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Car Review

Subaru Outback review

£32,595 - £38,095
710
Published: 01 Nov 2023
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A likeable Swiss Army knife. Used to be a bit bland but it now stands out and will shrug off anything thrown at it

Good stuff

Tough as old boots, infinitely cooler than a crossover

Bad stuff

Not as swish as an Audi or as sharp to drive as a WRX, particularly with that CVT gearbox

Overview

What is it?

It’s a car that used to be almost completely anonymous. TG always maintained that the Subaru Outback was the perfect car for those old money, landed gentry type folk who didn’t want to show off their wealth. Drive a new Outback in 2023 though and you’ll be inundated with questions about what it is and praise for how cool it is. It would seem the Outback is now a car for extroverts.

You see, the jacked-up estate market has all but disappeared in the UK, particularly since Audi took the A4 and A6 Allroads off sale in 2022 due to a serious lack of sales. This means that the Outback – which was refreshed for a new sixth generation in 2021 – now stands out among a sea of identikit crossovers and SUVs.

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THAT SOUNDS GREAT TO ME. WHAT ARE THE POWERTRAIN OPTIONS?

Perhaps less great is the fact that there’s now only one powertrain option available in the UK. It centres around a 2.5-litre petrol-powered boxer engine and a CVT gearbox (and yes, we’ll come back to that later). 

The four-cylinder engine only manages to produce 167bhp, and that’s paired with 186lb ft of torque and sent to all four wheels. 

THAT BLACK PLASTIC CLADDING ISN’T JUST FOR SHOW THEN?

It isn’t. Subaru still instils the Outback with some proper off-road ability as standard. You get permanent 4WD, Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud drive modes, hill descent control and 213mm of ground clearance. There’s even mention of approach and departure angles in the brochure. Proper.   

WHAT’S IT LIKE INSIDE?

Given the rough and ready exterior, the interior is actually a bit of a surprise. You can read more on the dedicated Interior tab of this review, but essentially there’s lots of leather available, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and a large 11.6-inch portrait touchscreen slap bang in the middle of the dashboard. 

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HOW MUCH WILL IT COST ME?

Well, you’ve got three trim levels to choose from – Limited kicks off the range at £36,990, Field will set you back £40,990 and the top-spec Touring is £42,490.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

It may be let down by its rough boxer engine and lack of a manual gearbox these days, but it’s still a big hit at TG towers

The Outback may be slightly let down by its rough boxer engine and lack of a manual gearbox these days, but it’s still a big hit at TG towers. It’s a rough and ready estate car that can get further off-road than most modern SUVs, and its on-road manners are surprisingly refined as a result.

It also seems like very decent value in this world where everything seems to cost £50,000, and the interior retains a good balance of physical buttons and a decent touchscreen. Beware though, because the Outback now has so few rivals that it stands out and gets plenty of attention. Looking for a discrete new car to get around the country estate? The Outback might not actually be the answer. For the rest of us it’s a properly cool bit of kit.

The Rivals

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