By Mike Torpey on 2020-05-09 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Subaru Outback 2.5i
NOWHERE is Japanese car maker Subaru's brand ethos of ‘Better Where It Matters' more perfectly illustrated than in the company's Outback estate model.
Line up a mixed bag of crossovers, SUVs or 4x4s and one of the last to be chosen on looks alone might be the Subaru.
It's not an unattractive offering, but it certainly wouldn't win any fashion contests. Far more a case of substance over style with the Outback.
Under the skin though is a gem of a vehicle, one boasting some serious qualities - including top notch safety gizmos.
Among these is something Subaru calls EyeSight, and it has been responsible for the brand being voted best manufacturer for safety features in the UK's top car ownership survey Driver Power.
EyeSight, standard on every Outback model, comprises a front view camera to monitor a 180-degree area in front of the car that would normally be in the driver's blind spot and a side view camera to help drivers squeeze through narrow spaces.
There's also a ‘view' switch allowing drivers to move between display options on the car's central touchscreen.
And the safety suite also includes the likes of Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Sway and Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Pre-collision Throttle Management and headlights that respond to the steering direction.
This all matters of course, but then so do the Outback's credentials as a rugged crossover estate and an ability to go anywhere and do anything have been hallmarks of the model for almost 25 years.
The Outback's exterior style with its hexagonal grille and hawk-eye headlights hints at the expectation of a hard life and to that end, with its permanent all-wheel drive system, it's as comfortable squelching through muddy fields as it is cruising city streets.
Two four-cylinder ‘Boxer' engines are available in the shape of a 2.0-litre turbodiesel producing 150bhp or a naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre petrol unit developing 175bhp.
Our version featured the latter unit with the company's Lineartronic CVT with manual mode transmission, the combination of which brought strong performance when fully loaded with passengers and gear and an average fuel return only a couple of miles short of the official 38.7mpg figure.
Not only is the Outback's load-carrying capacity immense but it also boasts a limo-level amount of interior space - with the rear seats lowered we were able to transport a wooden bed frame, old toaster, two expired microwaves, three large plastic cartons of household junk and the contents of a garden shed to the council's waste disposal site, commonly known as ‘the tip'.
With its slightly raised driving position affording an improved view for all, the Subaru is smooth and strong to drive even if it does feel a bit of a boat at first - something you become quickly accustomed to.
The real beauty of this car though is that it is a genuine all-rounder capable of transporting families on weekends away, kids and their mates to sports grounds, visits to DIY centres or just pottering round town.
And when the going gets tough the aptly named Outback tends to come through unscathed.
Trim grades comprise SE and SE Premium, the former including automatic LED headlamps and washers, cruise control, active torque vectoring, 17-inch alloys, heated front seats, electrically-adjustable driver's seat and privacy glass.
Buyers also get a 6.5-inch colour touchscreen info system with sat-nav, audio, smartphone connectivity and a rear view parking camera.
Subaru Outback 2.5i SE Premium
Mechanical: 175ps, 2,498cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 128mph
0-62mph: 10.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 38.7
Insurance Group: 18
C02 emissions: 166g/km
Bik rating: 37%
Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles
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