High plains drifter
inevitably come with a bush life, and there were new bumpers.
The Outback sat 70mm higher than the Liberty, which gave it more ground clearance, the secret to going beyond the black-top. As with the Liberty, the Outback was longer and wider than the previous model, and it had a longer wheelbase. With its increased dimensions came increased interior space, particularly for rear passengers.
Subaru had three boxer engine options in this model, including an economical 2.5-litre four, a zippy 3.6-litre six, and a 2.0-litre turbo diesel fuel-miser. Those opting for the oiler were lumped with a sixspeed manual gearbox, those going for the 2.5i had the choice of the sixspeed manual or a CVT, while those who choose the 3.6 got a five-speed automatic. Drive was, of course, constant through all four wheels.
Local tweaking of the suspension resulted in a flatter, more reassuring ride through corners and over undulating roads. One downside in a vehicle ostensibly designed with the bush in mind was the temporary spare tyre. sound system, paddle shifts etc. The last was related to a production fault that somehow meant some six-speed manual gearboxes escaped from the factory with a vital oil supply hole left undrilled.
Check that these have been done, it should be indicated in the owner’s manual. If not check with your nearest Subaru dealer.
When doing a pre-purchase on a 2.5i, it’s important to conduct a thorough test drive to look for possible glitches in the CVT. Look for stumbles, hesitations and shuddering.
Otherwise check for a service record to ensure the factory recommended servicing has been carried out.
Good on-road and off and without the bulk of a regular SUV, the Outback is a standout. Like its corporate cousin from Kia, the Santa Fe ticks plenty of boxeswhenit comes to value for money. It’s also decent in all other areas. 3.5 stars Pay $29,500-$39,000 Well-equipped and well-built, the CX-7 delivers everything but an automatic transmission for the diesel model. 3.5 stars Pay $24,500-$38,500 Do you own or have you owned a Suzuki Alto? Share your experience with other Carsguide readers by sending your comments to graham.smith@carsguide .com.au or write to Carsguide, PO Box 4245, Sydney, NSW, 2010.