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New Subaru Outback puffs up, luxes up (pictures)

The 2015 Outback gains a little size over its predecessor, and features a power lift gate in the top trim, which might seem an unnecessary luxury to the typical Subaru owner.

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Wayne Cunningham
2015 Subaru Outback
1 of 26 Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The Subaru Outback is a five-passenger crossover, exhibiting SUV proportions but car-like handling and fuel efficiency. Subaru gives it a serious update for the 2015 model year.

2015 Subaru Outback
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From a styling standpoint, the new Outback seems like a minor refresh, yet it gains inches all around.

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Engine choices remain the same, with a flat 3.6-liter six-cylinder, seen here, and an available 2.5-liter four-cylinder, also in Subaru's traditional flat format.

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The Outback's increased size means more interior room, but it still might be small for a family of four, considering the amount of cargo most people haul around.

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Ground clearance is rated at 8.7 inches, helping the Outback negotiate rutted dirt roads.

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All-wheel drive comes standard, and Subaru adds a new X-Mode feature, tuning the torque split and traction control for challenging surfaces.

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Integrated roof rails are ready to receive a pair of kayaks or a cargo carrier.

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In Limited trim, a power lift gate opens at the push of a button.

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The high seating position helps with traffic visibility.

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This fake wood trim looks good in a satin finish.

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Split-folding rear seats increase cargo flexibility.

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Subaru doesn't offer cutting-edge cabin tech, but the features are quite good, especially the optional EyeSight system.

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Electric power steering increases fuel efficiency and is tuned for a natural feel.

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A small LCD in the instrument cluster shows trip data.

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The continuously variable transmission leads to smooth acceleration, and offers a manual mode with virtual shift points.

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Subaru's navigation head unit features modern styling, with soft buttons on the bezel.

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Voice command did not always prove accurate, but does let you enter an address for navigation as a single string.

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Maps offer extensive traffic coverage.

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The Subaru StarLink app lets you do limited online destination searches, and includes a wide variety of Internet audio channels.

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Satellite radio provides information streams, such as fuel prices, weather and stocks.

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Digital audio sources are well-covered, and include HD Radio.

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The head unit shows a music library interface for devices and drives plugged into the USB port.

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The audio playback screen shows album art.

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The premium Harman Kardon audio system delivers very good fidelity, but heavy bass rattles the car's panels.

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A hands-free phone system integrates contact lists.

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The rearview camera includes distance, but not trajectory lines.

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