The Subaru Outback comes with four-wheel drive, a seriously roomy cabin and a long list of standard equipment. Low-speed refinement is good, too.
It costs more to buy and run than some rivals, the ride is unsettled and parts of the interior feel low-rent.
On the road
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
You have a choice of two engines: a 2.0-litre diesel or a 2.5-litre petrol. We haven’t tried an Outback with a manual gearbox, but with the CVT automatic, the diesel version feels suitably flexible, without any big surges as the turbocharger kicks in. It’s not fast, though, and the auto-only petrol is even slower.
Ride & Handling
The steering has a nice consistent weight to it, which helps make smooth driving easy, plus it’s light enough at low speeds for hassle-free parking. There’s lots of body roll, but it is progressive so doesn’t feel overly dramatic, and there’s good grip. The four-wheel-drive system provides excellent traction, too. Unfortunately, the ride is disappointing; low-speed bumps send a harsh thunk through the cabin, and the suspension never really settles on the motorway, either.
The diesel is impressively refined at low and medium revs, but it’s pretty rattly towards the top of the rev range – this is made worse in CVT models, because the gearbox keeps the revs consistently high when accelerating hard. There’s a bit of vibration through the steering wheel and pedals, too. The petrol is quieter still at normal speeds and isn’t anywhere near as noisy at high revs. Wind and suspension noise aren’t too bad, but tyre noise is intrusive.