All-wheel drive, comfort, safety mark 2017 Outback

SHARE All-wheel drive, comfort, safety mark 2017 Outback

The 2017 Subaru Outback is a nicely sized, car-like crossover utility vehicle that will take you just about anywhere you want to go thanks to its phenomenal standard all-wheel-drive system and 8.7 inches of ground clearance for traversing rugged terrain. Its relatively low step-in height makes it friendlier for entering and exiting its cabin than most in this class.

Dare I say it? Outback is a wagon, albeit a very nice-looking wagon. Outback’s overall exterior and interior styling remain virtually untouched since a redesigned version debuted two years ago, but I like its overall look, feel and comfort level.

Additionally, Outback is one of the safest vehicles in its class, especially when outfitted with the available suite of driver assistive technologies known as EyeSight.

Subaru’s EyeSight system features dual cameras (mounted near the rear-view mirror) that scan the road for potential dangers. The system will alert you if you stray out of your lane. It can automatically steer you back into your lane. It can apply full automatic braking force in emergency situations, and it includes adaptive cruise control.

Limited models and the all-new, top-of-the-line Touring models feature standard blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, high-beam assist and reverse automatic braking (so you do not accidentally back into other vehicles, people or objects).

Pricing for the 2017 Subaru Outback begins at $25,645. There are six trim levels offered: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 3.6R Limited and 3.6R Touring.

2.5i models are powered by a 175-horsepower, 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, while 3.6R models are powered by a 256-horsepower, horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine.

In an effort to improve performance and fuel economy, all models feature a continuously variable transmission (CVT). But unlike the “shiftless” feel provided by a typical CVT, Outback’s unit delivers a pleasing, stepped feel, much akin to a conventional six-speed automatic.

The 2.5-liter engine is rated at 25/32 mpg city/highway, but it feels strained when carrying a full load. I wish the four-cylinder had a bit more power.

Outback buyers looking for more muscle are forced to step up to either the 3.6R Limited ($34,995) or 3.6R Touring ($38,195) models.

The additional power from Outback’s stout 3.6-liter, six-cylinder engine is welcome, especially when carrying a full load of passengers or when towing, but the six-cylinder’s fuel economy drops to 20/27 mpg city/highway.

The horizontally opposed engines Subaru uses in most of its vehicles — including the Outback — help provide a lower center of gravity that enhances driving characteristics. The result is a stable, well-mannered ride.

Outback’s cabin is comfortable, functional and easily accommodates a family of five or four large adults. Outback provides copious amounts of standard and available amenities, plus enhanced versatility when not carrying passengers.

Those shopping for a comfortable, pleasing and safe mid-sized crossover should put Outback on their short list.

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