Thursday, December 9, 2021
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2021 Subaru Outback AWD and Outback Touring AWD (car review)

THE 2021 Subaru Outback range is as fresh as a daisy, with its new look. It’s ready to take you, well pretty much anywhere you want to go, and really is the whole package, all rolled into one great car.

Subaru have managed to provide a car that is great for the daily drive, big enough to pick up that thing your partner bought online without consulting you, and offers plenty of room for the whole family.

It can also get out of the hustle and bustle of city life, and access some more hard to reach locations. With the X-mode selector, you can set the car up for rough or slippery surfaces too, tweaking the drive control of the AWD to suit the conditions.

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There’s even Sport mode for when you feel like murdering the CVT (it has one of those too, and that’s a bit of a travesty). Don’t get us wrong, but you just need to understand, once upon a time Subaru played both transmission games.

They satisfied the family requirements, but you could still have a bit of fun shifting through the manual gears (which was a bit of a nod to the company’s World Rally heritage too). But alas, not anymore.

The Outback has evolved, grown up, so to speak, and there’s no more playing naughty naughty once the family is out. As a result, it doesn’t matter what setting you tweak, it just isn’t going to give you that real sporty car experience, so just let it go.

And the reality is, it’s probably not meant to. The Outback is a much more focused family wagon-cum-SUV that still has plenty of get up and go when you need it. Offering a 2000kg braked towing capacity it makes a pretty decent hauler too.

Delivering 138kW of power and 245Nm of torque from its 2.5-litre 4-cylinder boxer engine, Subaru claims it will tip the fuel economy scale at around 7.3-litres/100km. In our time with the base Outback AWD and Touring AWD variants, we saw around 9.1-litres/100km.

In either variant, it’s a comfortable and sound driving experience. The Outback takes safety proper next level, with the latest version of its EyeSight system featuring adaptive cruise control, emergency lane keep assist, lane centring, and departure warning.

It also offers departure prevention, pre-collision braking and throttle management. It sees the lines on the road, brake lights on other cars, and speed signs. The technology can automatically set the speed limiter to each speed zone as you pass into it too.

It even sees you. Yep, you. It recognises the driver, and you can program in the details of up to five steerers. The thing knows your birthday; your freaking birthday.

Once it recognises you, it will tweak settings like climate control and the info screen on the dash, just for you.

Break out some extra cash for the Touring model and it will also automatically adjust your seating position and side mirrors once it has recognised you. If you look away or close your eyes for too long, the driver monitoring system will alert you too.

Subaru are so confident with the safety systems in their cars that they have publicly stated they’re aiming to have zero fatalities to Subaru occupants by 2030 and to even reduce the amount of times a Subaru is involved in harming others outside of the car.

After driving both the entry level Outback and the Touring variant for a couple of weeks, we’re completely on board with that vision. Any wonder that the new Outback has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

Even night driving is a different experience, with headlights that follow the direction you’re driving. It’s a cool thing to park opposite a glass window and watch the lights calibrate themselves when you start the Outback up.

On the road, the suspension and drivetrain make you feel unbreakable, and in bad conditions the Outback feels like it drives better than some cars do in dry, normal conditions. The symmetrical AWD feels like you’re driving on rails.

The exterior is classic Subrau, with lines and bits in all the right places. It’s pleasing to the eye, with a good mix of sophistication and practicality, and the look is pretty much the same for all three models (the Outback Sport AWD sits between our two test variants).

The interior is soft and luxurious, and everything works together to give you that warm comfy cloud style feeling when cruising. Having the base model and Touring offering gave us the chance to sample the standard and Harman/Kardon sound systems too.

Both are fantastic, and the infotainment system screen is gigantic, and super easy to use. The system interfaces intuitively and the screens touch sensitivity is nigh on perfectly calibrated.

You get all the goodness of Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Siri, two USB ports in the front and back, heated driver and front passenger seats. The Touring adds heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.

The seats are crazy comfy and of course you get cloth in the base Outback, and Nappa leather goodness in the Touring. In either variant, the seats are really well designed, with fantastic adjustability.

There’s plenty of storage, with a huge rear cargo area (522-litres with seats up, 1267-litres with them down), and some cool features, like little side netted pockets, hooks for shopping bags, and a 12v socket for the camp fridge.

Release handles in the rear cargo area that allow you to fold the seats down without having to go around to the back doors also feature. We already mentioned there’s loads of storage, but we’re not kidding, there’s spots everywhere.

The centre console, glove box and doors all have capacity for something, including bottles in the appropriate locations, and there’s dedicated phone storage and a sunnies holder. The centre cup holders – seriously some rivals need to take notes, because Subaru nailed it.

And if you run out of room inside, you can strap the kids down to the built-in cross bar roof racks. We don’t actually recommend you do this, but you get the point. There’s an abundance of colours, particularly in the variants that aren’t the Sport.

If you’ve been paying attention, the other two variants come in Crystal White Pearl, Crimson Red Pearl, Dark Blue Pearl, Ice Silver Metallic, Brilliant Bronze Metallic, Magnetite Grey Metallic, Storm Grey Metallic, Autumn Green Metallic, and Crystal Black Silica.

The recommended drive away price for the Outback AWD is $44,791. The Outback Touring AWD will cost you $52,931. All three varieties come with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, 5-years capped price servicing and 12-months roadside assist.

You can catch and kill, we mean build and price a new 2021 Subaru Outback AWD or Outback Touring AWD at the Subaru Australia website, but it’s also worth shopping around to see if you can get a better offer.

Alternatively, you can take a look at a platform like PriceMyCar to get the best deal.

Our test vehicles were provided by Subaru Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Subaru Outback AWD and Outback Touring AWD, contact your local Subaru dealer.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Driving experience
8
Exterior styling
8
Interior look and feel
9
Technology and connectivity
9
Family friendliness
9
Value for money
9

SUMMARY

Pros - super safe; comfortable and spacious; well equipped.
Cons - driving experience is a little sedate.
Ben Bonatesta
Ben Bonatesta is a genuine lover of nice things and quality workmanship. He also has a thing for stuff that isn't practical, but has that wow factor. A frustrated creative writer, Ben has a varied work history that has allowed him to pilot everything from top of the line sports cars to dirty old work trucks, farm equipment, and even trains.

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