Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

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Test drive the new Subaru Outback 2021

The focus went to the Ukrainian driving presentation of the new generation Subaru Outback to test the car in all elements – not only on asphalt, but also on full off-road.

New Subaru Outback we have been waiting for a long time. While in the USA the sixth generation car has been produced and sold since 2019 and has already managed to acquire the Wilderness version for severe off-road there, Ukraine, following Europe, received it at the end of spring 2021.

As Focusreported earlier, the delay is due to the fact that only recently the model got on the conveyor of Subaru's main plant in Japan, from where deliveries began to all global markets minus the American one.

Our test run of the new Outback is almost 200 km of the most different roads from Kyiv to the finish point in the Cherkasy region. Not enough to feel all the nuances of the driving character of the novelty, but quite enough for first impressions. And they, as you know, are the brightest and therefore the most correct.

Moreover, the organizers promised a real off-road section on the route. And how could it be otherwise, because high cross-country ability is one of the Outback's main qualities.

New? Yes, the new Subaru Outback 2021

Even from a distance, the car is 100% recognizable as an Outback – and therefore, at first glance, it may seem that the design has not changed much compared to its predecessor. Moreover, the novelty has grown quite a bit in terms of dimensions: by 50 mm in length (up to 4870 mm) and by 35 mm in width (up to 1875 mm), and the height is completely the same (1675 mm).

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

Nevertheless, all body panels are new. You can identify the Subaru Outback 2021 by the changed headlight cut and noticeably reduced foglights. And behind – pointed lanterns, which added expressiveness to the stern. Guided by the rule “they don’t look for good from good”, Subaru acted sensibly: the previously found successful image was preserved, but modernized and ennobled in the right places.

The new Outback is built on the modular Subaru Global Platform

The main innovations are not visible to the eye. With the change of generations, Outback moved to the modular SGP (Subaru Global Platform) platform, which is already used on the XV crossover and Forester SUV. In numbers, this translates into a 70% increase in body rigidity and a 40% increase in the energy absorbed in a frontal collision. The soundproofing has also improved slightly, and the interior has become a little more spacious.

And the Japanese also shook up the suspension. Aluminum is used to reduce unsprung masses, the springs have non-linear stiffness, and the dampers have new calibrations to improve bump handling.

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

I have to disappoint those who were waiting in Ukraine for a new Outback following the example of the United States – that is, including with a turbo engine. Europe, and with it us, is supposed to have only one engine – a gasoline “aspirated” 2.5 with direct injection. But there is also good news. In our market, the characteristics of the Subaru Outback are better than European ones: the unit produces 188 hp. against 169 hp with a slight reduction in peak torque (245 Nm vs. 252 Nm).

The dynamics also improved: according to the passport, acceleration to the first “hundred” takes 9.5 seconds with a maximum speed of 207 km/h (in the European specification – 10.2 seconds and 193 km/h).

The transmission is the same – V-chain variator Lineatronic with the possibility of manual shifting of “virtual” gears. It has also been modified – among other things, the gear ratio range has been expanded from 7.03 to 8.1.

But the hybrid version of the e-BOXER, which has been added to the range of XV and Forester modifications since spring, does not have the new Outback will.

Hello tablet!

Subaru, is that you? I look into the cabin and am glad that a modern multimedia system has finally appeared here – with a large vertical touchscreen with a diagonal of 11.6 inches. For the brand, this is a real interior revolution! The only thing missing is a virtual “dashboard” – all versions of the Outback, including the top one, have dial gauges.

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

The “tablet” has a clear picture and nice graphics, and the good rendering of navigation maps is especially pleasing. And now the media system is really “multi” – the air temperature and climate control modes are controlled using the touch buttons on the screen. Not everyone likes this, but these are modern trends.

However, several physical buttons are still present – airflow intensity, turning on the heating of the windshield and exterior mirrors.

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

Interior materials have become better, and this applies to the entire line of trim levels – by the way, now there are three of them instead of two before. And for the top version (it is shown in the photos above), even nappa leather trim is provided.

How the Subaru Outback rides now

The previous Outback was famous for its energy-intensive, forgiving suspension. I rode one like this last summer and I still remember that feeling of flying when you sprint down the rough road without fear. The new generation Subaru Outback retained these qualities, but felt softer – the buildup did not appear, but the waves and potholes work out more roundly.

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

I specifically focus on “feelings”, because I managed to drive 30 km on uneven asphalt, and some of my fellow journalists who attended the presentation, on the contrary, seemed to have a stiffer suspension. Therefore, we will leave this question until a detailed test drive.

But with the motor, everything is clear now: it is not enough. The Subaru Outback engine has enough traction for a comfortable ride in the city and a leisurely move outside of it. But if you're in a hurry or the cabin is packed to capacity with passengers and luggage, the lack of power and damped accelerator pedal makes itself felt.

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

However, there is a recipe: to accelerate in manual mode with the help of paddle shifters, and when driving on the highway, do not rise above the sixth “virtual” gear until cruising speed is reached. Overtaking? Preliminarily “drop” two or three steps down – and perform the maneuver without fear of not having time to complete it.

However, not everyone will like this methodology. Someone just doesn't like the petals, others give a noticeable pickup at the first press on the pedal. Therefore, the conclusion is obvious: the option with the prefix “turbo” would not hurt. The one that is not on our market.

What is the new Outback off-road

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

Our test drive with the Subaru Outback was mostly off-road. Sand, narrow forest paths with gullies and bumpy primers – all this was enough. In such conditions, the car feels in its element. Outside the asphalt, there is no lack of power, but for better dosing of traction, it is worth switching with the petals – fortunately, for this you don’t even need to switch the transmission selector to manual mode.

A clearance of 213 mm is enough to drive along a rut without fear, overcome impressive potholes and even force shallow fords, as in the video above. But, of course, it is necessary to make allowances for large overhangs – they affect not so much the steepness of obstacles (provided that you drive thoughtfully), but the pace of overcoming them. Soft gas, precise steering movements – this approach will allow you to get quite far from civilization.

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

The car received an improved X-Mode assistant for off-road driving, which acquired an additional mode for deep sand and mud. And although I am not a supporter of such electronic systems, preferring to rely on the physical parameters of the car (clearance, overhangs) and make the most of the transmission, I must admit: the Subarovsky X-Mode works.

Here is just one example. A tight turn on a narrow forest road, all littered with pits filled with mud. You can’t go through it right away – only tight. If you look for a hook by touch, you can go too far with gas – the car will be thrown off the road, and there – a fallen tree. At a minimum, there is a risk of damaging the bumper.

So I activate X-Mode, press the accelerator pedal a third of the way, and keep an even throttle. After three seconds of slipping, the electronics finds the optimal algorithm for distributing traction to the wheels – and the Outback starts to drive confidently.

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

X-Mode Assistant really helps off-road

I drove next, but with the activated assistant. The difference, as they say, is obvious: the car climbed up easily and naturally without even a hint of slipping.

There is only one drawback: if the previous generation Outback had an assistant activated by a button between the seats, then the new one had a virtual button on the media system display. In other words, now X-Mode cannot be turned on by touch, without being distracted from the road.

Packages and price of the Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback prices start at UAH 1.25 million, and the configurations now have three levels of equipment. The starting amount is rather big, but the difference between the “base” and “top” is only 70 thousand hryvnia. In other words, already at the start (Limited configuration), the car is very well equipped.

Dual-zone climate control, LED headlights, heated all seats, all-round cameras, EyeSight branded Subarovsky complex with adaptive cruise control, auto braking and markup tracking. As well as the X-Mode off-road assistant and the same “tablet” that transformed the interior of the Outback in a new generation.

As a result, the differences between versions come down to nuances. For example, the top-of-the-range Touring trim features a sunroof, ten-speaker Harman/Kardon premium sound system, and the aforementioned nappa leather.

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

Test drive the new 2021 Subaru Outback

In my opinion, the best choice is the average Field package for 1.28 million hryvnias. Instead of the basic fabric interior, eco-leather trim with a water-repellent effect appears here, and the roof rails can withstand loads of up to 100 kg instead of 60. In addition, such a car looks brighter – thanks to green accents on the body (railing elements) and in the cabin (stitching on the seats, doors and front panel), as well as wheels of the original design.

Prospects for the new Outback in Ukraine

Subaru Outback belongs to the tribe of cross-universals. This is its weakness against the backdrop of total worship of crossovers by buyers. But at the same time, this is his strength! Getting a non-standard outwardly car with a station wagon capacity and a cross-country ability almost like an SUV is worth a lot.

Turbocharged Outback in Ukraine? Perhaps we will have such a version

As for the insufficient traction qualities of the 2.5-liter “aspirated” … As Focus was told in the Subaru Ukraine company, now the possibility of supplying a turbocharged Outback to Ukraine is in full swing.

Let the real subarists rejoice!

This will not be the easiest operation (today the turbo-Outback is produced and sold only in the USA), but if it will succeed, the buyer audience of the model will expand significantly – even despite the higher price of this version. How much can it cost in Ukraine? It would be incorrect to focus on the difference in prices between atmospheric and turbocharged versions in the States, so we'll wait for the news from a Ukrainian importer.

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