With its original Outback, launched in 1996, Subaru pioneered the crossover concept – combining the comfort, interior space and superior on-road handling of a family estate car with the ground clearance and off-road capability of a rugged sports utility vehicle. It quickly became the farmer’s friend.
Hail the fourth generation of this winner, which has evolved into something that’s as much in place in the executive car park as it is in the barnyard.
It’s a handsome beast and, unlike some earlier cars from this maker, it seems like it’s been carved from the solid – with better build standards than many a dearer car.
Built on a brand new platform, it is longer, wider and taller than its predecessor and offers superior handling and ride quality, both on and off-road, as well as improved environmental credentials, thanks to improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions levels.
Subaru’s highly acclaimed horizontally opposed ‘Boxer’ engine is now available in diesel as well as petrol guise while the new car’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system has been further improved, making the car safer as well as more versatile.
The diesel is a two-litre, the petrol powerplant is a 2.5 litre affair, except in the £35,795 range-topping 3.6R. All three engines run sweet and smooth, the diesel being commendably free of vibration, even on tick-over,
Slip inside and there’s an air of real quality, with more modern instrumentation, improved ergonomics and luxurious trim. The 75 mm longer wheelbase liberates more room for the occupants and their luggage.
Starting from £26,795 on the road, the seven-model range offers three trim levels
The premium-quality feel of the generously-proportioned interior is enhanced by very high levels of standard specification. All Outback versions feature cruise control, an electric sunroof – except on the 2.0i ES Nav – along with dual-zone and fully automatic air-conditioning, a premium audio system with six speakers, a Bluetooth hands-free system, automatic lights and wipers, and a powered driver’s seat.
It’s an easy car to live with, whether cruising down the motorway, hammering around the lanes or doing some serious cross-country green-roading.