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The all new Subaru Outback is still the familiar raised stationwagon, and it's now brimming with Subaru's latest technologies and a plush comfortable interior.

07 Apr 2021


Originally an offshoot of the Legacy wagon in the 1990s with rugged design elements and raised ground clearance, the Outback eventually dropped its Legacy nameplate and evolved into a unique standalone model.

While the Subaru Outback has been around for quite a while, this is my first experience with one. In fact, this drive marks many firsts. It's the first time that I've driven a raised stationwagon, the first time I'm driving a modern Subaru built on the Subaru Global Platform and also the first time I'm experiencing the aid of an extra pair of eyes on the road - Subaru's EyeSight driver assist technology.

Purposeful style

The Outback gives you the best of wagon design and ground clearance of an SUV
But first things first. The Subaru Outback hits quite a specific spot by combining the wagon body style much loved by enthusiasts and pragmatic drivers, along with the versatility of an SUV with its favourable ground clearance. For someone with an appreciation of stationwagons, it is an offering that straddles both style and practicality well.

True to its lineage, the Outback once again features a rugged design with plastic cladding around its wheel arches and along the sill. On the roof, you get a pair of roof rails with retractable crossbars, ready to take on your choice of roof rack for the outdoor activity you prefer.

While slightly larger than its predecessor, the growth in size isn't the most discerning feature - its silhouette remains largely familiar. Instead, the new grille along with the stylish new LED headlamps ought to be among the first changes you notice on the new Outback.

Simple slice of luxury

Simple, functional with more than a tinge of luxury - that's how the cabin feels like
What you'd also notice is how impressive the noise insulation is in the Outback's cabin. Despite its roomy interior and wagon body style, exterior noises are kept well at bay.

As a result, whether I'm puttering along the busy streets of Ubi, or cruising at highway speeds, there was no real need to crank up the Harmon Kardon sound system - volume level was kept well within the single-digit range.

Also, the interior is slathered with leather and soft-touch materials with the cushy seats wrapped in plush Nappa leather, which adds to the overall luxurious touch. However, you won't find any flashy ambient lighting or excessive ornamental styling that serves only to make an impactful first impression.

With plenty of room, you can really sit back and enjoy the plush Nappa leather seats
Instead, the Outback's cabin is simple and well put together. For one, ergonomics clearly takes precedence over style here. There are physical buttons for the aircon temperature as well as volume and tuner knobs beside the 11.6-inch display.

And like what most have come to expect from recent cars, the infotainment system supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. On top of that, its intuitive user interface makes it a simple affair should you wish to change the radio station, or tweak any of the arrays of driver assistance settings.

Subaru, take the wheel

Subaru's EyeSight makes driving on expressways a safe and relaxing affair
On that note of driver assistance, Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology uses a pair of cameras mounted close to the top of the front windscreen, helping to detect and avoid potential accidents.

The Outback's EyeSight 4.0 also features Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Lane Centering Function (LCF), a driver assist feature that really blurred the lines between assisted and autonomous driving if you ask me.

The EyeSight system is able to look out for obstacles, road markings and accurately judge the distance from the car in front, much like another pair of human eyes, and if you were to sway from the lane or misjudge the distance of an obstacle, it will steer and brake for you as well.

Standing tall and steadfast

Despite a ground clearance that betters many SUVs, the Outback exhibits poised body control in the corners
Helpful nannies aside, the Outback is nevertheless a joy to pilot. Theoretically, a lifted vehicle tends to suffer from a higher centre of gravity, resulting in excessive body roll. To combat that, stiffer suspensions are usually prescribed, which means a harsher ride is inevitable.

With the Outback, however, the ride is compliant and comfortable, with well-controlled body roll. There's no excessive side-to-side motion that raised vehicles tend to exhibit when you approach a bump off-angled.

All these positive traits along with a precise steering are likely due to the improved rigidity from the Subaru Global Platform, which the Outback is built upon. It is rather bewildering for a large stationwagon with a substantial ground clearance to offer such great balance of comfort and drivability.

You'll find Subaru's famed Boxer engine here
Under the hood is a new 2.5-litre Direct Fuel Injection, Horizontally Opposed four-cylinder engine that puts out 185bhp and 245Nm of torque, mated to a Lineartronic CVT transmission with eight-speed manual mode.

Despite the slight power bump from the outgoing model, the Outback's acceleration won't serve to impress many. While fuel efficiency is an expected gain from Direct Fuel Injection equipped engine, the Outback's fuel consumption remains to be on the higher side - a mostly-city drive resulted in a fuel consumption of just over 9km/L.

For the driver that wants everything

The Outback is that simple slice of luxury that you crave for - not too much, but just enough to fit your needs
Still, where the latest Outback falls short, it makes up for it with its space, comfort, luxury, drivability, off-road capability and all the latest Subaru technologies. Being Subaru's flagship model, you'll also get the Driver Monitoring System found in the recently facelifted Forester - the system recognises and stores up to five driver profiles, complete with seat, mirrors, meter displays and air-conditioning adjustments.

I'm glad to say I've enjoyed my first experience with the Subaru Outback, and thoroughly impressed by the EyeSight system, and that's only on Singapore roads. With the myriad of technologies and a comfortable ride, I'm convinced that this is quite the car for a fulfilling road trip.

Car Information

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Subaru Outback 2.5 i-Touring EyeSight (A)
Rate it

Price

: $164,800

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder Horizontally-opposed 16-valve DOHC

Engine Cap

:

2498cc

Horsepower

:

138kW (185 bhp) / 5800 rpm

Torque

:

245 Nm / 4600 rpm

Transmission

:

Lineartronic CVT (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

9.6sec

Top Speed

:

206km/h

Fuel consumption

:

13.7 km/L

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