Fuji Heavy Industries’ Subaru pulls the covers off the fifth-generation Outback wagon today at the 2014 New York International Auto Show.
The new Outback has many of the same features as its platform mate, the ’15 midsize Legacy sedan, including a choice of 2.5L 4-cyl. and 3.6L 6-cyl. engines, but builds upon the outgoing wagon’s go-anywhere nature.
The Outback, on sale this summer in the U.S., now has better on-road agility, off-pavement control and an improved chassis, Subaru says.
The brand also cites design, interior roominess and safety as areas of improvement.
Subaru describes the Outback’s exterior as “bolder, crisper” and more “sculpted” than that of its predecessor, lending the wagon a refined-but-capable look.
A hexagonal grille and bumper form one piece of the front fascia, and on the 3.6R Limited grade high-intensity-discharge low-beam headlights are standard.
Subaru designers pulled forward the Outback’s windshield 2.0 ins. (5.1 cm) and raised the seating position to improve visibility.
While exterior dimensions grow only slightly, with length, width and wheelbase up less than an inch (2.5 cm), interior-passenger room rises almost 3 cu. ft. (85 L); and shoulder room and rear legroom grow, as does front and rear hip and elbow room.
Cargo space also sees an increase from the ’14 model, with the ’15 Outback now boasting almost an extra cubic foot of space behind the rear seats and 2 cu. ft. (57 L) of room with seats folded down.
Subaru says rear seats fold flatter than before, and now can be folded via release levers in the cargo area.
Ground clearance for the Outback is unchanged at 8.7 ins. (22.1 cm).
The newest iteration of the car gets step-style doorsills so access to roof rails is easier.
Optional for the first time on the wagon is a power rear gate with a memory-height setting.
Subaru ups its reputation for safety with the new Outback, adding front-seat-cushion airbags and a standard rearview camera. A rollover sensor triggers side-curtain airbags to deploy ahead of a rollover.
Standard on Limited grades and optional on the 2.5i Premium grade is a rear-vehicle detection system.
Blindspot detection, lane-change assist and rear-cross-traffic alert are other available safety technologies.
A new generation of Subaru’s EyeSight front-crash-prevention system is available on Premium and Limited grades, combining adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane-departure warning with stereo-camera technology to slow or stop the wagon ahead of an imminent collision.
EyeSight-equipped models get new steering-responsive fog lights that can illuminate the road throughout a turn.
As in the Legacy, the 2.5L boxer engine sees a slight power boost, to 175 hp from 173 hp. The 174 lb.-ft. (236 Nm) of peak torque now is available over a wider rpm range.
The 3.6L 6-cyl. boxer makes 256 hp/247 lb.-ft. (335 Nm) of torque. Subaru claims the mill can sustain at least 225 lb.-ft. (305 Nm) between 2,000 and 6,000 rpm.
Both engines are paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT.
Subaru continues to expand the use of active grille shutters, adding the drag-reducing, fuel-economy-enhancing feature to 2.5i grades of the ’15 Outback.
The brand pegs ’15 Outback combined fuel economy at 22 mpg (10.7 L/100 km) in the 3.6R grade and 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km) in 2.5i models, up from 20 mpg (11.8 L/100 km) and 26 mpg (9.0 L/100 km), respectively, in ’14.
The promised higher level of agility comes from re-tuned MacPherson-strut front and double-wishbone rear suspensions. Steering feel is improved via new quick-ratio electric power-assisted steering, Subaru says.
All grades of the ’15 Outback get ventilated rear brake discs in lieu of the solid discs on ’14 models.
Technologies helpful for off-roading include now-standard X-mode, hill-descent control and hill-start assist. X-mode, which debuted on the ’14 Forester, “optimizes engine output and CVT ratio position, increases active all-wheel drive engagement and uses enhanced control logic for the vehicle-dynamics’ control system to reduce individual wheel spin,” Subaru says.
The car’s cabin is made quieter thanks to an acoustic windshield, liquid-filled engine mounts, more use of foam insulation and thicker panels in key areas, such as the floor and toeboard.
Interior quality is upped with new soft-touch materials and thicker cushioning on the armrests and center console, Subaru says.
Cars with the EyeSight system have a 5-in. (12.7-cm) display screen in the gauge cluster, while those without EyeSight get a 3.5-in. (8.9-cm) display.
Blue light rings gauges in Premium and Limited grades of the ’15 Outback.
Up/down driver and front-passenger windows are standard on Premium and Limited grades.
The 2.5i Premium grade nets such creature comforts as a 10-way power driver’s seat, 3-mode heated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.
With a claimed “highest level of luxury ever in an Outback,” the Limited grade builds upon the Premium’s content with perforated leather seating, a 4-way power front-passenger seat and dual-mode heated rear seats.
As it did with the new Legacy, Subaru claims a significant advancement of its infotainment system in the Outback.
The system is chock-full of features, including HD Radio, a 6.2-in. (15.7-cm) touchscreen, Pandora, Bluetooth, iHeartRadio and iPod control capability.
An upgraded infotainment system in 2.5i Premium models has a 7-in. (17.8-cm) touchscreen, SiriusXM satellite radio and iTunes tagging capability.
A harman/kardon 576-watt GreenEdge amplifier and 12 harman/kardon speakers are standard on Outback Limited grades.
The Outback is one of Subaru’s best-selling models in the U.S., tallying 118,049 sales in 2013, second to the Forester’s brand-leading 123,592, WardsAuto data shows.