- Competes with: Toyota Venza, Volvo XC70
- Looks like: The Outback gets some styling tweaks for a more rugged look
- Drivetrain: New 173-hp, 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder engine; 256-hp, 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine carries over
- Hits dealerships: This summer
Subaru's Outback gets freshened styling, a revised powertrain and more features for 2013. The midsize wagon was last updated for model-year 2010.
Exterior styling updates like new headlights, grille, front bumper and fog lights combine to give the new Outback a more rugged look. For 2013, the model's standard roof crossbars have an adjustable design, allowing them to be moved to accommodate larger items. Under the skin, Subaru says improvements to the Outback's steering, body structure and suspension make for a smoother ride with a decrease in body roll and increase in handling agility.
Outback 2.5 models will again be offered in base, Premium and Limited for 2013. A revised four-cylinder powertrain increases torque and horsepower slightly from the 2012 model. The new 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder puts out 173 horsepower and 174 pounds-feet of torque, compared to 170 hp and 170 pounds-feet with the old engine.
Transmission choices include a six-speed manual and a new version of Subaru's continuously variable automatic transmission. The latter features a six-speed manual mode with steering-wheel paddle shifters. Subaru predicts that CVT-equipped models will see a bump in fuel economy with an estimated 24/30 mpg city/highway, compared with 22/29 mpg in 2012. As usual, all-wheel drive is again standard. Outback 3.6R models will be offered in base and Limited trims and carryover with the same 256-horsepower, 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic transmission.
Upgrades to the Outback's interior include what the automaker calls more comfortable seat fabric; it's joined by new wood grain trim in the cabin. Newly optional is a Special Appearance Package with keyless access and start as well as driver-seat memory system.
Subaru is using the Outback and Legacy to debut a new safety feature. The EyeSight driver-assist system uses a wide-angle camera and combines the wagon's adaptive cruise control, precollision braking system and lane departure warning program to provide a more comprehensive driver safety system.
The 2013 Outback goes on sale this summer.