MONTREAL, Quebec – Subaru is toted as being one of the auto industry's “best kept secrets.” How so? Not as mainstream as some manufacturers, Subaru is often forgotten on potential buyers' lists of options, and that's a shame. Subaru is desperately trying to change this stereotype by designing and engineering cars that will be noticed by the masses (such as the BRZ).
Well, the 2013 Subaru Outback might not be about flash and pizzazz, but it's certainly going to grab some attention.
For starters, the 2013 Subaru Outback got a new smile. While not a complete facelift (something Subaru has been known to do in the past, and to drastic extents), the new Outback has taken on a much more stern look. With much more angular, hawk-eye headlights and a straighter chromed grille, the Outback's mean mug is definitely more masculine and more along the lines of an SUV than a wagon.
And as far as exterior changes go, that's about it. Spiffy new kicks in the form of new wheel designs help give the Outback a fresh look, but that's about it. And that's fine as the previous generation's design was quite pleasing to begin with. This is, after all, more of a utilitarian vehicle.
Inside, the changes are again, minimal. Wood trim accents replace previous-gen chrome bits, which is a nice change. However, might be aimed at an older crowd. The driver gauges have been updated to house Subaru's new EyeSight system and look quite modern and of-the-moment. The middle console also got revamped and looks much more up to date, though I'm still not sure about the big, blue plastic inserts above the volume and tuning knobs.
A few more horses in the stable
What the 2013 Subaru Outback does feature in the form on “new” is a 2.5L DOHC BOXER engine that produces 173 hp (up 3) and 174 lb-ft (up 4). While this might not seem like much, Subaru's main selling point on this new engine is that it has greater low-end torque.
Driving both the 2.5i and the 3.6R (which features the same 3.6L 6-cylinder BOXER engine with 256 hp), it's clear that Subaru has done its homework regarding the CVT transmission. Generally something I absolutely detest, Subaru's second-gen Lineartronic CVT is quieter, more responsive and helps return better gas mileage (approximately 1L/100km better than the previous generation for both city and highway). And that's not just PR jargon, it actually does all that. The system also, thankfully, “shifts” while you drive so you're not lulled into a stupor of crazy with the unchanging revs.
If CVT still isn't your cup of tea, the 2.5i Convenience can also be outfitted with a 6-speed manual transmission.
As always, the 2013 Subaru Outback features Subaru's symmetrical AWD system to keep the car firmly planted on the ground no matter what the weather or terrain. With a 220 mm ground clearance, and a 40% reduction in body roll for the 2013 model, the Outback is a strong contender as the ideal off-roader/family car.
With five trim levels available in the Outback lineup (starting around the $28k mark and going all the way up to the near $40k range), there really is something for everyone. From EyeSight (Subaru's latest driver assistance system) to PZEV (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) and additions like Harman/Kardon sound systems, it's high time Subaru was on everyone's radar.
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