Reviews

2015 Subaru Outback Walk Around


Subaru characterizes the Outback’s new skin as more muscular, but it takes an experienced eye to readily spot the distinctions between the latest edition and the preceding generation. This is not a bad thing, given the Outback’s owner loyalty index; 60 percent of its buyers return for another, according to Subaru, an indication that the company is doing something right.

But familiar doesn’t mean same old, same old. The side mirrors sport turn signal repeaters, the revised front fascia is available with xenon HID headlights, the rear liftgate offers power operation with a memory pre-set for height, and the roof rack cross rails have a nifty stowaway feature, folding into the side rails when not in use.

Although not strictly classifiable as exterior features, the Outback’s safety systems merit mention here. The first is an upgrade on Subaru’s Eyesight system, monitoring driver response to the closing rate on the vehicle ahead in urban slow and go traffic. If the vehicle ahead stops, and the camera-based system sensors decide the driver isn’t going to respond, it can stop the car short of collision, at speeds up to 30 mph. Very impressive.

The new Outback is also up to date in terms lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, and blind spot detection with the ability to track the speed differential of overtaking traffic.

Also, the Outback’s stronger structure includes improved crashworthiness, in particular its performance in narrow angle frontal collisions. Subarus have an exceptional record of top safety pick ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and the narrow angle collision rating is a key component.

Interior

Roomier is always good news in any new vehicle, and it’s good news in the Outback. The design team has made the most of the modest dimensional increases, adding 2 cubic feet to cargo capacity, which increases to 73.3 with the rear seats folded flat. And passenger volume improves by 2.7 cubic feet.

Like so many new vehicles coming along these days, the Outback’s interior materials are of higher quality, with soft touch surfaces on the dash and door panels and welcome padding on the armrests.

The fourth-generation Outback lagged its competitors in terms of telematics and dashboard displays, but the new one closes the gap with improved instrumentation, a new 6.2-inch color touch screen in the center stack, an optional 7.0-inch screen that’s home for the optional navigation system, and a standard rear view camera. The bigger screen includes swiping and scrolling gesture response, text messaging, and voice command for various functions.

Other new features include heated rear seats and integrated door sill steps that make it easier to access gear stowed on the roof rails.

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