Words: Don Cheng
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: April 6, 2016
Back in the day, station wagons were cool. But somewhere along the line, someone mucked it all up and made the wagon obsolete. It could have been the rise of the revolutionary SUVs, or we could even put the blame on Hollywood, as they firmly rooted the wagon into the “boring dad” category in all their movies. Yet, despite all the bad rep these cargo-hauling vehicles have gotten in North America, Subaru has managed to hustle them off their lots faster than they could their sedans. How could that be?
It starts with one of the stars of Subaru’s line-up, the Outback. Since 1994, the wagon form of Subaru’s venerable Legacy has been available for the most pragmatic of customers. And since the Outback’s inception, each successive model has retained the same classic formula that made it a best seller in its segment: function over form.
As we mentioned before, the Outback is based off of the Legacy’s platform, but the more rugged and durable looking Outback adds a few inches of ground clearance, taller aspect ratio tires, and clever body cladding to give it that adventurous look. Heck, even the colour of the car is geared towards the great outdoors: Wilderness Green Metallic.
Anyone who has stepped inside a Subaru will feel right at home, save for the slightly more difficult motion of ingress due to the Outback's added ride height. Choosing the Limited trim – as in the case of this tester – adds naked wood trim accents which offsets some of the cheaper plastic bits (particularly around the climate controls).
Everything is easily within reach. Even the “most-touched” buttons have received extra attention to detail. Take the armrests on the door for example: they’re thickly padded and feel ultra plush so your elbows have somewhere soft to rest. Up front, the seating position is more elevated (even in its lowest setting) giving the illusion that you’re towering over other cars on the road. The road superiority is nice, and it also has the added benefit of excellent outward visibility.
Subaru decided to skip out on the sloping roofline fad and instead keep the traditional wagon shape to maximize interior storage space. Fold down the seats and you are offered a generous 2,075 L of storage space for you to haul whatever your heart desires.
The Outback is available with the choice of the 2.5L flat-four or the 3.6L flat-six. Both engines come mated with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT – only the 2.5L can be had with a six-speed manual. Though I lament the lack of a traditional six-speed automatic, a couple of minutes behind the wheel of the CVT was enough to win me over.
It’s not the best in the industry, but this CVT example behaves very much like a six-speed gearbox. Drive it normally, and the transmission will keep the RPMs low for optimal fuel efficiency with the added bonus of being smooth and quiet. Mash the throttle and the CVT’s pitfalls become quickly evident – the cabin gets flooded with a buzzy engine note and never-ending whine. Thankfully, most people don’t drive at wide open throttle everyday.
Symmetrical AWD comes standard for the Subaru, and the system splits torque equally according to driving and road conditions. It goes without saying that the arrangement works well and fits the Outback’s sure-footed rugged persona. When pushed, you can feel the Outback reign in the torque up front, and shuffle it to the rear axle. As an added measure, Active Torque Vectoring helps brake the inside wheel to further reduce understeer – perfect for those nasty winter days in Canada.
For just a hair over $40,000, the Outback 3.6R Limited comes loaded with all the features you’d expect from a premium family hauler. Subaru’s Eyesight system takes care of the lane departure monitoring, pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise, and vehicle sway thanks to a pair of cameras mounted on the windshield. Meanwhile, sensors in the back keep watch of the blind spot and offer rear cross traffic alert when backing out of a parking space.
Subaru doesn’t care that the mainstream thinks wagons aren’t cool. They aren’t building cars that follow fads or trends. By offering a premium interior, unique flat-six motor, symmetrical AWD, and incredible cargo volume, Subaru is confident that their function over form approach will be the key to winning buyers.
型号 Model: 2016 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
顏色 Paint Type: Wilderness Green Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $27,995
試車售價 Price as Tested: $40,195
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,745
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,817 / 2,080 / 1,680
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,744
引擎 Engine: 3.6L DOHC horizontally opposed six-cylinder BOXER
最大馬力 Horsepower: 256 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 247 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
波箱 Transmission: Lineartronic CVT
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, Symmetrical AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 12.0 / 8.6
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.2
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P255/60R18