The Subaru Outback was launched in 1994 and was then, essentially, extra ride height and plastic cladding added to a Liberty wagon.
Now in its fifth generation, the 2015 Subaru Outback is a standalone model (there is no Liberty wagon anymore) and it promises to be the best version yet.
New for 2015 is a revised front grille, headlamps, wheels and even the placement of wheels. The car looks much smarter overall than the previous model.
The black plastic cladding, a trademark of the Outback, boosts the off-road appeal and helps when standing on the side steps to deploy the integrated roof cross-bars.
Sitting 65mm higher than the equivalent Liberty sedan, the Outback can handle mild off-road surfaces, but the extra height also makes it easier to get in and out of.
The interior has received a big refresh too. There is improvement to many materials and in the Premium grade cars, there are no options – everything is included.
There is lots of room, even for taller drivers, and the electrically adjustable seats are comfortable on long trips (although they could use a bit of extra bolstering).
Navigation, audio streaming, climate control, heated front seats are all included – as is Subaru’s excellent driver assist technology, Eyesight.
The Eyesight system offers adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and pre-collision braking that can even detect the red brake lights of a car in front.
In the back, there is still lots of room for tall adults, and the 60/40 split seats also offer a recline function.
The boot is big and includes remote seat-folding handles, a full size spare and space for the cargo blind under the floor. All in – a very practical package.
On the road, the Outback’s 2.5-litre petrol engine and CVT transmission combine well to provide smooth and predictable driving performance. Neither is a stand out as far as driver engagement is concerned, but for easy touring and adequate response, the Outback works well.
The ride is reasonably firm, but not uncomfortable or crashy. You can feel bumps and imperfections in the road but the ride is again sure footed and predictable – helped too by a 50/50 front-to-rear split permanent AWD system.
Fuel economy is claimed to be 7.3L/100km combined – our real-world example was a bit higher (approx. 9.8L/100km) but that was mostly and urban cycle.
As a package, the Outback is a great car – but then there’s the price…
The 2015 Subaru Outback range starts at around $35,000 and our test car, a fully optioned 2.5-litre petrol Premium is just over $40,000. That’s a fantastic amount of value for a smart, practical and livable car that holds true to its ‘outdoorsy’ nature.