The original Subaru Outback has ripened into a refined, elegant car that cruises reliably on all terrain. This model has new off-road features, adaptive cruise control and a sharp Eyesight system.


The Subaru Outback is still holding on to its old rugged roots, but this time with more class and dexterity. The new Subaru Outback is mature, modern and classy boasting a whole new range of features allowing more capability in different weather conditions.

Read Charlie Flindt’s analysis of the Mitsubishi Shogun – refreshingly old-fashioned for more motoring tips. If you are interested in off-road vehicles see our best farm vehicles: the ATV or the UTV?


The latest Subaru Outback brings good news: the design team responsible for hideous front ends has been given a stern talking to. Whatever they were smoking or drinking that inspired them to produce questionable gems such as the Mk 2 Impreza and the Mk 1 Tribeca, and was threatening to send the Outback – our favourite Subaru – down the same scary visual path, has been confiscated.

The sixth Outback to reach these shores has adopted a more conservative look and is far better for it. The ugly dropped nose has been pulled up, the yoof-impressing slash in the bonnet has gone and the whole package looks more rural than urban.

Subaru outback. Front angle.

This is a bigger car than its predecessors. It is a beefed-up version of a standard legacy.

It is a bigger car than its predecessors and seems to have moved on from being just a beefed-up version of a standard Legacy. It now dwarfs a standard estate car. This, of course, means more room inside. Everyone benefits, in the front, in the back and in the estate load area. Subaru has made great efforts to catch up with the opposition in the quality of the trim, and it pays off. The whole cabin has a more upmarket feel to it, with a much higher level of fit and finish.
My diesel test car came with the CVT gearbox, which combines fully variable transmission with a “stepping” system to give the impression of different gear ratios. When it’s in infinitely variable mode, you have to lose the habit of using engine note as a speed guide. They are no longer mechanically locked. Having slowed to 30mph, it’s all too easy to find that, with no increase in engine revs, the Subaru has crept up to 45mph.

Subaru outback. Interior.

The Outback is moving away from its rural roots. The interior is modern with improved suspension.

In many ways, the Outback is moving away from its rural roots; there’s no dual-range gearbox and the suspensions has been firmed up again to cope with the extra size and height, although the ground clearance is as good as ever. Perhaps the least useful features for our world are the multiple gadgets and gismos posing as driving aids: lane wandering detectors, movement sensors and the much-vaunted “Eyesight”system that slams the brakes on if thinks the object in front is getting closer suddenly. I couldn’t help casting my mind back to a summer evening in 1996, when I had to use my brand-new Legacy to help herd 80 escaped cattle back out of the silage clamp, through the effluent (perfect for 4WD), over the ruts (thank goodness for low ratio) while being butted and nudged by several tons of Hampshire beef, still on the hoof. I dread to think how all the warning systems would have reacted to multiple black-and-white objects approaching from all sides.

Somehow I can’t see myself using a new Outback for cattle chasing. A hearty hoof to the front grille followed by a stream of steaming fresh May-grass manure would ruin its look. And we’ve waited years for Subaru to stop doing exactly that.

Subaru outback. Eyesight technology.

This car will automatically slam on the breaks if it thinks it is getting too close to another vehicle.


Engine: 1,998cc “flat four” diesel
Power: 150PS
Max speed: 119mph
Performance: 0 to 62: 9.9 seconds
Combined fuel economy: 46.3mpg
Insurance group: 22E
Price: £32,995
Would suit nervous nanny