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Subaru's Outback wagon gets refinement

The Outback wagon is one of those vehicles that has come to define the Subaru brand: no-nonsense, practical, affordable, accomplished and reliable. And while it may not be the brand's top seller -- that distinction goes to the Forester -- it is No. 2 and has carved out a special following among Subaru owners. The Outback remains one of the few wagons still standing in a world that is tilting decidedly toward crossovers and even, again, SUVs. It has been redesigned and re-engineered for the 2015 model year. A look at some reviews:

"It's the darnedest thing -- as if Subaru's mid-size wagon evolved on a remote island, protected from the meteoric SUV impact event of the 1990s that made just about all other wagons extinct. Now in its fifth generation, the outdoorsy, not-a-truck Outback has arrived at a place where modest proportions, interior roominess, comfortable seats, great outward visibility, outstanding all-weather traction, and reasonable thrift at the gas pump are desirable traits … Actually, the Outback evolved from Subaru's Legacy sedan, so while crossover / SUVs it competes with strive for carlike driving attributes, the Outback comes by them naturally. The transition involves some taller-aspect-ratio tires, a few added inches of ground clearance, a roof rack, some strategically placed body cladding, and, of course, the wagon body, which adds less than an inch of additional length and 140 pounds or so of mass. … Once you're strapped into the supportive driver's seat, some aspects of the Outback experience take getting used to. For one, the flat-four engine has a unique, whirligig sound that's slightly tinny and seems like it belongs to a much smaller car. And the Outback's Lineartronic continuously variable transmission lets the engine whine at high revs with heavy throttle stabs. But drive even slightly less aggressively and the CVT quickly trims engine revs in curt steps and does a credible job of mimicking a conventional six-speed automatic in routine part-throttle driving. You can also shift through six simulated “gears” yourself with the steering-wheel paddles." -- Car and Driver

Article: The car that makes Subaru, Subaru

"The lines have become increasingly blurred between station wagons and crossover SUVs. Give the former a bump in ground clearance and all-wheel drive, and it essentially becomes the latter. Whatever you want to call it, the redesigned 2015 Subaru Outback represents the latest version of the company's popular family truckster. It retains its core competencies of abundant cargo space, standard all-wheel drive, impressive ground clearance and an affordable price tag. But Subaru has stepped up the Outback's game with even more space, better fuel economy, nicer cabin materials and some tech upgrades. Despite adding less than an inch in both overall length and width, the newest Outback somehow picks up nearly 3 cubic feet in added interior space. There's a bit more room for rear-seat passengers along with a 2-cubic-foot increase in cargo capacity. Not quite a compact, not quite a midsize, the 2015 Outback is about the same size as a Volvo XC70, but about 10 inches longer than a Honda CR-V or a Toyota RAV4." -- Edmunds.com

Article: Full 2015 Subaru Outback Review

"Prices start at $35,405, including a destination charge of $925. You're unlikely to find one with those numbers on the window sticker, though, considering that leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a navigation system, Lexus Enform smartphone integration and services, a premium sound system, power moonroof, and power rear liftgate are all extra, and spread across several upgrade packages. Add all-wheel drive, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, parking assist sensors, and dynamic radar cruise control with pre-collision braking, and you're spending about $45,000.

"My test vehicle was the NX 200t F Sport with AWD, painted Obsidian, and equipped with Rioja Red NuLuxe leatherette upholstery, a heated F Sport steering wheel, a power sunroof, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, a Comfort Package, and a Navigation Package. The grand total came to $43,460." -- New York Daily News

Article: Review: 2015 Lexus NX is brave shot at a new image for Lexus

"The test Outback had a newly refined, more compliant ride. Most road bumps were well managed and kept away from passengers, thanks to the revised and retuned front MacPherson strut suspension and rear double wishbone suspension. The interior was quieter, too, than in past Outbacks, and the tester wore uplevel, 18-inch tires.

Subaru's electric power-assisted steering had quick, pleasing response, and there was less body lean in the Outback than in some taller, more traditional looking crossover SUVs.

Some final items: The leather on the seats was surprisingly soft to the touch, but odd flaps at the lower, inner sides of the front seats were not leather and felt coarse.

The uplevel, 7-inch display screen in the middle of the dashboard was not recessed and did not have a prominent brow to shade sunshine. As a result, sunlight at some angles can hit the shiny screen and reflect into drivers' eyes."-- Ann Job, Associated Press

Article: Subaru Outback is more refined for 2015, added features

"This all-new Outback wagon is more refined, with an inch more legroom in the rear seat, and improved noise isolation. It rides very comfortably, with secure handling. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder is carried over but the CVT has been improved. Overall the driving experience is calmer, and the 3.6-liter six-cylinder makes it quicker and quieter. New safety features include a standard rearview camera and an available rear radar system with blind spot, cross traffic, and lane change warnings. The much-needed infotainment improvements include a 6.2-inch touch screen and multifunction display with Internet radio and Bluetooth. Uplevel models add a larger screen, and upgraded audio." -- Consumer Reports

Article: Subaru Outback Overview

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