Test Drive: 2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R
News: Subaru Outback refreshed for 2013

Manufacturer’s web site
Subaru Canada

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Photo Gallery:
2013 Subaru Outback

While the Subaru Outback retains its signature rough-and-tumble look for 2013, it was subject to what Subaru calls a “Big Minor” update. The Subaru Outback underwent a wide variety of changes for the 2013 model year, including styling updates, added content, new powertrain options, chassis tweaks, and a new safety system called Subaru EyeSight. Oh, and all this at a lower price than 2012 models.

The styling revisions are centred around a new bumper and grille. The grille slats are flatter, and the black plastic clip wraps around a lower air intake and takes up a big square block on each corner of the front bumper, with bigger fog lights to emphasize its rugged purpose. The ridged body cladding on the side also reclaims some lost territory in the doors, further reinforcing the idea that you should drive this car through the dirt to a lonely beach or mountain somewhere.

2013 Subaru Outback
2013 Subaru Outback. Click image to enlarge

Its 220 mm of ground clearance and permanent all-wheel drive on all models should also help it reach anyplace most small SUVs can get to, and many that front-wheel-drive models of many popular crossover cannot.

The Outback interior aims to achieve higher levels of quality, but if it’s an improvement, it’s a mild one. Dash plastics are still hard and simulated woodgrain trim is an unconvincing imitation of a matte wood finish. However, the perforated leather seating surfaces and door insert in the 3.6R Limited we drove were pleasing to the touch while still imparting a sense of durability, and the light tone complemented the colour of the imitation wood trim, if not the dark grey dash and steering wheel. The satiny-metallic plastics surrounding the stereo controls were also appealing and the switchgear easy to decipher.

2013 Subaru Outback
2013 Subaru Outback
2013 Subaru Outback. Click image to enlarge

New electroluminescent gauges are clear and legible (on Limited models only), and the gauge-cluster info screen provided a wealth of information on various driving systems like cruise control, fuel consumption, and the new EyeSight functions. The touchscreen infotainment system is far more intuitive than the system Subaru is using in the BRZ, which seems like it was picked up at an electronics auction out of the back of an abandoned semi trailer. Overall, the interior is clean and functional, but still lacking the finer points of luxury, albeit necessary sacrifices to keep this model affordable.

The 2013 Subaru Outback lineup starts with a 2.5i Convenience model powered by a 2.5L horizontally opposed boxer engine. Despite sharing the same displacement as last year’s entry-level Outback powertrain, Subaru assures us it is a new generation. It produces 173 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, up 3 hp and 4 lb-ft over last year’s 2.5, with most of the torque available from 3,000–5,500 rpm.

The base transmission is a six-speed manual, making it that ever so rare of vehicles—an AWD, manual-transmission station wagon. In this configuration, the Outback is $28,495, which is $500 less than the 2012 price. Adding Subaru’s new CVT is a $1,300 option on 2.5i Convenience and Touring models, is standard on the 2.5i Limited. Of course, all Outback models feature Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system for ideal balance on traction in poor driving conditions.

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