So, You Want An Old-School Wagon…How About The Subaru Outback?

It's not your dad's station wagon, except it totally is

While it’s a new car, some features will remind you of old-school station wagons.

Yes, in many respects, our long-term 2018 Subaru Outback is a thoroughly modern car. It has a fuel efficient powertrain, all the latest tech you need, and several driver assistance features, if you opt for them. On the surface, it may not appear to have much in common with the station wagons of yesteryear. We’re talking about cars like the Ford Country Squire and Chevy Caprice wagon. You may be surprised, however, at the similarities. In this video, Tommy goes through the differences and similarities between the modern 2018 Subaru Outback and old-school station wagons.

[photo: Subaru]

Let’s start with the powertrains. Unlike old wagons, the 2018 Subaru Outback has two smaller engines available. Base models come with a 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed Boxer unit, putting out 173 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. A 3.6-liter flat-four option is also available, with a more impressive 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque.

While old wagons had a three-speed slushbox or even a manual, the Subaru Outback comes with a chain-driven Continuously Variable Transmission, or CVT. It does still have an actual shift lever, as other modern cars move to rotary dials or some other weird ways of picking your direction of movement. The Outback, like those older cars, is much more straightforward.

You get a surprising amount of space with an Outback compared to other crossovers.

You still have the space

Then there’s the cavernous interior. Manufacturers used to advertise those massive wagons by saying you could haul plywood in it. Or it’s enough for the family, the dogs and all your gear. The modern-day Outback still lives up to those ideals. No sacrificing substance for style here. You still get 35.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats in place. With them down, you get a 73.3 cubic feet of room. There’s also more tech in the modern car, as you’d expect, but all the controls are laid out in a straightforward fashion.

Remember keys? On lesser models of the Outback, at least, you still get a physical key to start the car. The key itself functions as a key fob, so you still do get keyless entry. Nevertheless, for some it’s reassuring to actually start your car as opposed to just pushing a button. The rest of the car is equally simple – no weird screens, no gesture controls, no complicated climate control systems.

Admittedly, our 2018 Subaru Outback isn’t perfect. The panel gaps on both the exterior and interior are an issue. The infotainment screen and that key fob don’t always function flawlessly. At the end of the day, though, you still have an approachable package that makes the Outback reminiscent of wagons from days gone by. And at least the Subaru will start when you need it to.