Auto

2023 Subaru Outback First Drive: Two Steps Forward…

auto, autos, car, cars, reviews, subaru, android, 2023 subaru outback first drive: two steps forward…
auto, autos, car, cars, reviews, subaru, android, 2023 subaru outback first drive: two steps forward…
Photo: V.Aubé 2023 Subaru Outback's profile

•    Auto123 gets in a first test drive of the 2023 Subaru Outback.

•    In keeping with tradition, Subaru is taking it very easy on the changes to its elevated wagon.

•    A new Onyx version with a sporty look makes its debut.

•    The Turbo version remains more interesting for driving fans.

Huntsville, ON – Launched in 1995, the world's best-known station wagon has proven over the years that a vehicle doesn't have to look like a truck to meet the needs of young families.

Other manufacturers have picked up on the idea, including Volvo and Audi, but Subaru's Outback has always been a leader in the genre. No surprise then that the Japanese manufacturer gave its model a redesign for 2023. In fact, in the industry, it has become de rigueur for a brand to renew a model after three or four years.

Now in its sixth generation, the Outback has evolved and is not quite just a wagon version of a sedan anymore. But it has been given stronger suspension components and additional protection all around the body.

While it still has a family resemblance to previous Legacy Outbacks – especially those in service since 2010 – the latest edition still competes mostly in the midsize crossover segment versus the likes of the Ford Edge, Honda Passport and Nissan Murano, all of which are quite different from the Outback formula.

auto, autos, car, cars, reviews, subaru, android, 2023 subaru outback first drive: two steps forward…
Photo: V.Aubé Headlight of 2023 Subaru Outback

Within the automaker's lineup, the Forester is another vehicle that offers two rows of seating, but that SUV is shorter, and under the hood, makes do with the wagon's base engine, while the Outback can leave the factory with a turbo engine, and that, as we mention later down, is a bit of a game-changer.

Beyond that, the longer cargo space and the car-like driving feel delivered by this Subaru model assembled in its Lafayette’ Indiana plant are other big points of attraction for consumers.

auto, autos, car, cars, reviews, subaru, android, 2023 subaru outback first drive: two steps forward…
Photo: V.Aubé 2023 Subaru Outback, wheel

Anything new in 2023?
The 2023 edition model differs from the Outback introduced in 2020 by its larger front grille, but also by the design of the bumper that accommodates those fake ventilation hatches. According to Subaru, these large black plastic Cs better protect the bodywork when the vehicle ventures onto rougher surfaces.

On a personal note, I have to admit that the car looked better to me than it did at the unveiling of the model at the New York Auto Show earlier this spring. I attribute this to the fact that the models I tested were dressed in dark colours, which help the plastic panels blend in a bit better with the busy front end.

Otherwise, the LED headlights, LED fog lights, plastic around the wheel arches and rear bumper are all new for the coming year. And even though the plastic applied to the body adopts a more chiseled look – like we see on the WRX sedan – the Subaru Outback Wilderness introduced last year remains the most “rugged” option in the lineup, this even as it retains the 2022 model-year design.

Note also that the 18-inch wheel design, reserved for Limited XT and Premier XT trims, is new for 2023.

auto, autos, car, cars, reviews, subaru, android, 2023 subaru outback first drive: two steps forward…
Photo: Subaru 2023 Subaru Outback, Onyx edition

Onyx
Also joining the lineup is the new Onyx version, which gets a darkened appearance with several black exterior elements. The Ascent is also available with this “urban” finish, as the brand's strategists like to call it.

The interior also gets seats covered in the plasticky – and easy to wash – material with lime green contrast stitching, charcoal-colored wheels and a more advanced version of the X-Mode system, though it’s not quite as capable as the Wilderness'.

While the Outback Onyx benefits from a sportier look, what’s under the hood is unchanged. It has to make do with a naturally aspirated 2.5L flat-4 that delivers 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque.

To get access to the 2.4L turbocharged engine, you'll have to look at the Outback Wilderness, which costs $4,500 more than the Onyx version.

auto, autos, car, cars, reviews, subaru, android, 2023 subaru outback first drive: two steps forward…
Photo: V.Aubé Steering wheel of 2023 Subaru Outback

A more connected Outback
Well aware of automotive realities in 2023, the folks at Subaru have also upgraded the connectivity of of its resident wagon. Wireless charging for smart devices is standard on the Touring model, there are new USB-C ports in both rows of seats, and the big centre screen has finally received a climate-control tweak.

In addition, Subaru heard our complaints about the complexity of using the heated seats, for example. The result: those “touch buttons” are at the bottom of the screen all the time.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now wireless… except for the entry-level model! The Starlink system has also been revised to accommodate new features like remote ventilated seat activation or automated tailgate opening.

Finally, the quirky new what3words application (only available on models with integrated navigation) is added to the tracking technologies, but frankly, aside from its originality, we don't really see the usefulness of it.

The 2023 Outback is also equipped with the EyeSight Version 4 system, which has been revised to include a new single camera (with a 100-degree angle). However, this is limited to the Premier XT variant.

auto, autos, car, cars, reviews, subaru, android, 2023 subaru outback first drive: two steps forward…
Photo: V.Aubé 2023 Subaru Outback, three-quarters front

Good at everything, great at nothing
That's all well and good, but a Subaru Outback is first and foremost a very versatile, comfortable, well-built vehicle that benefits from one of the best all-wheel drives in the industry.

For this trip to Muskoka, we got to drive the new Onyx version and the more upscale Premier XT. Something tells us that the Onyx badge will be popular over the next few months, first because the $38,695 price tag is under the $40,000 mark, but also because this version looks good with its darkened elements.

This brief contact with the Onyx model was also an opportunity to renew with the littler 2.5L engine. This 182-hp, 176 lb-ft of torque unit is more than enough for a family that isn't looking to tow impossible loads or make vervy passes on the highway. On some hills in Northern Ontario, the flat-4 spoke loudly when my right foot reached the floor, no surprisee given the continuously variable transmission.

auto, autos, car, cars, reviews, subaru, android, 2023 subaru outback first drive: two steps forward…
Photo: V.Aubé 2023 Subaru Outback, seats

In the Premier XT trim, not only is the atmosphere richer with the Nappa leather changing the scent in the cabin, but with the turbo engine, the heavy wagon suddenly feels lighter. Now, don't think for a moment that the Subaru Outback is a sports car, but its get-up-and-go is definitely capable of more getting and going.

For the rest, the wagon's handling hasn't changed. It's still easy to drive this Swiss army knife of a car, although the steering is heavy at times. The turning radius is also amazing, as is the suspension's bounce, which allows the vehicle to take corners at a fast pace, which is not always possible in a utility vehicle.

The folks from Subaru folks even sent us off-road, featuring a portion where a few of the rocks even caused me to break out in a cold sweat; let's just say that I was afraid of getting a flat tire in the woods. A second off-road section proved that an Outback wagon equipped with all-season tires is not exactly the equal of a Jeep Wrangler… or even the Wilderness trim.

In fact, despite the X-Mode system with the Deep Snow/Mud feature, the ruts dug by a dozen vehicles before I passed stopped me in my tracks, so many in fact that I had to call in a backup vehicle to dig myself out of the muddy hole.

auto, autos, car, cars, reviews, subaru, android, 2023 subaru outback first drive: two steps forward…
Photo: V.Aubé 2023 Subaru Outback, rear

The last word
The Subaru Outback hasn't changed much, at least not in its basic formula. It still feels like a car, the build quality is excellent for a mainstream vehicle and the cargo space is wonderful for a mid-size vehicle.

Sure, the basic mechanics can run out of steam at times, but the mission of the wagon is not to break speed records. At the risk of repeating myself, the Outback is good at everything, without being great at any one thing!

We like

The general comfortThe cargo space
The efficiency of the all-wheel drive system

We like less

The base-model engine seems out of breath at timesThe what3words application, really?
Still no electrified option on the horizon

The competition

Chevrolet BlazerFord EdgeGMC AcadiaHonda PassportHyundai Santa FeJeep Grand CherokeeKia SorentoNissan MuranoToyota Venza
Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport

auto, autos, car, cars, reviews, subaru, android, 2023 subaru outback first drive: two steps forward…
Photo: V.Aubé 2023 Subaru Outback, rear light, badging

Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network