When Subaru introduced the Outback, it created a whole new genre of SUVs or wagons, depending on your perspective. Whether you think it’s a midsize crossover SUV or a raised wagon, the fact of the matter is, the Outback remains to be one of the brand’s most well-rounded vehicles. This is the all-new 2022 Subaru Outback, and if there’s one aspect that truly sets itself apart from other crossovers at its price point, that would be its new EyeSight 4.0 driver-assistance tech and its Lexus-like levels of refinement of comfort.
From the outside, it doesn’t look immediately obvious that it’s an all-new model. In typical Subaru fashion, the Outback follows an evolutionary approach in its redesign. I’m already at a point where I’m already getting tired of looking at vehicles with so much body cladding, and this Outback is no exception. It’s pretty much an obligatory design element for a crossover nowadays, but at least the rest of the body looks sleek and modern.
Upfront, the Outback comes with a frameless hexagonal grille, and this is flanked by adaptive LED headlights with C-shaped LED daytime running lights. Its tinted C-shaped LED taillights also cast a very striking glow at night. The Outback also has crisper body lines compared to the previous model, which gives its side profile more character. Overall, I do wish that Subaru pushed the Outback’s design envelope even further, but it doesn’t look too bad as a whole.
Move inside, however, and the interior looks completely different from the model it replaces. Immediately capturing your attention is the new Starlink infotainment system that’s housed in a Tesla-like 11.6-inch portrait touchscreen. The quality and plushness of materials have also significantly been improved, with most of the visible and frequently-touched surfaces wrapped in synthetic leather or soft-touch plastics. Because this car is now riding on the Subaru Global Platform, the doors and overall structure feel extremely solid and rigid. In terms of ergonomics, I’m not a fan of having most of the aircon controls embedded into the touch screen, but at least you have hard buttons for changing the temperature.
Features and Infotainment
That infotainment system for the most part works well. Touch responses are okay but not exactly snappy. At least the icons are large, which makes it easy to tap while in the move. In addition, Apple CarPlay looks gorgeous on the 11.6-inch portrait screen, but Android Auto only occupies half of the screen’s total real estate. What’s annoying is the fact that the defeat switch for the engine start-stop system is buried under a quick access menu, and it’s made worse that this resets every time you start the car. At least you ger a Harman Kardon sound system, which delivers a punchy aural quality.
Space and Practicality
As for space and practicality, the 2022 Subaru Outback excels, with generous amounts of room wherever you are seated. The driving position is also great, considering that the Outback’s height lands somewhere in between the Forester and XV. As a result, it’s in a goldilocks position of not being too high or too low for the general population. Those at the back are treated to rear aircon vents and two USB ports, along with plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room.
Moving towards the trunk, the Subaru Outback offers a generous 522-liter trunk capacity. This expands to almost 1,300 liters with the seats folded down. The powered tailgate also has a nifty feature wherein you simply place your hand or elbow at the logo and it will open on its own, provided that the smart key is with you. Very useful, especially if waving your foot to open the tailgate like in some other cars is too awkward for you.
The Subaru Outback used to be offered with two engine choices: a 3.6-liter six-cylinder and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, both of which are, of course, boxer engines. This time around, you only get a 2.5-liter that produces 182 hp and 238 Nm of torque. As with every Subaru, power goes through all four wheels via a Lineartronic CVT. If you’ve been accustomed to the six-cylinder engine, then you’ll probably be left wanting more power. On the other hand, if you’ve been content with how the 2.5-liter engine performed in the previous model, then you’ll probably be content with this engine.
It’s not the most powerful out there, but it’s generally alright. Boxer engines are inherently smooth, and this one is no exception. The CVT, however, isn’t the best transmission out there. Sure, it’s smooth, but there are moments where you are still left wanting more power when it doesn’t give you the appropriate ratio. It does try to mimic a traditional automatic with its fake gear changes, so it tends to avoid that rubber band feel, wherein the transmission holds the engine’s revs as you gain speed.
Combined with the car’s permanent all-wheel drive (AWD) system, its fuel economy is okay but not spectacular. I’ve averaged at around 9.8 km/l, which may sound good on paper, but under the same circumstances, a similar Mazda 6 or Honda Accord averaged at more than 11 km/l. On the upside, its fuel economy is good when taking into account its permanent AWD system.
On the flip side, the 2022 Subaru Outback is an excellent long-distance cruiser. Road noise is extremely well suppressed, while wind noise is minimal somewhere around the wing mirrors. Subaru crossovers have long-travel suspension, and the Outback is no exception. As a result, its ride is exceptionally comfortable, almost on the same level as a Lexus RX. Yet despite that, it still manages to counteract body roll when pushed hard through corners.
It’s not the sportiest thing out there, but it’s close. The steering is reasonably sharp and weighty, but it’s still not as responsive as a Mazda 6’s. Its throttle response and brake feel are also good, though again, the Mazda’s driving experience is just a tad sharper. But this is all more than made up for its EyeSight 4, which is my new favorite driver-assistance tech.
With its stereoscopic cameras now flushed into the car’s windshield, Eyesight 4 has a much wider field of view compared to its predecessor, and this enables a couple of things. It now has the best lane centering in the industry, and it’s indeed possible to travel from Manila to Batangas with minimal human intervention. Moreover, in conjunction with its automatic emergency braking, you now have pre-collision steering assist. Basically, the Outback can now automatically steer itself away from a collision, and this works with the blind spot warning in order to determine if it’s safe for the vehicle to swerve to the left or right side on its own.
The 2022 Subaru Outback is now more affordable than before, but that’s primarily due to the absence of a bigger engine option. At P2,380,000, it’s only a tad more expensive than a Toyota Camry Hybrid. Not only does it offer more ground clearance (which is what more people are looking for nowadays), but it also offers an almost Lexus-like ride quality, along with the most sophisticated driver-assistance tech that’s currently available in the industry right now. One may argue that the German luxury brands are equally as high-tech, but oftentimes, these features don’t even come as standard in the Philippine market.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience what Tesla’s Autopilot feels like, the 2022 Subaru Outback is the closest any Filipino could get to such tech.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.4 out of 5
*Pricing is correct and accurate as of this article’s time of writing.