This new fifth-generation Outback is a midsize crossover that brings an all-new platform with standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and X-Mode.
Activated through a push button, X-Mode takes control of engine, transmission, AWD system, and brakes to provide optimal traction on low-friction surfaces by increasing all-wheel drive engagement and exerting enhanced control of the Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) system to reduce individual wheel spin. Hill Descent Control implemented through X-Mode adds safety, control, and confidence even on the steepest hills.
The Outback is powered by a 2.5 L aluminum-alloy 16-valve 4-cylinder horizontally opposed Subaru Boxer engine with an active valve control system (175 hp at 5,800 rpm / 174 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm) getting EPA ratings of 25/33/28 mpg city/highway/combined. The attractive active grille shutter improves aerodynamics and helps reduce fuel consumption.
Subaru also offers the 3.6 L 24-valve 6-cylinder engine with the same features as the 2.5 L. However, my focus will be on the smaller engine.
Inside, there appears to be more space (108.1 cubic feet) than last year’s model, but with a design using extensive soft touch material.
The all-new infotainment system includes a standard-touch 7.0″ display and a high-resolution backup camera. The touch screen was precise and clear, but at 7 inches it was simply too small for me. It was like looking at your watch through a telescopic lens. The screen display has multi-touch that offers swipe and scroll gesture controls. The system itself features voice-activated controls, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, text messaging, and iTunes tagging.
Standard 60/40 split-fold rear seats expand carry capacity to access a large cargo area (73.3 cubic feet cargo volume with seats folded).
Ten-way power seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and leather-wrapped steering wheel are interior ensembles that help to provide a steady flow of creature comforts.
But the most impressive item that I liked was the EyeSight advanced driver assist system, which uses two color cameras to implement features like Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, Vehicle Lane Departure and Sway Warning, and Steering-Responsive Fog Lights.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), “The 2014 Subaru Outback earned the highest possible front crash prevention rating by IIHS when equipped with the EyeSight.” And I am sure that the new seat cushion airbags that keeps folks in place during a frontal collision (8 airbags total) also adds to the EyeSight assist creditability.
The new Subaru has a focus on quietness. Exterior quieting revisions including thicker panels in key places, an acoustic windshield, and liquid-filled engine mounts, which contribute to the quietness of the interior.
Outback sits on 17-inch alloy wheels, which complement other outside features like fog lights and power rear gate with memory height function. MacPherson strut front suspension and double wishbone rear suspension give the vehicle a sporting “Hunk” kind of feeling.
In some ways, Outback is much like an average-looking and -performing car. Even though Outback is somewhat bland on the inside and not particularly stylish outside (just my opinion), it is a vehicle that possesses heart-purity for adventure. So load the roof with gear, use the retractable roof cross bars with the tie downs, and head out.
Distance driving will not fatigue the driver, and passengers will enjoy the established mood and fantastic view as they look out the windows. They will dream beyond the roadway. At the end of the day, you will know that you “did good.”
The Outback 2.5i is available in the $24,995 base, $26,995 Premium, and the $29,995 Limited trim levels.
3-year/36,000-mile Basic Warranty
5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain Warranty
5-year/Unlimited-miles Rust Perforation Warranty
Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this newspaper or firstname.lastname@example.org