Out­back out in front on value & class

Subaru’s fam­ily hauler an ac­com­plished SUV

The West Australian - - WEST WHEELS | REVIEW - SAM JEREMIC

Ever have that one friend who seems to be good at pretty much ev­ery­thing they try their hand at?

As I was driv­ing the Subaru Out­back around, it struck me the ruggedly- tyled large SUV was the au­to­mo­tive equiv­a­lent of that per­son.

Here is a com­fort­able, spa­cious SUV with gen­er­ous equip­ment lev­els and gen­uine value — to­tally up for the fam­ily haul­ing du­ties most large SUV buy­ers want, with the bonus of some off-road ca­pa­bil­ity thanks to all-wheel-drive.

Ba­si­cally, this is a very easy car to live with.

There is am­ple stor­age for phones and wal­lets and mod­ern con­ve­niences such as auto wipers and lights, elec­tric

tail­gate, sat nav, 8-inch touch screen, pow­ered and heated front seats, key­less en­try and start and more.

Ev­ery­thing feels solid and well made.

And don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the value equa­tion; find­ing all-wheel-drive petrol ri­vals with a price tag sim­i­lar to the Out­back 2.5i Pre­mium’s price tag for the ac­com­pa­ny­ing com­peti­tors break­out wasn’t easy.

Buy­ers can even get into the Out­back for just $36,590 for the en­try-level 2.5i, while keep­ing the same driv­e­train as the Pre­mium and only giv­ing up a few mi­nor fea­tures.

To be hon­est, it’s prob­a­bly the most at­trac­tive Out­back vari­ant.

You could fork out more for the 3.6R’s big­ger six-cylin­der en­gine but the 2.5-litre four has enough juice on board . . . just.

Around town it’s fast enough and, though you won’t dip be­low 10L/100km in ur­ban sit­u­a­tions, it’s still pretty fru­gal con­sid­er­ing the size of the car.

Load the car up and it does start to feel slug­gish, mind — not aided by a CVT which, while bet­ter than a lot of its ilk, can still make it­self known in a non-pos­i­tive man­ner.

Subaru has been on a se­ri­ous safety kick re­cently. Its Eye­sight driver as­sist tech­nolo­gies are stan­dard on the Out­back, while the 2.5i Pre­mium adds ex­tras such as blind spot mon­i­tor­ing, rear cross-traf­fic alert and lane change as­sist. That said, we find Eye­sight to be one of the most an­noy­ing sys­tems on the mar­ket, con­stantly beep­ing at you to let you know what it’s do­ing, even if it’s some­thing triv­ial.

And while its name and Subaru’s rep­u­ta­tion sug­gest a rugged, out­doorsy, go-any­where ve­hi­cle, the Out­back isn’t go­ing to con­quer any ter­rain you aim it at.

Subaru’s all-wheel-drive sys­tem is ex­cel­lent and the Out­back has the brand’s off-road-aimed X-Mode to help out on slick, slip­pery sur­faces.

But if dom­i­nat­ing tracks is a big aim, then you may have to look else­where — es­pe­cially away from the 2.5-litre petrol vari­ants.

There’s a diesel Out­back but even then you’ve got an 1800kg max tow rat­ing.

But the big­gest is­sue with the Out­back is the lack of a third row of seats, which will turn many off.

The com­pany does make a seven-seater — the As­cent — but it’s left-hand-drive only.

But if five seats is enough, then the Out­back 2.5i Pre­mium is one of the most solid large SUV op­tions out there.

Even at en­try level the Subaru Out­back im­presses.

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