Subaru’s take on the estate-meets-4×4 genre, the Outback is a decent-enough car but fails to stand out against so many talented rivals.
It proved stable enough in a straight line, although some steering corrections were needed when the wind picked up. The lane-change test showed the car’s limitations, though, with little grip from the back of the car. The second of three planned lane-change tests was so ragged that the driver didn’t attempt the third and fastest run.
The 2.0-litre diesel is strong enough to pull car and caravan from 30-60mph in 14.3 seconds, but there’s a lot of noise from the engine as the car’s Continuously Variable Transmission dials up high revs, then adjusts the gearing to build speed. The 12.9m stopping distance from 30mph in dry conditions is unimpressive.
The Subaru was at its best in the hill-start test. The electronic parking brake held first time and the car comfortably pulled up and over the 1-in-6 slope.
Running costs are rather high, with fuel economy lagging behind the Outback’s best rivals. Despite now coming with the reassurance of a five-year warranty, the Outback’s high price is hard to justify when you can buy better for less.