You know what they say about things that aren’t broken …
Subaru unveiled the original Outback 20 years ago at the New York Auto Show, and it became an unqualified success. This jacked-up Legacy wagon is “Subaru personified”, as Subaru of America President and COO Tom Doll put it.
So for the 2015 Outback, unveiled at the 2014 New York Auto Show, Subaru decided to play it safe. The new Outback may not be as groundbreaking as that first model, but it doesn’t have to be.
The Outback is really just a Subaru Legacy in hiking boots, so it’s natural that the new model adopts the revised styling seen on the 2015 Legacy, itself a cleaner version of the styling from previous-generation models.
While this new Outback has more interior space than before, Subaru says it’s no bigger than the current model, which grew significantly compared to previous generations.
Under the skin are carryover versions of Subaru’s signature boxer engines. There’s a 175-horsepower (two more than last year) 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a 256-horsepower 3.6-liter six, both paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic continuously-variable transmission (CVT) and, of course, all-wheel drive.
The engines may be the same, but new active-grille shutters and other tweaks will yield better fuel economy, Subaru says. It expects 2.5i models to return 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, compared to 24/30/26 mpg for 2014 models.
Six-cylinder 3.6R models will get an estimated 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway; the current model gets 17/25 mpg city/highway. Official EPA ratings are forthcoming.
Subaru also says it’s refined the Outback’s all-wheel drive system. The latest version features more torque-vectoring capability, and an “X-Mode” taken from the Forester that heightens the sensitivity of the entire drivetrain.
The interior received a similarly subtle upgrade, with toys including the latest version of Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system, and optional 12-speaker harman/kardon audio, a 10-way power driver’s seat, and heated rear seats.
The 2015 Outback also gets the EyeSight camera-based pre-collision system, with nifty new “steering responsive fog lights” that turn on one at a time to illuminate the path through corners.
The 2015 Subaru Outback goes on sale this summer. Pricing will be “in line with the current model,” according to Subaru.