Outlander has a fine overall quality ride. Noise and vibration are reduced with insulation and increased body rigidity. Improved suspension tuning gives agility in the corners, while the Continuously Variable Transmission improves fuel efficiency.
The 2.4 L MIVEC SOHC 16-valve inline 4-cylinder engine with aluminum block and cylinder heads delivers 166 hp at 6,000 rpm and 162 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 rpm.
The EPA fuel economy is an estimated 25 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. I averaged 30 mpg during my driving experience.
The Outlander has shed 220 pounds from previous generation. The body is also more aerodynamic, with front fascia generating about 7 percent less wind resistance. This sleek body profile helps to improve mileage and lower CO2 emissions.
There has been a complete overhaul of the cabin. The sweeping dashboard and scalloped door panels add character while placing the driver at center command levels. This position promotes easy access to the push-button ignition and items like A/C, radio, and the color multi information display. The 8-way manual adjustable driver’s seat and 60/40 split fold-down second-row seatback add to comfort and storage opportunities. The standard third-row seats are 50/50 split and can be easily stowed with the pull of a single fold-and-store strap, and quickly returned to their original position by simple raising the seat back. Seats were cloth but comfortable, while leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob added a luxury quality.
Outside, the Outlander has a striking upper grille and lower bumper. Sharp LED rear combination tail lights and sporty fog lamp bezels were both attractive, while Super-wide Range High Intensity Discharge (S-HID) headlights made a definite announcement on the approach.
The 18-inch tires complement the single exhaust outlet with chrome tip. Cargo tie-down, utility hooks and roof carrier play a role in helping to accommodate other storage issues.
The rain-sensing windshield wipers worked only for a short time. Not sure whether it was engineering problems or feature defect.
The seven passenger Outlander was equipped with advanced active and passive safety technologies. The 2015 Outlander was selected as “Top Safety Pick+” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) with the available Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM) technology.
Side impact door beams and RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) body construction add additional protection when involved in a crash. RISE combines energy-absorbing front and rear structure with a rigid occupant cell to maintain safety during a high-speed collision. Active Stability Control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist collectively act to keep you out of a crash situation, but in case a collision does happen, seven standard airbags are part of the Supplemental Restraint System that provides occupant protection.
The 10-year/100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty applies only to the original owner of the new retail 2015 model. The vehicle is also covered by a 5-year/60,000-mile new vehicle Basic Warranty, a 7-year/100,000-mile Anti-Corrosion/Perforation Limited Warranty, and finally a 5-year/Unlimited-mile roadside assistance.
I would have preferred more knobs for air and radio than the small, difficult to locate buttons that were hard to see and set properly.
Although the Outback doesn’t have a race car pedigree, it provided a spirited performance. It had a nice style and durability and was moderately comfortable. It was easy to park and fun to drive.
Manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $23,195 for the base ES, and $24,195 for the SE. Opting for the S-AWC all-wheel-drive version adds $2,000 to the price of the SE. The top-of-line GT is standard equipped with S-AWC and carries a $28,195 price sticker.
Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or email@example.com