Exterior Updates Give Tough SUV Look


The Subaru Outback shuffles into 2023 still largely alone in its segment, despite having inspired changes to far more expensive station wagons in recent years, which have ditched their car-like attitudes and adopted a similar rugged appearance and lifted suspension. (Look no further than the Audi A6 Allroad, Mercedes-Benz E450 All Terrain, and Volvo V90 Cross Country—all were once regular premium wagons, or at least offered as such, that are now Outback-like in their entry-level forms.) It’s easy to see why the affordable, mainstream Outback remains the most popular station wagon in the country: It cosplays as an SUV, and does a pretty good job of it.

The majority of the new body armor appears around the Outback’s face, particularly in the plastic trim that seems to melt down from the headlights much like the way similar cladding undergirds the new all-electric Subaru Solterra’s headlights. The front bumper is also re-contoured around a seemingly larger grille and chunkier lower intake element, and the headlights have sprouted little barbs that bend around the corners of the grille. These changes, by the way, apply to every Outback save for the recently introduced Wilderness.

That angular appearance extends to the wheel arch trim, which goes from a clean, concentric fender flare to the funkier design found on recent Crosstreks. As on that model, the angles, chamfers, and general shapes of these flares follow no discernible template, nor do they line up with virtually any other body line on the Outback. Onlookers—Subaru fans or not—probably won’t notice, because the chunky pieces look tough and lend the Outback some quirk.

Subaru’s other big draw next to odd styling is safety, and the Outback improves in this area with a wider field of vision for the standard EyeSight camera-based active safety suite. (With EyeSight, stereoscopic cameras discern depth of field and objects ahead, enabling automated emergency braking, object detection, and adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist.) Subaru says the 2023 Outback’s EyeSight system benefits from a wider view forward, a newly electronic brake booster, and software tweaks for smoother operation.

Curiously, the range-topping Outback Touring—and only the Touring—gets a new “wide-angle mono camera” (pictured behind the windshield in the photo above) that augments the EyeSight setup’s dual stereoscopic cameras. Per Subaru, “the additional camera further expands the field of view to recognize pedestrians and bicycles sooner when the vehicle enters an intersection at low speed.” Pedestrians and cyclists, you have been warned: If you’re going to be almost run down by a 2023 Subaru Outback, better hope it’s a Touring and not, say, a base, Premium, Onyx Edition, Wilderness, or Limited model ….

In less selectively protective news, those Outbacks equipped with blind spot monitoring now include an Automatic Emergency Steering feature that can make evasive steering inputs in tandem with automated emergency brake application “to help avoid collision at speeds less than 50 mph.”

Changes to the interior are minor, amounting to the deployment of the latest version of Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. As before, the entry-level Outbacks are powered by a 182-hp 2.5-liter flat-four engine, with XT variants and the Wilderness gaining a standard 260-hp turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-four. Every Outback uses a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and boasts all-wheel drive.

Full details, including pricing and a specific trim-level-by-trim-level features breakdown, will appear later when the 2023 Subaru Outback goes on sale this coming fall.

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