FOR a weekend, I had the all-new Subaru Outback at my disposal. With a price tag of almost P2.4 million, this car is awesome for what you pay for. In fact, I am surprised why they are not that many running on our roads.
Instead I see more European SUVs that are somewhere double the price of the Outback. A lot of consumers seem to be missing out on a great car.
This car is not as tall as a full-size SUV from the roof-line but its ground clearance is just like that of a full-size SUV or very slightly lower. It is a Subaru Legacy station wagon that has been lifted and beefed up. The interior space and the boot space is just as big and even bigger than other European SUVs that are double the price of this car. While the European-branded SUVs bring more prestige to one’s social status, this car has the substance, and you save over P2 million.
The very first thing that impressed me with this car is its height, and the placement of the seats is just perfect. You do not have to climb or bend down into the car to get inside, you just slide in. This is the easiest car to get in and out of – no effort required. When inside, it is comfortable and luxurious. Instruments and controls are easy to understand and operate that one does not need a 2,000-page manual to learn how to use it. My 14-year-old daughter was able to connect her iTouch and make it work with the entertainment system in like two minutes. First impressions were great.
Driving the Outback, feels like driving any other Subaru. You feel confident, the car goes where you want it and its compromise between great handling and comfort is spot on. Its steering response is that of a sports car. One thing that stood out is the power delivery and the smoothness of the engine. This is the first flat six Subaru boxer engine that I have driven and I have nothing but praise for it. The power is more than enough and the way it is delivered to all four wheels is so perfect that nothing is abrupt, the pull is steady, smooth and very quiet. You do not feel any vibrations from the engine at all. You get the sense that this car has a perfectly balanced engine.
This car is also at home on rough roads, the type of rough roads that you would already be an adventure for the average person. It surprisingly handles bumps, potholes and road ripples very well that you don’t get any bone jarring events. And for the more challenging trails, there is the X-Mode, where the car can safely crawl through the terrain, automatically distributing the traction to the wheel that needs it. You get the sense that you are an expert trail driver, when actually the car is doing a lot of things for you so that everything is always under control.
The best feature of this car is something that I cannot test, but only read about and look at the ratings, and this is safety. This car and all Subarus, for that matter, are all top-scorers in the crash tests. One important safety feature that cannot be followed by any of its rivals is when there is heavy impact at the front, the engine is designed to go underneath the car, thus, avoiding the occupants of the front seats. This is possible with the Outback and all Subarus because of its flat engine configuration, such that it already lies low in the engine bay. This safety feature matters a lot to me because I lost a really good friend in a car crash as he was pinned by the engine of the SUV he was driving.
In sum, with the Outback you get a complete vehicle that drives and feels as good as popular European branded SUVs at roughly half the price. While you may not get the prestige of having a status symbol European brand, but you will get a lot more than just a status symbol.