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Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review

MY10 (2010) Subaru Outback – First Steer

The Subaru Outback is an interesting car, and until the arrival of the Tribeca it had always been the relatively out of place car in Subaru showrooms.

Based on the Liberty platform, the model was introduced back in 1996 to fill the gap for those after a Liberty that offers more versatility, especially when it comes to off-roading.

Of course the Outback makes perfect sense, the Liberty’s symmetrical all-wheel drive is more than capable of overcoming dirt and mud but it lacks the ground clearance and is not specifically designed for that purpose, enter the Outback.

Subaru did their planning well as more than 65,000 Outbacks have so far been sold and that’s probably more than anyone would’ve expected from such a niche car.

This week sees the launch of the fourth generation Outback and along with testing the new Subaru Liberty I took the Outback for a drive as well.

The biggest problem with the new Outback isn’t really anything other than a timing issue.

Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review

Subaru is bringing the 2.0-litre diesel variant of the Outback to Australia in November and as much as I like the 2.5-litre and the 3.6-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engines available now, the diesel makes so much more sense.

Subaru says the diesel Outback can cover about 1000km on a tank and Subaru rally driver Cody Crocker, who joined us at the press launch, confirmed that he has managed more than 1100km.

I can’t tell you how the diesel variant goes as they are yet to be made available for press evaluation. However I can tell you about the new Outback as a whole.

So far as external design goes, I’ll be the first to admit I like the look of the new Outback, it’s a huge step forward in modernising the previous generation which lacked that refined edge.

As is the trend with many new models, the new Outback is the biggest incarnation of the model yet, it’s 65mm longer, 50mm wider and 70mm higher, this means more leg, shoulder and head room.

There is now an extra 30mm of space between the front seats, which has been gained by removing the traditional hand brake and going for an electronic one. Rear legroom is increased by 99mm allowing  five adults to now sit comfortably for long distance drives.

Although all the extra room comes with extra weigh, it doesn’t mean it’s thirstier, in fact it uses less fuel than the previous generations thanks to a new CVT transmission and better engine management.

Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review

If you’re interested in the new Subaru CVT gearbox it’s explained in more detail in the New Liberty review. It’s also safer and produces less CO2 emissions.

The 2.5-litre Outback produces 123kW and 229Nm and comes for the first time in both CVT and six-speed manual, however it’s safe to say 3.6-litre or better yet, the soon to arrive 2.0-litre diesel should be considered for that extra pulling power.

It’s hard to say how the 2.5i CVT will be received, it makes sense to have a more fuel efficient transmission but whether or not it’s needed in a car better suited to rural buyers, we will have to wait and see.

With rain pouring down, the temperature reading seven degrees and the drive route completely covered in mud and water, Subaru still happily gave me the keys to the Outback 3.6R. So I headed out through some relatively nerve racking and slippery terrain in outback (no pun intended) Daylesford, in central Victoria.

After a few minutes in the mud, you’ll notice pretty quickly that the Outback actually behaves like most larger four-wheel drives but with much better steering feel and handling. Obviously you wouldn’t take it climbing up massive hills and slopes but so far as driving on slippery mud, dirt or through water, it’s pretty darn good.

Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review

More notably though, the ride is very soft over bumps, so much so that I started wondering if handling had been compromised to compensate, it hasn’t. Subaru Australia spent a considerable amount of time testing the Outback in, you guessed it, outback Australia, the main reason being the tuning of the suspension and the active safety controls.

Testing out the car’s off-road ability I deliberately went over giant potholes, cornered quickly through slippery mud, hit the brakes through water and did whatever else you can think of.

Although CarAdvice will have much more to tell you after we’ve spent a week in it for a full review, my first impressions were pretty good. It can pretty much go anywhere so long as the ground clearance allows it.

Having finally left the dirt and muddy roads, the MY10 Outback behaves very much the same as the new Liberty on tarmac despite having a ground clearance of 213mm, which is 63mm more than the Liberty. Confidence is not an issue when cornering even in the wet, although, just like the Liberty, I did find the electronics just a tad too intrusive for my liking.

Moving inside, the same overly hard plastics from the Liberty are found throughout the cabin, additionally the ‘wood grain’ inserts are unnecessary and take away from the interior’s otherwise classy look. Perhaps it’s also worth noting that the top of the range McIntosh sound system has a rather out of place look to it, the basic model’s stereo looks more appealing and modern.

Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review

Front and rear seats are quite comfortable and having spent 20 minutes in the back seat while the car was being flung around muddy roads, I can safely say long distance drives even in the country roads would not be an issue for adults sitting in the rear.

The steering-wheel mounted paddles on the automatic variants are also a good new addition, Subaru has gone for the more classy non-plastic approach and the paddles are almost better than some you’ll find in car’s worth three times the price.

I won’t bore you with talk of safety as the car is top notch. You can however watch this video depicting the Subaru Outback Crash Test (ANCAP).

Until the diesel engine arrives in a few months time, there are currently five variants on sale. The entry model 2.5i which is available with with the choice of Lineartronic CVT or six-speed manual transmission, while the 2.5i Premium adds leather trim, electric sunroof and rear air vents. You can option it with the SatNav pack to add DVD capability, reversing camera and Bluetooth phone connectivity.

The new top of the range 3.6-litre engine replaces the 3.0-litre but is essentially the same size, uses less fuel and produces more power. Unfortunately the CVT transmission can’t take the 350Nm of torque so Subaru has stuck with the five-speed automatic.

Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review

The six-cylinder 3.6R variant also gets Xenon HID low beam headlights. Tick the Premium box and you’ll get SatNav, DVD, reversing camera, Bluetooth compatibility, leather trim, power passenger seat, McIntosh sound system and electric sunroof.

Overall the Outback has only improved on an already successful formula, it’s the perfect adventurous family car that can tough it out back. If you’re interested in one, I strongly recommend the diesel variant that will arrive in November.

Stay tuned for a comprehensive review of the new Outback in the coming weeks. Also check back regularly for news on the Outback 2.0-litre diesel.



Fuel Economy:

Outback 2.5i manual 8.9L/100km
Outback 2.5i CVT 8.4L/100km
Outback 3.6R 10.3L/100km

Outback 2.5i

Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review


  • ABS anti-lock brakes with four-wheel discs and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD)
  • Automatic transmission lock-out – need foot on brake, key in ignition “on” position, to release electronic parking brake
  • Brake Assist
  • Child seat anchor points
  • Curtain airbags – full length
  • Driver’s knee airbag
  • Dual front airbags
  • Dual front side airbags
  • Engine cradle – helps isolate the engine from the passenger cabin in heavy crash
  • Fog lights – front
  • Front seatbelts with pretensioners and load limiters. Double pretensioners on driver’s seatbelt
  • Hill start assist
  • Rear bumper reflectors
  • Rear door child lock
  • Seatbelt indicator lights – all seats
  • Side intrusion bars
  • Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
  • Three-point A/ELR rear centre seatbelt
  • Vehicle Dynamics Control electronic stability program


  • Climate control air conditioning – dual zone
  • Cargo area light
  • Cargo security blind
  • Cup holders
  • Electric parking brake
  • Height and reach adjustable steering column
  • Height adjustable driver’s seat
  • Immobiliser security system
  • Leather trim gear shift (manual)
  • Lineartronic CVT transmission option
  • Map lights (2)
  • Leather steering wheel with audio and cruise control buttons
  • MP3/WMA compatible audio system
  • Multi-function trip computer
  • Paddle shift gear change (auto)
  • Power steering, mirrors and windows
  • Rear illumination LED instrument display
  • Rear seats auto fold function
  • Rear seats recline function
  • Remote central locking
  • Remote fuel lid release
  • Seatback storage nets
  • Six-stacker in-dash CD player, MP3/WMA, AUX jack with six speakers
  • Two remote central locking keys
  • Vanity mirrors
  • 60/40 split/fold rear seat


Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
  • 17-inch alloy wheels – large steel temporary spare
  • Chrome-surround grille
  • Colour-coded mirrors and door handles
  • Headlights auto off
  • Privacy glass (rear)
  • Rear roof spoiler
  • Rear wiper

Other features

  • Auto tailgate unlock on wagon
  • DataDot security technology
  • Electronic throttle control
  • Self-levelling rear suspension
  • Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty
  • 2.5 litre SOHC horizontally opposed boxer engine – 123 Kilowatts of power at 5600 rpm and 229 Newtonmetres of torque at 4000 rpm.

Outback 2.5i Premium adds:

  • Electric sunroof
  • Leather trim
  • Rear air vents

Outback 2.5i Premium with SatNav adds (to 2.5i Premium):

  • Bluetooth compatibility
  • DVD/CD player (single disc)
  • Reversing camera
  • Satellite navigation – factory fitted
  • Three-pin RCA AUX jack

Outback 3.6R adds:

  • Dual exhaust
  • Engine cover
  • Light sensing headlights – auto on/off
  • Rain sensing auto windscreen wipers
  • Rear air vents
  • SI-Drive
  • Smart key access and push button start
  • Six-cylinder engine produces 191 kW of power at 5600 rpm and 350 Nm at 4400 rpm.
  • Wood-type dashboard and door highlights
  • Xenon HID low beam headlights with washers

Outback 3.6R Premium with SatNav adds:

  • Bluetooth compatibility
  • DVD/CD (single disc)
  • Electric sunroof
  • Leather trim
  • McIntosh sound system
  • Power driver’s seat – eight-way adjustable – and power lumbar support
  • Power front passenger seat
  • Reversing camera
  • Satellite navigation – factory fitted
  • Three-pin RCA AUX jack

Pricing (all are manufacturer recommended price):

Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review
Subaru Outback Review

Outback 2.5i manual $37,990
Outback 2.5i Lineartronic CVT automatic $40,490

Outback 2.5i Premium manual $41,490
Outback 2.5i Premium Lineartronic CVT automatic $43,990

Outback 2.5i Premium with SatNav manual $43,990
Outback 2.5i Premium with SatNav Lineartronic CVT automatic $46,490

Outback 3.6R automatic $48,490
Outback 3.6R with SatNav automatic $55,990

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Subaru Outback Review
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  • AW

    When mentioning how the diesel is not available, at least use a photo without the Diesel version in it…….
    I assume these pictures are from a press kit though.
    See here. http://www.caradvice.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/OutGrp03.JPG

    • AW

      Forgot to mention my comments on the car:

      Sounds like an excellent car. Went to my local dealer and was thoroughly impressed with the new Outback and Liberty. Whilst some may not like the looks, I actually quite like it, and Subaru seems to have improved the refinement of the car.

  • MotorMan

    I agree with you on the looks – I like it, and the drive is superb.

    BTW, is anyone else getting really annoyed with the nested style comments?
    I thinking of boycoting the system and always posting at the bottom.

    • http://navelcontemplation.blogspot.com Supercujo

      Nested comment make it easier to follow a discussion

      • Shak

        True so your comments dont spill out onto other peoples discussions.

        • crouchy

          I like the nested comments

          • Simon

            Just nesting

  • Martin

    What is with all the Japanese car brands grilles lately? They all are so complex and busy, whatever happened to a black grille with the badge in the centre. The Lancer is actually one of the only ones I can think of that doesn’t have a stupid grille.

    • http://navelcontemplation.blogspot.com Supercujo

      It is better than the US Accord razor grille, at least

    • Skip

      We really get what the US want in most cases. This vehicle is manufactured in large numbers in Indianna. Same for Tribeca. the global car market drives what we get in many cases. Wait till you what is coming over the next few years.

  • Buck

    Great write-up and great photo’s. Super job, well done.

    I disagree about the diesel though. Not everyone is transfixed by getting the last ounce of economy out of every drop of fuel and the dramatically higer power output of the 3.6 litre at 191KW compared to the diesel would make it the star choice by a county mile as far as I am concerned.

    The ultimate performance Outback, if you like….and I do.

    • Steven

      Diesel isn’t all about economy. It’s about 6/8 cylinder levels of torque with 4 cylinder economy.

  • MotorMan

    Nah, I don’t like the nested comments, if everybody was consistent it might work but many aren’t, so it doesnt work well.

    • Bob

      I’m voting for nested comments. It stops silly things like this, where your comment is actually referring to one from way above. Your comment seems a little out of context down here, since it relates to a topic way up there, don’t you think?

  • Hagar

    Great First steer. I have a 2009 subi now and waiting for the diesel which has been available in places like Ireland for over a year. In fact they only sell diesel subi even Impreza. see http://www.subaru.ie So why does my local dealer here in WA says there is no demand for diesel subi. Frankly the Subaru dealers have been shocking and all have the attitude of take or leave it no discounts. Unless the Outback Diesel is mind bogglingly good, I am waiting for the IX35 Diesel 4X4, a smaller car which suits me and Hyundai have 5yr warranty unlimited Kms. Buy the way, why don’t we get the 10yr warranty available in USA for Hyundai ?

    • devils advocate

      they only do diesels in europe because the petrol ones have atrocious fuel economy and hideous emmissins which cost owners dearly in taxes.
      If you want good diesels then buy european and enjoy all of the other features that you don’t get in a subi, like all auto one-touch windows, yearly servicing, no timing belts, power to your windows AFTER you turn the engine off, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlamps, quieter ride, torquier engines, much better brakes etc.
      PS i was a subi salesman until recently for 2 1/2 years so i know what i’m talking about!
      Take a VW or Peugeot for a good drive and you’ll never buy japanese again!


    I’ve seen two MY10 Outbacks on the Road in the Northern Rivers Region of NSW. Both had Bonnet Scoops on them which led me to believe that they where Outback GTs, however reading the comments above it now makes sense that these must have been Diesels. These cars must have been pre-release models used by officials in the REPCO Rally. The Outback looks good with a Bonnet Scoop, as does the Liberty GT. The MY10 Subaru Outback and Liberty range look so much better in reality than in photos.

  • Gerg

    Groan – the Outback was the one Suby that was well-proportioned, classy and attractive – little wonder they sold so many. Congratulations propeller heads, you now have a full range of well engineered pig-dog ugly cars. What gives with this mob – have they forgotten the Tribeca debacle? Did someone look lovingly at a Captiva? Beware Fuji – keep aping Koreans and a ssanyong you will become.

  • Lexustime

    Wait a minute, the reporter says he hasnt driven the diesel version but at the end he says he recommends getting the diesel version. I think thats pretty dodgy a journalist recommending a car which he hasnt even driven.

    • Marc

      Not really mate. If you’ve ever driven a diesel, you’d know that the extra torque and economy are well worth it.

      That is of course unless it’s a 17th century design.

      • Simon

        I agree lexus – I’d be reluctant to promote what is a new foray for subaru without having driven it. It’s great news that subaru is introducing diesel but they are unproven in a market that has several proven oilers.

  • t39

    Shame about the hard dashboard plastics, does not fit the premium image. Even the new Mazda 3 and Fiesta have soft plastics.

    • fasthonda

      The Fiesta has a cheap looking interior and the Mazda 3 well…I don’t know what the fuss is all about;the interior is quite ordinary.

      • Martin

        Took the words out of my mouth.

        I kind of like this interior, the brushed aluminium looks nice.

  • observer

    Great review and nice pics althought I would have liked to have seen some pics of the Outback in those rutted muddy sections that was mentioned in the report.

    Diesel engine has received raving reviews in Europe for smoothness, economy and quietness.

    Looks like it’s still the benchmark in this class of car.

  • crouchy

    These subarus give me great confidence in the next gen Wrx… I think it will be a lot bolder and more agressive, as it should be.

    Fingers crossed!

  • Simon

    I personally don’t like the looks – inside or out and the pricing is too steep. For competitive pricing I’d be looking to an Octavia with AWD, DSG and diesel.

  • tommo617

    Drove the 2.5i premium cvt today. I will admit up front that I am biased towards Subaru as a current Outback owner. The CVT fixes the one blight on my current 2.5i auto, namely the clunky old school transmission. If I hadn’t told my wife that ‘its a funny transmission’ she would not have noticed – it does a very good job of mimicking a standard 6 speed auto, but with immediate response to throttle inputs.

    My wife was impressed by the interior – dual memory seats etc. She then looked at the Skoda Octavia, VW Passat, Mazda 6 and Ford Mondeo and stated (her words not mine) that the Subaru has the nicest interior of the cars she had looked at. The only thing I would fix is the metal effect dash trims – the carbon ones of the Liberty 2.5 Sport look much better and it would be nice to have these as an option across the range.

    Simon, unfortunately, there is no AWD Skoda Scout with DSG and Diesel.

    • Simon

      Correct tommo, apologies. Octavia Scout AWD TDI MANUAL (no DSG).
      $43820 drive away (QLD).
      A much better proposition IMHO.
      Also with 15,000 Km service intervals instead of the peculiar 12500 Km for Subaru.
      Agree about chrome in the interior. The chrome surround of my gear selection lever in the Passat is awful when the sun is high.

    • devils advocate

      before buying one with the CVT, try parking it in reverse on an uphill grade! Lots of fun to be had there!!!

  • Andre

    No thanks……… don’t like, as per usual highly overrated

  • ManualsOnly

    Dear CarAdvice, you forgot to mention in your review that the only non-leather option is a disgusting black velour fabric !! Besides being black (a truly useless colour choice for Australian conditions, think of our summers) its in velour (actually the carsalesman said it was a fake velour ???).
    The other thing which I find quite unacceptable in this day and age is the mountpoint of the rear centre seatbelt. It is mounted in the roof on the right hand side, so when you actually have it in use it drapes over the passenger sitting in the right hand seat, a bit unsafe in my opinion. Jeep patriot/Compass Dodge Caliber have the same fault. Most other car manuafctures have the mountpoint as part of the seat, why can’t Subaru.
    Do you think you can try and pick up on some more of the day-to day faults in your car reviews and a bit less of the manufactures spin ?
    Black interiors are used because it supposedly hides stains, but any interior designer will tell you, black actually shows up most stains, thats why you don’t see black carpets in homes, offices etc..

    • tommo617

      I’m not 100% certain, but the probable reason for the location of the centre/rear belt is to do with the 5 star safety rating. Having a seatbelt mounted into a split fold seat would probably not achieve the 5 star ratings Subaru offer on all cars across its range.

      As for seat colours – a car seat cover fixes this quite inexpensively, as well as saving the seat fabric from spills etc.

      • devils advocate

        can’t put seat covers on subi’s due to side airbags. you can only use the factory “road-kill” inserts.

  • gander

    crap roof rack – it only looks cute but is totally non functional if you are a true outdoors enthusiast.
    the bar spread is lousy and it would be DANGEROUS to carry anything that was more than 8 feet long.
    back to the drawing board

  • Mike


    Absolutely agree with Greg. Before 2003 Outback was quite good proportioned and styled (for that time). Now it looks like the ordinary pig-looking cart desined for family shopping in the country side.

  • Kee

    Have just test driven diesel outback- really liked the ride etc… but why are the servicing intervals the same as petrol model at 12,500kms? I thought Diesels had a reputation for not requiring services as often? The Salesman had NO answer to this. Any answers appreciated.

  • Marlea Burns

    I have a question. I have been driving a 2009 OUtback in New Mexico from southern California where we live. The security light has been flashing constantly when I drive at night, instead of going off after you start the car, and the passenger side airbag light is on as well as the tire light. A tire guy told me the tire computer light was on because of change of altitude and the cold. Can that also cause airbag lights and the flashing security light to be on also. I am going to drive home at high speeds again and am worried. Any Subaru owners know anything? ME

  • http://a.com.au first subaru

    Had the Outback 2.0 Diesel for a fortnight.

    Impressed with the fuel economy so far – I believe I can better Subaru’s fuel consumption figures especially in urban driving. I believe I could reach close to 1,000 km on a tankful of petrol and this is urban driving!

    The car is quite and little road noise can be heard within the car.

    The electronic hand brake is a pain (I will have to get used it as well as the hill brake – agghhhh – stalled the car 5 times in the first 3 days) but none so far in the second week.

    Not having an engine temperature gauge on the dashboard constantly visible is not good.

    Apart from that, it is fine

    • Skip

      How have you found the fuel consumption and servicing of the deisel over time in the city traffic?

  • Hugo

    Hello. Can anyone tell me why this immobilizer light started to blink if I have not introduced any other key to the ignition system wich is why the manual says is the reazon for that to happen. What shoud I do?


    Outback 2007

  • martin

    Why is there no back centre seatbelt on the outback. Does no one find
    this annoying?

    • Skip

      I was in one today. Look up into the roof and note that it pulls down and connects when and as needed. You might want to take another look. Cheers.

  • Skip

    Great revue as always. Would really like a down and dirty comparison between the 2.5 / CVT and the 3.6. The 3.6 is the same engine as the Tribeca but must really pull the outback along. I drove the 2.5 CVT and thought it a little wimpy, albeit adequate.

  • http://www.subaruofsomerset.com Subaru for Sale

    The drive and grip of Subaru car are superb. I like the shape and features too. It is safe and reliable to drive. The prices of cars are also very reasonable.
    Thanks for sharing the pic of Subaru cars.

  • zundapp

    So long Low range gear box! we’ll miss you.

    The outback was the town car of choice for a lot of farmers, and farmers wives.

    Being capable of ‘just need to check that fence’ on the way home from the shops, the low range gear box set this car apart from a sea of other crappy cars in the “soft roader” genre.

    living in the snowy mountains, the low range has been a valuable asset on my 2005 outback.

    I guess I won’t be upgrading any time soon.

  • Simon

    I had a 2006 Outback 3.0R. This was a superbly built car and great to drive. I would happily own another.

    Yesterday I put 500 kms on a new Outback 2.5 auto. I hate the new looks, the car now has no character and it is plainly obvious that it has been designed for the American market, but I thought I could overlook this if it drove well. Oh dear, what a horrible experience it was. The handling was nowhere near as good as the old model and the 2.5 engine was absolutely gutless.

    Subaru have gone backwards. My advice is that if you already own a Subaru and are looking to move to a new model, forget brand loyalty, don’t assume its good. Take it for a good drive before you decide.

  • http://www.4x4pakistan.com 4x4Pakistan

    With Spacious and comfortable interior, excellent fuel economy, standard all-wheel drive, high ground clearance and nifty roof rail system, the new 2010 Subaru Outback takes a big step in a new direction to keep pace with its strong competitors as the Toyota Venza and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Subaru Outback Specs

Car Details
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$15,400 - $17,500
Dealer Retail
$16,650 - $19,800
Dealer Trade
$12,100 - $14,000
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
350Nm @  1800rpm
Max. Power
110kW @  3600rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
6.4L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:1700  Unbrake:750
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
225/60 R17
Rear Tyres
225/60 R17
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Control & Handling
Vehicle Stability Control
Service Interval
6 months /  12.5,000 kms
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Centre Eng Bay Scuttle
Country of Origin