Subaru ‘s Outback Diesel: A Break In Transmission.

Outback noseA Wheel Thing has just wrapped a week with the Subaru Outback diesel Outback rearand although it’s a nice car, as you’d expect nowadays, there’s a flaw that, although seemingly minor, is enough to cause grief. More on that later…
Based on the Liberty wagon, it’s a cruisy, comfortable ride with the diesel muted to the point it’s barely recognisable as such from inside the well appointed cabin. It’s a straight forward layout, with the dash easy to read and complemented by a full colour LCD screen between the tacho and speedo with information such as the “energy usage”, a plus or minus measurement showing how much effort is being expended by the engine. The centre dash has the familiar touchscreen satnav/entertainment however it seems a little odd that, underneath, with a power button to the left and a larger tune button in the centre that the power button is on/off ONLY and not volume as well? Or the larger button is not volume instead of tune? The steering wheel has the usual array of sound and phone connection buttons plus cruise whilst the bottom left had the Subaru-centric information buttons on a separate tab. Paddle shifts for manual choice of gears are also on board.
The seats are comfortable, with electric adjustment which made it easy to find the sweet spot position wise, however, unlike the Forester tested the week before, didn’t have heating. Another seemingly odd choice. Being a wagon there’s Subaru-Outback-2.0D-Interior-2plenty of space for passengers and cargo and the rear seats will fit two good sized adults comfortably, with a third spot being a touch squeezy.
The exterior is still a bone of contention for attractiveness at the front, with the somewhat confronting raised eyebrow headlight cluster too bold and angular to be considered pretty, in my opinion.
Behind them lurks the beating heart of the Outback; a 2.0L diesel with what seems like a small power output (110kW @ 3600rpm), however it’s a mountain flattening engine with a massive 350 Nm of torque from 1650 rpm to 2400 rpm and, under load, is noticeably restrained in presenting itself as a diesel. The Outback has the choice of a six speed manual or a CVT (plus a 2.5L petrol or 3.6L petrol) but the weak link in the chain is the CVT. From Park to Reverse or from Reverse to Drive there is a substantial wait for the system to engage the gears, sometimes up to a second or so and when the car is on a slope naturally there’s a roll… a world increasingly populated by CVTs this lag is dangerous and unforgiveable.
Outback interiorOn the road the ride is firm, sporting with the CVT showing its strength by responding when required. The handling is mostly sharp however when pushed hard into a roundabout, the dual purpose tyres give up grip, with the front pushing straight forward into understeer before the AWD system pulls the rear around into oversteer. Economy around town was pretty good, with close to 350 ks sipping between a quarter and a half tank.
Price at around $44000 driveaway (check with your local dealership) it’s a worthwhile addition to a garage and continues the Outback’s evolution along a strongly defined path, but I think I’d prefer a manual.

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