Subaru has established itself for long years already as a brand with that something extra in ingenuity, and it certainly continues to deliver all this in its latest models. We experienced this again behind the leather covered wheel of a gleaming white Subaru Outback, which featured the revolutionary Eyesight distance radar system, and this makes it one of the very safest highway cruisers around... But this Outback is also the king of the road...off-road, and is one of the most versatile, roomy vehicles we have come across...
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Indeed, the new Eyesight system is truly impressive, and is of course also useful on any road the Subaru Outback may encounter. It works in conjunction with the distance control and the excellent smooth speed control, and quite frankly, once you get in the habit of using it frequently whenever the occasion occurs, you really ask yourself how you could ever drive without it.
The Eyesight system will stop the car in any case when an obstacle appears, even when the cruise/distance control system is not in operation.
Smooth Diesel power in combination with responsive CVT transmission.
Subaru's Continuously Variable transmission, dubbed the "Lineartronic" CVT, is one of the best around, and actuelly feels very much as a very good dual clutch transmission. It is very well adapted to the four cylinder 2 litre boxer Diesel engine, and will not let the engine rev too high when you are calling for all the available power, a typical drawback found on most CVT transmissions. Its changes are supersmooth, when you are using the paddles on both sides of the steering column to change a "gear" up and down. In normal operation, leaving the lever in "D", there is of course a seamless power flow with the ratio changing imperceptibly. What this CVT does wonderfully is keep the engine in the right rev ranges at all times.
Thanks to the boxer layout, the engine is completely vibrationless throughout the rev range, and is hardly audible when revs stay below 3500 rpm or so. This unit boasts a healthy 110 kW or 150 HP at merely 3600 rpm and has very good pulling power with maximum torque of 350 Nm being developed between 1600 and 2800 rpm.
The Outback is quite big, and certainly not a lightweight with a good 1689 kg unladen, so do not expect breathtaking performance, but an acceleration time from 0 to 100 is still a very respectable 9,9 seconds, and what's more, you don't have to be an experienced racing driver to achieve it.
Thanks to the CVT, the right ratio is always chosen when power is needed, and accelerations are therefore quite responsive in every situation. The top speed of 192 kmh is more than enough to satisfy us all. Needless to say, this Outback is a formidable motorway cruiser, with a noiseless engine, very good insulation from road or tyre roar and wind noise.
It ranks therefore, with its roominess and suspension comfort, very high as a true "Gran Turismo" car. One last word about the frugality. It is impressive, certainly bearing in mind that this is a bigger 4WD automatic. We had no trouble to achieve figures in the region of 6 litres, and our average test consumption was a very good 6,3 litres. The engine achieves Euro6 emission standards and CO2 emissions are 159 g/km.
State of the art suspension, 4WD drivetrain and breathtaking off road properties
The Subaru engineers have succeeded in giving the Outback excellent handling and road behaviour on "normal" roads, and whilst it does not really invite you to throw it around corners, it certainly can be very enjoyable to drive it with verve on winding roads. But our words of praise do not end there. Its a true master off road and when things get slippery. The vast experience of Subaru in building and perfecting rally cars over the years really tells.
The permanent, symmetrical all wheel drive is an experience in itself, and the approach angles of the Outback on uneven terrain, as well as the break-over and departure angles are greater than most rivals, and therefore you can steer the Outback with greatest confidence trough deeply rutted terrain and even wade through not so shallow streams and rivers...
The beauty of it all is that you do not even have to be an experienced off road driver to do all this. The Outback assists you all the way.
There is for instance the X Mode setting, which adapts the responsiveness of the engine to the terrain, and it uses also the brake and traction control to ensure excellent grip in any conditions, in slippery mud or river beds...
The hill descent control also influences the engine power delivery and adjusts brake and traction control. Even the inexperienced will take this Outback downhill on slippery slopes like an old mountain master...
Roominess and comfort
Life in the cabin is a pleasure in the Outback. More than enough room for people and their luggage. The boot is indeed vast, with 559 litres. The rear seats can be folded back, in a 40/60 split layout, and the Outback can then haul up to 1848 litres.
The finish is impeccable, the quality of the used materials, the fit of all the panels is indeed state of the art. So is the infotainment.
Heart of the system is Subaru's "Starlink"technology. Your smartphone will integrate totally with the car's six speaker sound system, giving you not only ease of use in staying in touch, but will also treat you to unforgettable listening experiences putting the favourite tracks on your phone through the car's amplifiers...
Of course, there are heated seats, and dual zone climate control to pamper you, and "our" Outback even sported voice command.
This Outback, which looks so much better than its predecessor, is a true all rounder, which scores very high on- or off road, in comfort, performance, safety, handling, economy and there is even more.
The legendary Subaru reliability and toughness, which has earned the brand a large faithful following. We would suggest, take a drive, and chances are that you will soon join the ranks of believers and (very) happy users...
Hans Knol ten Bensel