If there is one type of vehicle that I believe should be equally popular as crossovers and SUVs, it’s wagons. While there are wagons (or estates) available in the Philippines, there are only a handful of them. Apart from the Mazda6 Wagon, more high-end brands like Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz offer them in limited or indent orders.
With SUVs and crossovers continuing to dominate the market, the wagon (much like the midsize sedan) has figuratively taken a back seat. What if you really wanted a wagon, but prefer it with a taller ride height much like a crossover SUV? For the car buyer looking for this unique type of vehicle, Subaru has the 2022 Subaru Outback.
Essentially a Legacy with a long roof and a taller ride height (they share the same Subaru Global Platform [SGP] by the way), the Outback is Subaru’s take on a high-riding wagon that has the elements of a crossover SUV. But what can it offer beyond the typical crossover? Is it more practical than a midsize pick-up passenger vehicle (PPV) like the Fortuner or Montero Sport? And is the Outback worth what Subaru is asking for?
Those familiar with the previous generation Outback might mistake this all-new model as a refresh or a facelift. I don’t blame them since I also thought the crossover only received a nip and tuck. With an evolutionary modification rather than a revolutionary one, Subaru decided that a more subtle redesign was better suited for the Outback.
It gets bolder LED headlights that appear to have been inspired by its smaller sibling, the Forester. It also has a more striking pair of LED daytime running lights that also double as LED turn signals. Equally striking is the two-bar grille which lets everybody know that this is a Subaru. The rear was also given attention as it now comes with new LED combination taillights and a redesigned powered tailgate that can be opened with the key fob or by waving at the rear logo to automatically deploy it.
But what really caught my attention was the generous use of black body cladding. From the front bumper and the wheel arches to the rear bumper and the side skirts, Subaru didn’t hold back in showing everyone that the Outback is one rugged vehicle. Complementing the body cladding is its tall ride height. While it’s no SUV, it does come with 213mm of ground clearance which is not bad. Combined with the stylish 18-inch alloy wheels with 225/60 series tires, the Outback can ride tall. And for those curious about its water wading depth, it’s rated at around 500mm. While it won’t be beating the 800mm wading depth of more popular PPVs, that is still an impressive feat by the Outback.
Open the doors and you’re immediately invited by black Nappa leather seats. While I wish the PH-spec Outback came with the tan leather finish, that is (sadly) only available in other markets. No matter, the quality of the Nappa upholstery is superb and is also supple to the touch. Not only is the Nappa leather on the seats, but it’s also present on the door panels, door handles, dashboard, and on the front center armrest. This is the first of many signs that the Outback has luxuries the Forester can only dream of.
The other parts of the interior like the thick leather steering wheel and the padded dashboard also come with high-quality leather. Then there are the neat touches of faux metal trim and the splashes of piano black finishes which further spruce the Outback’s lavish cabin. To top it all off, most, if not all of the controls inside the Outback have soft-touch buttons which is always a plus for me. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the Outback has a sunroof, too.
Both the front seats are power-adjustable for ease of use. However, only the driver’s seat comes with a memory function. But perhaps the best method to actually set your seat is with the facial recognition system. That’s right, the Outback can recognize a user’s face. In doing so, it will automatically adjust the driver’s seat as well as the side mirrors. It’s so useful that every time I entered the Outback, all I needed to do was allow the system to scan my face and let it do its magic.
The same system also serves as the driver's attention warning. While driving, you may be tempted to look at your phone or ogle at that sports car that drove by. Should the system detect you not looking at the road for an extended period of time, it will let out visual and auditory warnings to catch your attention. Talk about Big Brother watching over you.
In case you haven’t noticed it yet, the Outback comes with huge 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment. It’s actually similar to what the WRX and the Evoltis have (Forester and XV come with smaller screens) and comes with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, built-in satellite navigation, Bluetooth, USB, and Aux. Audiophiles will be happy to know that the Outback comes with an 11-speaker sound system from Harman Kardon. While I still prefer the Bose sound system from Mazda, the Harman Kardon comes in a close second when it comes to audio fidelity.
The massive screen also controls the various settings of the vehicle. From the security features, the sound system, as well as the settings for the EyeSight intelligent driver aids (which we’ll get to later), the screen has it all. But while Subaru was able to lessen the number of buttons, it has also resulted in an issue with ergonomics.
You can only turn on (or turn off) the dual-zone climate control via the touchscreen. Sure it has physical buttons for the temperature control, but most of the climate control functions can only be done via the screen itself. Some in-vehicle controls can only be manipulated by digging through menu after menu which defeats the purpose of streamlining the process. In fact, in order to adjust the EyeSight settings, I had to go to a different menu just so I can make changes which can take a while.
Last but not least, Android Auto users will be disappointed that it actually doesn’t take up the entire screen. This is quite disappointing since Apple CarPlay actually fills it up entirely as opposed to Android Auto just occupying the center of the touchscreen. However, Android Auto will be rolling out an update soon which will result in the system featuring a more Apple CarPlay-like menu. Here’s to hoping it arrives sooner than later.
Under the hood of the 2022 Outback is not a turbocharged boxer engine. While the US market comes with the 2.4-liter turbocharged FA24, the ones that we get come with the naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter FB25D. Like most Subarus today, the Outback has a Lineartronic CVT and Symmetrical AWD system driving all four wheels.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the Outback is sluggish since it only has a naturally-aspirated engine; far from it. The engine is actually an upgraded version from the previous generation and now benefits from direct injection. This means the flat-four now makes slightly more power and is substantially easier on the fuel bills (but only just).
Producing 188 PS with 245 Nm of torque, the updated motor puts out 13 PS more along with an extra 10 Nm of torque. Put your foot to the floor and you’ll be surprised how the engine packs quite a punch. While there’s no immediate kick you get from let’s say the 2.4-liter turbo, you do feel the torque build-up from the 2.5-liter’s sheer engine displacement alone. Set the powertrain to ’S-Mode’ (AKA Sport mode), and it becomes more responsive and holds the revs for longer. It even comes with paddle shifters for when the driver wants to drive the Outback more spiritedly.
Once you’re done having fun (responsibly) and set the powertrain to I-Mode (or Intelligent Mode), the Outback reverts back to a calm and sedate vehicle. Acceleration is more relaxed and the CVT is focused more on fuel efficiency. Combined with the Outback’s superb Noise, Vibration, and Harshness deadening, the Outback delivers a comfy and relaxing ride indeed.
Speaking of ride quality, the Outback has perhaps one of the best suspensions when it comes to riding comfort. Thanks to long travel suspension and its good dampers, the Outback cushioned every bump on the road. Whether you’re seated at the front or at the back, this high-riding Subaru will not disappoint.
While handling may not be the Outback’s greatest forte, that doesn’t mean it cannot handle turn after turn. With Subaru’s prowess in making agile vehicles, it was surprising to see the Outback handle corners with ease. While it’s no Forester, the electric power steering is finely weighted and there’s not much delay between turning the wheel and actually feeling the car changing direction.
Granted, it’s bigger than the Forester so you do have to take into account that there’s some body roll to contend with. Combined with the fact that it has a curb weight of 1667kg, the Outback is not lightweight.
When it comes to fuel efficiency, the Outback is not exactly the most fuel efficient. At an average speed of 90 km/h with two additional passengers, it was able to return around 13.0 to 13.5 km/l. In light city traffic, the Outback was only able to average around 8.0 to 8.5 km/l. With its AWD system, 2.5-liter flat-four, and considerable curb weight, those who plan to get an Outback better know what they’re in for when it comes to fuel costs.
Another thing I want to mention about the Outback is its brakes. Apart from the fact that they are powerful, you need only a light tap on the pedal to make them work. I actually had to adjust my braking since the pads will immediately clamp onto the discs. This allowed me to brake with confidence whether in city or highway driving.
Any Subaru will not be complete if it didn’t come with the highly-intelligent EyeSight safety system. The Outback is no different as this feature comes standard. Now on its latest version (4.0 to be exact), it comes with new stereo cameras that allow for a wider angle of coverage, as well as covering more traffic scenarios at intersections to keep the occupants safe.
EyeSight comes with pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, lane sway & departure warning, and even adaptive cruise control with lead vehicle start alert. During my time with the Outback, I managed to test all of EyeSight’s features and they all kept me safe and alert to my surroundings.
Fail to notice the obstacle ahead and have yet to step on the brakes? EyeSight will give out auditory and visual warnings and can even stop the vehicle entirely if you can't. Want to maintain a minimum distance behind another vehicle while on the expressway? Adaptive cruise control will make sure the Outback will always follow your desired distance and even comes with low-speed follow and can completely stop the vehicle if need be.
If you want the Outback to follow the lane markings with only minimal steering input from you, EyeSight can also do that for you while on the highway. Accidentally stepped on the accelerator pedal while behind another car or an obstacle? EyeSight can automatically apply the brakes in order to avoid an accident from happening. The Outback even comes with blind-spot monitoring to let drivers know something is in their blind spot.
Some of you might be saying that all of these extra safety features are just gimmicks or unnecessary add-ons put by Subaru. Personally, I actually like how it works as the Outback’s extra pair of eyes. The system definitely proved its worth when it alerted me to the possible dangers during my time with it. Did I mention the system now benefits from a 360-degree camera system? Why not try the system for yourself first when you have the chance and see how it’s actually great to have EyeSight as your co-pilot while on the road.
So the 2022 Outback is not your typical midsize crossover SUV. It’s more in the line of a station wagon but is taller and has more ground clearance. It also comes with plenty of luxurious amenities akin to a midsize sedan and is even equipped with the intelligent EyeSight safety system. It doesn’t come with a turbocharged flat-four but the naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter Boxer does its job to the letter but is slightly thirsty when it comes to fuel consumption.
At PHP 2,380,000, the Outback 2.5i-T EyeSight is quite the expensive crossover wagon. Some might argue that models like Fortuner, Everest, mu-X, and the Everest offer more bang for the buck and even comes with third-row seats But those vehicles make use of truck-based chassis which some may find to be not as comfortable or refined.
The Outback’s unibody platform with long travel suspension means it offers a more comfortable riding experience and it has better road manners than the PPVs. There’s also the fact that some buyers don’t actually need the third-row seats and just prefer the maximum cargo space which the Outback offers. With the rear seats up, it can carry 522 liters of cargo which is not bad. Fold those down, however, and the luggage capacity increases to a more generous 1,267 liters which is more than double with the rear seats up.
If you’re the type of buyer who wants midsize luxuries in a wagon-like body that comes with SUV-like ground clearance, the 2022 Subaru Outback might be the vehicle you’re looking for. It might not be the brand’s best-selling vehicle, but if you want something that’s bigger than a Forester but not as big as the Evolits, the Outback is your best choice.
- Make: Subaru
- Model: Outback 2.5i-T EyeSight CVT
- Engine: 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve Flat-4
- Max Power: 188 PS @ 5800 rpm
- Max Torque: 245 Nm @ 3400 - 4600 rpm
- Transmission: CVT
- Price as Tested: ₱2,380,000