3 Feb 2014

2014 Subaru Outback 2.0D SX Lineartronic - Short Review

I've got 2014 Outback on loan for a week.  Here are my first impressions.

2014 Subaru Outback

I have to state that I love Subaru Outbacks.  I've owned two (a '99 auto and an '01 manual) and remember both fondly.  It's one of those cars that was seemingly thrown together by the manufacturer in order to try something new but happily turned out to be the perfect car.

The old Outback took a Legacy estate, jacked it up somewhat, added plastic body panels in a different colour, gave it twin sunroofs and a better interior with half leather, half suede seats.  It was four wheel drive, as was the Legacy.

The current Outback is still based on the Legacy but some crucial details have been changed.  The body panels are now colour coded, it only has one sunroof, the windows have frames (the old ones were frameless) and it has a diesel engine.

It's still four wheel drive though, and has a 220mm ground clearance - more than a Mitsubishi Outlander.

I asked Subaru if I could borrow an Outback because it used to be the perfect alternative to an SUV and I wanted to find out if it still is.

I suppose the frameless windows had to go but the old, unique, sound it made when a door was closed has now gone and is replaced with a generic thunk.  The colour coded bodywork and lack of twin sunroofs are less forgivable.  They were an essential part of the Outback repertoire and as such the latest model looks a tad too same-same.

It does succeed, though, in making most SUVs seem irrelevant.  It's a superior car on the road to any other jacked up mid-sized 4x4 and, with it's ground clearance and four wheel drive, is just as good off-road as most.

Add to that the huge boot and oodles of legroom in the back and it provides a pretty compelling alternative to the discerning motorist who wants lots of space and occasionally has to drive across a muddy field.

The 4-cylinder boxer engine is fine and has plenty of grunt.  Its 150bhp is the same as in the old 2.5 petrol engines but this model is heavier so it does feel as though an extra 20bhp would come in handy.

The Lineartronic gearbox is a CVT (continuously variable) unit, but you would't know it.  It feels like any other slightly lazy auto but with a reluctance to change up sometimes.

The only let-downs (aside from the singular sunroof and bodywork) is that the seats are pretty awful and the info screen and entertainment system lacks when compared to its competitors.

It can't be hard to make seats that are comfy and supportive. The old Outback had superb seats but this one's squeeze and support in all the wrong places which, after a journey, left me with a bad back.

Subaru haven't bothered with a satnav or digital radio.  The info screen is tiny and the Bluetooth is impossible to work.  If you forget to bring your smartphone cable to connect it up you have to listen to FM (stone age) or a CD (prehistoric).

Otherwise it's as ace as the old Outback.  Oh, and so far it's returned 37mpg which is a lot more than the old petrol model.

I'll follow up with a full review soon.


Price: £31,495
Engine: 2.0 turbocharged diesel, flat-4
Transmission: CVT automatic
0-60: 9.5 seconds
Top Speed: 120 mph
Power: 150 bhp
Torque: 258 lb ft
Economy: 44.8 mpg
CO2: 166 g/km
Kerb weight: 1,573 kg
2014 Subaru Outback

2014 Subaru Outback

2014 Subaru Outback

2014 Subaru Outback

2014 Subaru Outback

2014 Subaru Outback

2014 Subaru Outback

By Matt Hubbard