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Sunday, September 5, 2021

Review: 2022 Subaru Outback 2.5i-Touring EyeSight


If wagon is life, is a wagon-based SUV lifer? That seems to be the general thinking behind the Subaru Outback, and frankly, it’s one that works. The model’s been a big hit for the plucky Japanese automaker since its debut in 1994. While the first-generation model was around 70 percent wagon and 30 percent SUV, the newest one—the sixth-generation model—has that proportion in reverse thanks to more blatant SUV DNA peppered in. Wrap around body cladding? Check. High ground clearance (213 mm)? Check. Water wading depth of 500 mm or so? Check. All-wheel drive with terrain-optimized settings? Check. Yet, it hasn’t quite gone full SUV yet, and it’s all the better for it.

Let’s start with one thing Subaru didn’t get right with the 2022 Outback: the styling. Once again, stylists seem to have left things at the 11th hour, and have come up with a design that’s way too cautious and way too evolutionary. Some people mistake this to be a heavy refresh of the outgoing model, despite the full-blown re-engineering from the platform up. They can’t be blamed. It sticks closely to the same “wagon with body cladding” formula despite the Legacy wagon getting the axe for two generations now.



Venture into the design details though, and one will appreciate the Outback’s much cleaner appearance. It’s not beautiful, but it’s purposeful. This here isn’t a pair of Cole Haan; it’s more of a pair of Timberland hiking boots. And with that, you will appreciate things like the roof rails with built-in crossbars and a hands-free tailgate that uses the rear Subaru emblem as its sensor as opposed to a kick sensor that can get muddied up after hitting the trails.

Another thing that’s absolute meh in the all-new Outback? The powertrain. Motor Image, Subaru’s Philippine distributor did right to streamline the line-up given that five-seater mid-sized SUVs north of two million pesos don’t exactly sell in huge numbers. But why on earth did we get stuck with the anemic 2.5-liter normally-aspirated flat-4? Officially, its 0 to 100 km/h time of 9.6 seconds is quite decent—within striking distance of the Accord 1.5 EL Turbo’s 9.1- and the Toyota Camry 2.5 V’s 9.2-second times—but the experience is marred by the recalcitrant CVT. Puttering around in stop-and-go traffic (it’s got a smooth idle start/stop system now), or cruising on the highway are both fine. Try a rolling overtake though, say from 40 to 70 km/h? Nothing. Thankfully, the gearbox has predetermined shift points that mimic an 8-speed automatic so the engine drone is minimized. Also, fuel economy, not a strong suit of Subaru, continues to be in full display here with its paltry 7.69 km/L reading.



Now, it’s understandable to think that the target Outback buyer would be older, more accomplished individuals, so they’re probably not interested in taking down fuccbois each chance they get. Rather, they’re more interested in driving something that’s cushy and comfortable especially after a long day at the office. This is something the Outback does splendidly. The ride is simply cossetting, and is adept at swallowing all sorts of nasties small or big, yes, including the dreaded C5 truck lane. Even better, it’s mighty quiet to the point that you can actually hear the tools shift around in the spare tire compartment (putting them in thick cloth bags solves the problem).

Despite sounding like a land yacht, the Outback thankfully stays far away from that description. Plush it may be, but once the roads start twisting, it stays planted. No, it’s not sporty, but it’s not roly-poly either. It offers plenty of confidence thanks to good body control. The steering is also fairly precise, with balanced effort. Vented discs all around also give confidence-inspiring braking power too.



Besides the rejuvenated bones, bulk of the designers’ work seems to be concentrated on the inside. Opening the doors is truly an eye-opening moment. If the Outback is the direction of the brand’s interior execution, then we likey. This is far removed from your Tito’s Subaru. It’s well-made, premium, and high-tech. Wards Auto named it as one of the best interiors last year, and it’s deservingly so.

It’s truly befitting of its P 2.380-million price tag with soft-touch plastics, full-grain nappa leather, and convincingly done aluminum and high-gloss black accents dotting the cabin. The seats, be it front or back, are supportive. The front seats both offer power adjustment, but the rear seats are also reclinable. There are also air vents and USB charging ports to keep devices juiced up from the back. The Outback is also mighty spacious down to its massive 537-liter cargo hold. Even better, the retractable cargo cover offers two levels of adjustment to accommodate taller objects, and can be stored in the spare tire compartment when not in use.



The Outback also scores high in terms of in-car technology. The centerpiece is the tablet-style 11.6-inch infotainment system. Despite my personal apprehensions against touchscreen-based systems, this one is surprisingly intuitive and easy to use. The icons and texts are all legible. It also gets offline GPS navigation—a Subaru first locally—even if Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Surprisingly, it keeps two legacy audio inputs too—a 3.5-mm aux jack, and CD player hidden in the center console! There are only four physical buttons though—volume, tuner, driver temperature, and passenger temperature. Everything else including the X-MODE, Auto Hold Braking, Idle Start/Stop On/Off, and EyeSight related settings are all buried in the “Car” shortcut. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it takes some getting used to.

Speaking of the EyeSight system, the 2022 Outback debuts version 4.0. With a faster processor and a wider-angle lens, it’s now capable of scanning potential collisions through intersections. The system may sometimes be overly cautious (there’s no sensitivity adjustment), but it works well. During one circumstance, I was traversing an intersection when a motorcycle decided to speed straight through without yielding. Though I was ready to hit the brakes, the pre-collision system detected the potential crash and applied the brakes automatically. This is was despite the motorcycle being partially obscured by a jeepney. It also has Autonomous Emergency Steering. I wouldn’t dare test the system, but it’s supposed to prevent rear-end collisions by automatically steering the car left or right (whichever side is clear) by using its blind spot indicators. There are others such as all-speed adaptive cruise control with lane centering (it triangulates your lane’s center by using the lanes and the car ahead as a reference), but being a responsible motoring hack, I kept my hands on the wheel at all times, and my feet where they should be.



The Outback also has a camera-based driver monitoring system. It sits above the touchscreen, and actively monitors the driver’s face and eyes to ensure attention is being paid to the road. Naturally, it can only be used if the driver has no mask on (bummer during the pandemic), but it detects signs of fatigue and tiredness, and prompts the driver to take a break. Separately, it can also adjust vehicle settings such as seats, door mirrors, climate control, and even meter displays of up to five drivers as they step in. For privacy, this can be turned off, and owners can instead rely on the tried-and-tested seat memory controls.

If you were to base the Outback solely on its exterior design, you’d be expecting a slightly better, more refined vehicle compared to its predecessor. Instead, the one you get is something far more than that. This is one of Subaru’s finest efforts. It’s not just competent; it’s stellar. The 2022 model has gotten its tall wagon formula down pat which makes it stand out against all other SUVs or executive sedans it competes against. Unlike the Forester which has gone far too mainstream, this one maintains the utility you’ve come to expect to Subaru, but retains the charm and personality. It also gets that premium touch missing from their past efforts.




2022 Subaru Outback 2.5i-Touring

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Ownership 2022 Subaru Outback 2.5i-Touring
Year Introduced 2021
Vehicle Classification Executive Car
Warranty 5 years / 150,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders F4
BHP @ rpm 188 @ 5,800
Nm @ rpm 245 @ 3,400-4,600
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 95~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive w/ Lane Centering
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 7.69 km/L @ 20 km/h,
8.47 km/L @ 25 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,870
Width (mm) 1,875
Height (mm) 1,675
Wheelbase (mm) 2,745
Curb Weight (kg) 1,667
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Vented Disc
Parking Brake Electric, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Bridgestone Alenza H/L 33 225/60 R 18 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 8
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera Yes, 270-degees (front, rear, passenger side)
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Hill Descent Control
Pre-Collision Braking System
Pre-Collision Throttle Management
Blindspot Warning
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Lane Departure Prevention
Autonomous Emergency Steering
Driver Monitoring System
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Active
Fog Lamps Yes, Front & Rear (LED)
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Tailgate Power, w/ Hands-Free
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 10-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Electric, 8-way
Seating Surface Leather (Nappa)
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
Sunroof Yes
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Auto-dimming
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Auto, Dual Zone, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
CD
Aux
USB Type-A
Bluetooth
GPS
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 11, Harman/Kardon
Steering Controls Yes

9 comments:

  1. All subaru designs are bland. But, in between the anemic forester and the very expensive evoltis, this outback seems to be the most logical choice.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed...much better value than the Evoltis, much better drive than the Forester.

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    2. or if people can set aside their hard-on for SUVS and crossovers, maybe the Levorg is the better choice

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    3. Levorg is also half a size smaller. If you need the cargo room, Outback would be better. If you don't, then yes, the Levorg could be a good alternative.

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  2. They should offer at least a turbo version as an option...

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  3. Thanks for the great review Uly. Can't wait for the launch of the Kia Sorento, Hyundai Sta. Fe, and just maybe VW Tiguan and Teramont to compare the Outback against those.

    Why doesn't Toyota Philippines launch the Toyota Harrier / Venza here? They've only got the Corolla Cross and RAV 4 in their line up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. Toyota Phils. does not have many offerings for the lucrative crossover segment ☹️

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    2. Toyota likewise strips down the features of their cars. Like HARI and KIA. So even the RAV4 and Corolla Cross are underequipped for their price points.

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    3. Not sure if one can call the crossover segment "lucrative". Kadalasan binibili SUV na lang imbes na crossover.

      Delete

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