2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R: Getting Bigger and Better [First Impressions]

2015, subaru, outback, 3.6r, boxer, off-road, dirt
2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R

Subaru truly did their homework when they sketched out what the 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R should be. It is the best of what they know: all wheel drive, safety, ruggedness, family friendly hauling with a mellow overall design esthetic. Subaru increased nearly every dimension, internally and externally, added a host of safety features; yet, this nearly two ton (3,810 lbs) is pretty efficient considering its 20 MPG city, 27 MPG highway and a combined 22 MPG.

That’s impressive given the 256 horsepower H6 (horizontally opposed/”Boxer”) that makes 247 lb-ft of torque. Also, like most Subarus, this one has all-wheel drive (AWD). The H6 is connected to the AWD via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). It has paddle shifters, although I found these to be unnecessary and superfluous. Still, it will simulate a six-speed transmission, sort of.

2015_subaru_outback_dirtDespite the CVT’s tendency to usurp some of the fun of driving, it’s a pretty good unit. It keeps the 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R moving at a good clip, keeps the rpm in the meat of the torque (4,400 rpm) when called upon. It’s also quieter and fits the character of the new Outback better than the old CVT.

One thing stands out when I drive my little ones in the 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R , they love it. The optional rear seat heaters are a big plus in the brisk Colorado autumn. Seat comfort is excellent all around, and entry for little legs is a snap (far easier than any Jeep equivalent). The huge cargo area easily sucks up their little bikes too (there’s 35.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the backseats and a massive 73.3 cu-ft of space with the rear seats flattened).

2015_subaru_outback_front_seatsIt’s pretty obvious that Subaru wanted to make the 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R as accommodating as many SUVs and crossovers that cost a lot more. Backseat space is full-size-adult-friendly, and it will easily accommodate three full-sized adult’s shoulders too. Being about 6’1″, I had no problems sitting behind myself with room to spare.

The front driver and passenger space is vastly better designed and executed than its Subaru Legacy brethren. In fact, this is the nicest Subaru interior – ever. The satin finish on the wood inserts, the leather and plastic components feel premium to the touch and there are only a few hints as to how inexpensive this Roo truly is.

2015_subaru_outback_dash_steeringThe actual design of the 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R still has a early 2000’s theme going on, but it’s a vast improvement over the last Outback.

Steering is soft and it does not communicate much to the driver’s hands. You don’t feel connected to the front wheels at all. Still, it is well weighted and the steering wheel itself is a joy to grip. Once you get used to the feeling, you can easily pilot the 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R.

Speaking of grip, the AWD and beefy engine are a great match, you never feel out of power, even off road.

2015_subaru_outback_drivingThe ride height (8.7-inches) does not diminish the day-to-day handling of the 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R . I believe it’s a better daily driver than its Subaru Legacy cousin. Sure, it will wallow when you push it, just like a Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee, but it still feels pretty solid. Highway ride is very smooth and the overall road noise is fairly acceptable given this Outback is not a luxury car.

Now, there are a few things we have yet to learn much about: namely the EyeSight (anti-collision aid) and X-Mode (off road aid). Subaru’s press event featuring one of the most popular vehicles sold in the Rocky Mountains (Colorado is one of the biggest consumers of all Subaru products) – did not include TFLcar. As such, we had no hand’s-on time with these systems through the people who designed them. Bummer.

2015_subaru_outback_transmissionWe will play with the X-Mode soon, the Eyesight system will have to wait.

Despite that disappointment – I dare say, the entire 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R is an improvement over the last Subaru Outback – with one exception: the overall size. Yes, you can feel the size when you drive – especially – when you take the 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R off road or park it in a garage. This 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R is so big, it barley fits into our garages.

2015_subaru_outback_cargo_areaPut a 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R next to a first generation Subaru Outback (1994 – ’98) and it overwhelms it. It looks like the whale that ate the old Outback. Park it next to an Explorer, Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee and large minivans – you’ll be surprised how big the 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R truly is. With that being said, it’s better looking, better fitted and better designed over any other Outback.

So far, the family loves it. The new interior impresses everyone and I am impressed with how Subaru sweated the details. It may be a whale of a car, it’s a friendly whale and should sell well.

Serious off road driving comes soon and I anticipate this new 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R will not disappoint.

In the meantime, here is the official unveiling and many details on the 2015 Subaru Outback from the 2014 New York Auto Show.


Nathan Adlen Bio Picture Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. His words, good humor and videos are enjoyed worldwide.