High plains drifter

It’s the ideal city car for get­ting away from it all

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - USED CAR - GRA­HAM SMITH

with­out go­ing all the way to a road-clog­ging SUV.

The Out­back has grown over the years as most cars tend to but it’s still a rea­son­able size for the sub­ur­ban crawl.

As with ear­lier Out­backs, the new model of 2009 was heav­ily al­lied to the Lib­erty, the main dif­fer­ences be­ing ride height and ex­tra body cladding to pro­tect it from the bumps and scrapes that in­evitably come with a bush life, and there were new bumpers.

The Out­back sat 70mm higher than the Lib­erty, which gave it more ground clear­ance, the se­cret to go­ing be­yond the black-top. As with the Lib­erty, the Out­back was longer and wider than the pre­vi­ous model, and it had a longer wheel­base. With its in­creased di­men­sions came in­creased in­te­rior space, par­tic­u­larly for rear pas­sen­gers.

Subaru had three boxer engine op­tions in this model, in­clud­ing an eco­nom­i­cal 2.5-litre four, a zippy 3.6-litre six, and a 2.0-litre turbo diesel fu­elmiser. Those opt­ing for the oiler were lumped with a six-speed man­ual gear­box, those go­ing for the 2.5i had the choice of the six-speed man­ual or a CVT, while those who choose the 3.6 got a five-speed au­to­matic. Drive was, of course, con­stant through all four wheels.

Lo­cal tweak­ing of the sus­pen­sion re­sulted in a flat­ter, more re­as­sur­ing ride through cor­ners and over un­du­lat­ing roads. One down­side in a ve­hi­cle os­ten­si­bly de­signed with the bush in mind was the tem­po­rary spare tyre.


Like all Subarus, the Out­back is gen­er­ally well built and durable but that doesn’t mean it can’t have is­sues as the kilo­me­tres ac­cu­mu­late.

The Out­back has been the sub­ject of three re­calls. The first was to ad­dress a po­ten­tial leak from a hose re­lated to the CVT, the sec­ond was to fix a wiring fault that af­fected the op­er­a­tion of all sys­tems re­lated to the steer­ing col­umn, the cruise, sound sys­tem, pad­dle shifts etc. The last was re­lated to a pro­duc­tion fault that some­how meant some six-speed man­ual gear­boxes es­caped from the fac­tory with a vi­tal oil sup­ply hole left un­drilled.

Check that th­ese have been done, it should be in­di­cated in the owner’s man­ual. If not check with your near­est Subaru dealer.

When do­ing a pre­pur­chase on a 2.5i, it’s im­por­tant to con­duct a thor­ough test drive to look for pos­si­ble glitches in the CVT. Look for stum­bles, hes­i­ta­tions and shud­der­ing.

Oth­er­wise check for a ser­vice record to en­sure the fac­tory rec­om­mended ser­vic­ing has been car­ried out.


Good on-road and off and with­out the bulk of a reg­u­lar SUV, the Out­back is a stand­out.

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