Thursday, April 13, 2017

Years later, Outback still hits all the right notes

A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California – It’s the classic 'tweener … the sport-utility vehicle that looks like a wagon.  Or maybe it’s the other way around.

No matter, the Subaru Outback has been around since 1994, and my week with the 2017 Subaru Outback 2.5i Touring was packed with the kind of amenities that made the vehicle so popular since Day One.

The look is simple and direct – a sleek vehicle with adequate riding height and features for taking it off the paved roadways.  And yet, its freeway manners are smooth and quiet.  It’s agile on busy city streets as well.

Those 18-inch wheels look pretty good too.

Power comes from a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine making a max 175 horsepower.  This is not a drag-racing machine, but the power plant does well in all situations, including steep hill climbs.

This being a time-tested, all-wheel drive Subaru, spot-on, responsive handling is part of the deal, although some might wince at the starting price of $35,995.  That means you need to really like this vehicle and plan on keeping for some time.

Fortunately, the Outback has a strong reliability history, plus an exceptional lineup of safety features.  The tester included lane-change assist, blind spot-detection, rear vision cameras and rear cross-traffic alert.

Five-star federal government safety ratings are the norm on this vehicle, including the max five stars on the overall vehicle score.

Interior comforts are numerous … more than I remember.
Standard perks on the tested Outback included leather-trimmed seats/steering wheel, a power moonroof, heated front/rear seats-mirrors-wipers and a power rear gate with height memory.  I'm feeling better about the sticker price, already!

First-timers might look at the current-generation Outback and think they need a bigger sport-ute.  Before you go out and pay more for another model, consider that folding the rear seats offers a generous 73 cubic feet of cargo room in this Outback.  That should haul a few groceries.

The Subaru Outback Touring trim also includes the standard Subaru Starlink 7.0” multimedia navigation system featuring voice-activated controls. Nice.

Everything considered, this Outback represents more than a generation of learning and expert engineering input from an automaker that mastered all-wheel drive and practical size off-roading vehicles.

That’s a pretty good argument for a test drive right there.

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