Seven go Subaru

The wagon that gives you a lit­tle ex­tra Lib­erty

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Used Car - GRA­HAM SMITH gra­ham.smith@cars­guide.com.au

NEW

THE op­tions avail­able to car buy­ers can be be­wil­der­ing. Where once they chose a sedan or a wagon, to­day they have a vast range of choices, mod­els that are tar­geted at spe­cific mar­ket seg­ments.

Fam­i­lies can pick from sedans, wag­ons, SUVs and peo­ple-movers, with many of th­ese blur­ring the bound­aries be­tween ve­hi­cle types. Subaru’s Ex­iga is one such. It looks for all the world like a com­pact peo­ple-mover, but Subaru in­sists the ve­hi­cle is a fam­ily wagon, just a bit big­ger than most.

The Ex­iga has a sort of util­i­tar­ian look, like most peo­ple-movers. It comes from its tall stance and boxy shape. It was con­ceived to fit into the Lib­erty range along­side the reg­u­lar Lib­erty wagon and the Out­back, giv­ing larger fam­i­lies the ben­e­fit of a roomier cabin with the feel and fin­ish of a reg­u­lar Subaru.

Un­derneath the Ex­iga was a mix of Lib­erty and Forester/ Im­preza. In­side there was plenty of ac­com­mo­da­tion for six, with com­fort­able front seats and equally com­fort­able sec­ond row seat­ing.

The third row is re­ally there for kids, and there’s am­ple room for them, yet it’s ad­e­quate for a cou­ple of adults if you aren’t go­ing too far.

With all seats up and in po­si­tion there isn’t a lot of room for lug­gage be­hind the third row, but when the 50-50 split third row is folded there’s heaps, and with the 60-40 split sec­ond row folded there’s even more.

A well-proven 2.5-litre four­cylin­der en­gine pow­ers the Ex­iga with more than suf­fi­cient punch for the task at hand.

There’s just one trans­mis­sion avail­able, a CVT auto, which was per­fectly suited to the job of shift­ing a fam­ily.

The CVT is not renowned for its sporti­ness, but the Ex­iga was a pleas­ant, steady driver. When it needed to be stirred along you could re­sort to the man­ual shift pad­dles and make like a man­ual.

As with all Subarus, the Ex­iga has the safety of all­wheel drive, which added to its ap­peal. It’s well-equipped with dual-zone air­con, DVD en­ter­tain­ment, cruise, re­mote cen­tral lock­ing and power win­dows and mir­rors.

With a five-star tick from AN­CAP, you could ex­pect it to come with all the safety bells and whis­tles, and it did, with a raft of airbags, full anti-lock brak­ing, and sta­bil­ity con­trol the main fea­tures.

NOW

Subarus in gen­eral give lit­tle trou­ble and the Ex­iga pos­sesses those fam­ily traits.

Ser­vic­ing is all-im­por­tant, al­ways has been, but it’s even more cru­cial in the mod­ern car with its fine tol­er­ances. Missed or de­layed oil changes can be ter­mi­nal, so it’s vi­tal that the ser­vic­ing is main­tained as per the man­u­fac­turer’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

Given that the Ex­iga uses a CVT, it’s im­por­tant to con­duct a thor­ough road test, look­ing for any glitches in its op­er­a­tion. There are no spe­cific re­ports of is­sues with the Subaru trans­mis­sion (in con­trast with the nu­mer­ous re­ports of is­sues with the CVTs of other makes).

When test­ing a car equipped with CVT, drive it in as many sit­u­a­tions as pos­si­ble: high­way speed, ur­ban driv­ing speed, walk­ing speed, ma­noeu­vring, park­ing and re­vers­ing. Try to take off on an in­cline, go­ing for­ward and back­wards. Ob­serve for shud­der­ing, par­tic­u­larly on take-off, hes­i­ta­tions, surg­ing, or any­thing else that doesn’t seem quite right.

Make the usual checks for a ser­vice record to en­sure the work has been done as re­quired, and ask about oil use as Subarus can get through a lit­tle oil.

Prac­ti­cal: The

Ex­iga has a roomier cabin with the feel and fin­ish of a ‘‘reg­u­lar’’

Subaru

SMITHY SAYS A prac­ti­cal fam­ily car — un­like most com­pact SUVs.

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