TAKE A BIT OF A LIB­ERTY

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway -

A SPA­CIOUS in­te­rior, strong per­for­mance, an up­graded in­te­rior and sub­tle styling changes make Subaru's lat­est Lib­erty an at­trac­tive choice in the medium car sec­tor. And the sta­bil­ity of all-wheel drive adds greatly to its ap­peal.

On test was the top-of-the-range 3.6R, the sole six-cylin­der in the restyled sedan’s range.

The AWD fea­ture has made th­ese cars popular in over­seas mar­kets, es­pe­cially those with wet cli­mates, but in Australia it’s the bonus safety and han­dling of the sys­tem that wins buy­ers.

Up­dated tech­nol­ogy and re­vised pric­ing, thanks to the free trade deal with Ja­pan, don’t hurt ei­ther.

But it’s an all-sedan range th­ese days. If you need a sta­tion wagon, go for an Out­back.

The range starts at $29,990 for the Lib­erty 2.5i CVT sedan, a cut of $3000. The mid-spec 2.5i Pre­mium CVT is $4000 less, at $35,490, while buy­ers of the 3.6R will save a whop­ping $14,000. It now sells from $41,990.

All mod­els get Eye­Sight tech­nol­ogy, adap­tive cruise con­trol, lane de­par­ture warn­ing, au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing, seven airbags, re­vers­ing cam­era and all the elec­tronic safety acronyms of the day. The car also scored one of the high­est safety rat­ings on record.

Eye­sight warns the driver if the Lib­erty is get­ting too close to the car in front, but if the driver fails to re­spond it will ap­ply the brakes to avoid a col­li­sion.

Pretty handy for to­day's mo­bile phone id­iots who tend to drive with their brains in neu­tral.

It’s a pretty fast car, so it warns driv­ers of speed lim­its and po­lice cam­eras via a sharp beep.

It has a smooth and ea­ger en­gine that punches out 191kW and 350Nm and drives through a good CVT to take the car to the ton in about seven sec­onds. Fuel econ­omy is not fan­tas­tic at an av­er­age 9.9litres /100km, but it’s pretty de­cent con­sid­er­ing the power and AWD.

Driv­ers can also se­lect the drive modes they like best.

The car runs beau­ti­fully with poise and han­dling and it has pad­dle shifts for sportier driv­ers.

A hand­some, de­pend­able mid-sized sedan with top safety, pres­tige, en­gi­neer­ing and build qual­ity – and a big fun fac­tor.

The top-rank­ing Lib­erty has a lot go­ing for it.

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