Subaru has long benefited from the rallying success and then gradually transformed into a manufacturer of boring family crossovers, so conservative that one generation was hard to distinguish from another.
The Indy Auto Man car experts claim that the latest generation Outback is confusingly similar to the previous one, extensively represented in the USA used car market. Both externally and in the driving experience. However, the paradox is that almost everything has changed, and some features are ground-breaking innovations on a universal scale.
To begin with, the Outback is watching the driver all the time, not just whether you keep your hands on the wheel or the direction of your gaze, as BMW and Mercedes-Benz do. An infrared camera in a visor above the multimedia system can recognize the driver’s face, the degree of his fatigue (by facial expressions), and even a mobile phone in his hand. A little distraction and the electronics squeal anxiously and blink the lights.
The Subaru functionality has always overcome not only European but also Japanese competitors like Nissan and Mitsubishi. In the new-generation Outback, if you enter into the car’s memory the faces of all those allowed to drive, the settings will be automatically pumped up when changing the driver. The Outback can adjust the seats, mirrors, and climate control parameters to the exact driver. Therefore, a vertical multimedia tablet looks appropriate here. The risk of being stunned by crazy graphics is small, but everything works almost without brakes. And most importantly, it is clear that the interface logic is scrupulously thought out. In addition, a driver can adjust the content of the desktop to personal needs, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported, and the Harman / Kardon music system produces detailed and elastic sound.
The Outback is somewhat old-fashioned, but analog gauges and an abundance of physical buttons are rather a plus today, and most importantly, the interior looks premium. And while many, including real premium celestials, are slowly simplifying interiors, Subaru does not skimp on soft plastics, real metal, and thoroughbred Nappa leather already in basic trim.
The mechanics here are also completely new because the Outback, following the XV and Forester, moved to the SGP modular architecture. With the inviolability of the philosophy, including suspension schemes, permanent four-wheel drive, boxer motor, and CVT, it is almost entirely assembled from new components. Even the body panels here have nothing to do with the previous generation. Outwardly, the Outbacks are almost the same but, at the same time, different.
However, the most striking thing is how the new-generation SUV feels. The good old Subaru Outback is a confident and hardy all-terrain wagon with an excellent energy-intensive suspension that allows you to rush along dead primers without dismantling the road. With reliable, completely light handling, appropriate even on the steepest serpentines. The new Outback is like that. However, it differs radically from the previous generation, and one can feel it only when changing from one car to another. The new generation clings to the asphalt so cool and dampens body vibrations so well that it can be difficult to guess the state of the road. And only in direct comparison, it becomes obvious how much more linear the responses to the steering wheel with the new progressive rack have become and how much the sound insulation has improved.
Under the hood
For the phenomenal stability of the Outback, one will have to pay with a part of comfort (the suspensions more noticeably broadcast road itch and small bumps into the cabin). Much more offensive is the lack of dynamics. The 2.5-liter boxer engine is 95% new, with power up from 175 to 188 hp and the torque added 10 Nm (up to 245). The CVT has also changed and received an expanded range of gear ratios. The Outback accelerates confidently but that’s it. Smooth and reliable, although with such a chassis under the hood, experienced drivers would expect something more fun. Fortunately, a turbocharged 2.4 with 260 hp is available in the North American market, including the Outback Wilderness crazy version with a reinforced lift suspension, mud tires, and a more powerful plastic body kit.
Subaru has not forgotten how to make high-quality cars, and the new-generation Outback will become an unexpected challenge to those who planned to sell their used Subarus at a good price. The more popularity it gains, the fewer buyers would prefer the SUVs of the previous gen.