The Liberty has always stood tall in the Subaru family and now the popular sedan stands even taller – 50 mm to be precise. That’s the extra ground clearance given to the Model Year 2013 Liberty 2.5X and 3.6X.
So what does the extra 50 mm do besides easing ‘driveway anxiety’ in the suburbs or giving ‘country comfort’ on bad road surfaces in the bush? It gives the Liberty X a stately bearing – a ‘chest out, shoulders back, head held high’ sort of stance.
Comfort extends to the interior with electrically adjustable and heated front seats – the driver’s seat with memory – McIntosh audio system, one-touch lane change indicator, electroluminescent gauges with full-colour multi-function display, auto lights and wipers, Bluetooth and USB connection.
Subaru’s innovative EyeSight driver assist system puts the pair up against vehicles deep in luxury car territory far beyond the $44,490 price tag of the Liberty 2.5X, or $55,990 sticker for the Liberty 3.6X.
The 2.5-litre engine with 123 kW on tap at 5600 rpm, connected to the continuously variable transmission, relished an easy going driving style but ran out of steam when pushed hard.
Despite the added millimeters in height, getting in and out of the Liberty 2.5X test vehicle is surprisingly easy. In fact it’s probably easier to get into the X than a standard height car if your knees are getting old and stiff.
Together with a new design radiator grille and front bumper, plus sporty sills with chrome-style highlights, the Liberty X pair make a handsome statement.
The 18-inch alloy wheels – silver with 2.5X, gunmetal on 3.6X – also do their bit to giving the vehicles an elevated position – 200 mm ground clearance. The resultant command driving position gives it outstanding all-round visibility.
Cabin décor is up there with the latest looks from the designer’s pen with leather trim and brushed gun-metal grey featured on the centre panel, centre console and steering wheel panel.
However, it was the new Liberty’s exterior lines that elicited a surprising amount of positive comment from people who came in contact with the test car. Even the most cynical found little to criticise about the looks.
Subaru’s five-star crash rating, put both Xs on a pedestal for safety.
EyeSight, as the name suggests, keeps an eye out for drivers, warning of potential danger ahead and helping avoid trouble with a series of passive and active safety systems plumbed into the car.
Ding! ‘Vehicle ahead has moved’. Drivers are entitled to scoff at this, arguing the ‘Blind Freddy’ point, but there are those who ‘take their eye off the ball’ when their vehicle is stationary in a line of traffic to the annoyance of others behind.
Other EyeSight features include adaptive cruise control, lane departure and lane sway warning, pre-collision braking and brake assist, plus pre-collision throttle management, and electronic throttle control.
A reversing camera adds a further dimension to the driver’s ability to keep out of trouble with other road users, while satellite navigation provides a measure of certainty when travelling in unknown territory.
With an acceleration time of 10.1 seconds to 100 kilometres per hour from rest the four-cylinder is firmly rooted in the middle ground of its segment.
The 3.6X six-cylinder, at 7.3 seconds to the 100 km/h, exhibits more sporting appeal but is it worth the $11,000 premium? It’s likely that fascinating EyeSight system no doubt accounts for a big slice of that extra money for the 3.6X.
Positives were the characteristic deep ‘boxer note’ coming from under the bonnet and handling stability, thanks to all-wheel drive, on urban road surfaces that left a lot to be desired.
Upright citizen; with extra ground clearance, the Liberty 2.5X stands tall in the mid-size sedan segment.
Subaru Liberty 3.6X
Price: from $55,990
Engine: 3.6-litre 6-cylinder, 191kW/350Nm
Transmission: 5-speed auto, 4WD
Thirst: 10.3L/100km, CO2 242g/km
Subaru Liberty 2.5X
Price: from $44,490
Engine: 2.5-litre 4-cylinder, 127kW/235Nm
Transmission: 6-speed constantly variable, 4WD
Thirst: 8.0L/100km, CO2 185g/km
Skoda Superb Ambition 4X4
Price: from $41,990
Engine: 2-litre, 4-cylinder, 103kW/320Nm
Transmission: 6-speed auto, 4WD
Thirst: 6.4L/100km, CO2 167g/km
Audi Q3 2.0TFSI
Price: from $48,950
Engine: 2-litre 4-cylinder, 125kW/280Nm
Transmission: 7-speed auto, 4WD
Thirst: 7.7L/100km, CO2 179g/km