Saturday, April 22, 2017


A quarter century the first Subaru Outback appeared, the 2015 model is totally upgraded. Back in the mid-1990s, the Outback was one of the first present day modern suvs to go on sale special, right around the same time as the first Toyota RAV4. At the time, I lived in Denver, and the first occasion when I test-drove an Outback was during a massive Rocky Mountain blizzard.Needless to say, I’ve been a fan ever since.

Having now spent a week shutting my family around Southern California in this all-new Outback, my favorable opinion hasn’t changed. But that doesn’t mean this crossover is perfect.Subaru sells the redesigned 2015 Subaru Outback in 2.5i and 3.6R model series, the former available with standard, Premium and Limited trim while the latter is offered only as a top-of-the-line Limited model. Prices range from $25,735 for a base model without options to $36,840 for a loaded 3.6R Limited.

Keep in mind those prices don’t include Subaru’s impressive array of dealer-installed accessories. Add the more common upgrades, and the price eclipses $37,750, and that’s before choosing from the variety of kayak, ski, snowboard, and cargo racks that can be attached to the Outback’s robust roof rails.Outbacks have never been good looking, but this one comes close. Subaru has really toned down the SUV cues with this redesign, and the ones that remain are perfectly suited to the vehicle’s image, purpose, and actual capabilities. My test car has the 18-inch aluminum wheels that are exclusive to the Limited trim level; other Outbacks get slightly smaller 17-inch wheels.

Where Subaru has made even greater strides is with regard to interior design. Especially when rendered in the 2-tone black-over-tan color scheme and equipped with the Outback Limited model’s fake matte-finish wood trim, this car looks convincingly upscale inside. Also, check out the floor mat design. It might be a simple, thing, but they’re designed not to slip forward and get caught in the pedals yet they’re super easy to take out for cleaning.In addition to looking good inside and out, the 2015 Outback has a bigger and more comfortable cabin than ever. For starters, it is really easy to get into and out of this Subaru because it sits on a raised suspension, putting the seats at a height that allows an average person to slide in and slide out.

Once you've gotten into the Outback's driver's seat, you'll see that the Limited model's leather feels great, the armrests are plush and thick, and the steering wheel is excellent to grasp. Additionally, because of meager windshield columns, enormous side mirrors, and a reversing camera, it is truly simple to see out of this hybrid SUV. The main thing I longed for was seat ventilation, which is not accessible. 

The front traveler's seat is comfortable, as well, however it isn't tallness flexible. My wife and my dad both griped about this the first occasion when they rode in the auto. That said, both additionally adjusted, and after briefly they said this exclusion wasn't a major ordeal in light of the fact that the seat sits sufficiently high off the floor for decent visibility and comfort.

The Outback’s rear seat is quite roomy. With the driver’s seat positioned for my comfort, I fit my 6-foot frame behind it without any trouble at all. The Limited model’s rear seat heaters will certainly come in handy for someone in wintry weather; I had no use for them during a Southern California summer.Something I did wish for, however, was a set of manual sunshades for the rear windows. Despite the dark-tinted privacy glass, parents of babies and younger children really appreciate them, and Subaru missed a surprise-and-delight opportunity on this front.

In addition to providing greater room for people, the new Outback’s cargo area is larger than last year. Measured to the roof, there’s 35.5 cu.-ft. of space behind the rear seat. Handy seatback releases mounted to either side of the rear liftgate make it easy to fold the rear seats down, providing a total of 73.3 cu.-ft. of space.

Three full-size suitcases line up from one side the cargo area to the other, leaving plenty of space for the tailgate to close. If you’ve got four of ‘em, take the cargo cover off and then stack ‘em up. Note, though, that my compact folding stroller wouldn’t fit wheels-first, forcing me to place it lengthwise or on an angle. This is a small thing, but it seems like a missed opportunity in terms of packaging.Generally, I’m not a fan of touchscreen infotainment systems, but I really love Subaru’s new one, which debuts in the Outback and the redesigned Legacy sedan.

First, it is simple enough that a tech-idiot like me can figure it out without using the manual. Second, the 7-inch touchscreen features clear graphics and speedy response to my big, dry, fumbling fingertips. Best of all, after a week and nearly 500 miles, there still weren’t finger smudges on this screen. Dust, yes. But not fingerprints. Brilliant.

Remaining controls are logically located and arrayed, but the defeat switchgear for the safety systems is located down on the lower left part of the dashboard, where they require real effort to use. That’s not really a bad thing, though, and the reality is that the Outback’s lane departure, blind spot, and forward collision warning systems are comparatively unobtrusive, making them a complement to driving rather than an aggravation.New for 2015, a Rear Vehicle Detection System is available as an option for the 2.5i Premium and is standard equipment for the 2.5i and 3.6R Limited models. It includes a blind spot detection system, rear cross-traffic alert, and a lane change assist system that can tell when another motorist is racing up behind you and then sound a warning if you signal your intention to change lanes right into that faster car’s path.

Subaru’s acclaimed EyeSight technology is optional for the 2.5i Premium and the Limited models, making it more widely available than it was last year. The system also gets new camera technology for 2015, improving the performance of the lane departure warning system and the adaptive cruise control system with pre-collision braking.

Having spent a week testing the new Outback, I’ve gotta say I am mighty impressed with this latest version of EyeSight. Driving up winding Pacific Coast Highway with the system set at 60 mph, EyeSight proved subtle and sophisticated, even dropping speed automatically for some of the 45 mph curves. A display between the gauges even shows when the system is illuminating the brake lights, and the adaptive cruise successfully brought the Outback to a complete stop as traffic ahead slowed for a red light.
The only criticism I can level at EyeSight is the beep it emits when its range of scope acquires or loses the vehicle ahead, which gets irritating on a curving road. Still, I’d rather have it than not.Subaru has done a terrific job of dialing in the Outback’s dynamic capabilities. From the quick-ratio electric steering, which provides outstanding on-center heft combined with satisfying response off-center, to the stout brakes, which are larger for 2015 and ventilated at all four corners, this crossover is impressively nimble, limited primarily by its 225/60 all-season tires.

Subaru’s deft suspension tuning sure helps. Around town, the driver is aware of what’s happening at the road surface, but the suspension successfully muffles sharper impacts. On the freeway, the Outback feels sure, stable, and connected without unnecessary firmness. On a twisty back road, the Outback resists roll in corners, lending the crossover an athletic feel.

Then again, I've gotta say, I was most awed by its capacity to practically glide over washboard dirt streets.And off-road, because of a liberal 8.7 inches of ground leeway, conventional wheel enunciation, and superb outward perceivability, I felt much more sure about the Outback than most different crossovers suv. 

The main bummer here is the 2.5-liter 4-chamber motor. Under ordinary, part-throttle speeding up, it feels sufficiently carefree, and it slingshot up the side of a mountain at 80 mph without an issue. Furthermore, the CVT is really one of the best I've encountered,successfully resisting the type of steady-state droning that is typical of the breed.

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