2015 Subaru Outback takes few chances

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/ Updated: April 23, 2014 9:36 AM PDT

At the 2014 New York International Auto Show, Subaru unveiled the fifth generation of its Outback model, with a redesign that builds on the things that has made the car so brand-defining. Although slimmed down, the new model retains its large wagon format and gains some interior space.

Subaru extended the length by about half a inch, and added about 3 cubic feet of interior space. Despite those changes, the Outback appears less like the large crossover of its predecessor model and more like a sport wagon.

Modern Subaru design cues adorn the new Outback, giving it kinship with other models in the lineup. The grille and integrated roof rails match the look of those on the XV Crosstrek, while hooked running lights bracketing the headlights are similar to the new WRX.

Engine choices remain similar to the current model, with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder or a 3.6-liter six-cylinder. The former makes 175 horsepower while the latter is good for 256 horsepower. Subaru won't be offering a turbo version or direct injection. And as before, both engines are mated to a continuously variable transmission.

Subaru is estimating an average fuel economy of 28 mpg for the four-cylinder version, up slightly from the previous version due to improved aerodynamics and drivetrain refinement.

The Outback also retains its standard all-wheel drive, and adds Active Torque Vectoring, a newer feature from Subaru first appearing on the WRX. This handling technology, sometimes called corner braking, applies slight braking pressure to the inside wheel during a turn.

A touchscreen LCD head unit will come standard in the Outback, with different capabilities depending on the trim level. The base Outback includes a 6.2-inch touchscreen controlling audio and phone. For Premium and Limited models, the touchscreen goes up to 7 inches, with available navigation. In Limited trim, the Outback gets a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

Also improved is the EyeSight system, which uses stereo cameras to see the road ahead and estimate the distance to obstacles and other cars. This system enables both adaptive cruise control and collision warning.

The new Outback will be available as a 2015 model this summer.

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2015 Subaru Outback

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