Families in need of a comfortable and spacious midsize SUV/wagon that can go off-road thanks to one of the industry’s best all-wheel drive systems need look no further than the 2015 Subaru Outback.
The automaker’s newly redesigned Outback was originally named to reflect the arid and remote outback regions of Australia, in order to promote the vehicle’s adequate off-road abilities. An adventure-ready wagon at heart, the 2015 Subaru Outback is great for the outdoorsy type, yet it’s also rather civilized, offering a level of comfort and refinement that one can easily enjoy on their everyday commute.
Owners of the 2.5i model will find a 2.5-litre horizontally-opposed, four-cylinder Subaru Boxer engine under the hood. It’s quieter and more efficient than previous versions, and should provide sufficient power for everyday on-road travel with its total output of 175 horsepower – an increase of 3-hp over its predecessor – and 174 lb-ft of torque.
It’s paired to either a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional continuously variable transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters.
The X-Mode feature provides added traction under the worst conditions, as it takes control of the engine, AWD, and braking systems, and features hill descent control and a hill holder system to enhance off-road capability.
If the 2.5-litre engine is not your cup of tea, the 3.6-litre six-cylinder Boxer engine in the 3.6R model is the one to opt for, budget permitting. The engine is capable of pushing 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to a standard CVT transmission.
All trims include active torque vectoring for improved cornering ability and incline start assist, while hill descent control is available exclusively with CVT models. As always, Subaru vehicles also come standard with the automaker’s renowned full-time AWD system that will hush your winter driving stress and enhance your driving pleasure.
Style and interior
We definitely enjoy the 2015 Subaru Outback’s more refined style, and find the modern-looking hexagonal grille, nicely integrated headlights and taillights, roof rack, and overall shape to provide an appealing adventure-ready look. Also worth noting is the windshield that has been slightly pulled forward at the base, helping to improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics. Active grille shutters, a feature that helps to reduce wind resistance, are standard on 2.5i trims.
On the inside, the new Outback is without a doubt comfortable and spacious, and is roomier than its predecessor. The vehicle offers more rear seat legroom for 2015, and occupants should be at peace with the extra bit of shoulder, elbow, and hip room as well.
Owners are also provided with generous cargo volume (an additional 148 litres compared to the 2014 Outback), with rear split-folding seats to allow for greater cargo-carrying capacity. We actually manage to fit a baby crib, three-tier shelf, and some groceries in the vehicle without any issue.
As for features, the infotainment system has been upgraded across the board, with elements like a 6.2-inch touchscreen, Aha Radio, and Bluetooth audio streaming coming standard. A seven-inch high-resolution display with voice-activated GPS navigation, satellite radio and traffic updates, and a Harman Kardon 12-speaker system with a 576-watt amplifier are among the features you can opt for. Heated front and rear seats, voice-activated automatic climate control, driver’s seat memory, a moonroof, and perforated leather seats are also available, depending on the model.
In terms of safety features, we suggest taking a look at Subaru’s EyeSight technology, which is the automaker’s advanced driver assist system that utilizes a pair of stereoscopic cameras mounted on the windshield to survey the road ahead. It is meant to flag potential dangers such as an impending collision. EyeSight features adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, and vehicle lane departure and sway warning.
To buy or not to buy?
We test the 3.6R model for one week, and find the six-cylinder to be smooth and overall satisfying. We also enjoy the precise, car-like handling provided by the 2015 Outback, and find that it feels very stable, with the ability to instill confidence in the driver when entering curves. Visibility is also excellent. For the everyday commute, as well as for those outdoor adventures, the Outback is indeed quite the capable wagon.
Fuel economy is said to have improved for 2015, with an estimated, combined city/highway rating of 9.1 litres per 100 kilometres. Our observed fuel economy is a bit higher at 10.5 L/100km over 566 km, likely due to all the equipment we were carrying during the weekend.
Finally, with its confidence-inducing standard AWD system and generous ground clearance, the 2015 Subaru Outback is a pleasure to drive almost anywhere, and is certainly winter-ready. It’s up against competitors like the Volvo XC70 and Audi Allroad, but the Subaru is more affordable with a starting price of $27,995 MSRP for the base 2.5i trim, and $35,496 MSRP for the base 3.6R model. It’s also more reliable.
2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R gallery