Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Bill Buys

SUBARU'S Out­back was a big hit when it first ar­rived a good few years ago and the latest model should do well too, de­spite the big in­crease in com­pe­ti­tion.

The latest is the fifth-gen­er­a­tion and it comes with a new, big­ger body, more equip­ment and lower prices.

Now 25mm longer, 20mm wider and 25mm taller, the Out­back is largely based on Subaru's Lib­erty sedan and does, in fact, re­place the Lib­erty wagon.

Out­backs come in four-cylin­der and six-cylin­der petrol en­gines, as well as a turbo-diesel four­cylin­der, the lat­ter the sole model with a man­ual trans­mis­sion. The rest all get au­to­mat­ics. Then come the sta­tus mod­els. Ours was the top-rank­ing Pre­mium four-pot­ter, with a 2.5litre en­gine of­fer­ing 129kW and 235Nm.

It's an im­pres­sive pack­age that in­cludes a sun­roof, heated and pow­ered front seats, leather trim, pow­ered tailgate, sat­nav, a big touch­screen, dual-zone au­to­matic air­con, auto-on head­lights and wipers, 18-inch al­loys and a raft of safety gear.

The lat­ter com­prises Eye­Sight, which senses the ve­hi­cle or ob­ject in front and em­ploys auto brak­ing to avoid a crash, lane de­par­ture warn­ing, seven airbags and the usual plethora of elec­tronic aids. All for $41,490. The in­stru­ment clus­ter has a clear dig­i­tal dis­play screen be­tween the speedo and rev counter, there's an elec­tronic hand­brake, ex­cel­lent seat­ing fore and aft with am­ple space for five and a big cargo area which can be greatly ex­panded by fold­ing the back seats flat.

The flat-four en­gine has gained a cou­ple of kiloWatts and is linked to a con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion, which drives all four wheels, and en­gi­neer­ing re­fine­ments have given the Out­back bet­ter fuel econ­omy.

At an of­fi­cial av­er­age of 7.3litres/100km, it's a 9 per cent im­prove­ment.

The Out­back runs well, its fir­mish sus­pen­sion keeps it nice and flat through the corners and it has a con­stant sure­footed feel.

Com­fort and qual­ity lev­els are high and the brand has a rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity.

It's an easy driver around town and a very pleas­ant cruiser on the open road.

Ver­dict: A gen­er­ously pro­por­tioned and neatly pre­sented wagon-cum-SUV at a very com­pet­i­tive price.

Loved the sun­roof.

The Out­back 2.5 Pre­mium is big­ger, bet­ter and costs less.

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