Highlight: The Outback received the 2015 ALG award for having the highest residual midsize utility vehicle with two rows of seats.
Test vehicle’s MSRP: $29,840 (base model $25,745)
Seating Capacity: 5
Standard Safety Features: all-wheel drive; air bags; a rear view camera; a brake override system; and a vehicle dynamic control; an electronic parking brake; daytime running lights; automatic headlights; inline start assist; hill descent system; a safety pedal system; and a tire pressure monitoring system
Standard Equipment (base model): 17-inch wheels; a 6-speed manual transmission; a 6.2-inch infotainment center screen; cloth interior; cargo area grocery hooks; cargo area tray; a manually controlled air condition system; a rear body colored spoiler; roof rail tie down hooks; duplicate steering wheel audio control; and a manually operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel
Upgraded Standard Features On Test Model: 17-inch alloy wheels; power driver’s seat; 12-volt power outlets; a 7-inch infotainment screen; a 6-speaker audio system with satellite radio; an air filtration system; heated front seats; heated exterior mirrors; heated windshield de-icer; a cargo area cover; a dark tint rear privacy glass; foldable exterior color body mirrors; fog lights; dual zone climate control system; illuminated overhead console; a steering wheel with paddle shifters; and a leather wrapped shift lever handle
Optional Features On Test Vehicle: an eye sight driver assist system; a pre collision braking system; an adaptive cruise control system; a lane departure warning system; a lane sway warning system; a pre-collision throttle management system; a rear vehicle detection system; a blind spot detection system; a rear traffic cross alert system; a lane change assist system; and a power rear gate with memory
Other Trim Level:
2.5i Base model
Standard Audio On Test Vehicle: an AM/FM/CD/HD
Bluetooth Connectivity: available
iPod connectivity: available
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder/175-hp
Recommended Fuel: Regular
Standard Fuel Mileage: 25-city/33-hwy
What’s New: For the 2015 model year, the Outback was reworked inside out.
Pros: The 2015 Outback offers a level of refinement and safety enhancements that bypassed the previous model.
This year’s Outback continues to be available in three trims: standard, premium and limited, with two engine choices. We had an opportunity to review the premium model, which was outfitted with Subaru’s standard 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine, with a 175-horsepower engine. For those seeking more power, a throatier 256-horsepower, 6-cylinder is available in the higher end limited model only. Gas mileage for both powertrains has been slightly improved over last year’s model.
Besides subtle exterior changes with the Outback, the real story goes beyond the outward appearance. Inside the wagon, one will notice that the comfort level of the Outback has been significantly improved. Like a comfortable family room sofa, the all-wheel drive wagon offers more cushioning for the armrests, the center console and the seating area. In fact, the driver’s seating area mimics that of the Volvo XC70, offering both comfort and support. The Outback’s engineers infused a new and larger touchscreen infotainment system, too.
Subaru has also enhanced the Outback for 2015, offering a number of convenience and safety driving features. Subaru’s new Welcome Lighting, which is standard, automatically lights the interior of the vehicle and turns on the exterior lights as the driver (or occupant with the key fob) approaches the vehicle.
Moreover, the all wheel drive crossover offers what the brand refers to as an EyeSight Driver Assist System, which includes a pre-collision braking system, a radar activated cruise controls system, a lane departure warning system, a blind spot lane changing system, a rear cross traffic alert system and a lane change assist system.
Furthermore, Subaru has added cornering lights too this model year. This feature, which works when the foglights are turned off, activates the left or right fog light independently, depending on the vehicle speed and steering light, just as a concerning approach light or a swivel headlight system in some vehicles.
Lastly, Subaru has improved the overall driving dynamics with a revised chassis, making for a better ride and handling.
Cons: Our major drawback with the Outback was that in sunny weather, there is a glare which washes out the infotainment screen, making it difficult to view.
And while Subaru is known for building all wheel drive vehicles exclusively, this limits the brand’s ability to grow in some regions of the country that don’t necessarily need that feature.
Verdict: The Subaru Outback has been a staple for the brand for over 20 years. While the all wheel drive Outback competes directly with the Jeep Cherokee, it also serves as an indirect competitor to the Volvo XC70 wagon, which offers a smaller 4-cylinder engine at higher price tag, with less standard features.
The refined 2015 Subaru Outback is leap years over the previous generation, offering an improved level of refinement and luxury that the critics have been asking for years.
Competition: Jeep Cherokee
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him on Twitter/JeffCars.