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Subaru Outback


Peugeot 3008

Summary

Subaru Outback

It never used to be like this. Families used to choose a station wagon or estate car because that body style was the smartest choice. Maybe not the most desirable choice, but wagons were, and always have been, pragmatic.  

And then SUVs came on the scene. People thought they needed these stylised hatchbacks to sit higher in traffic and live out their “weekend warrior” image. Oh, those “active lifestyle” types. And in recent times, SUVs have become the go-to – accounting for half of all new vehicle sales in 2020.

But the Subaru Outback 2021 is here to stand up to those wannabe SUVs, with its own take on the up-high recipe. Admittedly it’s not like the Subaru Outback approach to the SUV formula is new – this is the sixth generation version of the venerable high-riding wagon, but this new model is apparently more SUV than ever. Subaru Australia even calls it a “true blue, mud in its blood all-wheel drive SUV”. 

So does it have what it takes to stand out in the crowd? Let’s dive a little deeper and find out.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.5L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.3L/100km
Seating5 seats

Peugeot 3008

I’ve always thought the Peugeot 3008 deserves to be seen in more Aussie driveways than it is. More than just a striking looking mid-size SUV, the French high-riding model has always been practical, comfortable and an intriguing alternative to the mainstream brands.

And for the 2021 Peugeot 3008 - which has been updated with new, even more arresting styling - the brand has also improved the specs and safety features to make this also-ran arguably even more appealing.

But will a high price and questionable ownership costs count against it? Or is this semi-premium brand offering a product that’s premium enough to justify its high cost over mainstream branded rivals like the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forester?

Safety rating
Engine Type1.6L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Subaru Outback7.9/10

The sixth-generation, 2021 Subaru Outback has incrementally improved the large wagon-slash-SUV, with a number of important steps forward including better safety tech, a more powerful engine and smarter cabin. A turbo or hybrid powertrain would sweeten the deal even further.

I don’t know that you’d really need anything other than the base model Outback AWD, which seems like a truly great value offering. It’d be our pick of the range.


Peugeot 30087.8/10

The Peugeot 3008 2021 model range offers some alternatives to the mainstream SUV crowd, even if the pricing is edging more towards the luxury SUV realm.

At odds with the brand’s approach is that our pick of the range is actually the base model Allure, which is the most affordable (though still hardly cheap) but has a lot of the equipment we think you’ll appreciate and a drive experience that is on par with the more expensive GT petrol.

Design

Subaru Outback7/10

It’s an all-new car. It doesn’t necessarily look like it, and in fact – to my eye – it’s not as attractive as the fifth-generation model, which was an expert in being inoffensive, where this model has a few more design-lead changes that might divide opinions.

You won’t mistake it for anything other than an Outback, as it has that typical rugged high-riding wagon look that we’ve come to expect from it. But it’s almost like this is a facelift rather than an all-new car.

Like, literally – the features have all been cinched back at the front, and the wheel-arches have been tweaked so they stand more at attention… it literally looks like an age-denying citizen’s approach at looking younger. A bit too much Botox? Tell us what you think the comments below.

But there are still smart design highlights, like the roof rails with integrated roof racks that are stowable/deployable in the base and top models, while the mid-spec model has a fixed roof rack system. 

The fact all models have LED lighting all-around is nice, while the 18-inch wheels… well, none of them are to my taste. To me, they just aren’t as youthful as some of the other elements of the car are trying to elucidate.

And the rear-end treatment? Well, that’s the only spot where you’re most likely to confuse it with another car… and that doppelganger would be a Forester.

On the inside there are some really nice design changes, though. Check out the interior pictures below.


Peugeot 30089/10

It’s close to a 10/10 for design. This is not just beautiful to look at, it’s smartly packaged and thoughtfully configured. And according to me and everyone I spoke to, it doesn’t look like a mid-size SUV. It’s almost petite.

That’s even considering it’s 4447mm long (on a 2675mm wheelbase), 1871mm wide and 1624mm tall. Meaning, it’s shorter than a VW Tiguan, Mazda CX-5 and even a Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, and it really does manage to fit a mid-size SUV level of space into a more compact SUV’s dimensions.

More on the interior practicality soon, but let’s just bask in the beauty of that revised front end. The old model was already attractive, but this faceilfted version ups the ante. 

It has a new front end design that makes it look as though the car is moving, even when it’s parked. The way the grille shreds away, with the lines getting wider towards the outer edges - it’s reminiscent of what you see in an outer space movie, when the captain hits warp speed.

Those little lines may be hard to clean over a bugsplattered summer drive. But the redesigned headlights with huge, sharp DRLs help the front end stand out even more. 

In side profile, there are 18- or 19-inch wheels, and depending on the model, you’ll see chrome around the bottom edges or the GT Sport’s heavily blackened look. The side design hasn’t changed all that much, which is no bad thing. I just wish the wheels were a bit more interesting.

The rear sees a new tail-light design with LED lighting and a smoked finish, and the back bumper is revised. All grades get an electric tailgate with kick-to-open functionality, and it actually worked on test.

The 3008’s interior design is another talking point - and it could be for all the wrong reasons. The recent raft of models from the brand have adopted what the brand calls the i-Cockpit, where the steering wheel (which is tiny) sits low and you look over the top of it to a digital driver info screen (which isn’t tiny). 

I love it. I can easily find a position that is appropriate for me, and I like the novelty of it. But there are plenty of people that struggle to get comfortable with the idea of having the steering wheel set low - they want it high, as that’s what they’re used to - and that means they mightn’t be able to see the instrument display.

Have a look at the interior images and tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Practicality

Subaru Outback9/10

Subaru has taken some pretty big steps when it comes to changing the interior of the Outback, with the most prominent change being front and centre of the cabin – that huge new 11.6-inch touchscreen media system.

It’s a really interesting looking piece of technology, and like the existing media screen in the Outback, is crisp, colourful and offers quick response times. It’s something that takes a little bit of getting used to – the fan controls are digital, for instance, but there are buttons either side of the screen for temperature control – but once you’ve spent some time with it, you’d be surprised just how intuitive it all is.

The Apple CarPlay worked a treat, connecting up without hassle. And while it isn’t wireless CarPlay, we haven’t yet tested a car with that tech that’s worked as it should… so, yay for cables!

There are two USB ports below the screen, and two additional charging ports in the back seat centre section as well. That’s good, but there’s no wireless charging pad at all, which isn’t great.

And while the big screen has done away with the multiple screen layout and the huge number of buttons in the old car, the new one still has a number of buttons on the steering wheel, which are easy to learn too. I had some trouble acclimating to the blinker stalk, with the one-touch indicator trigger seemingly being a bit too hard to activate at times. It’s a quiet “ticker”, too, so there were a few times when I was driving with my indicator on for ages without realising it.

Storage is mostly really well considered in the Outback, with bottle holders and storage sleeves in all four doors, plus a pair of cup holders between the front seats (they are a little large if you prefer a small takeaway coffee), and in the back there’s a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders, too.

The front also has a small storage section below the media screen (not quite large enough for a large-format smartphone), plus there’s a covered centre console bin, and the dashboard design may have been inspired by the RAV4, as there’s a neat little rubberised shelf in front of the passenger where you could put a phone or wallet. 

In terms of space for occupants, taller people will be fine in the front or the rear. I’m 182cm or 6’0” tall, and I managed to find a comfortable driving position, and was able to sit behind it with ample knee room, toe room and head space, too. The width is great, too, with plenty of room across the cabin. Three of me could easily fit side by side, but if you have children you’ll be happy to know there are two ISOFIX and three top-tether points for baby seats.

The back seat occupants should be kept happy as there are directional vents in all grades, while the top two specs score rear outboard seat heating, too. Nice.

There are some other nice inclusions for rear seat occupants, including recline adjust for the backrests of the seats, and the seatbelts are set in such a way that they should never get in the way when you lower the back seats down (60:40 split fold, actuated by triggers in the boot area).

Speaking of the boot space, there’s plenty. The new Outback offers 522 litres (VDA) or cargo capacity, with is 10L more than before. Plus, as mentioned, the seats fold flat to allow 1267L of luggage capacity. 

Equivalent mid-size SUVs priced close to the Outback can’t match it for practicality, and the cabin’s look and feel is greatly improved over the previous model. It’s a very nice place to spend time.


Peugeot 30088/10

It’s a special feeling place, the interior of the 3008.

I’ve already mentioned above that it mightn’t be to all tastes in terms of the seating arrangement, but the comfort and convenience is excellent. Yes, excellent convenience and a surprising amount of thoughtfulness has gone into the interior here.

And it’s gloriously finished, with a very high standard of perceived quality - the materials all look and feel plush, including trim on the doors and dashboard which is soft and attractive. There’s a little bit of hard plastic below the dashboard beltline, but it’s a better quality than some competitors. 

Let’s talk cup and bottle storage. Lots of French cars have poor storage available for drinks, but the 3008 has good sized cup holders between the front seats, big bottle holders in all four doors, and a flip-down centre armrest with cup storage in the rear, too.

Plus there is a huge centre console bin between the front seats, with is much deeper than it looks. There’s also a usable glovebox, big trenches in the doors, and a storage section in front of the gear selector that doubles as a wireless phone charging bay, too.

The front also scores a new larger 10.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, and there’s built-in sat nav as well. The usability of the media screen isn’t as simply as it could be, though.

The ventilation controls are all done through the screen, and while the phone mirroring part takes up the middle section of the monitor, and the temp controls are shown either side, it still means you have to go away from whatever you’re doing on the smartphone mirroring, jump to the HVAC menu, make whatever changes you want there, and then go back to the smartphone screen. It’s just a bit too finicky.

At the very least there is a volume knob and a set of hot keys below the screen so you can jump between menus, and the processor used seems to be a bit more powerful in the last 3008 I drove, because the screen’s a bit quicker.

But one thing that’s not improved is the reversing camera display, which is still very low res, and also requires you to fill in the blanks using the 360-degree camera. It comes up with grey boxes either side of the car, and when you reverse, it records the image it collects rather than just actually showing you what's outside the car, as you would see in most cars with surround view camera systems. It’s really not all that helpful, and I found myself just wanting a better resolution rear camera because there are parking sensors around the car.

The rear seat has reasonable space for someone my size - I’m 182cm or 6’0” and I could fit behind my own driving position with just enough space to be comfortable. Knee room is the main limitation, while headroom is good, and so is toe room. The flat floor in the back makes it a bit more amenable to have three across, though the centre console eats into middle seat kneeroom, and it’s not the widest cabin in the business.

There are rear directional air vents, two USB ports for charging, and a pair of map pockets as well. And if you have younger children there are dual ISOFIX and three top-tether child seat attachment points fitted.

Boot space is exceptional in the 3008. Peugeot claims that somehow this rather compact mid-size SUV can take 591 litres (VDA) of cargo in the back, and that’s the measurement to the window line, not the roof.

In practice - with the boot floor set to the lowest of its two positions over the space saver spare wheel - there was easily enough space for the CarsGuide luggage set (134L, 95L and 36L hard case), with room for another set on top. It’s a huge boot, and a good shape, too. 

Price and features

Subaru Outback9/10

The Subaru Outback range remains a value-focused option for customers out there who want a lot of car for their money. 

It still starts under forty grand in sixth-generation guise, though prices have gone up somewhat compared to the old model, which Subaru says is justified by additional equipment and safety technology.

All models have the same powertrain, so it’s purely gear and goodies that separates the three variants: the entry-level Outback AWD ($39,990), mid-range AWD Sport ($44,490) and top-spec AWD Touring ($47,490). Those prices are MSRP/list pricing, before on-road costs.

Now, here’s a rundown of the range.

The base model AWD comes with 18-inch alloy wheels and a full size alloy spare, roof rails with stowable roof rack cross bars, LED headlights, LED foglights, push-button start, keyless entry, electric park brake, rain-sensing wipers, heated and power-folding side mirrors, fabric seat trim, leather steering wheel, paddle-shifters, electric adjustment for the front seats, rear seats with manual recline, and a 60:40 split-fold rear seat with boot release levers.

The AWD entry-level car – and both the variants above – have a new 11.6-inch touchscreen media screen in portrait layout, which incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring tech. There are six speakers standard, as well as four USB ports (2x front, 2x rear).

The next model up the range is the AWD Sport, which – like the Forester Sport model – gets a number of aesthetic changes to help split it from its stablemates.

They include model-specific dark 18-inch wheels, black exterior trim changes, fixed roof rails, a power tailgate, water repellent interior trim with green stitching, heated front and outboard rear seats, sports pedals, light-sensing headlights (auto on/off) and it gets sat nav as part of the media screen, too. This grade scores a front view and side view monitor for parking/low speed driving, too.

The top-end AWD Touring has a few luxury-focused extras over the other grades, including an electric sunroof, Nappa leather interior trim, a heated steering wheel, auto dipping passenger side door mirror, memory settings for driver’s seat, satin finish door mirrors, silver highlight roof rails (with stowable crossbars), and gloss-finish wheels. 

The interior also upgrades the stereo in this grade to a nine-speaker harman/kardon setup with subwoofer and single CD player. All grades have DAB+ digital radio too.

All grades have an array of safety technology, including a driver monitoring system that will warn you to keep your eyes on the road and monitor for signs of drowsiness, and in the top-spec model includes face recognition that can adjust the seat and side mirrors for you.

All models come with a reversing camera, Subaru’s EyeSight forward facing camera system that incorporates AEB, lane keeping, adaptive cruise control and more. There are full details on the safety systems and their operability in the section below.

Things missing from any grade of Outback? It would have been nice to have a wireless phone charger, and there are no traditional parking sensors, either.

Overall though, there’s a lot to like across multiple grades, here.

If you’re interested in colours (or colors if you prefer), then you might be intrigued to know there are nine colours available. Two can’t be had on the AWD Sport grade - Storm Grey Metallic and Crimson Red Pearl – but it can be had in any of the remaining colours, as can the other trim levels: Crystal White Pearl, Magnetite Grey Metallic, Ice Silver Metallic, Crystal Black Silica, Dark Blue Pearl, and the new Autumn Green Metallic and Brilliant Bronze Metallic.

The best news? None of the colour choices will cost you any extra money!


Peugeot 30086/10

The Peugeot 3008 range is expensive. There. I’ve said it.

Okay, now let’s consider Peugeot as a brand. Is it a premium player, to be considered against Audi, Volvo and co? According to the brand it is. But it is playing a weird game, because it’s not quite premium-priced to the point that it is going to be cross-shopped against those makes.

Think of it like this: the Peugeot 3008 - while being close in size to a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 or Volkswagen Tiguan - is priced like a small luxury SUV; like an Audi Q2 or Volvo XC40.

As such, it’s way over the money to compete against mainstream makers, with an MSRP/MLP kick-off point of $44,990 (before on-road costs) for the base model Allure. The range also has the GT petrol model at $47,990, the GT diesel at $50,990 and the flagship GT Sport comes in at $54,990.

All models are front-wheel drive, and none are hybrid yet. For context, the class-leading Toyota RAV4 ranges from $32,695 to $46,415, and there are all-wheel drive and hybrid models to choose from. 

So does the equipment fitted help justify the cost? Here’s a spec breakdown of all four grades.

The 3008 Allure ($44,990) comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and daytime running lights with integrated LED fog lights, LED rear lights, roof rails, body colour rear spoiler, auto lights and wipers, cloth interior trim with fake leather accents, manual seat adjustment, a 12.3-inch digital driver info display, a 10.0-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite navigation, DAB digital radio and Bluetooth, ambient lighting, wireless phone charger, leather steering wheel and gearknob, electric park brake, push-button start and keyless entry, and a space saver spare wheel.

Step up to the GT petrol ($47,990) or diesel ($50,990) and you gain a few different items to justify the extra expense. The 18-inch wheels are a different design, the LED headlights are adaptive (meaning they turn corners with the car), the rearview mirror is a frameless design, the steering wheel is perforated leather, the roof lining is black (not grey), and you get black roof and mirror caps on the outside as well.

Plus the interior sees Alcantara door and dashboard trim, sports pedals and there is vegan leather seat trim with Alcantara elements and “copper” stitching.

Then the GT Sport ($54,990) model essentially adds an exterior black pack with 19-inch black alloys, dak finishes on the grille, badges, bumper trim strips, side door and front wing trims and window surrounds. And it also includes the interior leather package, which is optional on the other grades, as well as a Focal 10-speaker sound system and laminated front door glass. This grade also has Lime Wood interior trim.

The GT grade models can be had with a sunroof for $1990. The 3008 GT petrol and GT diesel variants can be optioned with leather seat trim fitted standard to the GT Sport, which comprises Nappa leather, heated front seats, electric driver’s seat adjustment and massage - that pack costs $3590.

Picky about colours? The only no-cost option is Celebes Blue, while the metallic options ($690) consist of Artense Grey, Platinum Grey and Perla Nera Black, and there are also premium paint choice ($1050), being Pearl White, Ultimate Red and Vertigo Blue. There is no orange, yellow, brown or green paint option available. 

I’ll reiterate - for a non-luxury brand selling a front-wheel drive SUV, no matter how nice it is or well appointed it may be, the 3008 is too expensive.

Engine & trans

Subaru Outback7/10

The engine in all Subaru Outback 2021 models is a “90 per cent new” 2.5-litre four-cylinder “boxer” horizontally opposed petrol engine.

The motor produces 138kW of power (at 5800rpm) and 245Nm of torque (from 3400-4600rpm). Those are modest increases – 7 per cent more power and 4.2 per cent more torque – compared with the old Outback. 

It is only available with a “refined” Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic, but all grades come with paddle-shifters as standard, so you can take matters in to your own hands – Subaru says there’s an “eight-speed manual mode”.

Towing capacity for the Outback range is 750kg for an unbraked trailer and 2000kg for a braked trailer, with a 200kg down weight for the tow bar. You can option a towbar as a genuine accessory.

Now, the elephant – or elephants – in the Outback are that it doesn’t launch with a hybrid powertrain, which means it’s falling behind the class leaders (yes, we’re talking about the likes of the Toyota RAV4, but even the Forester has a hybrid powertrain option!).

And the old diesel engine has been axed, plus there’s no six-cylinder petrol variant as there was in the previous model.

Plus while other markets get a four-cylinder turbo engine (a 2.4L with 194kW and 375Nm), we don’t have that option here. So, it’s naturally aspirated 4-cyl petrol power, or bust.


Peugeot 30087/10

The Peugeot 3008 range has a complex engine line-up. Many brands are going with a “one engine will do” approach for their standard model range, and that’s likely to only increase as the world moves towards electrification.

But that said, the 2021 version of the 3008 has three engines available at launch, and there’s more coming!

The Allure and GT petrol models run a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine (known as Puretech 165), producing 121kW at 6000rpm and 240Nm at 1400rpm. It is available only with a six-speed automatic and it is front-wheel drive, like all 3008s. The claimed 0-100km/h time is 9.9 seconds.

Next up the engine specs list is the petrol-powered GT Sport, which also has a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo, but with a bit more grunt - as the Puretech 180 name might suggest. There’s 133kW of power at 5500rpm, and 250Nm of torque (at 1650rpm). This engine uses an eight-speed automatic, is FWD/2WD, and has engine start-stop tech. It can do 0-100km/h in a claimed 8.8sec.

Then there’s the diesel model - the GT diesel’s Blue HDi 180 - which is a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder unit producing 131kW of power (at 3750rpm) and a huge 400Nm of torque (at 2000rpm). Again, there’s an eight-speed auto and FWD, and it seemingly struggles to put that grunt to the road, with a 0-100 speed of 9.0sec.

The 3008 range will be bolstered by plug-in hybrid versions in the latter part of 2021. 

It is expected there will be the Hybrid 225 model, using 2WD with a 1.6-litre petrol engine teamed to an electric motor and a 13.2kWh battery pack, with a resulting 56km range.

The Hybrid4 300 model packs a bit more power and torque, as well as the inclusion of all-wheel drive by way of a rear-mounted electric motor in addition to a front-mounted electric motor and a 13.2kWh battery pack, said to be good for 59km of electric range.

We look forward to sampling the PHEV versions later in 2021. Stay tuned for coverage.

Fuel consumption

Subaru Outback7/10

The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure – that’s the claimed fuel economy the brand reckons you should achieve across a mix of driving – is stated at 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres.

That’s pretty good, and it’s aided by the engine’s start-stop technology that even has a readout that tells you how many millilitres of fuel you’re saving when it’s active. I like that.

In our real world testing we saw a return – at the pump – of 8.8L/100km across highway, urban, back road and traffic jam testing. That’s not bad, but in similar driving in a Toyota RAV4 hybrid I’ve seen economy of about 5.5L/100km.

We assume Subaru Australia will add a hybrid version of the Outback at some point (like it has with the XV Hybrid and Forester Hybrid), but at this point in time, the petrol engine is your only choice.

Fuel tank capacity is 63 litres, and it can take 91RON regular unleaded.


Peugeot 30088/10

Official combined cycle fuel consumption figures vary across the engine range. In fact, it even varies across the variants!

For instance, the 1.6L Puretech 165 four-cylinder in the Allure and GT petrol models is not identical. The official figure is 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres for the Allure, while the GT petrol is said to use 7.0L/100km, which could be down to tyres and some aero differences.

Then there’s the GT Sport, the most powerful petrol (Puretech 180), which has an official consumption of 5.6L/100km. It’s so much lower because it has engine start-stop technology, where the other 1.6L doesn’t.

The Blue HDi 180 engine has the lowest official fuel use figure of 5.0L/100km. It has start-stop tech, too, but no AdBlue after treatment.

I filled up after a few hundred kilometres of testing and had a real-world at the pump return of 8.5L/100km in the GT petrol. 

The petrol models both require 95RON premium unleaded fuel. 

Fuel tank capacity for all models is 53L, so theoretical driving range is very good for the diesel.

Driving

Subaru Outback8/10

If you’ve driven a previous-generation Subaru Outback, you’re not going to feel like this is unfamiliar territory.

That’s because this version, well, it sticks to the formula. Even if you’ve driven the new Forester, it might feel pretty familiar.

Much of that comes down to the engine and transmission. The 2.5L four-cylinder boxer is a strong engine, but not a punchy one. It offers good response and smooth power delivery for the most part, and it will push you back in your seat if you plant your foot, but not in the same way a petrol-electric hybrid or a turbocharged four-cylinder might.

And while there is still some Subaru “boxer” rumble from under the bonnet, it’s largely a pretty hushed place to be when you’re driving it in normal circumstances. If you accelerate hard you’ll hear the engine more, and that’s down to the behaviour of the CVT automatic.

Some people will hate it because it’s a CVT, but Subaru does a pretty good job with these transmissions, and in the Outback it’s as inoffensive as they come. And yes, there is a manual mode with paddle shifters if you want to take matters into your own hands, but for the most part, you shouldn’t really need to.

The steering is direct and offers good weighting and response, pivoting pretty well in corners while also allowing you to turn the car easily when you’re parking. There’s not much feel to the steering, but that’s not what this car is about, and thankfully the trademark Subaru visibility from the driver’s seat means it is easier to park than some other SUVs out there. 

The ride is mostly good, with a supple character that is more about comfort than anything else. It’s a little more softly sprung and a touch underdamped than some people might like, meaning it can be a little wobbly or jittery depending on the road, but I think it’s the right balance for the intent of the car – a family wagon / SUV that has some potential off-road chops.

It is all-wheel drive after all, and there is Subaru’s X-Mode system – with snow/dirt and deep snow/mud modes – that should be helpful if you find yourself off the beaten path. I did some light gravel track driving in the Outback, and found its 213mm ground clearance to be plentiful, while the suspension was pretty well sorted.


Peugeot 30088/10

The Peugeot 3008 GT petrol I drove was a nice, comfortable drive. Not amazing in any particular way, but a really good balance of things you might want in your mid-size SUV.

The ride is particularly well sorted, with a nice level of control and composure over most bumps at most speeds. There can be a bit of side-to-side body wobble at times, but it’s never too flimsy feeling

The steering is quick, and the small steering wheel exacerbates that. You don’t need to make much movement with your hands to affect a prompt response, though there’s not a whole lot of feel going on, so it’s not super fun in the traditional sense despite being easy to steer.

You might look at the engine specs and think, “a 1.6-litre isn’t enough engine for a family SUV like that!”. But you’d be wrong, because it turns out this engine is a zesty little offering.

It pulls hard from a standstill, and offers good power progression up the rev range, too. The engine is urgent enough in its response in roll-on acceleration as well, but the transmission has a real appetite for eating away at the fun you’re trying to have by constantly upshifting in an attempt to save fuel. 

There are paddle-shifters if you want to put it in manual mode, and there’s a sport drive mode as well - but really, that’s not the kind of SUV this is. It’s a really competent and comfortable family option, one that is very easy to drive and would certainly be easy to live with.

Another really nice thing about the 3008 is that it’s pretty quiet. There’s not much in the way of road noise or wind rustle to contend with, and I experienced almost no tyre roar from the Michelin rubber of my test car.

My biggest gripe was actually the engine start button. It seemingly requires a lot of pedal pressure on the brake and a fairly good press of the button to ignite the engine, and I also found the shifter could be a touch frustrating when shifting between drive and reverse, too.

Those are hardly dealbreakers, though. This is a very likeable car.

Safety

Subaru Outback9/10

There is no ANCAP crash test safety rating as yet for the 2021 Outback range, but it has a lot of the technology and safety goodies that customers shopping for a family SUV or wagon would expect. 

As standard there is Subaru’s EyeSight stereo camera system that reads the road ahead, and it incorporates forward/front autonomous emergency braking (AEB) for vehicles that works between 10km/h and 160km/h. There's also pedestrian AEB (1km/h to 30km/h) and cyclist detection and AEB (60km/h or less), and it has lane keeping technology with emergency lane keep assist that can swerve the car to avoid impacts with cars, people or cyclists (approximately 80km/h or less). Lane departure prevention works from 60km/h to 145km/h.

All grades also get blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, a driver monitor camera that watches the driver and warns them if they’re not paying attention to the road or starting to get drowsy (the top-spec model’s version of this also includes seat and mirror adjustment memory based on your face!), plus there is speed sign recognition, too.

All grades have a reversing camera, while the top two specs have front view and side view cameras, but none have a 360-degree surround view camera. All models also have rear AEB, a system Subaru calls reverse auto braking (RAB) that can halt the car if it detects there’s something behind it when you’re backing up. It also doubles as reversing sensors for all grades, but none have front parking sensors.

And there are other elements to the safety matrix, including Lead Vehicle Start Alert (the cameras tell you when the car in front has driven off) and lane centring (to keep you in the middle of your lane), both of which operate between 0km/h and 145km/h, and there is adaptive high beam lights on all grades, too.

The airbag count for the Outback is eight, with dual front, front side, driver’s knee, passenger centre-front, and full-length curtain coverage.


Peugeot 30089/10

The Peugeot 3008 range was awarded a five-star ANCAP crash test safety rating back in 2016, and while that was half a decade ago (can you believe it?!), the updated model is even better equipped with safety technology and features.

All models come with auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection including low-light scenarios, plus all grades come with lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and intervention, a surround view 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors, semi-autonomous self parking tech, auto high-beam lights, and adaptive cruise control with a speed limiter.

The GT grade models all have added lane keeping assistance technology to help steer you in your lane at speed, too. Where the Allure has Peugeot’s Advanced Grip Control system, adding off highway driving modes with Mud, Sand and Snow modes - remember, though, it’s a front-wheel drive SUV.

The 3008 is fitted with six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain) and there are dual ISOFIX and three top-tether points for baby seats.

Ownership

Subaru Outback7/10

Subaru doesn’t go beyond expectations in the mainstream class, with a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty now par for the course.

The brand also has shorter maintenance intervals than some, with services scheduled every 12 months or 12,500km (most are 15,000km intervals).

The costs of maintenance aren’t that low, either. After an initial free checkup at one-month, the services cost: $345 (12 months/12,500km); $595 (24 months/25,000km); $351 (36 months/37,500km); $801 (48 months/50,000km); and $358 (60 months/62,500km). That averages out at about $490 per service, which is high. 

If you’re worried about budgeting for that cost every year, you can bundle a service plan into your financing – a smart move, if you ask me. There are two options available: a three-year/37,500km plan and a five-year/62,500km plan. Neither saves you money over pay-as-you-go, but these plans also include three years roadside assist and the option of a free loan car when it comes time to service your own Outback. And if you decide to sell, you can pass that service plan on to the next owner.

 Just make sure you don’t smash the windscreen – the camera system integrated into the glass means a new windshield is a $3000 part!


Peugeot 30087/10

The Peugeot 3008 range is offered with a class-competitive five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan, which includes five years’ roadside assistance at no extra cost.

There is a five-year capped-price servicing plan, too. Maintenance intervals are every 12 months/20,000km, which is generous.

But the service costs are high. Worked out over the five year plan, the annual average price per servicing for the Allure and GT petrol models is $553.60; for the GT diesel it’s $568.20; and for the GT Sport it’s $527.80.

Worried about Peugeot 3008 issues, reliability, concerns or recalls? Check out our Peugeot 3008 problems page.