Putting aside for one moment the awesome WRX and BRZ sports car, Subaru is a brand popular with families. And the Outback wagon is proof positive of the brand’s attributes – practical, obvious quality and good performance make this wagon ideal for weekday work and weekend fun.
For 2014 Subaru has updated the Outback, equipping the nicely-sized wagon with some extra kit to better handle the rough-n-tumble of family life and weekend adventures.
So with Subaru’s renown active torque-split all-wheel-drive and ground clearance of 213mm, the Outback is a very handy wagon for those who like off-road travel without the full-on SUV package. Very smart indeed.
Subaru Outback Overview
Priced from $38,990, Carshowroom.com.au tested the Subaru Outback in mid-grade Premium specification ($43,490) with a petrol engine. Headlining the extras, the Premium grade adds Subaru’s brilliant ‘EyeSight’ camera system (adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane sway warning, lead vehicle start alert etc), leather seats, uprated instruments, a better sound system with seven-inch touchscreen and satellite navigation.
Subaru Outback has some off-road agility but is a wagon, not an SUV – and that’s a big part of its appeal.
Subaru Outback Engine
Our Subaru Outback employed the venerable 2.5-litre, four-cylinder Boxer engine with maximum power of 127kW at 5600rpm and peak torque of 235Nm at 4100rpm. Drive is to all four wheels via Subaru’s Lineartronic system and a six-step CVT automatic.
Combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 8.0l/100kms.
Subaru Outback is also offered with a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine or a 3.6-litre six-cylinder petrol.
Subaru Outback The Interior
Space counts in wagons and the Subaru Outback has most family needs covered with 490-litres of cargo volume with all five seats in-place and up to 1690-litres with the seats folded. And even those accustomed to full-size SUVs will be surprised at the amount of rear-seat legroom in the Subaru Outback.
Behind the wheel, the Subaru Outback is a pleasant place to be with good visibility, Subaru’s slick leather-trimmed steering wheel and eight-way power adjustment for the seat. Outback runs Subaru’s usual conventional instrumentation (blue illumination) and the Premium model grade adds a seven-inch touchscreen audio with satellite navigation.
Of course size is one reason why Subaru Outback is popular with those who shy away from full-size SUVs and the combination of that good visibility, standard reversing camera and 4790mm overall length makes for easy everyday use.
And Subaru being Subaru, the trim materials, while obvious in their quality, also look like they’ll bounce-back quickly from weekend adventures and the onslaught of youngsters with their sporting equipment.
Subaru Outback Exterior & Styling
We’ve read some reviews which criticize the styling of the Subaru Outback but we’ve always liked the purposeful looks and dynamic wagon lines. Somehow it’s classed as a ‘Large SUV’ (mid-size we reckon).
Visit the snowfields, rural campgrounds or school sports carnivals and you’ll see plenty of Subaru Outbacks and we’ve often thought it could do with a bit more protection/practicality.
Boom! Subaru has delivered with some rugged and aggressive extras for the 2014 model year.
Grey in colour, you’ll immediately pick the new 17-inch alloy wheels and front grille as well as side sills and cladding and the wheel arch flares. There are also front mud flaps, front and rear under body guard protectors and roof rails with integrated side bars.
All - as you’d expect from Subaru - very nice quality and looking like they’re ready for the rough stuff.
Subaru Outback On The Road
Ah Boxer engines…we love them. The smart packaging dimensions, the purposeful exhaust growl under acceleration and the gutsy performance all bring back pleasant memories of previous Subarus every time we get behind the wheel.
And this latest week with an Outback also brought back pleasant memories. This time we loaded the mountain bikes in the back and headed down some dirt roads in a nearby national park – a bit of rain, the occasional creek crossing and slippery dirt sections were all just in a day’s work for the Outback.
That high-riding chassis (213mm ground clearance) sits on McPherson strut independent front suspension and a self-levelling double-wishbone rear.
OK, our off-road travel didn’t get us to Oodnadatta, but the National Park tracks we used were slippery and rutted and, just like previous tests, the Subaru Outback excelled with good wheel travel and articulation even over some bad washaways. Refinement levels were also impressive even in the roughest stuff – surprisingly good in fact for a ‘non-SUV’ wagon (well not really surprising – this is a Subaru).
The flip-side to that dirt road prowess is ride on-road which is a tad soft and ‘rolly’ – especially noticeable when we took to our high-speed mountain roads loop.
Subaru Outback Challenges
Those chassis dynamics in the high-speed twisty stuff are the only points deduction for the Subaru Outback.
Subaru Outback Verdict
As we’ve said in previous Subaru Outback reviews – this is a wagon/SUV/Crossover which we definitely recommend. And we have to friends who’ve bought Outbacks and love them (one family is a three-time repeat purchaser!).
For families, Subaru Outback delivers on the ‘three Ps’ – ‘Price’, ‘Practicality’ and ‘Performance’. Add to that Subaru’s hallmark quality and safety and it’s an alluring all-round package.
The additions for the MY14 Outback just make sense – it’s even more practical.
So if you want a wagon with off-road ability but without the full-on SUV excess, the Subaru Outback is the vehicle to buy.
Subaru Outback The Competition
For off-road ability, the Subaru Outback has its rivals licked, but there are some other high-riding all-wheel-drive wagons you could consider…
Skoda’s high-riding Octavia wagon is called the Scout and, priced from $39,990 to $46,290, it is a worthy rival for the Subaru Outback. While the Outback is a tad soft in the suspension, the Scout is bit hard. And if you want a petrol engine you’ll have to opt for the Subaru as the Scout is exclusively turbo-diesel.
Similarly Volkswagen’s Passat Alltrack ($47,790) is exclusively turbo-diesel. A typically stylish Volkswagen interior is just one of the Passat Alltrack’s attributes.