Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium
Mid-range model's high spec, comfort and refinement impress Damien O'carroll.
Okay, so I’m not even going to enter into the discussion about whether the Subaru Outback is an SUV or a tall station wagon. Subaru tells one thing, your eyes tell you another. But that really doesn’t matter when it comes right down to it, because the Outback is simply Subaru’s biggest selling vehicle in New Zealand and one that accounted for 44 percent of the brand’s sales last year. While Subaru still offer a Legacy sedan, the wagon version was dropped from the range when the current model launched in 2015. Since then sales of Outbacks – which was based on the Legacy wagon, remember – have tripled and Subaru NZ will even happily admit that whenever they market the Legacy sedan, they see a bump in Outback sales. Which is understandable, because while the Outback offers the height and lifestyle (imagined or otherwise) of an SUV, it still drives very much like a car. The Outback we have here is a 2.5i Premium that at $49,990 sits smack in the middle of the local Outback range, bookended by the entry 2.5i Sport at $44,990 and the six-cylinder 3.6R Premium at $59,990. The 2.5i Premium is powered by Subaru’s 129 kw/235nm2.5-l it re horizontallyopposed four-cylinder petrol engine with a continuously variable transmission pushing the power through Subaru’s symmetrical allwheel drive system. Being a Premium model it comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, eight-way electrically adjustable heated seats in the front, leather upholstery, dual zone climate control, keyless entry and start, automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers, a powered rear tailgate, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with satellite navigation and phone mirroring and Subaru’s excellent Eyesight driver assist system. The Eyesight system in the revised Outback is a third-generation system that has been improved and now features Lane Keep Assist. Subaru’s camera-based system works remarkably well and tweaks to the system have made it even more responsive and less intrusive to use. Out on the road, the Outback 2.5i is a delightfully comfortable and composed cruiser that is capable of wafting effortlessly along on the open road. Things aren’t quite so sweet when you come to a few corners however, with the 2.5-litre engine betraying its lack of torque and asking far more of the CVT than you would like. While Subaru are probably the best in the business when it comes to minimising the pain of a continuously variable transmission, there is still some noticeable flaring at play here, particularly when trying to hustle the Outback along a winding road. As it stands, the 2.5i represents incredibly good value for money and brings impressive levels of comfort and refinement with it.