Crossovers remain very much in vogue today, as drivers gravitate to their high driving position, all-weather capability, riding comfort and rugged profile. On several levels, Subaru’s Outback is one of the best.
On most of the major selling points – comfort, fuel economy, passenger and cargo room, safety and reliability – the 2015 Outback 2.5i Limited is the best crossover we’ve driven recently. It’s also more off-road-capable than most crossovers, with an SUV-like 8.7 inches of ground clearance. The Outback is ergonomically sound and feels exceptionally well built, whether one is driving on a bumpy road or simply closing a door. And it’s American-made, assembled in Lafayette, Ind.
The base Outback has a starting price of $24,995. All are equipped with all-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission. People who plan to tow a boat or travel trailer, or who often transport heavy loads, may choose the 3.6-liter horizontally opposed Six, with a starting price of $33,395. Our Outback had the 2.5-liter, 175-horsepower horizontally opposed Four and a sticker price, with options, that exceeded $34,000.
Subaru has come a long way since its 25-horsepower 360 was judged “Not Acceptable” by Consumer Reports magazine in 1969. Today, its cars are roomy, refined, reliable and safe – our Outback earned five-star ratings in all but one category in government crash tests.
The Outback and other Subaru models have been enjoying solid sales, with Outback sales up more than 10 percent through July compared with the same period in 2014.
With a rugged name and reputation, the Outback rides more smoothly and quietly than most people would expect, and it handles securely despite its high stance. One also would expect a car with modest power numbers, a CV transmission and all-wheel drive to step out rather leisurely. In fact, the Outback leaps forward enthusiastically from a dead stop even with mild pressure on the accelerator. We never felt the need for more power – though we never drove the car with a full load of passengers or gear.
Room in the back seat is ample for two or three adults. The rear seatbacks fold down without interference from the front seats. With the rear seats folded down, the Outback’s cargo capacity reaches an impressive 73.3 cubic feet.
In Limited trim, the Outback’s standard features include rear-vision camera, blind-spot detection and lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert. These are desirable safety features, especially on cars with poor visibility out the rear quarters. The Outback, however, provides excellent visibility in all directions.
Comfort and convenience features that come standard with the Outback Limited include leather upholstery, premium stereo system, satellite radio, 7-inch touchscreen, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front and rear seats, cruise control and remote keyless entry. A $2,990 option package added a power moonroof, push-button start, navigation system, adaptive cruise control and pre-collision braking system.
The Outback is rated at 25 mpg city, 33 highway, better than any of the crossovers we’ve driven lately.
Steven Macoy ([email protected]) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.
Engine: 2.5-liter horizontally opposed Four, 175 horsepower, 174 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: continuously variable automatic
Ground clearance: 8.7 in.
Weight: 3,633 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, double-wishbone rear
Wheels: 18×7-in. alloy
Tires: 225/60R18 100H all-season
Towing capacity: 2,700 lb.
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 35.5 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 73.3 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 18.2 gal.
Fuel economy: 25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway
Fuel type: regular unleaded