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Subaru Outback 2018 review: 2.5i Premium

The Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium is a solid car. There's nothing tinny about it.
Nedahl Stelio
Family reviewer

21 May 2018 • 11 min read

I don’t want anyone to think I go around slamming car doors regularly, but it’s a nice feeling knowing you can slam a door and it doesn’t feel like it’s about to fall off. The Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium is a solid car. There’s nothing tinny about it. So I can go around slamming car doors all I like (er, if I was so inclined). It's basically a cross breed, and you’re getting the benefits of an SUV combined with the benefits of a wagon, without it looking too wagon-y. Sound good? 

I test drove it for a week with my family of four, here’s how it did on the school run, daycare drop-offs and fitting an extra child in.

How does it drive?

I quite liked the feel of this car. It’s not heavy but it does feel solid so you feel like you’ll be a bit safer in an accident - that protective feeling when you’re driving around with kids is an intangible benefit of a big car. It’s still moderately agile for a car this size and it has speed, too. There’s a 2.5-litre engine to power the car up hills and it gets there fast enough if you want it to.

The 2.5-litre four cylinder produces 129kW/235Nm. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The 2.5-litre four cylinder produces 129kW/235Nm. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

It’s an all-wheel drive which means you wouldn’t take it on serious off-road trips but it gives great traction on roads and especially if you like extra grip on dodgy gravel and dirt roads. 

It’s also smooth, you can barely feel the bumps while driving and the handling is good. The steering is responsive and doesn’t feel heavy when you’re driving, but it is a bit of an arm workout to turn a lot while squeezing into a tight park or doing a three-point turn. 

The car is longer than a regular SUV but not long enough to give you too much trouble while parking, and there is a reverse parking camera to help plus front and rear collision warnings. 

What does it look like?

The Outback is a good looking car. It hasn't got a particularly luxurious exterior, it’s definitely more of a practical beast but I think that’s where its appeal lies - you look at it and immediately think, “that’s going to work for my family.” It’s longer than a regular SUV but higher than a wagon, so is definitely a cross-breed, and it works.

  • The Outback hasn't got a particularly luxurious exterior, it’s definitely more of a practical beast. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The Outback hasn't got a particularly luxurious exterior, it’s definitely more of a practical beast. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • The Outback is longer than a regular SUV but higher than a wagon, so is definitely a cross-breed. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The Outback is longer than a regular SUV but higher than a wagon, so is definitely a cross-breed. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

Interiors are well designed, with leather seats in this model and a leather steering wheel - two things that immediately make you feel good in a car (and they’re both to be expected in this price range). The front seats are also heated and they’re comfortable - I wouldn’t complain on a long road trip. 

The dash and centre console look quite luxe with a mix of high gloss black and a grain finish which adds a nice texture to the mix. There’s a small sunroof above the front seats which is half the size of some of its competitor’s 'panoramic' sunroofs but does let in natural light.

The dash and centre console look quite luxe with a mix of high gloss black and a grain finish which adds a nice texture to the mix. (image credit: Dean McCratney) The dash and centre console look quite luxe with a mix of high gloss black and a grain finish which adds a nice texture to the mix. (image credit: Dean McCratney)

The important thing is that you feel good in this car with its quality finishes. 

How spacious is it?

So it’s long, which means great leg space for both me and my 185cm husband. The front is definitely roomy, and it feels like you have your own air space in each seat. The headroom is good too, even with the sunroof. 

The back had plenty of room for my four year old and six year old to jump in and fit super comfortably. They were happy with enough air between them to stop squabbles. If you are fitting a third child in, you’ll be able to get three car seats across. 

  • The front is definitely roomy, and it feels like you have your own air space in each seat. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The front is definitely roomy, and it feels like you have your own air space in each seat. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • The back had plenty of room for my four year old and six year old to jump in and fit super comfortably. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The back had plenty of room for my four year old and six year old to jump in and fit super comfortably. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

We tried it with a six-month to seven-year-old seat, a booster seat, and a baby capsule. There’s not space between the seats but you will be able to do up seatbelts easily, which I’ve found to be the hardest thing about fitting three child seats across the one row in some other smaller cars. 

And the boot is big at 512 litres (VDA). If you’re comparing the Outback to a regular SUV you’ll note it’s not as high, but height can be deceptive when it comes to boot space, because you can’t really use all of it - unless you want to lose sight in your rear vision. The size in this boot comes with the length and almost all of it is useful space.

The Outback offers 512 litres (VDA) of boot space. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The Outback offers 512 litres (VDA) of boot space. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

How safe is it?

One of the most important things to parents when purchasing a vehicle is safety and the Outback Premium 2.5i comes with all the fancy new safety tech: auto emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot warnings, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, lane sway warning, a warning that tells you when the car in front has moved on in case you’re too busy trying to pick up your child’s toy from the back (while stopped at the lights of course). 

There are airbags covering driver and front passenger and side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers, plus two ISOFIX points and three top tethers for children’s car seats. The Outback gets a maximum five-star ANCAP rating

How easy is it to use every day?

The Outback gets points from me for being large without feeling too high. Some SUVs are unnecessarily enormous I reckon, if you’ve only got two kids. The Subaru still gives you the space you need where you need it - in the boot - but the kids can climb into the car easily because it’s not too high off the ground.

Even though it’s long, it’s still not as long as you think it’s going to be, so you can squeeze into most normal sized parks. 

The turning circle is 11.0m which is on the small side for a car this size, and makes doing u-turns easier - a bonus when looking for that precious car park at school pick-up time. 

There are two cupholders in the front and two in the back in the middle armrest. They’re also a good size - in some cars the cupholders don’t actually fit keep-cups (which we should all be using, take-away coffee cups aren’t recycleable), these cupholders are a good size. With a bottle holder in each door, a decent sized centre storage bin and glove box, and pockets on the back of the front seat, your storage is sorted. 

There's also a full sized spare wheel which comes in serious handy if your family likes going on long road trips away. 

What’s the tech like?

There’s an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with a built in sat nav, bluetooth connectivity and a single CD player. Plug in your phone for instant connection with either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto which means your main apps like Spotify and maps will appear on the screen and you can use them instead (bonus, it will also read your texts out aloud if you don’t mind the robot-y voice, I can’t stand it).

 There’s an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with a built in sat nav, bluetooth connectivity and a single CD player. (image credit: Dean McCartney) There’s an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with a built in sat nav, bluetooth connectivity and a single CD player. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

And if you’re the kind of parent who likes to sing at the top of your voice in the car you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the sound quality of the speakers. 

There’s a fair amount of automation, from putting the driver’s seat into position to the electric park brake, push button start, electric opening and closing roof and electric sunroof. 

What does it cost to run? 

The Outback 2.5i Premium starts at $42,640. Fuel consumption is a claimed 7.3L/100kms, and when a CarsGuide colleague tested it he got 8.0L/100km which is pretty good for an engine this size, and it also takes standard 91 RON unleaded. 

Warranty is three years/unlimited km or there is a five year conditional warranty. Services will end up costing you $2281.66 on this model for three years. 


The Wrap

The Subaru Outback served my family of four pretty well this week. I was confident driving it because of the solid frame and sizeable engine. It’s got loads of room and good amount of boot space, plus it has all the latest safety tech. Oh and it looks good so I feel like I match up to other cars on the road.

I gave it a family rating of eight out of 10. My kids gave it an eight too, they appreciated the fact they could climb in on their own because the car wasn’t too high off the ground.

Likes

Interior styling
Smooth powerful drive
Latest safety tech

Dislikes

Slightly tough steering wheel on big turns

Scores

Nedahl:

4

The Kids:

4

$36,910 - $47,541

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