Subaru Outback

Subaru’s all-new Outback – the latest version of which has just gone on sale in the UK – has been named Sport Utility Of The Year by leading American motoring magazine, Motor Trend. The accolade is particularly noteworthy as the USA is the world’s largest market for sales of SUVs.

An expert panel of 11 road testers were involved in the judging, and the magazine praised the Outback for being “spacious, tough, thoroughly modern, and exceedingly capable”. The pioneering crossover saw off some extremely stiff competition from the likes of the Volvo XC60, Audi’s Q5, the Lexus RX450h and Mercedes-Benz’s GLK350. When the final votes were tallied, the Outback won by a decisive 10 to one.

It’s the second time in two years that the Japanese firm has taken top spot in Motor Trend’s SUV shakedown. Last year, the 2009 Subaru Forester went home with the coveted ‘Golden Calipers’ trophy.

The publication praised the Outback for “successfully reshaping the very definition of ‘sport utility vehicle’ – melding the multi-mission prowess of true SUVs with the driving refinement, fuel-frugality, and easy access of wagons and sedans”.

Launched in Europe in 1996, the Outback pioneered the ‘Crossover’ concept, combining the comfort, interior space and superior on-road handling of a family estate, with the off-road capability and ground clearance of a sports utility vehicle. This special blend of abilities has now been further refined.

The new, fourth-generation Outback is longer, wider and taller than the model it replaces. It is also more capable and more engaging to drive on- and off-road, and offers increased space and comfort for all passengers.

On sale in Subaru showrooms now, UK buyers are offered five different flavours of Outback, starting with the £26,295 2.0-litre diesel SE and 2.5i SE petrol models. The top-of-the-range 3.6-litre R costs £33,295.

The 1,998cc diesel, which has a six-speed manual gearbox, produces 150ps and 350Nm. The 2.5-litre petrol unit, with its standard ‘Lineartronic’ automatic transmission, develops 167ps and 229Nm, and the 3.6-litre five-speed automatic R offers a mighty 260ps and 350Nm.

Lineartronic is Subaru’s all-new, in-house-developed fully automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT)-type transmission. Offered to buyers of the 2.5i, the unit enables the engine to operate at the most efficient part of its rev-range – resulting in strong, linear, seamless acceleration and maximised fuel economy.

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