2014 Subaru Outback 2.5i
2014 Subaru Outback 2.5i
2014 Subaru Outback 2.5i. Click image to enlarge

Review and Photos by Justin Pritchard

I consider, somewhat frequently, buying a trailer-parky-looking late-nineties Corvette, attaching a set of over-fenders with drywall screws, installing a line-lock and fitting a hydraulic drift e-brake with a sawed-off shotgun for a lever. Then, I’d spray-can a Warthog Warplane paint job with shark’s teeth on the fenders, use a sawzall to replace the mufflers with slash-cut straight-pipes, and set off ruining every Corvette meet I could find.

All of that to say, I’m what the marketing folks call the ‘one percent’. Me and my people are largely ignored by the folks who call the shots in automotive marketing, because of our relative disinterest in things like fuel mileage, sensibility or being ‘proper’ and equable.

And for everyone else, the ‘99 percent’, there’s the Subaru Outback. It’s a crossover wagon type thing that’s as rational as can be, while packing decades of experience with safety and AWD and reliability.

Here’s the gist. You can buy one, like my tester, from under $28,500 if you like shifting your own gears – which you should do proudly since Outback is one of the market’s last AWD crossover utes available with a stick. The tester got the CVT, spiking the price to about $29,800.

In any case, you get a boatload of the warm, fuzzy stuff that the ’99 percent’ want. Good gas mileage, a reputation for reliability, heaps of room for your things and people and four-legged creatures, award-winning resale value, top marks for crash-test performance from industry authorities, winter-friendly operation. The list goes on.

And though the Outback doesn’t have tires as wide as Brock Lesnar that it can vaporize down half of a quarter-mile track, you’ll probably like the fuel mileage and emissions ratings, too.

This ultra-sensible wagon and I spent a week together, and I learned plenty about the ‘99 percent’ in the process.

Outback is lengthy, so the cargo area is deep and long, making it easy to load full of things. Rear seats fold flat if you’ve got to transport area rugs, ladders or the like, and if that’s not enough, there are roof rails too. I was able to easily fill the cargo hold with six large bundles of insulation for my shed, thanks in part to the flat-folding rear seats. Air compressor? Table saw? Load of lumber? No problem. And when you’ve got people in the back seats, even the largest of them will enjoy plenty of space and headroom all around. That’s important, if you’ve got a family, like the 99 percent do.

2014 Subaru Outback 2.5i2014 Subaru Outback 2.5i
2014 Subaru Outback 2.5i. Click image to enlarge

Up front, the tester got must-haves including heated cloth with motorized driver seat adjustment, steering wheel controls, Bluetooth so you don’t get a chatty-driving ticket, a simple driver computer and a generous heap of storage for items you’d like to keep nearby. There’s no parking brake handle to rip slides around corners if it’s snowy or raining, since the parking brake is electric and operated by a small button, saving room on the console for cupholders. The ‘99 percent’ probably won’t e-brake slide through a slippery intersection or into a grocery store parking space more than a few times anyhow, so the extra space will likely be appreciated.

Getting in and out is simple – you plunk down just a little, but still get a good forward view of the road ahead. Outback might just be the perfect ride height for someone who wants a commanding view without stepping up or climbing.

Unlike my theoretical Corvette of jackassery, Outback is easy to see out of too – thanks to the tall seating position and low window lines. That, plus a tight turning circle and easy low-speed steering effort make it a cinch to park. And it’s easy to drive on the highway, since wind and road noise levels are kept nicely in check, the suspension is sprung well between comfort and sportiness, and the steering is mostly relaxed and easygoing, though responsive enough to feel like it’s connected to the wheels by metal, not soggy lasagna.

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