The Subaru Outback at a glance
For everyone who doesn’t want an SUV
You don’t want an SUV, but a spacious, all-wheel-drive and, in the end, affordable station wagon? Then you and the new Subaru Outback could quickly become best friends (combined fuel consumption: 7.4 l / 100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 169 g / km²). The sixth generation of the Japanese combination artist, who is actually already a crossover in terms of advertising, makes it to us after two long years of waiting, while the outback in the USA is almost back to the scrap heap.
There it rolled out to dealers as early as 2019, whereas in this country the fifth generation was still offered. Why is that? Because the United States is by far the most important market for the Japanese, where it exceeds the combined (!) Sales figures for BMW and Audi, and we Germans, with our latest only 5,600 car registrations, across all Subaru models, simply hardly matter fall. The extremely complex homologation process in the EU also delays the adaptation of new vehicles.
Significantly cheaper than the competition
But back to the new outback. With a length of 4.87 meters, it has become quite a stately car that just comes close to the competitors Volvo V90 Cross Country (4.94 meters) and Audi A6 Allroad (4.95 meters). In terms of price, however, neither the German nor the Swede can keep up. The outback trend is in the local price list from 40,890 euros, the top model Platinum puts a first lid on the pot at 45,990 euros. With exclusive leather (2,950 euros) and a few small extras, you hardly have to pay more than 52,000 euros for the Subaru. For comparison: the A6 Allroad only starts at 60,090 euros, the V90 Cross Country even at 64,150 euros.
So sounds like a good deal? Absolutely! But before we get to the high-quality interior of the Subaru Outback, the drive chapter must be ticked off. Anyone who is only vaguely familiar with the Japanese all-wheel drive brand will know that all Subaru (with the exception of the now discontinued BRZ) drive up with 4x4s. This is to be rated positively, especially since the Subaru Symmetrical AWD is quite capable of really tearing something off the beaten track.
Comfortable boxer with improved linear tronic
It should also be known that Subaru always relies on boxer engines. In the case of the European outback, always on a 2.5-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine with 124 kW / 169 hp. The engine is coupled to a continuously variable CVT transmission, which has noticeably improved in quality with the new generation of models. The jerky starting from standstill is a thing of the past, the 90 percent newly developed four-cylinder engine can be driven at a slightly lower speed overall.
Nevertheless, the rubber band effect of the Lineartronic remains noticeable, after which the speed initially shoots up loudly when accelerating and then only advances slightly. The 252 Nm of torque also invite the outback pilot to take it easy. Anyone who can make friends with the recommended freeway speed as a comfortable travel speed has hardly any loss of comfort to fear.
Subaru Outback is safe and comfortable
The comfortably tuned steel chassis and very direct steering with a good gear ratio go well with the decelerated engine-gearbox combination. It goes without saying that a Subaru also comes to a standstill and corresponds to the high security concept of the brand with the star image in the logo. But there has also been noticeable improvement in terms of active safety, now providing, in addition to numerous attesting systems, interior monitoring that (sometimes too) warns the driver in good time when their eyes wander from the road.
Don’t worry, this feature, like the lane departure warning system, can be deactivated via the infotainment screen – but this results in a cumbersome procedure. Whether inspired by Tesla or Volvo, Subaru also relies on a high-standing command display, which in the case of the new Outback has a diameter of 11.6 inches.
Lots of assistants, new infotainment system
Its touch control is ok, the range of functions is rather conservative and is therefore clearly aimed at the well-known buyers of such a vehicle. If you want it younger and smarter, you can mirror your smartphone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – but unfortunately still by cable. Otherwise, real buttons for the essential air conditioning functions, a volume control and a knob for radio / track search have remained.
In contrast to the Western competition, the Asians also do without a digital cockpit. The on-board computer shows its data between the analog tachometer and speedometer in the old-fashioned manner and is not embarrassed to show us how many milliliters of fuel we have saved through this function during an engine-free waiting moment. It is not much and it is not enough at all to noticeably reduce the Subaru Outback’s thirst for gasoline.
High consumption, model interior
A good nine liters per 100 kilometers should be calculated if you don’t move the off-road station wagon like a shifting dune. At this point it should be mentioned that neither the new eBoxer nor the much more powerful turbo boxer of the US version will make it into the European outback. But it is there for leisurely trips and scrambling on bad roads, wants to convince with steadfast technology and a ground clearance of 210 millimeters and less with a turning circle of 12.2 meters that requires maneuvering.
The interior of the Subaru Outback is then equipped for all eventualities. This deserves a lot of praise for its high quality, the many details and the materials used. Many German manufacturers are now allowed to take a thick slice of this. Sitting is just as successful in the first row as in the second, the leather armchairs are extremely comfortable and, in terms of ergonomics, there are also only thumbs up.
Practical with a lot of cargo space
Only the turn signal lever with its strange pressure function and the steering wheel overloaded with switches give cause for mild criticism. The generous trunk holds between 561 and 1,822 liters of luggage, offers a clever recess in the underfloor for shopping bags and if that’s not enough, you can pull trailers with a weight of up to 2,000 kilos behind you.
The new Subaru Outback is a real insider tip for all station wagon fans who are primarily concerned with practicality and comfort and less with sheer engine performance. The 2.5-liter boxer accelerates the 1.7-ton car sufficiently, but it is not suited for fast stretches of the motorway. In return, we like the comfortable basic setup, the generous amount of space and the high-quality workmanship. Small details on every corner of the outback also show that the Japanese engineers built a car for the customer and not indispensable for the return on investment. (Text and image: Thomas Vogelhuber)