This week, we’re driving Subaru’s 2014 Outback Limited, this time with a 2.5i four cylinder instead of the 3.6 liter Boxer six cylinder we drove last year.
Since Subaru is ready to introduce the new 2015 Outbacks, now is the best time to cash in on some excellent dealer incentives that all manufacturers pass on to consumers this time of year. As for the Outback Limited we’re driving, it’s a top line model with a base price of $29,395 while entry level manual transmission Outbacks start at $23,795.
Subaru’s initial 4×4 went on sale in America in 1975, when both 2WD and 4WD vehicles were available. As noted in previous columns, Sir Malcolm Bricklin, he of Bricklin auto fame, brought Subaru to America back in 1968 and it’s been a success story ever since. The now heralded AWD arrived in 1987 as Subaru publicize its “new full-time AWD”, and then 10 years later announced it would drop two-wheel drive from its offerings to concentrate 100-percent on AWD expertise.
Our Outback tester is Subaru’s popular station wagon style SUV/Crossover that starts at just $24,495, which includes an economy friendly CVT automatic transmission.
Although “Test Drive” doesn’t usually list everything in an option package, I will make an exception as this one is the “granddaddy” of all Subaru options. It’s called the “Special Appearance and Eyesight” package and costs $5,040. Included are 10-way power driver seat with lumbar/memory; 17-inch tires with gray machine finish alloy wheels; keyless entry/start; gray door handles and foldable exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals; Outback logo floor mats; gray grille; black headlight bezels and rear bumper cover; saddle leather interior with wood grain trim; power moonroof, rear safety camera; seven-inch touchscreen GPS voice recognition navigation; 440-watt Harmon/Kardon nine speaker stereo AM/FM Sirius/XM with HD radio and CD, MP3/WMA playback; iPod, USB, Homelink and Bluetooth; overhead console microphone; Aha Infotainment smart phone; and most important the EyeSight driver-assist system with pre-collision braking, system capable of pedestrian detection, lane departure and sway warning and adaptive cruise control. This option merges entertainment with high-tech safety and if you can afford it, fine. If not, talk to your dealer about a leftover with at least the great safety features.
Mechanically, Subaru continues it Boxer engine evolution in both four and six cylinder designs. The Boxer’s engine receives its nickname thanks to the unique crankshaft and piston rotating assembly. With a side-to-side build instead of a “V” or inline setup, the resulting “jab” punch sideways movement results in a smoother running engine. Because the engine sits lower in the engine bay, the result is a better handling Subaru with less body roll. The four-cylinder develops 173 horses and 174 lb. of torque and delivers solid 24 city and 30 highway EPA numbers.
Underneath, Outbacks feature fully independent suspensions while the standard safety features include traction control, anti-lock four wheel discs, advanced airbags including side curtain, vehicle dynamic control and the world famous Subaru Symmetrical AWD system.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 107.9 inches, 3.538 lb. curb weight, 34.3 cu. ft. of cargo space expandable to 71.3 with seats down, 8.7 inch ground clearance, 2,700 lb. tow capacity and an 18.5 gallon fuel tank.
In summary, Subaru Outbacks are some of the best known AWD vehicles in the world. It succeeds in a tough market jammed with competition and again receives a Test Drive “Best Buy” in the mid-size SUV/Crossover/Wagon category.
Remember, too, that these 2014 end of year deals will only be around until the final inventory of 2014s are sold. Although an “all-new” 2015 model arrives soon, this “new” Outback is just marginally larger and mostly cosmetic in its newness. There’s a very slight mechanical difference between a 2014 and 2015 Outback — namely the deletion of the 2014’s five-speed automatic transmission in favor of a continuously variable transmission for ostensibly better fuel economy — which puts a trump card in the buyers hand when negotiating on an Outback leftover.
2014 Subaru Outback Limited 2.5i
Base Price (Limited Trim): $29,395
Price as Tested: $34,435
Price as Tested: $34,435
Rear camera not standard
Engine a bit noisy under full throttle
(Greg Zyla writes weekly for BestRide.com and other Gatehouse Media publications).