Drivetrains: Four- and six-cylinder engines are connected to continuously variable transmissions, only; standard all-wheel-drive is the Subaru way, of course.
At one time, Volvo had the market cornered when it came to spacious, yet unpretentious all-wheel-drive wagons. They still know how to make ’em, but now Subaru is solidly in the driver’s seat with the ever-popular Outback wagon. For the 2015 model year, the Legacy-sedan-based Outback received a number of critical updates. Visually, the car was given a revised grille, lightweight aluminum hood, reshaped headlights and door-mounted mirror. The upgrades continued inside, with a quieter cabin, a reshaped dashboard, larger front seats and a more cavernous floor console. The suspension was also retuned and Subaru added Active Torque Vectoring that applies slight brake pressure to the inside front wheel during a turn. The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is rated at 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. The optional 3.6-liter six-cylinder continues makes 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet. Both engines are connected to continuously variable transmissions. A driver-controlled X-Mode for the standard all-wheel-drive system adjusts the transmission and engine output to reduce wheelspin. X-Mode also includes Hill Descent Control, which keeps vehicle speed to a crawl when traveling slowly down a step and slippery slope. Incline Start Assist briefly holds the vehicle when starting on hills, while a Hill Holder System prevents the Outback from rolling backward when stopped, until the accelerator is pressed. When combined with the Outback’s 8.7-inch ground clearance, X-Mode makes the Outback more fit for rugged off-road duty.