DRIVEN: 2017 Subaru Outback SE Premium Lineartronic Review
I got the chance to review the highly capable Subaru Outback SE Premium and here are my thoughts on this Subaru estate car.
What’s the Subaru Outback SE Premium Lineartronic GT all About?
The Outback fits into a fairly unique place in the market, sitting between the estate car and the Crossover. It’s been around for some time, and the current 5th generation of this car is in pretty good shape.
The car we’re testing here is the SE Premium version with the Lineartronic gearbox. The Outback has been finished in a very nice dark grey and certainly looks very Subaru-like throughout.
Taking a closer look at the front of the car, you’ll notice the large silver grille with that famous blue badge in the centre. Below, in the corners, there are two bulging fog lights under the carefully crafted headlights to give a relatively aggressive and wide-looking front-end to the car. Coming around to the sides, you have a nice pair of 18-inch alloy wheels dressed in 225/60 tyres and the rear of the car stands particularly tall; giving its crossover feel.
The engine options available in the UK are relatively limited, with either a 2.5-litre petrol or a 2.0-litre diesel engine. Here we are testing the 2-litre diesel Boxer engine. It does offer decent power, at 150 PS and 350 Nm of torque. The gearbox is Subaru’s Lineartronic – Continuously Variable Transmission. Subaru say it provides realistic acceleration response and is the first CVT adopted for AWD. Of course, the Outback drives on all four wheels, as per Subaru standard, with torque vectoring to manage power distribution.
All of that means the Outback can get from 0 to 60 mph in under 9.9 seconds, reaching a top speed of 124 mph. It will achieve 46 combined mpg and put out 159 g/km of CO2.
How Does it Drive?
Getting into the Subaru Outback feels just like sitting in a large estate car without giving you that uplift you’d expect from Crossovers. The car features a keyless ignition, meaning you can just press the start button and, since the car’s Lineartronic, just put it into drive and you’re off.
This is one capable package overall and the engine is notably really strong. It has a lot to give considering it’s only a 2.0-litre engine. The car will pick up speed briskly if you poke it, and the wide torque band makes overtaking relatively effortless.
The ride quality is superb. I carried out a lot of our testing on country roads in Cornwall with a mix of both on- and off-road driving, and the car was a delight to work with. On the road the Subaru is very smooth, handling simple potholes very well. The asymmetrical four-wheel-drive system gives you a fantastic feeling of grip even when the rain starts to come. Off-road, whether it’s travelling across gravel, fields, or sand you don’t really get any bother – the Subaru just keeps going and sorts out traction itself.
For its size it is an agile car, which is quite deceiving considering how big it is. Every Subaru I’ve driven has a similar feeling of mechanical grip and incredible balance front to back. Getting into one of the bigger vehicles like the Outback, I was happy to note that this characteristic continues. It gives you a good feeling of nimbleness and reassurance when things get tricky.
With the CVT you can make your own gear inputs via the paddles behind the steering wheel and, in that case, it acts as a 6-speed auto. I think this is the best CVT I’ve driven. Subaru has been pushing the whole notion of CVT nowadays and, to be fair, I think it’ll work for them.
There is very little noise in the interior, no doubt thanks to the CVT keeping everything quiet. Subaru has put some properly clever engineering into developing the Lineartronic CVT and the results definitely show.
What’s it Like Inside?
The interior inside the modern Subaru is a genuinely nice place to be. You can certainly tell it is built to a budget but there’s a great balance of materials used in all the right places, so it feels better than decent inside. Starting at the steering wheel, you’ll notice it’s wrapped in leather, with lots of multifunctional buttons to allow you to control as much as possible without your hands leaving the wheel.
The infotainment system is pretty decent by modern standards, allowing you to use touchscreen navigation, Bluetooth integration, MP3 streaming, and DAB radio. It has everything you need.
The space inside the car here is where the Outback is an absolute winner. I am a tall driver at 6’4 and felt no problem at all in the driving seat – the headroom was fantastic. In the back of the car, even with my seat position, there was still plenty of room behind me. The boot space is 559-litres of room before you even start to put the chairs down, meaning there’s plenty of room throughout the car.
The experience the Subaru Outback SE Premium provides is not like the rest of the crossovers on the market. You still feel like you’re in a sporty car, when the reality is you’re in a Crossover-sized practical vehicle. Somehow Subaru have been able to create a practical car, but retaining their brands heritage characteristics. You really feel like you can travel anywhere, whatever the weather, in the Outback – as the name suggests.
I feel that the Subaru Outback is a pretty underrated car in the grand scheme of things. The car here as tested costs £34,995 but it’s incredibly capable and highly equipped.
Just to summarise: the interior space is fantastic, the engine performance and economy is a great balance point, the capabilities of the Subaru because of its symmetrical four-wheel-drive system and high ride height means it’s able to take on most UK terrain. It even has a towing capacity of up to 2,000kg. What more could you ask for?
- Price: £34,995
- Engine: 2.0-litre Diesel Boxer
- Power: 150 PS
- Torque: 350 Nm
- Transmission: Lineartronic CVT with override
- 0-62mph: 9.9 Seconds
- Top speed: 124 mph
- Weight: 1,678 kg
- Economy combined: 46 mpg
- CO2: 164 g/km
Author: Paul Hadley