Subaru’s diesel Outback: Tons of Room, Tons of Tech

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We drove the Outback last year and loved it. Read about it here.

While it may seem an unusual choice for a car to suit the gay community, many of us travel great distances, have sporty aspirations, or just like to carry lots of stuff. The specs remain the same for last year’s models but the prices have had a small increase. Not bad considering the tech and performance that’s standard.

The Outback diesel isn’t a high speed track machine. A leisurely 9.7 to 100kph from the 110kw 2.0L diesel belies the tugging power of the 350Nm of torque. Towing a jet ski would be a doddle.

The chances of gay boys having a huge family to cart around is minimal, but this much room for this price can’t be understated. The rear cargo area has enough space for a veritable cornucopia New Year Sale goodies.

Just to recap: the cabin feels spacious and an infotainment system that responds quickly. In the year since we last drove Outback, many manufacturers have started to roll out audio systems which include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. As new models are updated or replaced, most companies will include their versions of the phone integration system. Subaru have unveiled their systems at the NY car show so it is only a matter of time before the Australian models are so equipped.

Eyesight® is Subaru’s version of forward facing obstacle detection. If an object gets too close you get a warning. If you do nothing, your Subaru chucks out the anchors. It’s a mitigation system only and isn’t meant to replace good driving. Only yesterday, I was stopped at the lights waiting to enter the Eastern Distributor. I was looking around as one does, and noticed a young woman looking down at the phone resting on her steering wheel. NO sooner had I thought “that stupid berk is going to cause an….,” and she ran right up the date of an attractive young man going about his business. Despite millions in advertising, threats of punitive fines, and of course, common sense, she still managed to embed herself in a stranger’s Mercedes. She is, of course, 100% at fault. I hope she remembered to pay her insurance, or her day was taking an awful turn. Had she been in an Outback, she’d have been unexpectedly jolted forward in her chair, but no damage would have been done.

I shouldn’t be so judgy, but there we are. You can’t protect stupid people from themselves. It is however very unfair that attractive people should have their days shattered.

I like the Outback very much. It isn’t aimed at me as such, but it’s merit is obvious. We like to do something new each time we take a car out, and this time we shoved 3 beefy lads onboard and headed, rather unusually, to a baby shower. The relevance will become obvious. I was particularly keen to show the Outback to the lesbian couple having the shower. Unbelievably, they own a shiny new Forester. You wouldn’t credit it would you? Lesbians with a Forester!

As we were leaving, they gave the Outback a quick inspection. As luck would have it, their car was the same metallic red as our test car, and had the same level of spec. They liked it very much and had only glowing reports of their ownership experience. They were thrilled when I pointed out they could leave their ignition key secreted about their person. They hadn’t read the user guide and didn’t know they could lock their car simply by pressing the little button on the door. I felt my work was done.

I’ve long said the current styling at Subaru having come leaps and bounds from the not very attractive cars of recent times. I’d go so far as to say the Outback is a handsome devil. The package looks the business. Remember, this is marketed as an SUV but is a soft-roader only. All Subaru’s sold here have the asymmetric AWD system, and Subaru has won a shedload of rally trophies with it. With that in mind, I have no doubt you’d penetrate a reasonably challenging landscape if you were brave enough to try. There are drive modes to assist both on and off-road that most of us probably won’t bother with. However, it’s nice to know they’re there. You can sporty-up your steering and throttle too, but frankly in a diesel powered car the difference is negligible.

No matter, this is a continent-crossing vehicle of great comfort. Subaru are very keen on emphasizing the lineartronic™™™™ CVT (with 4 trademark symbols) on their website. And, to their great credit, the CVT isn’t the awful sloppy mess most CVT transmissions are. Most of the time the Outback performs like a normal CVT with the revs staying the same while the speed increases. It’s unnerving and I don’t like it. You can fix this by planting your loafer into the carpet. When you do, Subaru’s Lineartronic ™™™™ will simulate gears like a regular auto transmission. Apparently it’s the new “thing” because Holden’s new Spark does it too. You’ll remember that I liked Spark’s CVT at launch. This means it is worthy of each of the 4 ™ symbols Subaru has lavished on it.

Subaru reckons Outback will get 5.0L/100km on the highway making that roadtrip about 1,200km between fills on a good day. If you can’t live with a CVT, the diesel can be had with a 6 speed manual. The manual is slightly spritelier to 100kph (9.7 manual, 9.9cvt) and uses a touch more fuel (5.7L/100km manual, 6.3 L/100km manual CVT), but this is a CVT I could live with if I had to.

All Outbacks score 5 stars for safety when tested (presumably at, or soon after launch in Australia).

Here is a short list of some of the equipment: AWD, Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Stability Control, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, traction control, TCS limited slip, active torque vectoring, collision protection, hill hold and a rear view camera.

The audio system has a full, rich, premium sound to it, but will be much improved when it mirrors your smart phone using Apple CarPlay.

I enjoyed throwing such a big old chunk of metal into corners. It handles far better than it has any right to. It’s reasonably quiet regardless of road surface and you can only hear the engine with you give it a bit of welly.

Conclusion:

I like Outback. It isn’t exciting but it is very practical, and Subaru has an excellent reputation for quality and build. They also last a long time without going wrong every five minutes.

The price reductions a few years ago made Subaru good value. Despite tiny increases since, that is still true now.

This is the kind of car you could visit your grandma at her farm, your uncle in the mountains, and your siblings interstate, all in equal comfort. I’ve got friends who take a couple of dogs everywhere they go, so their bags go in the back seat. Admittedly their Outback is an old one, but it still does a first class job.

I’d have no hesitation in recommending the Outback if the looks appeal. I particularly like the level of equipment.

Would I buy one: Yes, if I was in the market for a large SUV/Soft-roader

Engines: 2.5i 129kw/239Nm, 3.6R 191kw/350Nm, 2.0L (diesel) 110kw/350Nm

Performance: 2.5i 10.2sec, 3.6R 7.6sec, 2.0L (diesel) 9.7sec

Fuel Consumption: 2.5i 7.3L/100k CVT , 3.6R 9.9L/100k CVT, 2.0L (diesel) 5.7/6.3 manual/CVT

Transmission: 2.5i CVT, 3.6R CVT, 2.0L (diesel) 6 sp man or CVT

Price: 2.5i $40,914/Premium $47,094, 3.6R $53,909, 2.0L (diesel) $40,399/Premium $47,094

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