The Subaru Outback has outgrown its station wagon roots and now securely falls into the crossover/SUV category. Completely redesigned for 2017, the Subaru Outback quietly rolled off the assembly line and right into the winner’s circle. When Motor Trend named it the 2010 sport/utility of the year, people took notice. The Outback’s new styling paired with its car-like ride make this a versatile vehicle worth looking at.
The new Subaru Outback has lost its station wagon styling with an extra 4.1 inches in height, 2.0 more inches in width and a 2.8 inch longer wheelbase. At the same time, it’s close to an inch shorter than the previous model. It’s 8.7 inches of ground clearance is class-leading and with 34.3 cubic feet of cargo space, the dogs can happily come along for the ride. Increased room in the back seat ensures that human passengers will ride in comfort, too.
The Outback comes with either a 2.5 liter or a 3.6 liter engine available in a base, Premium or Limited trim level. New this year is a CVT (continuously variable transmission) that comes with 2.5i Premium and Limited models (a 6-speed manual is also available). The CVT performs well and even has paddle shifters to simulate manual gear ratios. The 2.5i engine delivers 170 hp with an impressive 22/29 mpg and most buyers will happily go home with this model. But for those who want more power for passing, mountain climbing and hauling, the 3.6R may be the best choice.
This year’s DOHC 6-cylinder 3.6-liter Subaru Boxer engine drives like smooth chocolate and still gets a decent 18/25 mpg. With 256 hp, the 3.6R 5-speed automatic effortlessly glides up hills or down the highway. Drivers at higher altitudes will appreciate the extra power of the larger engine.
The interior of the Outback looks capable and traditional for the most part. It has a new electronic parking brake and available navigation screen. Popular options include the all-weather package, dual zone climate control, bluetooth connectivity and 440-watt, 6-disc harman/kardon audio system. The one throw-back to the old station wagon days is the fake wood trim that comes in the higher-end models. Subaru’s comfortable new seats make up for the plastic wood trim.
With an MSRP of $22,995 to $30,995 (without optional features) the Subaru Outback offers a good mix of value and versatility. For environmentalists, Subaru also offers Outback models that qualify as a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV). All Outbacks are built in a zero-landfill plant in Indiana, a concept that’s been slow to catch on in the U.S. For 2011 the Outback is due for $200 price increase and minor changes such as folding exterior mirrors.
Today’s buyer wants comfort, utility, reliability and high tech features at an affordable price. Subaru has managed to check all those boxes and more with the 2016 Outback. A few traditional Subaru lovers may mourn the passing of station wagon, but the popularity of the new Outback means it’s here to stay.
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