2016 Winner
AWD SUV under $50k

Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium

Sales of SUVs go from strength to strength, helping to stoke the fires of market competitiveness and drive product improvement.


And in no other Australia’s Best Cars category this year was competition so fierce. It’s the sort of wafer-thin winning margin that politicians have nightmares about.

Quick specifications
  • Engine2.5
  • TransmissionCVT
  • Indicative drive away$45,679
  • Fuel economy7.3
  • Fuel typeULP
  • ANCAP5 star

The previous-generation Subaru Outback was buried mid-pack in last year’s score sheets. But the latest and greatest fifth-generation model rises to prominence thanks to a range of improvements and significant price reductions on all models. The 2.5i Premium’s list price has dropped by $2000, putting it within striking distance of its cheaper Forester stablemate. All Outback variants are more fuel-efficient, with official combined consumption for 2.5L versions nearly 9% better than before. Owners of the 2.5i Premium will also be shelling out less for running and repair costs than Forester owners. Judges rewarded Outback’s lengthy features list with an equal best-in-class standard equipment score. All the expected safety features including seven airbags will be found. Those after creature comforts won’t be disappointed either.

Subaru has really paid attention to safety with Outback, achieving the highest score in ANCAP crash tests of any Subaru model to date. The latest, third-generation of Subaru’s EyeSight driver assistance technology is fitted to Outback, helping improve safety credentials and make driver interaction with the vehicle easier. Outback’s infotainment system has been upgraded. There’s a user-friendly touch-screen, and the system includes Pandora connectivity, sat-nav and voice recognition for a range of functions. Outback is a model of consistency when it comes to criteria grouped under Design and Function, not scoring less than eight in any area of assessment. Only Forester can get close to it. That means good seating, user-friendly ergonomics, and the highly practical nature required in a SUV. It’s also a high achiever when it comes to fit and finish, exhibiting a more premium look and feel inside than Forester.

Cabin and cargo space have been increased in Outback, making it one of the most usefully proportioned models in the class. Access to the load area is via a powered tailgate. Including a full-size spare wheel rated well with Australia’s Best Cars judges – they especially like to see them in SUVs. The drive experience doesn’t let Outback down either. The 2.5L boxer engine delivers solid though not class-leading performance. That honour went to diesels from Kia and Mazda plus Hyundai Tucson’s petrol engine. Judges noted that Outback’s CVT is one of the best versions on offer, providing efficiency but with far less characteristic engine flare inherent to many of these transmissions. Outback provides a comfortable and composed ride, while its AWD handling is secure, confident and predictable whatever the road surface. Ultimately it wasn’t quite as nimble as Forester. It was also capable of tackling mild adventures off-road, although arguably Forester was more talented when the going got a little harder. To many buyers Outback will be the ideal travel companion and it’s a worthy winner in Australia’s Best Cars.