OUTBACK NOW A LITTLE BIGGER
GENEROUS PROPORTIONS AND PLEASANT TO DRIVE
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.