You hardly ever see any Subaru Outbacks on our local roads and yet, it’s one of Subaru North America’s strongest seller. When combined with the choice between the Outback and Forester, local buyers get a little confused. They both sort of serve the same purpose and cost nearly the same.
There are currently 3 models in the range, the 2.5 lineartronic boxer, the 2.0 Diesel boxer and the big daddy, the 3.6, a lovely flat 6cylinder. Our model, the 3.6 which one could easily confuse for being the flagship model, shares that title with the diesel, with only a few things here and there that will differentiate the two from one another.
When comparing the Outback to the likes of Subaru’s stronger all-purpose seller, the Forester, you really notice just how much roomier the Outback really is. It is so big inside, with my seat adjusted all the way back, I could hardly reach the pedals with my feet and I’m 1.95m tall. What’s really surprising is that I could fit myself behind the driver’s seat in that position. It’s not often that I come about a vehicle with this generous space.
The engine, which is a really smooth one, with such a linear power band, would leave you flabbergasted if I told you it made 191kw and 350nm. Stomp on the accelerator and it gets up and goes pretty well, without any fuss. There is no real shove in the backside as the brilliant lineartronic transmission just takes care of the up and downshifts, effortlessly. The 0-100 figures come up in about a mid 7 second sprint and while that’s not the point, means it can still dance if you need it to.
The tank size is 60liters and while I never expected any sort of acceptable economy from the 3.6 I was really surprised when I did just over 500km to the tank and still had around 200km left on the range indicator. Our best economy figures came down to 7.4l/100km in a real sedate 90km/h drive on a lonely country road.
Off the beaten path is where I really like the added stability from the Outback. The longer wheelbase makes it very stable on even the really bad corrugated and muddy roads with stability control keeping things in check, should anything get out of hand really quickly. There is also Subaru’s new X-Mode, which is really a fancy traction control system and makes mince meat of most easy trails that have a bit of rocky bits in them. Downhill assist is also standard and engages automatically with X-mode engaged.
The interior, which is all leather, feels premium but still lacks that of the German rivals. It’s refreshing to see that Subaru has gone a step forward in the multimedia department by fitting a rather premium Harmon Kardon sound system with built in subwoofer. Connecting the Bluetooth audio or USB is also a painless affair. However you can only pair one phone per session. While both front seats are fully automatic, I did find them to lack on the heating side of things, especially on this side of the market. There is also no navigation present on either model of the Outback.
There is no doubt that the Subaru brand is growing in South Africa at an alarming rate, however I still feel that the Forester is the go-to vehicle for those who want a real urban crossover that is actually worth something when the road turns bad. The Forester might just be a little small in the back when the kids get a little older and that is when you buy your Outback.
The Outback 3.6 Retails for R529 000 and comes with a 3 year 60 000km maintenance plan.
While most people that are concerned with fuel economy has sort of started moving away from larger petrol powered engines and moved over to either smaller 3 cylinder turbo engines or turbo diesels, will find that the 2.0D Outback, might just suit their needs.
There is not much different between the two vehicles. The 2.0 and 3.6 both look identical from the outside and really the only way you will tell them apart is by looking at the badge on the tailgate. This is where it ends as the interiors are vastly different, even though they are both priced exactly the same.
The diesel gets heated seats over the 3.6, but they aren’t powered, so you will have to adjust them manually. The Diesel also loses the fantastic Harmon Kardon sound system, which is standard over in the 3.6 model. The 2.0D still runs the same interface, but falls short on overall output. I sort of feel that Outback Diesel owners will get the raw end of the pineapple because they have to choose economy over entertainment. Maybe a loud sound system is not every ones cup of tea, but please go and sample that one in the 3.6 and tell me it does not sound amazing.
So lets talk about the 2.0D shall we. Well, its nothing earth shattering and its obviously aimed at owners wanting to tow (which its won many awards for), So the 110kw-350nm engine is willing and ready to go, but does not have the sheer grunt like the 3.6. Overtaking at speeds over 120kph is definitely slower and it seems to just feel a little flat up there. Overall economy showed us about 1.5l/100km lighter (8l/100km) than that of the 3.6. Dont get me wrong, I’m all for diesels, but Subaru still has some way to come in getting their diesel up to par with the rest of the competition. Its the plus side, its refined, quiet and If you nurse it along, I’m sure you will get great consumption.
For more info, http://www.subaru.co.za/vehicle/outback/specs-and-pricing