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Subaru Outback


Peugeot 5008

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 5008

Previously on carsguide.com.au: Peter Anderson drove the Peugeot 5008 and quite liked it. 

I don't think it's going to be a huge shock to learn that the recent update to the 5008 seven-seater has improved the car and, therefore, my opinion of the car. 

Except, it's more than an update. Prices are much higher than when I drove the Crossway edition 5008 in 2019 (remember those happy times?) and the difference between the petrol and diesel engines is especially wide now in 2021.

The updated 5008 shares a great deal with its 3008 sibling and the two share a very important attribute - they are distinctively French, in a good way.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.6L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7L/100km
Seating7 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 50087.3/10

The answer is, I think, two-fold - price and badge. Peugeot Australia has a job on its hands to turn things around as 2020 was a tough year and 2021 is shaping up to be almost as hard. There aren't any significant changes to the 5008 to make it suddenly stand out from the crowd because it already did. So the badge's cachet isn't matching the premium pricing.

Peugeot's SUVs are very popular in Europe but barely make a dent here. Because there isn't a bait-and-switch cheaper model to lure buyers off the street, it's a harder sell. Peugeot's glory days of the late 1990s and the late 1970s before mean the people who have fond memories of the badge are older and probably don't have any attachment at all to the French lion. Perhaps the re-energised 2008 will start that conversation, except it's not cheap either.

Having said all that, it's hard to see why folks with over fifty grand to spend on a seven-seater - and there are plenty of those - aren't paying more attention to the 5008. It's a striking presence, is practical but isn't overbearingly large or even slightly clumsy. It may not have AWD but hardly anyone ever uses that. It'll handle the city and the motorway and, as I discovered, biblical rain all in its stride. Like its 3008 sibling, it's a mystery there aren't more out there.

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 50088/10

The 5008 was always the slightly awkward big brother to the 3008. That's not to say it was (or is) ugly, but the bigger box fitted to the back is far less racy than the 3008's fast back. 

There's not much change at that end, so the cool claw lights carry the can for style. 

In profile, again, it's a little awkward (compared to the 3008) but some nice work with various materials and shapes help to reduce its bulk.

The front is where the facelift action has happened. I was never completely convinced by the front end of the 5008 but the reworking of the lights to look less like they were squeezed out of a tube of toothpaste is a marked improvement. 

The updated lights work beautifully with the new frameless grille. The fang-style daytime running lights, that debuted on the gorgeous 508, look fantastic here on the 5008. It's a superb job.

Inside is largely unchanged, which is to say it's still brilliant. It's really one of the more inventive interiors in any car, anywhere and is a joy to sit in. 

The seats look brilliant, even more so in the diesel with their fine stitching and racy shapes. The wacky 'i-Cockpit' driving position works much better in more upright cars like SUVs and is present and correct while the new 10.0-inch screen also looks good. 

Even if you're not interested in buying one of these, if you're passing a Peugeot showroom, get in and have a look, feel the materials and wonder why more interiors aren't this cool.

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 50088/10

Legroom is good in the middle row, with plenty of knee space as well as a that long flat roof stopping you from giving yourself a haircut. 

Each of the front seats has a fold down airline-style tray table, which kids go absolutely wild for.

The third row is really an occasional use only proposition, but it does the job and is reasonably easy to access. The middle row also slides forward (60/40 split) to allow a bit more space for the third row, which is nice.

The 5008 has a trick up its sleeve - removable third-row seats. If you fold the middle row down and remove the back row, you have a massive 2150 litres (VDA) of cargo volume

If you just fold the third row away you still have a formidable 2042 litres. Whip the back row out again but leave the centre row in place and you have a 1060-litre boot, reattach them and it's a still impressive 952 litres. So, it's a massive boot.

The 5008 is rated to tow 1350kg (petrol) or 1800kg (diesel) with a braked trailer, or 600kg (petrol) and 750kg (diesel) without brakes.

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 50087/10

Peugeot's local arm is pitching the 5008 at an interesting point. While nowhere near the largest of seven-seaters, it is also not the cheapest, that honour going to Peugeot's former technical partner for SUVs, Mitsubishi

There is now just one specification level (although it isn't really), the GT and you can have it in petrol form for (deep breath) $51,990, or diesel form (keep drawing that long breath) $59,990. That's a lot of cash.

But as I say, the spec is not the same between the two. And there is a lot of stuff.

The petrol GT opens with 18-inch wheels, a 12.3-inch digital dashboard (upgraded, apparently), a new 10.0-inch touchscreen (ditto), front and rear parking sensors, around-view cameras, leather and Alcantara seats, keyless entry and start, auto parking, adaptive cruise control, powered tailgate, rear window blinds, auto LED headlights, auto wipers and a space-saver spare.

The more expensive diesel picks up the diesel engine (obviously), a banging Focal-branded 10-speaker stereo, acoustic laminated front side windows and 19-inch alloys. 

The diesel GT's front seats are also upgraded, with extra adjustability, a massage function, heating, memory function and electrical operation of just about everything on them.

Both versions have the new 10.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. The older screen was slow and really needed a good stab to work, which is a bit of a problem when so many functions are packed into the system. 

The new one is better, but still a touch laggy. Weirdly, the climate control shortcuts permanently frame the screen, so the extra real estate goes on those controls.

The diesel GT's seats are available as an option on the petrol as part of a $3590 option pack. The pack also adds the Nappa leather, which itself is a separate option for $2590 on that upper-spec model. Neither pack is cheap (but the Nappa leather is lovely) and the massage seats are more than a novelty.

Other option costs are $1990 for a sunroof and $2590 for Nappa leather (diesel only).

Just one paint colour, 'Sunset Copper', is free. The rest are extra. For $690 you can choose 'Celebes Blue', 'Nera Black', 'Artense Grey', or 'Platinum Grey.' 'Ultimate Red' and 'Pearl White' cost $1050.

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 50087/10

As the names of the cars suggest, there is a petrol and diesel engine. Both drive the front wheels only through automatic transmissions.

The petrol is a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo, with 121kW at 6000rpm and 240Nm from 1400rpm. The petrol scores a six-speed automatic and will cover the 0-100km/h run in 10.5 seconds.

For torque monsters, the diesel is the go, with 131kW at 3750rpm and 400Nm from 2000rpm. This engine scores two more gears for a total of eight and will run from 0-100km/h in 10.2 seconds. 

So neither of them are drag racers, which is to be expected when you've got a fair chunk of weight to pull (1473kg for the petrol, 1575kg for the diesel).

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 50087/10

Peugeot says the combined cycle figure for the petrol is 7.0L/100km and 5.0L/100km for the diesel. The petrol figure seems sort of likely, the diesel, not so sure.

I ran the lighter 3008 for six months with the same engine (but with two fewer gears, granted) and it averaged closer to 8.0L/100km. The last time I had the 5008 I got 9.3L/100km.

As I drove these cars on the launch event (mostly highway running), the dash-indicated 7.5L/100km figure I saw is not a reliable indicator of real-world consumption. 

Both tanks hold 56 litres, so based on the official figures, you'll cover around 800km in the petrol and over 1000km in the diesel. Bank on a day-to-day range about 150km lower than that.

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 50087/10

Once you're comfortable with the i-Cockpit, which features a high dashboard and a tiny, squared-off steering wheel, you'll feel like you're driving a much smaller car. 

I have theorised over the years that the light steering coupled with the small steering wheel makes it feel more dynamic than it is, but I think that's wrong - it's genuinely well set-up and is a car in which you can have some fun.

I was only able to drive the 1.6-litre petrol with six-speed auto on launch and that was on a horrifically wet day during Sydney's recent deluge. 

The M5 motorway was covered in standing water and the spray from the big rigs made driving conditions rather more difficult than usual. 

The 5008 sailed through it all (pun intended). That engine is hardly the last word in power and torque, but it does the job and the auto is well-calibrated to the numbers. 

The big Michelin tyres bite the tarmac pretty well and while you always feel the weight of a seven-seater SUV, it drives much more like a raised wagon than a doughy SUV. 

Fewer of its rivals are doughy these days, but there's a little bit of spark in the 5008, matching the promise of its looks. 

It's not quick, and it's not a hot SUV, but every time I get in this or its smaller 3008 sibling I ask myself why more people don't buy them.

It's irritating that the diesel costs so much more if you want that extra in-gear performance and another two gears.

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 50087/10

The 5008 lands with six airbags, ABS, various stability, traction and braking systems, speed limit sign recognition, driver attention detection, distance warning, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, road edge detection, auto high beam, reversing camera and around-view cameras.

The diesel picks up lane positioning assist while none of them have reverse cross-traffic alert. Equally annoying is the fact that the curtain airbags don't reach to the back row.

The forward AEB includes low light cyclist and pedestrian detection between 5.0km/h and 140km/h, which is impressive. 

There are three ISOFIX and three top-tether mounts in the middle row and two top-tether restraints in the removable third row.

The 5008 scored a maximum five ANCAP stars in 2017.

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 50087/10

Peugeot's five year/unlimited kilometre warranty is now pretty standard but always welcome. You also five years of roadside assist and five years/100,000km of fixed price servicing.

Interestingly, the service prices aren't much different between the petrol and diesel, with the former costing $2803 over five years ($560 per year on average) and $2841 for the latter ($568.20 per year on average). 

You have to visit your Peugeot dealer once every 12 months/20,000km, which isn't too bad. Some turbo-engined cars in this segment demand more visits or won't cover as many kilometres between services.