2015 Subaru Outback Driving Impressions

The Subaru Outback is intended to serve active couples or active couples with one or two kids in a variety of operating situations, paved or otherwise. The elements that make the Outback so capable on dirt trails (lots of ground clearance, generous suspension travel) limit its pavement responses. Direction changes are relaxed, the electric power steering is a little numb on center (though the ratio is quicker than in the previous generation, and better than many similar systems); there’s a fair amount of body roll in hard cornering; and the 2.5-liter engine won’t cause face distortion at full throttle.

On the other hand, ride quality is supple, interior noise levels are exceptionally low, and if the Outback isn’t sporty it’s thoroughly competent. Moreover, when the pavement ends, it motors to the head of the class. The Outback isn’t the kind of severe off-roader you’d saddle up for rock-crawling on the Rubicon Trail. But it can tackle just about anything else, taking its crew to places where you can see just about the entire universe at night and the trout will be biting.

The 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder is rated at 175 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 174 pound-feet of torque at 4000 rpm and gets an EPA-estimated 25/33 mpg City/Highway, or 28 mpg Combined.

The 3.6-liter DOHC 24-valve horizontally opposed six-cylinder is rated at 256 horsepower at 6000 rpm, 247 pound-feet of torque 4400 rpm and gets an EPA-estimated 20/27 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg Combined.

All Outbacks come with the CVT continuously variable transmission, with paddle shift manual mode and 6-speed simulated shifting. All-wheel drive is standard on all models.

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