Out­back ad­ven­ture

Subaru re­ally pro­duced the best of both worlds, writes GRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE Subaru Out­back was an at­tempt to cre­ate an all­rounder ca­pa­ble of go­ing as far off road as most town­ies wanted, but without aban­don­ing the niceties of the civilised Lib­erty on which it was based.

Be­ing based on the reg­u­lar Lib­erty wagon, the Out­back was smaller than the SUVs that are now clog­ging the streets around town.

It was the per­fect choice for any­one want­ing to take that dream trip in a ve­hi­cle that was still pleas­ant to drive around town. was more than ca­pa­ble of sat­is­fy­ing the needs of the vast ma­jor­ity of out­back tourists, Subaru let us loose in a then-new Out­back around Alice Springs in 2004. In a true test it had a Jayco pop-top camper trailer at­tached.

In the course of the test we drove along typ­i­cal out­back high­ways, down gravel roads — smooth to mod­er­ately rut­ted — and even down a dry riverbed that in­volved hop­ping over some rocks along the way. It wasn’t any­thing that would test a true four-wheel drive, but the Out­back han­dled it well.

The Out­back was pow­ered by a 2.5-litre flat-four en­gine de­liv­er­ing 121kW at 5600 revs and 226Nm at 4400 revs, or a 3.0-litre dou­ble over­head camshaft six-cylin­der that peaked at 180kW at 6600 revs and 297kW at 4200 revs.

On road or off the sym­met­ri­cal all­wheel-drive sys­tem en­sured the Out­back was a breeze to drive.

The higher ride height and taller tyres made it a lit­tle less sharp than the Lib­erty, but it was still well man­nered on all road sur­faces.

The seats were comfortable, im­por­tant on a long trip, the head­room was gen­er­ous front and back, and the 60/40 split-fold rear seat was use­ful when trav­el­ling.

Subaru of­fered three ver­sions of the 2.5i Out­back, the Wagon, Lux­ury and Pre­mium; and two ver­sions of the 3.0R, the Wagon and the Pre­mium. All had a host of stan­dard fea­tures. The en­try-model 2.5i Wagon had cli­mate con­trol air­con­di­tion­ing, cruise, cen­tral lock­ing, power win­dows and mir­rors, six-speaker CD sound, cloth trim and roof racks.

Step up to the Lux­ury and you got a pow­ered front driver seat, leather trim and self-lev­el­ling rear sus­pen­sion. The Pre­mium added power front seats and an ar­ray of airbags.

The 3.0R was sim­i­larly equipped in the re­spec­tive en­try-level and Pre­mium mod­els. PAY $15,000-$22,000 for the 2.5i Wagon, add $1500 for the Lux­ury Pack or $2500 for the Pre­mium Pack. Step up to the 3.0R and pay $20,000-$30,000, add up to $5000 for the Pre­mium Pack. ALL-WHEEL drive with ABS, trac­tion con­trol, emer­gency brake as­sist and elec­tronic brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion pro­vide a com­pre­hen­sive pack­age of ac­tive safety de­vices for the Out­back, topped off by elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol in the 3.0R Pre­mium.

Should the sheet­metal start

to crum­ple there was plenty of pas­sive pro­tec­tion in the form of dual front airbags in the en­try-level mod­els through to dual front side airbags, and front and rear cur­tain airbags on the range-top­ping 3.0R Pre­mium. SUBARU build qual­ity has come on in leaps and bounds in re­cent years.

Lit­tle of a se­ri­ous na­ture goes wrong with the Out­back. It is com­pe­tent off road, but has it lim­i­ta­tions, which can be ex­ceeded by an un­car­ing or un­know­ing owner. Check also for a ser­vice record. THE 2.5i Out­back will run on reg­u­lar un­leaded, and tests at the time of launch showed it would re­turn 10-11 litres/100 km on av­er­age. The 3.0-litre needed 95-oc­tane fuel and Subaru claimed it would do 10.9 litres/100 km. GOOD all-rounder more than ca­pa­ble of tour­ing in the bush or beat­ing around town.

Out­stand­ing Out­back: the Subaru Out­back was based on the Lib­erty and of­fered com­fort and per­for­mance on and off-road.

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