Barring a few sports enthusiasts, almost every new car these days is electrified in one way or another. All balls at the lowest possible CO2 emissions. The Subaru Outback is the exception to the rule. Unlike the e-Boxer versions of Subaru’s Impreza, XV and Forester, the Outback has never heard of electrification. There isn’t even a mild hybrid system on board. In contrast, the Outback stubbornly sticks to classic Subaru values such as the boxer engine and permanent four-wheel drive.
The Subaru Outback was one of the first representatives of the now dying genre of the revamped station wagons. The current edition goes even further than the previous edition. It really is a jerk of a car to see; it seems as if, like many people, it has expanded considerably due to the pandemic. Indeed, the current Outback turns out to be 6.5 centimeters longer, 3 centimeters wider and 7 centimeters higher than the previous one. It provides no less than 101 ‘coronakilos’, bringing the total weight to 1674 kg.
Furthermore, Subaru has turned the suv content of the Outback a bit thicker. With large, irregularly shaped plastic mudguard edges, oversized roof rails and substantial sill protectors. All in all, this is a very tough tank!
The new Subaru Outback is also strong on the inside. Both front and back you have plenty of head and legroom and in the trunk you can store 522 to 1750 liters of luggage. We drive the chicest version of the Outback, the ‘Premium’. It will pamper you with, among other things, two-tone leather upholstery (cognac-black). The finish is neat and the large, vertically mounted multimedia screen also does a lot for the appearance.
The chassis emphasizes comfort. Suspension and damping are tuned quite softly and due to the enormous ground clearance, you dare to take thresholds at a much higher speed than should actually be. In addition, it puts you at ease with its noiselessness at constant speeds, its unyielding appearance and its solidity. Take the selector lever of the CVT automatic transmission, for example; when you operate it, it feels as if you are manually switching a track switch: cool!
Subaru has not skimped on the safety features. Under the name EyeSight, just about all the interactive electronic guardian angels you can think of are on board. From adaptive cruise control to lane centering control, traffic jam assistance and blind spot sensors.
A Subaru Outback is reminiscent of a St. Bernard dog: it is a loyal, firm lob, but it is not very subtle or refined. The smooth chassis ensures that bumps and potholes never give hard knocks, it also lets the body move a lot. And after taking a big threshold, the car bounces for a while. The CVT-box works as well as shock-free, but even if you don’t give too much throttle when driving off, it will give the engine a much higher revs than is instinctively necessary. This results in a somewhat restless sound experience.
The large multimedia screen looks impressive, but we find the operation of many functions unnecessarily cumbersome. Fortunately, you can simply adjust the temperature of the climate control with an always visible button, but for something as simple as the hill holderyou have to dive into the Car menu. Then a button on the tunnel console is a lot more convenient. And there are many more examples.
The new Subaru Outback has been on the market in many countries for two years, but with us it has only recently been at the dealer. It is available in three versions. As a Comfort it costs 58,995 euros. That is already very fully equipped, including steering wheel heating, seat heating in the front and rear, a stepless automatic transmission, active cornering lights, et cetera. For 60,995 you get the Field, which is mainly recognizable by the black painted wheels and the bright green accents on the outside and inside. We drove the Premium of 65,995 euros. The additional cost of five grand is spent on leather upholstery, a sliding / tilting roof, a multi-view camera, a premium sound system and integrated TomTom navigation.
I have a weakness for quirky cars and that’s why I can sympathize with the Subaru Outback. Such a boxer engine still has a nice rumble and the slightly rough, uncomplicated design is something else in the cultivated landscape of the smoothed station wagons and SUVs. In addition, you can really do something in the terrain with Subaru’s permanent four-wheel drive.
On the other hand, the Outback in this price range does not excel in power and performance. The four-cylinder boxer engine does not go further than 169 hp without turbo or electrical support. A hundred sprint with the Outback against, for example, a Volvo V90 T6 AWD PHEV (340 hp, from 64,995) is like letting a Sumo wrestler run against Dafne Schippers. In numbers: with 10.2 against 5.9 seconds, the Japanese loses hopelessly. If you put the consumption figures side by side, the Subaru gets even more difficult. Although the average test consumption (mainly achieved on long distances at a maximum of 110 km/h) of about 7.5 l/100 km (1 to 13.3) is not even against us.
All in all, I expect that the Subaru Outback will also play a minor role in the Netherlands in the coming years. Cherished by loyal Subaru fans, viewed indifferently or at most with frowns by the majority of car buyers and lease drivers.
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