The Outback 3.6R Premier presents itself as a pleasing alternative to those gas guzzling SUVs and crossovers.
To some, driving is only a method of transportation that enables you to get from point alpha to point bravo in a timely fashion. To others, driving provides a sense of freedom not otherwise found anywhere else. A sense of ecstasy that explodes with the hard push of the throttle, or the sheer thought of adventure when driving the path less traveled. There’s an expression that states that someone’s car is a direct representation to their respective personality. I like to think of a car as being an extension of a person’s character. Certain cars make you feel certain things; a Ferrari makes you feel like an F1 driver about to win the current Grand Prix, whereas a pickup truck can make you feel invincible to the environment. In this case, the subject of this story just makes you want to pack the tent, buy a kayak, and set out on a north-bound road trip with your K9 buddy.
The 2017 Subaru Outback 3.6R Premier is just the right balance between rugged-antic wagon and a luxurious family hauler. My personal opinion may be slightly biased as those who know me know that I’m a fan of anything wagon. Even though wagons continuously prove to be a less popular option amongst the general public, it’s safe to say that the Outback is without a doubt the most popular wagon on North American roads, thanks to the German giants who are adamant on keeping their wagons away from us for the time being. Nonetheless, the Outback is flourishing with Subaru fans nationwide, with the 2015 refresh of the model truly setting it apart from the competition, as it presents itself as a proper alternative to the crossover.
At first glance, this Outback appears rather similar to any other, though there are some key identifiers that separate this particular variant from the rest. New for 2017 is the Premier line. This trim doesn’t change much in terms of the mechanicals, but it does add a few exclusive trim elements as well as the Brilliant Brown Pearl paint, restricted to the 2.5i and 3.6R Premier models. Other Premier indicators include low profile, silver roof rails that replace the more robust plastic pieces. A dark titanium coloured grill now acts at the centre piece for the front fascia as opposed to the standard silver inlays on other models. The 19” wheels follow suit with a similar two-tone design with dark grey paint coupled with a polished face.
The cabin is not what one would expect from a Subaru. Common knowledge would assume that the appointments of an Outback would include quite a lot of fabric and rough-feeling plastic, forming most of the panels. However, the interior of this car is far from feeling pedestrian. Passengers can enjoy a mixture of fine satin finished wood inlays, encased with aluminum adornments. The Java Brown leather contrasts nicely with the majority of the black components found throughout the rest of the cabin and the seats themselves are very, very comfortable.
To be quite honest, I was pleasantly surprised with how nice the fit and finish of the Outback’s interior was. Everything felt solid while at the same time delivered a very comfortable and luxurious sentiment. Granted, the appearance of the 2017 Outback has not changed very much apart from the slight cosmetic upgrade for the Premier trims, as the refreshed model debuted not too long ago in 2015.
The Outback deals out a comfortable ride for all five passengers, with ample trunk space for all of life’s little, and larger adventures. One thing that is worth noting though is, despite the ample power from the 3.6L horizontally opposed six-cylinder, the throttle is an on/off switch. This can be a bit of an annoyance when stuck in rush hour traffic, as there is no such thing as a smooth starts. That being said, the CVT transmission does an excellent job at hiding the fact that it is in-fact a CVT; it even has responsive paddles to simulate gear shifts on command.
The 3.6L power plant does a swell job at moving the car forwards with a calm 0-100km/h time of 7.1 seconds. This is all due to the 256 horsepower being produced from the flat-six, accompanied by 247 lb-ft of torque. Note that the Outback isn’t exactly a lightweight either, and weighing in at 3859 pounds, the number plays a big role in the cars fuel efficiency. Even still, response is good and the 3.6L is noticeably peppier and feels more substantial than the standard 2.5L motor on Legacy, Outback, and Forester models (reviewed here).
With an official rating of 12.0L/100km city, and 8.7L/100km highway, I averaged closer to the city rating, with a combined average of 11.1L/100km. To put that into perspective, my week typically consists of commuting to and from work in rush hour traffic across the city, five days a week, and typical errand-running around the city on weekends and evenings.
At the end of the day, the Outback 3.6R Premier presents itself as a pleasing alternative to those gas guzzling SUVs and crossovers that dominate our market. It may not be able to support seven passengers, though it offers plenty of storage space alongside sufficient room for five occupants. While it deals plenty of utility in a more compact package, the downside is a bit of a jolting throttle pedal in stop-and-go environments.
Is it a deal breaker? I don’t think so. As tested, the 2017 Subaru Outback 3.6R Premier is priced at $43,270, including freight and PDI. Subaru has done a great job at positioning themselves as the safety-aimed automaker with technology like EyeSight (reviewed here), and making cars built for those daring to explore the unexplored. The Premier trim is the perfect balance between work, and play; combining a luxury shell with the explorative soul that is Subaru.