The Subaru Outback is a bit on an anomaly in the car world, although it is classed as a SUV, it’s not quite as high off the ground as most SUVs. The Outback could also be called a wagon, but it’s not as low as most wagons either. Meaning the Outback is in a club all of its own and once you have driven one, you’re likely to take out a full membership to this Outback Club.
The exterior design of the MY23 Subaru Outback remains largely unchanged from the previous model with the only revision being newly designed 18-inch wheels. The interior on the other hand has received a number of updates to improve convenience and enhance user-friendliness. The additions include Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a redesigned 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen that allows full screen Android Auto, and the replacement of one USB-A with a USB-C port at the front of the vehicle.
The flat-six boxer engine is no longer available in the Outback range and you now only have a choice between a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre, Boxer 4-cylinder or the newly introduced 2.4-litre Boxer 4-cylinder, petrol engine. These are both paired with a CVT and I found that the Outback’s CVT to be not as annoying as other vehicles I have driven with this style of transmission.
I recently drove the Outback AWD Touring XT, which has the turbocharged engine, that produces 183kW of power and 350Nm of torque. The official combined fuel consumption for this Outback is 9.0L/100km of 95RON petrol and for my time driving one I used 11.2L/100km. To suit the 2.4-litre DIT Boxer engine, the damping force of the front and rear dampers, and the spring constant of the front coil springs, have been tuned. This tuning helps deliver both driving stability and ride comfort and this is appreciated when driving the Outback.
Signalling a point of difference, the all-new turbocharged Subaru Outback exclusively features dual tailpipes, exterior ‘XT’ badge, LED fog lamps with six LEDs to pay homage to Subaru’s six-star constellation emblem whilst also limiting power consumption. The turbocharged Subaru Outback also delivers greater towing capacity than naturally aspirated variants, increasing to a maximum of 2,400kg (an increase of 400kg) for a braked trailer. The maximum weight allowed for a trailer without brakes is 750kg and the maximum tow ball down load is 240kg.
Subaru’s renowned Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive underpins the Outback AWD, bringing confidence and a comfortable onboard experience for occupants. Adding to the experience is Subaru’s most advanced X-Mode system yet, making Outback more capable off-road than ever with its 213mm of ground clearance. X-Mode has two different modes with one mode is optimised for snow and dirt, the other for deep snow and mud. If you are planning some light off-roading in your Outback you will also be pleased to know that it comes with a full-size spare tyre that is located under the boot floor.
The Outback’s interior is a blend of old and new with the central infotainment screen dominating the cabin. I like the stitched dash and stitched centre console because it adds an element of class to the Outback. My least favourite feature is the gloss black material used on the centre console and door trims as this gets dusty and shows finger marks on it. The old school elements include the analogue taco and speedo on the dash and the CD player under the arm rest.
The premium features of the Outback AWD Touring XT include Nappa leather accented seat trim, a nine-speaker Harman Kardon system with subwoofer and amplifier, a heated steering wheel, and an electric sunroof. Both front seats are heated and cooled as standard on this trim level and have power adjustment for recline, forward/back and seat height front and rear. The driver’s seat also gets 2-way lumbar support and two memory positions.
The wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto works well, but as there is no wireless charge pad you still need to have your phone plugged in to charge anyway. For this there is one USB-A and one USB-C port in the cubby at front of centre console with one AUX input also located here. Other media sources available on the Outback include DAB, AM/FM radio, Bluetooth, USB, iPod, CD and AUX. Voice control is designated on the steering wheel with a button that has a masculine looking silhouette on it and the voice control functionality worked well for me to change the radio station and make phone calls, but was not good for setting a destination on the sat nav and after several attempts I gave up.
I liked the storage pocket on passenger side of centre console because it is just the right size for the passenger’s phone to be stored there, so can be out of the foot well while charging or within easy reach if the passenger requires it. The Outback also has good sized drink bottle storage cubbies in the front doors and two cup holders in centre console one deeper than the other.
The rear seats are heated, have manual recline adjustment, and are soft and cushy to sit on. There was ample head and leg room for me in the rear seats, but taller individuals may find the headroom tight. For younger passengers there are two ISOFix/three rear tether child seat restraint points.
The centre seat folds down as an arm rest with two shallow cup holders in it that have only flimsy rubber sides, but you do get good-sized drink bottle cubbies in the rear doors. Rear passengers get two central air vents with individual manual direction adjustment and central on/off control. Below the vents are two USB-A charge ports and the best thing for parents is the mat over entire rear floor including transmission tunnel to make cleaning that little bit easier.
The Outback AWD Touring XT has a powered tailgate with a button under boot lid, in cabin and on key fob to open and close it. The boot is a good size and will easily accommodate the weekly shop or a pram and a smaller shop. Subaru also take load storage seriously with four upper and four lower substantial tie down points for securing your items in the boot. There are also two hooks, one 12V socket and roof mounted boot lighting in the boot space. If you need additional storage room the rear seats have a 40:60 split fold mechanism with the manual release for these in the boot.
The Subaru Outback range has a 5-star (2021) ANCAP Safety Rating with an Adult Occupant Protection score of 88% (33.56 out of 38) and a Child Occupant Protection score of 91% (44.62 out of 49). SRS airbags are fitted for dual front, dual front side, dual curtain, driver’s knee and front passenger seat cushion. The Outback has a standard rear-view camera with rear parking sensors only and for convenience you get auto lights, auto high beam and auto wipers.
Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist system features Adaptive Cruise Control, Emergency Lane Keep Assist, Lane Centring Function, Lane Departure Prevention, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Sway Warning, Pre-Collision Brake Assist, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, Autonomous Emergency Steering, and Post-Collision Brake Control. ANCAP tests of the autonomous emergency braking (AEB) (Car-to-Car) system showed GOOD performance with collisions avoided or mitigated in all test scenarios, including AEB Junction Assist where the test vehicle can autonomously brake to avoid crashes when turning across the path of an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian. Overall, effectiveness of the AEB (Car-to-Car) system performance was rated as GOOD. ANCAP tests of lane support system functionality showed GOOD performance, including in the more critical emergency lane keeping test scenarios, with overall performance classified as GOOD. Overall, the Safety Assist score for the Outback is 96%.
All new MY23 Subaru Outback’s come standard with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty period and 12-months complimentary Subaru Roadside Assistance. The service interval for the Outback is 12 months or 15,000kms, whichever occurs first and a three-year service plan for the Outback can be purchased upfront for $1355.16 or a five-year plan for $2579.31.
Price of entry into the Outback Club via this Outback AWD Touring XT is $55,990 excluding on-road costs. You can Build your Own Subaru Outback on-line or visit your preferred Subaru retailer for more information.
|The ride height of the Outback||No front parking sensors|
|Full-size spare tyre||No wireless charging pad for smartphones|
|The mat over entire rear floor||Voice control didn’t work for setting a destination on the sat nav|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.