The sixth-generation Subaru Outback features superior off-road capability, an increased sense of perceived efficiency, ample interior space, sensational safety equipment, and a decreased mechanical range. Is it the market’s best family crossover? We put it to the test during its presentation.
Subaru’s Outback It is one of the brand’s most successful and versatile models. The Outback was introduced at the 1994 New York Auto Show as a version of the Subaru Legacy but quickly established its own identity within the Japanese manufacturer’s global lineup. It is currently in its sixth generation.
The rivals of the Japanese are as varied as the Audi A4 Allroad, the Skoda Scout, the Volvo V60 Cross Country, the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack, and the future Mercedes C-Class All-Terrain. The Outback 2021 stands out from them in off-road capabilities and in durability.
Although there are no significant cosmetic improvements from its predecessor, the Active & Tough design language has emphasized the camper aspect. The body defenses become more prominent, and the measurements slightly increase. It has grown 50 mm in length, to 4.87 m, and 35 mm in width.
The 2021 Outback is available in three trim levels: Trek, Field, and Touring. The first two are identical in price but take a slightly different approach: Trek is designed for drivers who primarily use their vehicle on the road, while Field is designed for those who camp more frequently. The Touring trim level is the most luxurious, carrying all that the Japanese crossover would.
The family crossover is recognized for its ruggedness, which is carried over into the cabin of the 2021 Outback. Inside the structure, the solidity is exceptional, it is built to last, and the materials used have been upgraded to create a more comfortable environment.
All is very traditional in terms of dashboard design, with the large 11.6-inch portrait-format touchscreen of Subaru’s most sophisticated multimedia device to date taking center stage. Physical buttons for commonly used functions are placed around the screen, and the interface features wide touch buttons and uncluttered menus. The tactile response is excellent, and the image quality is adequate.
Following the trend set by Subaru’s recent releases, the infotainment system is devoid of an integrated browser. The Japanese brand is dedicated to the user using their smartphone’s navigation, and to that end, it supports Android Auto and Apple Carplay.
Depending on the trim level, the Japanese wagon can include features such as heated front seats with electrical adjustment and memory function, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, and a sunroof. In comparison to some of his competitors, he foregoes automated instrumentation and a wireless charging base for smartphones.
Rear-seat passengers can enjoy ample room and amenities such as heated seats, a pair of USB ports, vents, and a folding armrest that incorporates a pair of cup holders. Much warmth will be enjoyed when arriving refreshed after lengthy journeys. Carrying home travel is made possible by a roomy boot.
The hands-free electric opening gate shows a wider loading opening than the previous iteration. Within, a quick touch raises the luggage cover tray, revealing a storage area. There are 561 liters in this container. Regular shapes allow you to make the best use of any corner. The rear seats can be folded down remotely via hooks, a large net, and handles, increasing the volume to 1,306 liters measured to the tray or 1,822 liters measured to the roof.
The 2021 Outback is built on Subaru’s latest SGP (Subaru Global Platform) architecture, which was introduced with the Subaru Impreza and offers increased rigidity and a lower center of gravity. Additionally, it provides increased safety in the event of an accident by absorbing 40% more energy in the event of an impact.
Security has always been a highlight of the Outback, and it has been improved with the addition of the latest generation of EyeSight technology in the new model. The EyeSight 4.0 edition adds an electric brake booster, a new front camera with a wider field of view, and a rear sonar, all of which were absent from the previous Outback. Additionally, Subaru also introduced a sensory steering wheel for the first time.
Adaptive Cruise Control, Intelligent Speed Limiter, Lane Keeping Assist, Speed Sign Recognition, and Reverse Emergency Brake Assist is included in this package of safety features. Additionally, it introduces the Driver Monitoring Device, a facial recognition system that notifies the driver if he or she is distracted or exhausted.
There will be a compressed natural gas variant with an Ecolabel.
Subaru maintains its commitment to the boxer engine and symmetrical all-wheel drive, two features that have become synonymous with the brand’s identity. Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is standard on all models, and the only engine option is a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder petrol engine producing 169 horsepower.
The engine is based on one that was available in the previous generation but has been extensively upgraded, with the manufacturer claiming that 90 percent of the components have been redesigned. The power delivery is very progressive, and the maximum torque of 252 Nm is delivered at a very high 3,800 rpm, but the lack of forcefulness is compensated for by the enjoyment of use, which results in a quiet driving experience.
This single-engine configuration limits the range. Outside of Europe, this model is also available with a 2.4-liter turbo boxer engine producing 260 horsepower, but its introduction on the Old Continent is unlikely due to European Union emission regulations. Similarly, there will be no diesel edition.
It’s striking that hybridization has been overlooked in favor of the 2.0 Eco-Hybrid engine already available on the Subaru Forester, which the Japanese manufacturer claims is better suited to the use of this family crossover. Indeed, Subaru has not included any kind of electrification in this engine, and a large car with a large engine and all-wheel drive is expected to have a high fuel consumption, as indicated by its combined consumption of 8.6 l / 100 km under the WLTP cycle homologation.
To address this, the latest Outback will be able to benefit from the environmental benefits of the Eco mark in a few weeks with the release of a GLP version. Subaru Spain entrusted the installation of this gas system in the 2.5i Lineartronic engine to the specialist Ircongas. The gas tank reduces the boot size by approximately 40 liters.
The propeller is still coupled to a Lineartronic automatic transmission variable speed drive, which has been adapted for this new generation by incorporating a more open final ratio and eight preset gears. Although there is no difference in action between a CVT and a box per torque converter during normal driving, in extremely challenging conditions (such as overtaking, for example), the engine revs high, as one would expect from a CVT.
As soon as you leave the tarmac, the engines and, more importantly, the all-wheel drive with active torque control, demonstrate their virtues. When confronted with most obstacles, he moves effortlessly and, when things get difficult, simply switches between the two X-Mode modes: “snow and gravel” and, for more serious situations, “deep snow and mud.”
Ground clearance has been increased to 213 mm, surpassing the majority of SUVs on the market, and off-road measurements suggest an angle of attack of 19.7o, a ventral angle of 21.0o, and a departure angle of 22.6o. They have changed, but they remain the primary drawback of this model outside of asphalt, which is understandable given how powerful it is in terms of traction.
The soft-set suspension, which filters out all bumps, makes this Subaru less agile on curvy roads. Nonetheless, there is no question that the greatest advancement in the dynamic plane occurs in the vehicle’s road action. The latest Outback is more refined and, most importantly, incredibly quiet.
The new Subaru Outback 2021 is priced at 42,500 euros in Spain, but the Japanese brand is offering a launch campaign that will decrease the price by 3,000 euros, bringing the starting price to 39,500 euros for Trek and Field trim levels. The Touring range’s top model costs 46,900 euros, up from 43,900 euros during the latest campaign.