The thoroughly capable Subaru Outback 2017

In Car Reviews, Subaru by Tom Scanlan

I failed! For the first time ever, I failed! We motoring journos get to experience a fair bit of really testing off-roading and this time it was the turn of the latest Subaru Outback

Tom Scanlan makes a splash in the thoroughly capable 2017 Subaru Outback
My latest departure from the tarmac was in a Subaru Outback and the route was a particularly boggy and slippery one with very steep inclines.

It was trying to get up one of these that I didn’t make it at the first attempt. My instructor again told me how to do it. Again I slithered back. More instruction…and, lord be praised, yay! Success!

In the end, the Outback proved to be extraordinarily capable. What’s more, it was on standard road tyres: Bridgestone Dueler H/Ps, to be precise.

Subaru UK people reckon that every driver has experienced at least one of the following challenges: getting stuck in mud, slipping on icy hills, going through a flood and towing a caravan or boat. Perhaps the Outback, with its sophisticated all-wheel-drive and low-ratio systems, is at least as capable of overcoming such challenges as any of its rivals at around the £30,000-plus mark.

The same tyres were fitted to the second Outback I tested, on my local roads, out into the country and on motorways. The ride and road-holding were fine on those Bridgestones, too, so credit to their all-round performance.

The engine is the usual Subaru ‘boxer’ type, 2.5 litres in the Outback, able propel you to 62 mph in just over ten seconds, with a maximum of 130 mph, they claim.

With the handbook not clearly enough telling me how to work the information display, I couldn’t at first find my average fuel consumption figure. However, over the history of the car, it having covered around 7,250 miles, the display revalued a life-time consumption of 32.5 mpg. Observing the fuel economy bar chart as I drove makes me reckon that a typical free-flowing motorway journey at around 60-70 mph could get you up towards 50 mpg. In fact, as I eventually found, the trip re-set button that was supposed to give you the answer from the mileage at which you pressed it did not do so.

Outbacks are equipped with ‘Eyesight’. This is a two-camera system mounted either side of the rear-view mirror that works like the human eye in ‘seeing’ what’s in front of the car. It’s main strength is in mitigating collision damage by applying the brakes for you, and, up to a certain speed, around 25 mph in my simulated experience being able to stop the car without impact. It can also, should you mistakenly engage forward gear in a car park and could hit the car or wall immediately in front, stop you from doing so by cutting the engine power…and the same the other way round.

The Outback’s interior is beautifully fitted out with quality materials. These range from a soft-touch dashboard top to shiny piano-black trim around the 7-inch touch-screen to comfortable leather for the steering wheel, armrests and seats.

Mentioning the touch-screen: you have to give it too firm a touch to get the reaction. However, the car has voice command, so for owners with time to familiarise themselves with it, that’s the best way forward.

The Subaru matches any rivals with its range of standard features…we’re talking safety, connectivity, and convenience. It is spacious for four adults and the boot is generous and cab opened remotely and closed at the press of the button.
There is no spare wheel.

Amongst the controls on the steering wheel are an [S] button and an [I] button. These indicate sport and intelligent modes depending on the sort of performance you want st any given time; ‘intelligent’ would probably be the intelligent thing to use as a general rule.

The Lineartronic automatic gearbox provides smooth operation. The park brake switch, nicely-positioned for your hand to fall to, if used automatically gives a slightly less smooth take-off than if you do it yourself. And, as seems to be the case with these electronic systems, it will not release automatically in any case.

The Subaru Outback proved in all other aspects faultless in my week, I thoroughly enjoyed driving it.

Car reviewed: 2017 Subaru Outback 2.5i SE Premium Lineartronic – On the road £32,995 0-60mph 10.2 secs Top speed 130mph limited Fuel Economy combined 40.4mpg CO2 emissions 161g/km Engine 2498cc 4-cylinder unleaded EU6 Max Power 175hp@5800rpm Torque 235Nm@4000rpm Transmission Lineartronic continuously variable with manual mode 4×4

  • Extraordinary off-road capabilities

  • Smooth ride and smooth automatic gearbox

  • Quality, attractive, hard wearing interior

  • No spare wheel

About the author

Tom Scanlan

'Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars. He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0. In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.'

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