Winter beast mode engaged! |
It rarely happens where a member of our team drives the same car twice within a year.
Just over a month ago, my editor assigned me a virtually identical 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i for an evaluation week. I liked it quite a bit, and shortly thereafter, Subaru Canada sent me up to Bancroft, ON to cover this year’s Rally of the Tall Pines. This time of year, Bancroft has quite a bit of snow, and being a driving enthusiast, I decided to take some scenic side roads to get there rather than sticking to main highways. Therefore, it was essential that my transportation to this event be appropriately winter capable. I decided to take a 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i again, and put it through the grind as a road tripper.
The Outback’s station wagon body style allowed it to swallow up all of my camera gear as well as my luggage for the weekend away. Save for the Volkswagen Golf Wagon, there are very few (read: zero) choices available in this segment without stepping up to luxury brands. The Outback is the perfect compromise between a traditional station wagon and a crossover or small SUV. It has a slightly higher ride height which allows for more ground clearance, which was particularly beneficial to me when going up north.
Under the hood of my Outback tester was the familiar 2.5L flat four-cylinder engine. It puts out 175 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. There is a 3.6L flat-six version of this car available, and we will be testing it in the coming weeks. However, the excellent CVT transmission on the new model never lets the engine feel as though it’s lacking in power or torque. I don’t think I’d opt for the bigger engine; the 2.5L four-cylinder is perfectly adequate. Even doing highway speeds, the transmission helps keep the RPMs down low and maximizes fuel consumption.
Subaru’s flat boxer engines have always had a feeling of “roughness” to them. They sound and feel extremely robust, and have a reputation as such. This application of the 2.5L 4-cylinder though; it feels incredibly smooth and the transmission feels silky. The car feels considerably more powerful than it is, and the Outback just sort of sails along happily. At the end of my road trip, just prior to returning the car to Subaru, we had our weekly DoubleClutch.ca team evaluation night where we all get together and discuss our week’s testers over dinner. The Outback was parked out front beside a new Audi A3, a Volvo V60, and the brand-new Honda Fit. Even in this base trim painted in a rather conservative Tungsten Metallic, every single member of our team wanted to get into the Outback for a closer look.
I rather liked the interior on the Outback the first time I drove it, and that opinion only became clearer after I drove it for this 1,500km road trip. Older Subarus had weaker interiors that consisted of hard plastics and inferior audio systems. With the full overhaul of the Legacy and Outback lineup this year, things couldn’t be better. I adore the new infotainment system, and the interior quality is far better than that of Subarus of the past. The feature set on my base model Outback is quite good; things like heated seats, a touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, and remote keyless entry are on board.
Interior aside, the most impressive touch on the Outback for me was the fuel economy. Even though I knew to expect a decent level of efficiency since my last test, nothing could have prepared me for what I observed on this road trip. The route to Bancroft and back consisted of rural highway driving averaging speeds around 80-85 km/h. During this time, the transmission was in its sweet spot, and the engine hummed along quietly and confidently. Average consumption was in the 6.5L/100km range, and it’s even more appealing when you consider the fact that this wagon takes regular-grade fuel. Even when booting around for the event, I observed numbers around 7.2L/100km; not bad in the slightest.
It rarely happens where a member of our team drives the same car twice within a year. Despite this coincidence, I came out of my second week with the 2015 Subaru Outback hoping for more. No, not hoping for more from the car itself, but for more time with this car. Over the past year and a half, Subaru has overhauled their whole lineup. The new Forester is one of our favourite small SUVs on the market, the new Legacy is impeccable, and the all-new WRX is an animal in a whole different ball game. Plus, when you factor in the hot little BRZ, it becomes evident that Subaru has gone from being the small fish in a huge pond to a considerably larger fish capable of eating others alive! The Outback is one of the most capable and livable year-round vehicles you can buy in the Canadian market today, and this one, with its $27,995 sticker, is an insanely good value.
Road Trip: 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i
*Special thanks to our friends at Subaru Canada for providing this car for our trip*