Based on the all-new Subaru Liberty that debuted in Chicago last month, the fifth-generation Outback combines the former’s core design elements with the traditional rugged crossover add-ons of the high-riding wagon model.
Evident through the test car’s heavy plastic cladding are the Outback’s new slimmer ‘hawk-eye’ headlights, broader front grille and more muscular bonnet. Large circular fog lights continue to occupy the space at the lower corners of the front bumper.
The new car’s wheel arches are less exaggerated than those of their predecessor, looking more like the regular Liberty’s. Overall the Outback looks sleeker and more aerodynamic than before, featuring a more heavily raked windscreen, less slab-sided door panels and new wing mirrors, which move from the A-pillars to the doors.
The tail-lights take inspiration from the smaller, urban-focused Subaru Levorg wagon, spanning the quarter panels and tailgate, while large red reflectors sit low on its muscular rear bumper.
Little of the cabin can be seen in these images, though its key design elements will be shared with the new Liberty, including simple dashboard lines, an uncluttered console, twin-binnacle instrument cluster with a small digital display, and a large central infotainment touchscreen.
Like the Liberty, passenger and cargo space is set to grow despite the Outback’s dimensions carrying over largely unchanged.
Spied testing alongside an Audi Q5, the new-generation Outback will feature a stiffer body and revised suspension, steering and brakes as Subaru targets improved ride comfort and handling ability.
The new active torque vectoring system debuted in the new Liberty is also expected to join the Outback’s all-wheel-drive system to enhance cornering ability.
Subaru’s upgraded camera-based EyeSight driver assist system is visible at the top of the windscreen, and will offer lane keep assist and lane departure warning functions in addition to adaptive cruise control and pre-collision braking among other functions.
A range of petrol and diesel engines will again be offered paired with an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT), including the 2.5-litre four-cylinder and 3.6-litre six-cylinder ‘boxer’ petrol engines carried over from the outgoing model and confirmed for the Liberty.
Available since 2009, the new Outback will enter production later this year and follow the Liberty into Australian showrooms in 2015.