High plains drifter
It’s the ideal city car for getting away from it all
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.