2017 Subaru Outback Introduction

The Subaru Outback delivers all-wheel drive for all-weather and light off-road capability and looks quite unlike the herds of crossover SUVs.

Last redesigned for the 2015 model year, the model line this year offers a new 2017 Subaru Outback Touring model that features Java Brown leather upholstery with contrasting ivory stitching and Brilliant Brown exterior paint. Subaru also has added rear object detection with automatic emergency braking to 2017 Outback models. Otherwise, little has changed for the 2017 model year.

Boasting 8.7 inches ground clearance, comparable to many full-fledged SUVs, the Outback is something of an outlier. Little-changed in basic structure since its 1996 debut, but steadily refined, it’s a noble if eccentric car-based vehicle among a slew of lookalike crossovers. Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system, assisted by an X-mode off-road program, demonstrates its greatest talents after the pavement ends.

Two horizontally opposed (flat) engines are offered. Based on our test drives, we think the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder, developing 175 horsepower, is adequate for most owners, unless they anticipate regular treks up mountain roads. It’s also quite frugal, scoring an EPA-rated 28 mpg Combined city/highway.

Smoother-operating than the four, the 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine generates 256 horsepower and won’t run out of steam in steep terrain. Fuel economy isn’t an asset for the bigger, more costly engine, however, with an EPA-rated 22 mpg Combined.

Both engines mate with an outstanding continuously variable transmission (CVT). We consider it among the top CVTs, possibly the best.

Outbacks are among the safest cars out there, backed up by crash testing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given it five-star scores. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave Outback Good ratings across the board, naming it a Top Safety Pick+ if equipped with optional active-safety technology.

All Outbacks include a rearview camera, as well as front seat-cushion airbags. Subaru’s reasonably-priced EyeSight system is among the best active-safety groups, adding adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning. EyeSight systems may also be equipped with active lane control, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Options include a moonroof and navigation system.

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