For 2013 Subaru has made a lot of changes to its SUV-like Outback wagon. The most intriguing is Subaru’s new EyeSight system, which is a suite of electronic safety features, including adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision braking, which has been statistically shown to reduce crashes and related injuries.
So far, EyeSight seems to be doing its job in our car, but we would have liked to also have blind-spot monitoring, a feature that isn’t available.
One of our criticisms of the 2010-12 Outback was that handling was rather sloppy when the car was pushed to its limits. For 2013, the suspension has been dramatically firmed up and has effectively quelled some of the body lean. Unfortunately, this also compromised the Outback’s previously excellent ride comfort.
The new 2.5-liter “boxer” four-cylinder engine sounds the same, but it gained three more horsepower. But the Outback feels sluggish and the CVT exacerbates engine noise. We got 24 mpg overall, which is very good for a car with this much space and standard all-wheel drive. You can opt for a six-speed manual transmission with the base version. A 3.6-liter six-cylinder, with a five-speed automatic, is also available.
Inside the cabin
One of the Outback’s best attributes is its spacious cabin. It has a roomy and supportive rear seat, even for three adults. There’s also a generous and flexible cargo area. But the optional navigation-equipped radio-a necessary option for EyeSight-is badly designed. The touchscreen has tiny icons and the navigation isn’t as intuitive as most built-in systems. Although EyeSight is touted as affordable at USD 1,295, you can only get it by choosing a USD 29,890 Outback Limited and getting an additional USD 3,940 option package.
The Outback remains a very functional wagon, and EyeSight is a welcome addition. But the sluggishness and degradation in ride comfort seem like a step backward and are less appreciated.