Subaru Australia have revealed details of the new, next-generation Outback that’s due for local release shortly.
Subaru says that they’ve strengthened the chassis, updated the engine, improved the CVT and increased the towing capacity. Standard specification levels have also been “significantly” elevated, to make the upcoming Outback more of a premium SUV. Prices have risen accordingly, now starting at $39,990, which is a $2,550 hike over the previous base Outback’s list price.
"Based on customer feedback, we've made a conscious decision to take Outback considerably up market, confirming its status as the flagship in the Subaru range,” said Subaru Australia’s General Manager, Blair Read.
"The aggressive rugged design, along with the suite of luxury features, technology, infotainment and safety inherent in every Outback will only add to its rock-solid reputation for value and whole-of-life costs."
Full specifications had not been released at time of writing, but a three-model lineup has been confirmed, starting with an ‘Outback AWD’ and including ‘Outback AWD Sport’ and ‘Outback AWD Touring’ grades, replacing the previous six-grade range and 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 3.6R and 2.0D identification.
One Engine, Almost New
An “almost-new” drivetrain of a 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer petrol engine and CVT transmission will power all three model grades of the new Outback. While the 2.5 petrol engine is familiar, Subaru says this new version is 90 per cent new. The result is a 7 per cent increase in maximum power, now at 138kW, while maximum torque has increased 4.2 per cent to 245Nm (129kW and 235Nm on the old 2.5 petrol).
To improve fuel efficiency, the Auto Stop-Start function has been fine-tuned to restart within 0.2 of a second and adds ‘change of mind’ control.
The previously offered 3.6-litre six-cylinder petrol and 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel boxer engines have both been dropped for the new-generation.
On the CVT, refinements include improved structural parts and increased ratio coverage – from 7.0 to 8.1 – the result of which, Subaru says, is better acceleration performance from standstill and improved fuel economy. All model grades will also offer an 8-speed ‘manual mode’ on the CVT.
With an all-petrol line-up on the new generation, SI-Drive will be standard range-wide, offering both Sport (S) and Intelligent (I) driving modes that alter acceleration response and CVT performance.
Still AWD, X-Mode standard
Subaru’s established symmetrical all-wheel drive system will be standard on all grades, as will the X-Mode that adjusts the throttle and CVT input for optimal traction in low-speed, low-grip conditions.
In the current Outback, X-Mode can only be activated when travelling under 20km/h and disengages automatically above 40km/h. Presumably, the same will occur with the upcoming Outback, along with the related Hill Descent Control that automatically adjusts braking on low-speed declines.
On ascents, X-Mode can increase available torque by a claimed 25 per cent to either axle. This function presumably carries over unchanged on the new Outback, too.
Improved Tech, Better Safety
Along with the mechanical upgrades, the new Outback also gets upgrades on the tech front, starting with the centre console infotainment screen, which was a 6.5-inch or 8.0-inch unit depending on model grade, but is now 11.6 inches range-wide.
The new screen is said to centralise and simplify many controls, while vertical orientation allows more intuitive operation, similar to a smartphone.
Interior dimensions have been increased, with the tailgate opening widened, while the underlying structure includes a new inner frame that’s said to increase occupant protection against impacts from all directions. The new Outback is also the first Subaru specifically designed to withstand collision impacts under new Mobile Progressive Deformable Barrier testing.
On the active safety front, the new Outback gets an upgraded EyeSight Driver Assist system that adds a selection of new features, including Lane Centering Function, Autonomous Emergency Steering, Emergency Lane Keep Assist, Speed Sign Recognition with Intelligent Speed Limiter, Lane Departure Warning (with steering wheel vibration), Lane Departure Prevention and Pre-Collision Braking with expanded support for collision avoidance at intersections.
Other new safety tech includes the Driver Focus driver monitoring system to ensure attentiveness behind the wheel and a front passenger airbag that, when deployed, lifts the front section of the seat, helping prevent the body from sliding under the seatbelt.
Additionally, Subaru's Vision Assist system has been updated to include reverse automatic braking on top of its existing features.
Styling Changes and Model Grades
Defining the upcoming Outback against its predecessor will be several styling changes, most notably in the headlights, lower front bumper and foglamps, grille inserts, wheelarch cladding, sill cladding, exterior mirrors and rear side glass. Tail lights have been restyled and are now a better match for the headlights, while the rear bumper cladding is more aggressive, too.
Specifications across the three new Outback offerings have not been confirmed, but Subaru says features that the AWD Sport adds over the base grade include water-repellant sports seats, heating function on the fronts and outboard rear seats, front- and side-view monitors, a hands-free power tailgate and sat nav. The AWD Sport also gets dark metallic 18-inch alloys and exclusive black exterior highlights.
Above this, the AWD Touring adds an electric sunroof, removable cross bars for the roof rails, Nappa leather accent trim, a heated steering wheel and 9-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system. Full specifications will be revealed closer to the March release.
2021 SUBARU OUTBACK AWD PRICING*
Outback AWD $39,990
Outback AWD Sport $44,490
Outback AWD Touring $47,790
*list pricing, excluding ORCs