Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: January 2, 2018
Some cars give you a sense of emotion and that rush of adrenaline, sending your hairs up and heart racing. Then, there are cars that aim to drop your blood pressure, providing you with a relaxing atmosphere worthy of a Four Seasons spa. But there are some cars that make you feel invincible and offer a momentous boost in driving confidence when the weather gets murky, the roads are covered in thick snow, and maximum grip is but a fantasy. The Subaru Outback provides the latter.
Doused with heavy snowfall in early December, I fondly recall peeking out my frosty window and discovering my driveway covered with a good ten centimetres of snow, but it did not faze me. I had a 2018 Subaru Outback 3.6R neatly parked in my garage, and the confidence (or laziness) that I would be able to simply carve my way out without one lift of the shovel. Coffee in hand, I fired up the Outback, backed out onto the street and watched it slice clean tire marks without even a hiccup of wheel spin. I faintly chucked as I waved to my snow-shovelling neighbour and floored the gas pedal. The Outback happily obliged, gripped onto the snow, and eagerly puntered off into the distance.
Now every time I hop into this camouflage white Outback, I am reminded of that victorious moment. Much of that feat is owed to the full-time all-wheel drive system. This is not a front-wheel-until-no-grip kind of system like the examples in Volkswagens, Audis, and Volvos. No, the Outback is delivering power to all four wheels, all the time. That means a symmetrical balance in power and maximum traction without needing to wait for it. Even with snow on the ground, you can power the Outback through the tightest of turns and have the confidence to make it out the other side pointing in the right direction. The Outback still understeers and turns wide, but manages to be more controllable and playful than its higher-sitting SUV cousin, the Forester.
There are two engine choices available for the Outback: a 2.5-litre four-cylinder delivering 175 hp and 174 lb-ft, and a larger 3.6-litre six-cylinder producing 256 hp and 257 lb-ft with a $3,000 premium. Our tester was graced with the bigger engine, and it proved to be willing and eager in any situation. Without any turbos to bog it down, power delivery is impressive, though the gas pedal is still too sensitive and jumpy, making it hard to modulate acceleration. We’ve driven the smaller 2.5-litre before and though it offers a 94 kilo weight reduction over the 3.6-litre, it’s paltry outputs did not offer enough forward propulsion for us to feel confident overtaking on the highway.
The manual transmission has been dropped this year, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is your only choice, though it does a stellar job keeping the engine in the meat of the powerband and offering convincing gear changes whenever you flip the paddle shifters. Though generally more fuel efficient than its torque converter counterparts, the full-time AWD system offsets the advantage. We averaged 11.9 L/100km with a mix of city and highway driving in the brisk weather with heaters on full blast. And speaking of which, the heated seats are stupendously warm, and the same goes for the heated steering wheel. One minor gripe with the latter: only the 9- and 3-o’clock positions of the wheel are heated, so if you are one to enjoy driving with one hand on the top, bring gloves.
The Outback receives a slight exterior refresh for 2018 with a revised front bumper, grille, side mirrors, and rear bumper. But it is the interior nip and tuck that caught our attention. Subaru has added a new steering wheel, a more vibrant and colourful infotainment screen, a quieter A/C unit and digital readout controls, dual USB slots for rear passengers, and laminated side windows for a quieter ride. In the top-of-the-line Premier trim, which adds brown leather and woodgrain accents, it is a rather lovely place to spend time in. The glossy buttons are top-shelf quality, and the new wheel feels nice to grip and more tech-laden than before.
The new 8.0-inch display is of notable importance, as it is a huge improvement over the outgoing system that was messy, unintuitive, and confusing. The touchscreen is now much easier to use with bigger prompts, clearer menus, and the ability to operate it even with gloves on - a useful feature for Canadians in the winter. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also come standard.
The Outback is a versatile and functional SUV-like wagon, or wagon-like SUV, whatever you want to call it. You sit much lower than the Forester, and there is less body roll because of it. Body control is more impressive and turn-in feels sharper and more agile. Their sizes are nearly identical, but the Outback is definitely more fun to toss around in the snow, and is the one I’d choose if Snowmageddon ever knocks on my front door. Sure beats shovelling.
型号 Model: 2018 Subaru Outback 3.6R Premier w/ Eyesight
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $42,195
試車售價 Price as Tested: $42,195
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,745
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,824 / 1,840 / 1,680
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,750
引擎 Engine: 3.6-litre six-cylinder SUBARU 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: CVT
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 12.0 / 8.7 / 10.5
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.2