3 May 2021

Subaru Outback 2021 Car Review

Subaru describes the new Subaru Outback as the ‘Greatest Outback Of All Time’ (GOOAT) after they added an array of safety features and increased towing capacity.


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Subaru Outback 2021
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Subaru Outback 2021
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Subaru Outback 2021
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Subaru Outback 2021
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Subaru Outback 2021
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Subaru Outback 2021
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Subaru Outback 2021

After attending the launch of the all-new Subaru Outback in February, we recently had the chance to spend a full weekend with the wagon/SUV.

With a competitive starting price from $49,990 (+ORC), the sixth-generation Outback offers great value, but just how good is it?

Exterior

Subaru call the Outback an SUV, but it adopts traditional design cues that you’d expect from a station wagon. Unlike your common wagon, however, it does have 213mm ground clearance – numbers you’d expect to see in an SUV – to assist you if you are to head off the beaten track.

The new Outback isn’t too radically different from the fifth-generation model. Size-wise, it’s slightly larger than its predecessor (50mm longer and 35mm wider), but it still feels compact enough when you’re behind the wheel.

Dark cladding now flows around the bottom of the exterior, giving the new Outback a rugged look, and a new grill helps differentiate it from the older model. 18-inch alloys come included.

Interior

The interior of the new Outback feels like a substantial upgrade from the old car, with soft-touch materials dotted all around the cabin which help give a premium feel, even in the entry level model.

Three trim levels are available and, given that all three have the same engine, the majority of changes affect the interior. Our test model was the entry-level Outback, which is surprisingly well equipped, and would be our choice of the three – as it offers superb value for money.

The cloth seats provided ample comfort and support, but Nappa Leather is available on the top-spec Touring model. Eight-way and 10-way power seats come as standard for the front passenger and driver respectively, but you’ll have to upgrade to either the X or Touring models to get them heated. 

A huge 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system sits neatly in portrait-orientation on the dash, and is responsive and simple to use, although some drivers may not like that it also controls the vehicle’s climate, rather than being hosted separately. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both come pre-installed. While CD players have become less common in new cars nowadays, one is included in the Touring model. They do still tend to appeal to a certain older demographic who can’t quite part with their beloved CD collection.

Space is great for both front and rear passengers, and there’s more than enough storage and cup holders around the cabin for five occupants. Rear cargo space is 10 litres larger than the older model at 522 litres. Put the rear seats down and this increases to 1,267 litres.

Performance and efficiency

We were pleasantly surprised with how the new Outback performed on the road. The car feels incredibly smooth to drive, and it isn’t too slow off the line - the 2.5-litre horizontally-opposed Boxer four-cylinder petrol engine produces 138kW and 245Nm, and is said to be ’90 per cent newer’ than the engine used in the fifth-gen model. (It’s also seven per cent more powerful).

Paddle shifts come standard across all three models, allowing you to control the eight-speed Lineartronic CVT transmission manually.

The new Outback also feels a lot more like a wagon through the corners, giving you more confidence than you might in the larger Forester. All models come with AWD, which helps of course.

Towing capacity has increased to 2,000kg (braked) and 750kg (unbraked).

The new Outback has a combined fuel economy rating of 7.3L/100km, with a CO2 emissions rating of 168g/km. In the last 12 months, Subaru has released e-Boxer Hybrid variants of its XC and Forester models, so it was a shame to discover that no hybrid option would be available for the Outback at the launch event.

Safety

Every Subaru Outback model tested by ANCAP since 2004 has been given a five-star rating, but at the time of writing, the new car had not been tested.

It does come with a large suite of safety aids, including the brilliant EyeSight® Driver Assist system, which features benefits like Lane Departure Prevention/Warning, Brake Assist, and Lane Departure Warning with Steering Vibration coming as standard across all three models.

Adaptive Cruise Control and Speed Sign Recognition are also included.

Verdict

The sixth-generation Subaru Outback is an all-around excellent car, with a very well-equipped entry level model, and because of that, we can’t imagine many buyers paying the additional $8,000 for the top-end Touring version.

It’s a strange decision not to include a hybrid option, but we suspect Subaru will look at this over the next couple of years – they’re already confirmed that a 193kW turbo variant will be coming to NZ in the future.

It’s been 25 years since Subaru first used the Outback name, and yes, it might just be the 'GOOAT'.

At a glance

Models

Subaru Outback (Outback, X, Touring)

Engine

2.5 petrol Direct-Injection Boxer  

Price

From $49,990 (+ORC)

ANCAP safety rating

Not currently rated

Power and Torque

138kW, 245Nm

Transmission

Lineartronic eight-speed auto

Fuel economy/CO2

7.3L/100km, 168g/km

Towing capacity

2,000kg (Braked), 750kg (Unbraked)

2WD/4WD/AWD

AWD

Seating capacity

5

Luggage capacity/payload

522 litres

Safety systems

  • Eight airbags
  • Reverse Automatic Braking
  • Steering Responsive Headlights
  • Auto Emergency Steering
  • EyeSight Assist Monitor
  • Blind Spot Monitor
  • Front/Rear and Side View Monitor
  • Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection

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