Subaru can justifiably lay claim to the fact that they started the AWD SUV revolution way back in the last century. It was in the 70’s with the Subaru Leone AWD wagon where the revolution began.
In 2017 SUVs now outsell passenger cars and one of the consistently best-selling offerings is the Subaru Outback.
Subaru Australia recently handed me the keys to an Outback in 2.5i Premium form.
While it forsakes the current high body design trend for its traditional wagon style, the Outback is every bit as capable as its SUV counterparts and, for the most part, way more capable than many.
The Outback 2.0D was a category winner in the OzRoamer awards in 2016, today though, with the market moving so swiftly, the Outback now has a few weaknesses.
I’m sure these issues though will be addressed in the upcoming model revamp.
The Subaru Outback exudes subtle style and luxury beyond its price. The interior is elegant, with soft touch surfaces and user-friendly ergonomics that convey a luxurious impression for the occupants.
The electronically adjustable heated leather driver’s seat is really very comfortable, enjoys plenty of seat travel and with the height and reach adjustable leather steering wheel, it is simple to arrange a desired driving position.
For my ageing back there is also an electronic lumbar support.
Even with the sunroof there is adequate head room for taller drivers. The driver’s foot rest for the left foot is comfortably positioned. Wider opening doors and higher seats allow easier access.
While not everyone tests out the horn, I unfortunately had the need to use it and found it lacking in authority!
The dash in front of the driver is the familiar two dial style with a practical and informative dual multi-function display in-between.
There’s a feature-packed infotainment system with a wide array of functions plus speech recognition which again, is easy to use. This screen also houses the reversing camera display.
Rear seats have a cool recline function and are comfortable but suited more for two occupants rather than three.
There is adequate head, shoulder, knee and leg room for normal sized passengers. There are two A/C vents in the rear but no USB ports.
Storage front and back is plentiful with door bottle holders, cup holders centre console and a handy spot below the centre stack that holds wallet, phones keys etc.
On the Road
The Outback is a relaxed, capable family wagon which transports its passengers in safety and comfort.
Subaru’s combination of its Boxer engine, low centre of gravity and AWD powertrain creates stability and on-road handling that is among the best for this class of vehicle.
Off road, the Outback is ideally suited to the adventurous family. Driving on forest trails, beach driving, trips to the snow, around the farm etc. are all easily accomplished.
If the mood takes the driver, more adventurous off road driving can be undertaken with extreme care. The limiting factors are the approach and departure angles.
Subaru’s active torque split Symmetrical All Wheel drive system has been perfected over a number of years now and works a treat.
It provides active safety and a degree of off road capability and is enhanced with the X-Mode feature that enhances driver safety and confidence on steep hills off-road, where the optimum ride height of 213mm is also a significant advantage.
The petrol engine is a 2.5 litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder ‘boxer’ engine that produces 129kW and 235Nm.
The power and torque peaks relatively high but the delivery is smooth and provides enough real world power.
The Outback has a six-speed CVT that is matched well enough to the engine characteristics. There is also a two mode Si-Drive system.
Fuel economy is OK and on test we achieved around 10L/100km with a mix of urban, freeway and off road driving.
Towing isn’t a really strong point but more than adequate compared to others in the segment, with a limit of 1500kg and 150kg tow ball weight for the 2.5i Premium.
This is however enough for a small camper trailer, a seadoo or bike trailer which suits the adventurous lifestyle aspirations of buyers.
Safety has always been a feature of Subaru with their model range having a 5 star ANCAP safety rating for a number of years now.
There is the usual airbags complement including: curtain airbags – full length, driver’s knee airbag, dual front airbags, and dual front side airbags, as well as the EyeSight driver assist system.
The Outback is one of those vehicles that grows on you the more you drive it. This is because the subtle luxuries and safety features are not intrusive but become apparent as time progresses.
The Subaru Outback should definitely be near the top of your list for a AWD SUV wagon that has the level of luxury and sophistication of many European vehicles that cost many thousands more.
Perhaps though, wait for the updated model to land in your local dealership before making the plunge.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2017 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium
- Engine: 2.5 litre petrol producing 129kW and 235Nm
- Transmission: CVT automatic
- Safety: Five stars
- Warranty: Three years
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $46,788