2015 Subaru Outback | Ruge’s Subaru | Autoweek

13 Feb

FEBRUARY 4, 2015

2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium review notes

The 2015 Outback 2.5i Premium comes with the Lineartronic CVT, which features paddle-shift control switches and is instrumental in the Outback’s significantly improved fuel economy.PHOTO BY SUBARU

SUBARU OFFERS GREAT VALUE IN THE MORE REFINED OUTBACK

DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: Value is rare enough in new cars to surprise when one finds it: The 2015 Subaru Outback2.5i Premium qualifies. For a small family living in an area that routinely sees snow, I’d be hard pressed to come up with a better all-around daily driver for anywhere near the $31.5K Subaru wants for this attractive, well-built wagon.

That’s not to say there aren’t compromises: The Outback’s flat-four won’t win you any drag races, and the CVT contributes its usual odd NVH characteristics, particularly in passing/hard acceleration, but that’s the tradeoff for 28 mpg combined — really outstanding mileage for a 3,600-pound AWD wagon. I’ll have to wait for our cumulative mileage comparisons to come in for a final verdict, but the trip computer was showing real-world high-20s during my time with the car.

Even with the boxer engine and CVT, the Outback is a really nice car to drive — value here doesn’t equal cheap or chintzy. The combination of a higher seating position, good damping and Subaru’s characteristic chassis control means the Outback feels more premium than its market position would suggest. These are well-planted, confidence-inspiring machines, and from behind the wheel it’s obvious why Subaru is on such a sales roll. High-quality cloth seating with bun warmers (really the best of both worlds on a cold morning), a well-executed interior layout with logical controls, tons of room and an infotainment system that allowed me to connect without forcing me to learn a new “improved” user interface all make the Outback an easy car to live with.

If you don’t need a third row, skip the SUVs and go check out a Subaru Outback. The ride is better, you’ll use less gas and, as everyone knows, wagons are cool, man.

ONLINE FEATURES EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: This new Outback was waiting for me in freezing Detroit when I returned from lovely Aruba. I was glad, too, not only was there a layer of slush and ice on the ground; I had four giant suitcases, which wouldn’t fit in most cars on the market.

The Outback was rock solid in the snow and ice, both that night and over the weekend. If it does give way, it doesn’t go very far, all you have to do is point the front wheels where you want to go. The windshield wipers easily broke off a half inch of ice, and the seat warmers heated up quickly, too. Cloth seats by the way, so vegan!

Power is OK from the 2.5-liter four as well. Subie seems to have it tuned relatively sportily, so when you put your foot down it gets moving quickly. It doesn’t feel powerful, mind you, just not annoyingly slow. And 33 mpg on the freeway is impressive for a car this size.

I used it to load up a 100-pound air compressor in the back, the load floor is low, so I didn’t have to lift very far. It also has a non-slip surface on the mat in back, so it didn’t slide around on my way home. Obviously there was plenty of space with the rear seat folded down.

The new radio setup is great. One solid piece of glass, all the buttons work like an Apple iPad and it instantly connected to my iPhone, playing what I was listening to moments before.

I guessed that with this equipment, the car would cost about $37K; I was pleasantly surprised with $32K or so. For that you get all the safety features, some of the best in the business, a sunroof, heated seats, and all the important stuff. And an EPA fuel economy rating of 33 mpg on the highway to boot. It’s really a great deal.

I’m not sold on the new look, but Subarus always do that to me. A few years and it’ll probably look fine; maybe the company is just ahead of the curve.

Photo: 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium Photo 4

For added nighttime security, the 2015 Outback features new standard Welcome Lighting that automatically turns on cabin illumination and exterior lights as the driver approaches or departs the vehiclePHOTO BY SUBARU

EDITOR WES RAYNAL: I’ve always had a soft spot for Subaru wagons. I had a yellow GL in college — an ’81 I believe — and put a couple hundred thousand trouble-free miles on it until the body rusted off. Rust was a problem back then. I loved that car.

And I still have that soft spot, including for this new one. I say new because I’ve read it’s new, though it sure looks and acts like the outgoing one — not a complaint. This car perhaps defines the term “evolutionary.” It drives like, well, an Outback. It goes about its business quietly and confidently. It’s pleasant. Nothing jumps out as outstanding or awful. It’s a quiet, refined wagon.

The flat four is a lot quieter and more refined than I remember my ’81 being, but 30-something years later it’d better be. Power is adequate and the engine drones, especially away from stoplights, but I’m thinking that’s the CVT. Speaking of the CVT, I suppose we should all get used to them. Seems they’re here to stay. This particular CVT? It’s OK. Not great, not awful. Personally I’d prefer a stick, but that’s my preference.

The ride is comfortable and the suspension/chassis soaks up potholes nicely. I didn’t put too many miles on it, but I suspect had I done so, it would be a fine long-distance hauler.

Some thanks for that go to the cabin; it’s roomy and nicely built and — this is important — Subaru finally made its radio controls almost big enough for normal-sized thumbs and fingers — even with gloves on.

The $31K sticker ain’t cheap, but there’s nothing I’d want or need which isn’t already here in this particular test car. It’s loaded. Save a grand against our long-term Nissan Rogue? Yes, please.

Overall, this would make a great year-round car, especially if you live where the snow flies as a recent morning’s commute demonstrated. I had no issues on the slick stuff.

Photo: 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium Photo 3

The all-new 2015 Outback introduces a bolder look with crisper, sculpted lines that convey both its all-road capability and upgraded refinementPHOTO BY SUBARU

Options: Moonroof package including power rear gate, navigation, Eyesight, blind-spot detection & rear cross- traffic alert ($3,390); partial zero emissions vehicle ($300)

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