Car ReviewsFirst Drive

Subaru Outback 2.0D First Drive

Given Australia’s love of SUVs, and diesel-powered SUVs with an automatic transmission at that, it’s surprising it took so long for the Outback 2.0D CVT to get here. Was it worth the wait? Isaac Bober finds out.

Subaru has taken the wrist-work out of the high-riding Outback 2.0D by finally bolting a CVT (continuously variable transmission gearbox) onto a revised 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.

With around 20% of all Outback sales being diesel and the majority of diesel-powered SUVs being backed by an automatic transmission, Subaru has moved to fill a gap in its line-up. CVT aside, dedicated followers of the Subaru Outback will notice the MY13 model also receives a revised grille, front bumper, fog light surrounds and different wheel patterns.

Subaru Outback dynamic

The entry-level Outback 2.0D CVT (from $42,490 +ORC) features an impressive array of standard features, including sat-nav (with voice control), iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, reversing camera, dual-zone climate control, and a full-size spare wheel. The range-topping Outback 2.0D Premium (from $45,490 +ORC) adds an electric sunroof, self-levelling rear suspension and leather trim.

Under the bonnet is the aforementioned 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel producing 110kW of power at 3600rpm and a-more-important 350Nm of torque from 1800rpm. Fuel consumption is a claimed 6.5L/100km while CO2 emissions are 172g/km, and that’s seriously impressive for a vehicle with such effortless thrust.

Subaru Outback 2.0D CVT Interior

While I’m not normally a fan of CVTs, Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT with seven-speed manual mode is smooth and responsive. And the extra engine bay insulation means the Outback’s diesel engine can barely be heard in the cabin. Standing still and with the windows rolled down it’s a different story though, with the engine sounding quite gruff. There’s a little bit of wind and suspension noise at highway speeds, while tyre roar, particularly on coarse bitumen, gets worse as the speed increases.

Despite the front suspension being stiffened to handle the weight of the CVT, the Outback 2.0D CVT’s suspension tune errs on the side of comfort. And that means it handles both bitumen and dirt with aplomb, but try and get too frisky and that all-road comfort comes home to roost with plenty of body roll through corners.

The Subaru Outback diesel finally has a CVT.

That said, all-wheel drive and 60/40 rubber means there’s plenty of grip in all conditions. The steering too has had some work, and is now smoother and feels more consistent in its action.

There’s plenty of room inside the Outback with 526 litres of boot space with the back seats up, growing to 1677 litres with the seats folded down. And, speaking of rear seats, they offer an automatic-fold function from the boot – which features a nice low load lip, so it’s a cinch to heave gear into – and there’s a recline function too, which is rare in any but true luxury cars (the seats are a 60/40 split).

Subaru Outback 2.0D CVT

PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS

All up, the Outback 2.0D CVT is likely to woo those looking to update their current Outback for something a little flashier and more fuel-efficient. That it’s a roomy, comfortable and safe vehicle to drive, as comfortable on dirt as it is on the black stuff, makes this new Outback 2.0D CVT well worth a look.

SUBARU OUTBACK 2.0D CVT

PRICE From $42,490 (+ORC) WARRANTY three-years, unlimited kilometres SAFETY RATING five-star ANCAP ENGINE 2.0-litre, Boxer four-cylinder turbo-diesel POWER/TORQUE 110kW/350Nm TRANSMISSION CVT BODY 4.79m (L) 1.82m (W) 1.61m (H) WEIGHT 1602kg THIRST 6.5L/100km (combined)


2 Comments

  1. Zak
    September 30, 2014 at 8:55 pm — Reply

    Just drove the 2014 Outback diesel today and was very impressed – great ride, cruised on freeway comfortably, good comfort levels for us and kids in the back. Not having driven a CVT before was quite impressed with how it worked – seemed a great fit for the engine. Just wondering if the 2015 version has improved the engine performance at all?

    • October 1, 2014 at 7:00 am — Reply

      Hi Zak, no, sorry, engine performance is the same from 2014 to 2015. It takes a little while for the CVT and engine to bed together. I found, with our long-term XV that there was a bit of a disconnect initially, but now, after 3000-odd kms, both work beautifully together. Cheers, Isaac (editor)

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober