not to mention the Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, Traction Control System (TCS), and the rest – this car is one of the safest you could ever hope to drive.
A few of my favs were the high beam auto dipping, so when you have the high beams on it will turn them down when another car comes into view.
The 2016 Subaru Outback 3.6R also gets rain sensing windscreen wipers – look, we all know it’s not that hard to flick your wiper blades on, but it sure is nice to have one less thing to think about in life; and a power tailgate.
I really liked this feature because I’m used to having to yank up the rear door on all of the hatchbacks and wagons I’ve ever driven, particularly old ones that feel like you’re lifting a slab of concrete.
You just push the button, and voila, you have an open boot. Likewise it’s just a push of a button to close it again. Love it!
Speaking of the boot, the Outback’s boot space is fantastic. In fact, the whole car is really roomy. There’s plenty of room for all the sports gear, camping gear, shopping, school bags, luggage or anything else that you might want to ferry around in the back.
There’s plenty of storage that’s well considered and placed, plus roof rails so you can attach even more storage to cart stuff around… hence the reason why I wanted to get some outdoor kit and whack it in/on there – you just want to use all of that space and look cool at the same time!
This car definitely passed my airport pick up test, which I actually did, having dropped off and picked up my mother and aunty when they travelled up to the Gold Coast for a few days.
Trust me, they don’t travel light, but their suitcases plus carry on bags fit easily. You can comfortably fit 5 adults without feeling like you’re driving around in an RV, which is what makes this car so popular with families and people who love the great outdoors.
You can fit it all in, still be comfortable AND not feel like you’re driving around in a wagon – it’s easy to drive, easy to park, and easy to maneuver either in the city, the ‘burbs or beyond.
As with the Liberty, the Outback has exceptional field of vision out of the windscreen.
With the side mirrors attached to the door panel rather than in the corner of the windows, the little triangle against the pillars is a window. I know I sound crazy, but honestly it makes a massive difference. It makes navigating things like roundabouts so much easier.
And I like that it has a little higher clearance from the ground than a sedan or standard station wagon – that extra height makes it easy to get in and out of, especially if you have kids, without being as high as an SUV.
It has presence on the road – it’s form meets function, with a cool and sporty yet refined end result.
I loved driving this car, I really did. It was just so comfortable and an absolute pleasure to drive – you just want to keep driving when you’re in it.
This ‘girl-about-town’ who doesn’t have an adventurous, outdoors bone in her body felt right at home in the Outback. I really could see myself owning this car… and don’t tell anyone, but maybe even taking it camping.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2016 Subaru Outback 3.6R
Engine: 3.6 litre six-cylinder producing 191kW/350Nm
Transmission: Six-speed CVT automatic
Safety: Five stars
Warranty: Three years
Price: from $48,490