Prior to the age of the SUV it was the humble wagon that was the urban king proudly occupying that coveted second carpark in many family driveways. Whether it was the morning school run, family holiday road trip or simply grabbing the weekly shopping, the wagon handled it all without breaking a sweat. Of course those years are long gone and the wagon has been dethroned in favour of an ever growing range of SUV’s but there’s still one wagon out there making a strong case for itself, the Subaru Outback.
Just by looking at it you can tell Subaru wants you to take the Outback off the tarmac to get its knuckles dirty. Durable plastic scuff plating located around the body forms a protective buffer against the rough stuff while the 213mm of ground clearance allows you to tackle the path less travelled with confidence.
Styling all around is sensible and practical in typical Subaru fashion while still emitting road presence due to the bulked up size.
While things outside are very much adventure ready the interior of our mid-spec Outback 2.5i Premium surrounds you with plush materials for maximum comfort. Both the door and centre console armrest are extra soft and the double stitched leather brings some style points to the party.
The Outback 2.5i Premium tested here comes packed to the brim with features and Subaru has done a wonderful job of keeping the button side of things well organised and within reach.
Comfort levels carry on through to the rear where there’s ample head and leg room except for the centre passenger who’ll have to deal with the transmission tunnel.
Putting many SUV’s to shame, Subaru has built rear ventilation and USB charging ports into the back of the centre console so it’s sure to keep the kids happy.
Visibility is excellent all round and improved further with a variety of camera’s. You’ve got wide angle views up front, out the back and on the passenger blind spot giving you no excuse for scuffed up rims.
There’s a number of toys to play with up front including heated seats, the sunroof and seating memory profiles. The 6 speaker stereo delivers crisp clear and loud beats but the lack of digital radio means you’ll only get the best out of it through a connected phone via Android Auto/Apple CarPlay or that ancient technology, the CD.
Just under the sat-nav equipped 8-inch LCD touchscreen display lies a storage box with closeable lid that’s not wide or deep enough for the majority of phones.
Open up the electronic tailgate and you’ll find a very usable 512L of storage space that won’t obliterate your lower back when handling bulky items due to the flat floor, scuff plating and higher suspension ride height. If that’s not enough, the easy to drop 40/60 split folding rear seats open up to a massive 1,801L of cargo carrying capacity.
Tucked under the flat boot floor lies a full sized spare alloy wheel keeping road trip puncture anxiety at bay.
At the heart of the Outback is Subaru’s well known 2.5-litre Boxer 4-cylinder workhorse, which still makes 129kW when revved out to 5,800rpm supported by 235Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. Not astronomical figures that’s for sure, the lack of a turbocharger means power is delivered in a linear fashion without a big slab of midrange torque.
On the plus side, it’s a smooth unit and fairly economical, too, considering the task at hand involves moving 1,639kg around. Our fuel figure averaged out to 8L/100km which isn’t far removed from the rated 7.3L/100km factory figure. Helping the fuel economy is the auto stop start system which still requires some refinement as the restarts can feel jerky at times.
It’s a similar story with the electronic handbrake, which when reversing out takes some throttle to disengage, at which point the car launches itself backwards if you’re not paying attention.
The Outback rides high making it an absolute joy to blast over speed bumps with, soft suspension flattens all but the largest of bumps. Surprisingly, for a high riding wagon the turn in on the Outback is rapid and sharp which quickly results in predictable body roll as you max out the available grip. The weight makes itself known when attempting rapid changes of direction though you’ll never feel lacking for control or poise.
Naturally the AWD system provides all the grip in the world once you’re putting the power down and can handle far more savage terrain than most SUV’s too. Usually AWD cars have horrendous turning circles due to suspension geometry limitations, but the Outback manages an 11m turning radius which will no doubt cut out many three point turns in its life.
A 5-star ANCAP safety rating drives home that this is a family oriented package which makes you question the need for a SUV. Subaru’s excellent EyeSight Driver Assist is included as factory standard on all Outbacks and includes:
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane departure warning
- Lane sway warning
- Lane keep assist
- Pre-collision braking
- Pre-collision brake assist
- Pre-collision throttle management
- Brake light recognition
Our Outback 2.5i Premium also came with Subaru’s Vision Assist which adds rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, side view monitoring and auto dipping high-beams along with the previously mentioned parking cameras. Everything is well calibrated and integrated, with the only concern being the lane keep assist getting overly sensitive at times.
Design and Comfort: 8.5/10
Performance and Handling: 7/10
Equipment and Features: 9/10
The Subaru Outback just makes so much sense for families with an adventurous streak, you’ve got all the practicality of an SUV with capable AWD underpinnings and a refined interior to wrap it up.
Striking the right balance between urban chariot and bush explorer, the Outback is sure to garner huge appeal and even steal a few SUV sales from rivals in the process.
- Versatile and practical
- Feature packed
- Well priced
- No digital radio
- Needs more torque
- Stop start not as refined as competitors
2018 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium Pricing and Specification
|Price (Excl. on-road costs):||From: $42,640
As tested: $42,640
|Warranty:||3 Years/Unlimited Kilometers
1 Year Roadside Assistance
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|Service Intervals:||6 months/12,500km|
|Engine:||2.5-litre horizontally-opposed boxer 4-cylinder, petrol engine
129kW @ 5,800rpm, 235Nm @ 4,000rpm
|Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg):||80.7|
|Turning Circle Radius:||11m|
|0-100km/h (s)||Claimed: 10.2|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 7.3 / Tested: 8.0|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||60|
|Body:||5-door wagon, 5 seats|
|Safety:||5-star ANCAP, 7 Airbags, Seatbelt Pre-Tensioners/Load Limiters (front), Reverse Camera, Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Emergency Stop Signal Function, Hill Start Assist, Automatic High Beam, Adaptive Cruise Control, Parking Sensors, Collision Mitigation (low/high speed), Collision Warning, Hill Descent Control, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Anti-Lock Braking System, Brake Assist, Traction Control, Stability Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution.|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||4820/1840/1675/2745|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||1,639|
|Entertainment:||8.0-inch Infotainment System, 6 speakers, Satellite Navigation, CD player, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, USB and AUX|
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