Most SUVs won’t go far off the beaten track but Subaru’s Outback has what it takes to get loving families where they want to go.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Outback.
The Outback combines the space and ride height of a large SUV with the versatility of a station wagon, which is unlike almost any other vehicle.
Prices start at about $47,600 for the car and go up to $52,500 for the mid-level Sport. The Outback Tour we tried cost another $4000.
Buyers who want extra grunt can opt for turbo power, which adds about $5000 to the Sport and Touring variants.
Every Outback comes with all-wheel drive, a large 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Our test car had Nappa leather trimmed seats that were power adjustable, heated and ventilated in the front row. A leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter add to the cabin’s premium feel.
The lack of a full digital instrument panel and head-up display is discounted at this price, but the Outback gets back marks for its full-size spare tire.
Subaru covers its vehicles with a five-year/limited-km warranty and a discounted servicing program will set owners back $2675 over five years.
Service intervals are on the shorter side of 12 months/12,500km.
The Outback’s cabin has ample head, shoulder and legroom in both rows.
The seats are comfortable and comfortable for long drives and there are plenty of adjustments to accommodate drivers of all shapes and sizes.
It is a robustly built cabinet with great attention to detail and excellent build quality.
The interior design lacks the grandeur of some of its European rivals but the conservative styling isn’t offensive and the big central screen adds pop.
There are easy-to-use climate control buttons on the dash, while more advanced settings are accessed via the touchscreen.
There are four USB charging ports on both rows but no wireless charging pad. Rear seat passengers have their own air vents.
The boot is large and the power tail adds convenience.
Subaru has always been known for its focus on safety and the Outback is loaded with useful driver aids. It will automatically apply the brakes if it detects a potential collision, keeping you out of your lane and warning you if a car is out of your sight or approaching from the side as you reverse.
There are also eight airbags covering both rows. It performed well in independent crash tests in 2021, earning high marks for both adult and child protection.
The Outback’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine pushes out 138kW and 245Nm through a continuously variable automatic transmission.
The combination falls behind rivals that use smaller capacity, more efficient turbocharged engines. The lack of a hybrid option also counts against it.
The Outback is a big, heavy car and the engine’s average output means it can be sluggish off the line. It also works when cruising at highway speeds, it gets really rough when the CVT tries to find the right ratio.
Buyers looking for more towing should opt for the more expensive turbo version which also increases towing capacity from 2000kg to 2400kg.
Despite the engine’s limitations the Outback is a fun family car to drive. The gently sprung suspension does an admirable job of soaking up bumps and road imperfections, while the steering is well-weighted and standard all-wheel drive adds stability when cornering in the rain.
The outsole makes light work of dirt and gravel roads and can handle light off-roading.
The interior is also quiet, making it a comfortable road trip machine.
A comfortable, spacious and safe family car but the engine feels dated and lacks the in-car technology of some rivals.
Skoda Octavia RS wagon, from $58,490 drive-away
Smaller than the Outback but with a versatile cabin and impressive performance.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid XSE AWD, from about $57,500 for the SUV
A class-leading family SUV that combines excellent fuel efficiency with solid ownership credentials.
Mazda CX-5 GT SP, from about $55,000 drive-away
A popular choice for Aussie families that don’t make too many mistakes, but are starting to show their age.
SUBARU OUTBACK TOURING
PRICE Around $56,500 for the drive-thru
ENGINE 2.5 liter four-cylinder petrol engine, 138kW and 245Nm
WARRANTY/ SERVICE Five years/unlimited km, $2675 for five years
SECURITY Eight airbags, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert with automatic braking, driver fatigue warning and radar cruise control.
SPACE Full size
LOAD 522 liters