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Future models - Subaru - Outback

New York show: Subaru brings Outback to the big city

Evolutionary: Subaru's Outback has moved into its sixth generation, with all the same attributes as before.

Another show, another new model for Subaru as Outback continues 2014 roll-out

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Subaru logo18 Apr 2014

By RON HAMMERTON

SUBARU'S 2014 new-model onslaught rolled on this week with the unveiling of the new sixth-generation Outback crossover that was delivered with this message: “You don't mess with success.” The latest iteration might be largely new from the ground up, but it was developed along evolutionary lines to avoid upsetting the formula that has made the Outback a major success for the Japanese brand, particularly in its biggest market, the United States.

However, almost every facet has been moved along to keep the Outback relevant, especially as the new model will have to carry an extra sales load with the axing of the Liberty wagon, Exiga crossover and Tribeca 4x4 in a major model shake-out to streamline the range.

The new model is scheduled to arrive in Australian showrooms in early 2015, and although specifications and pricing are yet to be released, it is likely to be offered in the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder and 3.6-litre six-cylinder boxer engine configurations, this time with a six-step Linearatronic CVT transmission.

Expect also a version of Subaru's circa-110kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel to sit under the bonnet of European and Australian versions.

Again based on the Liberty mid-sized sedan that was launched at this year's Chicago motor show, the Outback shares much of the same sheetmetal around the nose and the doors, but sits on a slightly longer wheelbase and, of course, raised ride height that delivers twice as much ground clearance as the Liberty.

The suspension is unique to Outback, which gets a more rugged set-up with great travel.

As with Liberty, the A pillars have been moved forward to improve both visibility and cabin space, with more shoulder and rear legroom than the current Outback.

The Outback gets scalloped cabin linings to maximise interior volume, although it remains a five seater with no third row of seats.

The vehicle's exterior features protective plastic cladding along the side sills for off-road driving, as well as tucked-up exhaust pipe tips to enhance the departure angle and minimise chance of damage.

As always, the Outback has Subaru's symetrical all-wheel drive, but with active torque vectoring for better power distribution.

As well, the new model boasts X-mode – an electronic controlled driving control system that modifies throttle, transmission, AWD, brakes and other functions for easier driving on slippery surfaces.

The new model also gets an electronic parking brake, as well as an optional electric-operated rear hatch.

The 2.5-litre engine gets about 3kW more power than before, pushing out 130kW at 5000rpm and 236Nm of torque at 4000rpm. The big six is unchanged at 191kW and 335Nm.

Fuel consumption figures for the Australian model are yet to be announced, but they should improve, with a 10.6 per cent reduction in wind resistance and other gains.

Like the upcoming new Liberty, the Outback gets a higher quality interior, with soft-touch surfaces, touch screen and blue-lit dials.

The Outback gets Subaru's latest Eyesight forward-scanning safety system that improves the viewing angle by 40 per cent. The US model gets a suite of other safety gadgets such as rear cross traffic alert and rear view camera, some of which are likely to be added to the Australian cars.

Unveiling the new Outback in New York, Subaru of America president Tom Doll said Outback pioneered the crossover segment when it was launched at the same show in 1994, and while the assets and strengths that made the vehicle a success back then remained unchanged, the technology had been moved along with each generation.

“You should never mess with success,” he said.

The Outback was designed in the United States and will be built in two plants – in Indiana and Japan – with the Japanese factory taking care of Australian deliveries.

The New York reveal caps a huge run of motor show events for Subaru in the US, starting with the WRX and Liberty concept at Los Angeles in November, the STI at Detroit, the Liberty production car at Chicago and now the Outback in New York.

Outback will go on sale in the US about mid year, with Japanese production starting later.

More Outbacks are sold in the United States than anywhere else, and it has contributed greatly to Subaru's year-on-year sales growth in that country for five successive years.

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