In 2019, 70% of Subaru worldwide sales were made in the United States. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the brand ignores the strict environmental standards imposed by the EEC… which are, slowly but surely, killing our production tools, and therefore our economy, for the benefit of our planet’s main polluters. If you’re surprised to discover that the small Japanese manufacturer is not making electrified engines more widespread, I’m personally very happy to taste the delights of a 2.5 l boxer engine delivering 170 HP once again!
Testing out a Subaru always brings the enjoyment of a unique moment… Some would even say it’s old-fashioned in some way: feeling in complete safety and enjoying an impressive comfort. This time, it was also an opportunity to rack up kilometres and go to Italy for a few days. Enough to make young green activists wince and cry! Those promoters of “alternative means of transport” always shout, even though they don’t hesitate to take the plane several times a year to discover exotic and photogenic destinations themselves. Now in its sixth generation, the Outback is serene and serious, perfectly finished and enhanced by a new central screen bringing a nice fresh touch to the whole interior. Our test car was a Premium version, offering a lavish equipment level as well as excellent seats covered in Nappa leather, nothing less.
I like it
It’s such a pleasure to drive the Outback. In my mind, the holydays usually start when I get behind the wheel and leave home. It was more than ever the case with this Subaru. Interior space is perfect for three people and their luggage and the slightly raised body makes you feel safe at all times. The 2.5 l boxer engine (252 Nm of torque) is very silent and discreet, but you can always count on it when you want to get out of the way of a bunch of Dutchmen stuck in the middle lane at 100 km/h. It’s mated to a CVT automatic gearbox and this is a perfect match: the kilometres go by without tiredness, even if the central screen regularly reminded me that I had been driving for more than 2 hours in one go…
Let’s not forget that Subaru was the first car maker to introduce a raised station wagon, even if Volvo and Audi claim otherwise. It really masters the genre and the four-wheel drive chassis only strengthens the on board safety feeling and well being. The Outback will provide adequate traction when driving on small countryside back lanes or even on some forests roads with shallow ruts. The back seat is spacious and the boot offers no less than 561 litres to swallow about anything you could throw at it. If you don’t need such a luxurious finish, the Outback is also available in more spartan versions that will stand the test of time and… mud.
I don’t like it
Honesty means a motoring journalist always have to find faults in tested cars, otherwise any credibility would be lost. I’ll point out the Outback’s behaviour in dynamic use, something it was not designed for. Such a car will probably be used quite often driving mountain passes. Don’t be tempted to overdo things in such conditions as you would quickly be reminded this is no sports car by a rather heavy roll tendency as well as a plunging nose when braking hard. Therefore, the steering wheel paddles won’t get much use…
Why I buy it
I love the Subaru Outback. I didn’t even get upset when I lost two hours on the return trip, due to a tunnel closure in Switzerland. I just knew that the rest of the journey would be smooth and I could have nearly driven back to Italy after driving it for 14 hours and 1200 km. The reasonably elevated driving position, the comfort provided by a perfectly matched engine/gearbox combination and the high quality soundproofing make this car absolutely fantastic on long journeys. Modern without being flashy, the equipment allows less experienced drivers to rely on very efficient driving aids, thanks to the Eyesight system. Thanks to its two cameras, it monitors a whole bunch of parameters (11 functions) and events taking place around the car.
Why I don’t buy it
Our overtaxed country turns the purchase of such a car into punishment, even though these vehicles are perfect for middle-class families. Fortunately, Subaru does its best to keep its prices as fair as possible. Our test car costs € 39,995€ but taxes on it are a real scandal : registration tax is € 2478, then it’s € 705 every year for road tax, not forgetting the € 500 penalty from the Walloon Region. This is plain and real banditry! Over the 3278 km journey, fuel consumption was 8,1 l/100 km. Quite impressive as we were 3 on board and the aircon was working nearly all the time. As you can see, about the only fault with the Subaru Outback is the heavy budget needed for all the taxes. That point apart, it really ought to be on your shopping list as it’s the perfect all-rounder! (Translation: Dimitri Urbain – Pictures: Sylvie Gerads)