Subaru up­dates its best­seller

Out­back: This wagon on stilts is in a cat­e­gory all its own

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - Wheels - Sami Haj-As­saad

Love it:

Im­proved In­te­rior, smoother trans­mis­sion, o -road ca­pa­bil­ity

Leave it:

Re­freshed for 2018, the Out­back was brought to life back in the ’90s as a quick and easy way for the Ja­panese au­tomaker to keep up with the de­mand for SUVs. To­day, the car is in a cat­e­gory of its own, fill­ing the gaps left by other of­fer­ings.

Styling has been up­dated, with a new grille open­ing and bumper fea­tur­ing black plas­tic wrapped around the lower edge of the ve­hi­cle and rais­ing up at the fog lights to pro­tect them from the el­e­ments. A new 18inch wheel de­sign is also of­fered on higher trim Out­backs. The head­lights come with stan­dard LED day­time run­ning lights and can be op­tioned up to full LED peep­ers that are steer­ing re­spon­sive with high beam as­sist.

The car comes stan­dard with An­droid Auto and Ap­ple CarPlay. The new 6.5-inch and 8-inch in­fo­tain­ment of­fer­ings are more re­spon­sive and user-friendly.

Higher trim grades fea­ture stitched dash and door pan­els, and a new steer­ing wheel plucked from the Crosstrek. But­tons and tog­gles sim­plify op­er­a­tion, and the new HVAC set­tings and screen dis­play the cabin tem­per­a­ture within con­trol knobs.

The cabin has 3061 litres of pas­sen­ger space. Be­hind the rear seats, there’s 1005L of room. Fold those rear seats down and there’s 2075L of cargo space.

The Out­back still ar­rives with ei­ther a 2.5-litre four-cylin­der boxer engine or a larger 3.6-litre flat six. Both pro­vide power to all four wheels through a CVT, which has been up­dated.

It also gets a re­vised sus­pen­sion. And with 220mm of ground clear­ance, this Out­back was able to tackle ev­ery ob­sta­cle thrown its way on a test drive over a se­ri­ous for­est trail. The Out­back doesn’t feel like a tra­di­tional SUV. It’s ac­com­mo­dat­ing and re­spon­sive, with a smooth and re­fined driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

One com­plaint: the place­ment of the rear view mir­ror seems to be right in the mid­dle of the wind­shield. The B pil­lars of the Out­back are also quite large, mak­ing shoul­der check­ing your blind spot a bit more dif­fi­cult. For­tu­nately, the lo­ca­tion of the blind spot mon­i­tor light, which is now much big­ger and on the mir­ror frame, helps. Subaru’s ad­vanced Eye­Sight suite of tech­nol­ogy is also avail­able.

The Out­back’s at­ti­tude comes from an ex­tra drive mode called X-Mode, which helps con­trol the ve­hi­cle dur­ing down­hill ven­tures as well as ad­just­ing var­i­ous trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol sys­tems to en­sure the car has trac­tion where it needs it.

Start­ing at $29,295 for a 2.5i model, pric­ing goes all the way up to $42,195 for the 3.6R Premier with Eye­sight pack­age.

Could use more power, vis­i­bil­ity

$1M barn ind A 1952 Z 102 Pe­gaso fea­tured in a re­cent episode of The Barn Find Hunter could fetch $1M at auc­tion.

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