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2015 Subaru Outback first drive

2015 Subaru Outback
2015 Subaru Outback

2015 Subaru Outback


Australian pitchman Paul Hogan, perhaps better known as Mick “Crocodile” Dundee, had a lot to do with the initial success of the Subaru Outback. In that role he created an image for the Outback of outdoor freedom and ruggedness. Crocodile is gone now, but after 20 years in production the Outback survived and is selling well.
Subaru’s Outback has been completely redesigned for 2015, probably an unnecessary move considering the 120,000 or so units sold last year. More than one in every four Subarus sold in the U.S. is an Outback and messing with that kind of success can be risky business. But, waiting too long to change can be equally risky.
The 2015 Outback has been carefully designed to attract new buyers without offending a cult-like following. At first glance, you might think the new Outback is a bit larger than the outgoing model; but it's pretty much the same size with a little less body cladding and the cleaner front-end styling. At around 190 inches, the Outback is now 0.6 inch longer with wheelbase up a bit. Additionally, front-seat occupants will find two more inches of shoulder room.
Outback picks up nearly 3 cubic feet in added interior space. There's a bit more room for rear-seat passengers along with a 2-cubic-foot increase in cargo capacity. Unlike some vehicles this size, designers resisted the urge to cram a third-row seat in back. Outback buyers are outdoor types and more likely to go beyond where the pavement ends. With space for up to five adults and gear, assisted by the handy 'convertible' roof rack, the Outback does better at what many SUVs are intended to do, but with a better ride, more nimble handling, and better fuel efficiency.
For 2015 there's an all-new interior that boasts significant improvements both in materials quality and ergonomics.
The base model now features a 6.2-inch touchscreen interface for audio and entertainment functions, while a 7-inch touchscreen comes standard on Premium and Limited trims. If the car is equipped with navigation, that screen allows one to use the now-intuitive pinch-and-expand finger movements to zoom in or out.
The dash and upper door panels are covered in soft-touch materials, while the various faux metallic and wood-tone accents look surprisingly real. The large center stack features easy-to-use controls. The climate control system is a mix of intuitive buttons and knobs, and there's a handy cell phone slot on the center console.
The front seats are generously padded and provide excellent all-day comfort, but some long-legged folks might wish for a bit more thigh support. Our 2.5i Premium test car had soft, grippy cloth seats and ultra plush armrests and plenty of room for both front and rear occupants.
The 2015 Subaru Outback is a five-passenger crossover wagon offered in four trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited. The numbers refer to engine displacement.
The base 2.5i comes with 17-inch steel wheels, roof rack rails, full power accessories, cruise control, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split-folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.2-inch touchscreen interface, a rearview camera and a four-speaker sound system, HD radio, a CD player and an iPod/USB audio interface.
Upper trim levels add content and some of the upper trims' features are available on the lower trims as options. Other available features, depending on trim level, include a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a navigation system, keyless entry and ignition and Subaru's EyeSight driver assist system (includes the blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert systems, adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning system and a collision-warning and -mitigation system with brake intervention).
A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is standard on the 2.5 models, generating 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. It is matched to a CVT and delivers 28 mpg combined (25 city/33 highway).
The 3.6R Limited features a 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine rated at 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque and also pairs with a CVT. The 3.6R earns EPA estimates of 22 mpg combined (20 city/27 highway).
All-wheel drive is standard on all Outbacks, as are hill descent control and hill start assist. Ground clearance stands at 8.7 inches. That's typically a few more inches than you'll get in most five-passenger SUVs.
Every 2015 Subaru Outback comes standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and new seat cushion airbags. Also standard across the board is a rearview camera, while higher trims also include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems.
MacPherson strut front suspension and double-wishbone rear suspension setup offer a nimble sporty feel with a more compliant ride. A stiffer body, precise electronic steering and revised suspension tuning have made the Outback a competent handling wagon once again. Prices start at $24,895.

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