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All-New Subaru Outback Roomiest Most Capable Ever

By Arv Voss, September 20th, 2014

The all-new 2015 Subaru Outback is a gem for those with active travel lifestyles, and for drivers wanting safe, dependable family transportation in comfort.

Manufacturer photo: Next New On Wheels: Nissan Altima
Manufacturer photo: Next New On Wheels: Nissan Altima

Though Subaru does not make revolutionary changes to its vehicles, the automaker works toward improving and enhancing its all-wheel drive vehicles. The 2015 Outback is a perfect example of the evolutionary process.

The 2015 Subaru Outback occupies a similar footprint as its predecessor, but provides more interior room while the wheelbase increases incrementally. Passenger volume increases and the cargo area is also bigger. In addition, the load floor provided by the lowered seats now lays flatter, and new rear seatback release levers in the cargo area add to convenience.

Visually, the new Outback showcases a bolder, more athletic look with sharper, sculpted lines, and a new front fascia that blends Subaru's signature hexagonal grille and bumper into a single, smooth unit. The aluminum hood reduces weight over the front wheels, which aids in steering response provided by the electric power assisted steering, and improves fuel economy by 2 percent.

The Outback continues to provide a generous 8.7 inches of ground clearance, which is higher than some SUVs, yet keeps a low step-in height for comfort. Approach angle is 19.3 degrees, departure angle is 22.7 degrees, and the breakover angle is 20.0 degrees. A power rear gate with memory height is now available on Outback for the first time.

Manufacturer photo: Next New On Wheels: Nissan Altima

The new Subaru Outback is available with two engine choices. The 2.5-liter, horizontally opposed (Boxer) four-cylinder engine is revised for lower weight, greater efficiency, and quieter operation. This engine boasts 175 horsepower along with 174 lb.-ft. of torque.

The second choice is a 3.6-liter, Boxer six-cylinder engine that makes 256 horses while developing 247 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines mate to Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT).

Both Outback models offer symmetrical all-wheel drive and feature active torque vectoring and X-Mode for enhanced rough and slippery surface control. Other significant features include an electronic parking brake with hill holder system, hill descent control, and incline start assist. Four-wheel disc brakes now implement rear vented rotors and ABS with electronic brake force distribution.

Trim levels for the Subaru Outback begin with the base 2.5i model with 17-inch steel wheels, starting at $24,895; a Premium 2.5i model starting at $26,595, and the top-of-the-line 3.6R Limited model that starts at $32,995. A Limited trim model is also available with the 2.5i engine. Add $850 for destination and handling for all models.

For the national press launch of the 2015 Subaru Outback, my driving partner and I started our test drive in a 2.5-liter model in Premium trim painted Venetian Red metallic with a black interior. The base sticker read $26,995 while the final price tag came to $27,845. We wrapped up by testing a 3.6-liter-powered Limited model with a Wilderness Green metallic exterior and ivory interior. It started at $32,995 and wrapped up at $33,845.

Manufacturer photo: Next New On Wheels: Nissan Altima

The 2015 Subaru Outback features a quite capable chassis boasting 59 percent torsional stiffness and a 39 percent increase in bending stiffness, and the highest fuel efficiency in the model's 20-year history of 25/33 mpg city/highway for the 2.5-liter Outbacks and 20/27 mpg city/highway for those powered by the 3.6-liter engine.

Infotainment and connectivity are top notch, enhancing the driving and riding experience, and the new Subaru Outback is loaded with thoughtful new features that deliver a higher level of versatility and functionality. The wider step door sills provide solid footing when loading and securing items on the integrated roof rails, which now feature cross rails that fold and stow longitudinally when not in use, thereby reducing drag and improving fuel economy.

The 2.5i Premium model will likely be the volume leader, offering ample acceleration and towing up to 2,700 pounds with a 200-pound trailer tongue weight. The 3.6R obviously adds considerably more oomph and ups the towing ante to 3,000 pounds with a 200-pound trailer tongue weight.

The ride quality for all Outback models is firm, yet compliant, soaking up potholes and dips with ease and comfort. Handling attributes are ideal for the on and off-road sojourns, with positive steering input and stable, road-holding capability with the revised and redesigned front and rear suspension geometry.

The Adaptive Cruise Control and EyeSight features are instrumental to collision avoidance, and will bring the Outback to a complete stop without driver intervention.

Manufacturer photo: Next New On Wheels: Nissan Altima

People who own Subarus love them, largely illustrated by the fact that there are more than enough Subarus in operation in the Northwest to qualify them as the official vehicle of the region. Not only that, but the Subaru Outback has been virtually bullet-proof, with 97 percent of vehicles sold in the last 10 years still on the road today.

Specifications

Base price $24,895 (as tested: $25,745)
Curb weight 3,593 lbs.
Displacement 2.5-liter
Epa mileage rating 25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 18.5 gal.
Horsepower (net) 175 at 5800 rpm
Motor type 16-valve Boxer 4-cyl. w/SMPFI
Overall length 108.1 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 174 at 4000 rpm
Transmission CVT
Vehicle type 5-passenger midsize AWD CUV
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