Subaru Outback

2016 Subaru Outback

The 2016 Subaru Outback is the perfect car for taking the family on a trip into the outback. Outback takes the middle road between rugged SUV and modern crossover. Its a distinctive choice for shoppers who arent entirely happy with familiar SUVs or crossover models, but need more capability than a sedan might offer.

A full redesign for 2015 enhanced the Outbacks family-focused nature. For 2016, there are few changes. Several new features have been added to the EyeSight active-safety system on 2016 Subaru Outback models.

Based on the Legacy sedan, with the same powertrain and trim-level choices, Outback offers abundant interior space, configurable to suit the user. Owners can also benefit from the convertible roof rack.

Two engines are available: a 175-horsepower four-cylinder comes on Outback 2.5i versions, while a 256-horsepower six-cylinder comes on Outback 3.6R versions. Both come with a CVT.

A rearview camera is standard in all models. Upper trim levels can have Subarus EyeSight safety suite, upgraded for 2016, adding Lane Keep Assist. Above 40 mph, it can detect when the Outback is drifting out of its lane, then apply steering assist to nudge it back into place.

2016 Subaru Outback models are available with a new subscription-based Starlink Safety and Security system, with such services as emergency SOS and automatic collision notification. A Security Plus Package adds stolen-vehicle recovery and locator, and remote locking/unlocking.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates four-cylinder fuel economy at 25/33 mpg City/Highway. The 3.6R six-cylinder version is rated 20/27 mpg.


2015 Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is all-new for 2015. The 2015 Subaru Outback isnt much bigger than its predecessor, just over a half-inch longer and wider, on a wheelbase thats been stretched less than a quarter-inch. But theres more room within, and the additional width and conservative restyling combine to give it a more substantial appearance.

And there is indeed substance to vindicate the fresh appearance. The 2015 Outback gets a higher percentage of high-strength hot-stamped steel in the unit body, increasing structural rigidity by substantial margins: 59 percent torsional, 35 percent longitudinal.

Not only does this contribute to good all-around road manners, its also a plus for absorbing punishment on rugged dirt tracks. Augmenting the Outbacks off-road usefulness is a seamless four-wheel drive system and lots of ground clearance: 8.7 inches. That matches the ground clearance of the Jeep Cherokee, allowing the Outback to better traverse rough terrain.

As with the previous generation, the 2015 Outback offers two engine choices, a 175-horsepower four-cylinder and a 256-horsepower six-cylinder. Both are boxer designs, with the cylinders opposed to each other in a horizontal plane, and both offer lots of torque, a useful trait when driving at slower speeds over lumpy terrain. Unlike the previous generation, there is no manual transmission option; both engines are paired with continuously variable transmissions, or CVTs.

Subaru has programmed the CVT with artificial shift points, operable via the paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel. While it doesnt provide the sense of driver engagement that goes with a stick shift, it does diminish some of the annoying slipping clutch trait thats been a longtime drawback of CVTs. Indeed, the Outback feels more like a car with a regular automatic than does the latest Honda CR-V, which has a CVT with much more of that slipping sensation.

The stiffer structure of the 2015 Outback is heavier than that of the fourth-generation version, and acceleration with the 2.5-liter flat-four in a Premium trim level model was deliberate, a 2-horsepower gain and improved torque curve versus the previous generation notwithstanding. In other words, this latest Outback is no quicker than before.

On the other hand, fuel economy ratings are improved. The 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i achieves an EPA-estimated 25/33 mpg City/Highway. We averaged 28 mpg in four days of touring around Oregon in a 2015 Outback 2.5i Premium with the four-cylinder engine, and that included some high country. The Outbacks pavement manners are hard to fault, and its off-road performance is impressive.

Beyond that, the 2015 Outback is than before. Though the exterior dimensional increases are fractional, theres more space inside for passengers and cargo. Interior noise has been reduced, infotainment elements have improved, as have safety features. The result is that there is more quiet to go along with the increased smoothness.

Visually, there are still ties to the Legacy sedan, the Outbacks genetic forebear. But the 2015 Outback has evolved far beyond its first generation beginnings as a Legacy station wagon with a little extra ground clearance.


 

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