2013 Subaru Outback

FIRST DRIVE

Advocate WHEELS editor

If there’s anything consumers want more than better mileage, it’s better safety equipment. Introducing the 2013 Subaru Outback, equipped with an available new “Eyesight” system that adds important safety features.

The 2013 Outback also gets a new Boxer style 4-cylinder engine that delivers 173 horsepower and up to 30 miles per
gallon on the highway. The engine is mated to a CVT automatic transmission. The new powertrain delivers more horsepower, more torque and better mileage than the outgoing 2012 model (170 hp and 29 mpg on the highway).

The 2013 Outback will come in five trim levels: 2.5i base, 2.5i premium and 2.5i limited; there is also a 3.6R model in base and limited.

Outback 3.6R models will keep the 6-cylinder that delivers 256 horsepower with a 5-speed electronic automatic transmission.

The Subaru Outback is all-wheel drive and has 8.7 inches of ground clearance, making it a useful all-purpose vehicle, especially for those who enjoy the great outdoors.

Subaru this year adds its new but optional “Eyesight” driver-assist system, which adds three of the newest cutting-edge safety features: Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-collision braking capable of automatic braking when it detects pedestrians or other objects, and Lane Departure Warning that alerts drivers when the car wanders from its lane. Eyesight can bring the vehicle to a complete stop under certain circumstances when it is traveling at speeds below about 19 mpg. None of these three systems is a first in the industry, but all are becoming more standard safety features. The Lane Departure and Pre-Collision Braking systems can be manually disabled.

Eyesight will also alert drivers in heavy stop-and-go traffic that the vehicle ahead has moved forward. That may not technically be a safety feature, but it can keep impatient drivers behind you from honking when you don’t realize that the line is moving. It comes in handy at the Burger King drive-through as well.

The system works with two forward-facing cameras mounted on either side of the rearview mirror. With a full complement of airbags, a Vehicle Dynamics Control system and four-wheel anti-lock brakes, the 2013 Outback earns a “Top Safety Pick” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Our test Outback was the 2.5i Limited model, which is pretty much the top of the line with 4-cylinder engines. Dual-zone air, Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, a 440-wat Harman/kardon audio system, heated leather seats, a 10-way adjustable driver’s seat, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with controls and XM Satellite Radio are standard equipment in the Limited model, which had a base price of $29,095.

“Option Package 20,” which costs $3,940, added voice-activated navigation, a rearview camera, more premium sound, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, and most importantly, the Eyesight system. The bottom line on our test Outback was $33,830, which included $795 in freight.

The leather interior of our test vehicle was exceptionally nice, with matte wood trim and logical placement of switches and controls. The LCD display was large at 7-inches. The cabin was roomy, with plenty of head and foot room. The accommodating 60/40 second row seats had air conditioning vents for the comfort of backseat passengers.

The AWD 2013 Subaru Outback balances the comfort of an SUV with the ability of an off-roader in a comfortable, roomy package. You won’t be taking it 10 miles through deep Spillway bogs, but if your driving habits require some light off-roading in hilly terrain, this is a great vehicle for the task.

2013 Subaru Outback Limited