Parked next to an older generation Subaru Outback, you quickly realize just how much the Subaru Outback has grown over the years. Not just in terms of its size, but the maturity of its design.
For 2023, the Outback has received a styling update that includes a revised front design, and technological improvements such as the latest version of the automaker’s EyeSight system.
We tested the 2023 Outback Premier XT – the top of seven trims offered – and with it, the EyeSight system is further enhanced. It adds a third wide-angle mono camera, which works with the dual-camera EyeSight system. This extra “Eye” allows for a wider field of vision, improving the ability to recognize pedestrians and bicycles at low speed. Yet another way Subaru continue to be a leader in vehicle safety.
Pricing for the Outback starts at $32,695 for the Convenience trim, while the Premier XT is listed at $46,395.
Powertrain: There are two engine choices for the Outback, depending on the trim you choose. The standard engine is a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine.
However, the Premier XT comes with a turbocharged 2.4L four-cylinder Boxer engine that is rated at 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. That is some pretty good power for the Outback.
It comes with a Lineartronic CVT featuring an 8-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddle shifters.
And of course, it came with Subaru’s vaunted Symmetrical full-time all-wheel drive system, which includes active torque vectoring, vehicle dynamics control, and X-MODE with hill descent control.
The AWD system made handling the first major blast of winter in Quebec a total breeze, as the Outback never put a wheel out of line in the heavy snow.
Exterior: Another feature that really helped in the snow is the Outback’s 220 millimetres of ground clearance (more than many SUVs), which allowed it to easy plow through snowbanks that would have otherwise been problematic for some vehicles.
As part of the restyling for 2023, the Outback (other than the Wilderness trims) receives a more prominent front grille, redesigned LED headlights and fog lights, and overall a more rugged look to the front bumper.
Designers also introduced some changes to the wheel arch cladding for adding protection and more rugged appearance.
And our tester had a somewhat unique colour for me, what Subaru calls Dark Mahogany Pearl.
I liked it and thought it gave it a bit of a classier appearance.
Interior: The Premier XT cabin is a fairly spacious and comfortable setting. And it has some added features that the base Outback does not, such as genuine Nappa leather seating surfaces, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, soft-touch interior trim pieces and more.
I also appreciated the clean look that comes with the larger infotainment screen, which removes the dual-screen setup I have experienced with Subaru before – with a smaller upper screen displaying items like fuel economy, etc. Now, everything is housed in one place and it’s a good look for the cabin. Some physical buttons and dials on either side of the screen ensure some functions remain easy to operate without needed to fidget with menus.
The seats are very comfortable and there is a good amount of legroom for backseat passengers.
Cargo space is very generous on the Outback, rivaling and even outdoing some SUVs.
Infotainment: Along with the upgraded 11.6-inch screen in the Premier XT, you also get a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with subwoofer and amplifier.
The on-screen menus are crisp and clear, and also easy to navigate. With the larger screen comes some digital controls for the ventilation, X-MODE and other vehicle features.
As is now pretty customary, it comes with satellite radio, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It also includes wireless device charging, but I found the placement of the compartment for the device problematic as it sits right ahead of the shifter. So when in Park, it makes it quite difficulty to retrieve your phone.
Drive: I have rarely been disappointed with how any Subaru drives, and the 2023 Outback is no exception.
The turbo engine delivers very good power under acceleration and highway passing, while the suspension does an excellent job keeping everything under control. The AWD system had no issues handling a snowfall during my week with the Outback, and the high ground clearance made going over snowbanks a breeze.
The cabin was also kept well insulated from outside noise, so the driving experience was enjoyable.
Overall, I think the Outback setup – especially with the turbo engine and that AWD system – is very well suited for Canadian weather.
Conclusion: The revised Outback, especially in the Premier XT trim, is a pretty complete package. It looks good with the new front end, the cabin on this trim is very well put together with top quality materials, and the driving experience is exactly what one expects from a Subaru.
I have always enjoyed this alternative to an SUV, and it’s a very worthy contender if you are in the market for a versatile, all-wheel drive vehicle that isn’t afraid to venture off the beaten path a little.
2023 Subaru Outback Premier XT
Price as tested: $46,395.00
Configuration: Front engine/All-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.4-litre 4-cylinder Boxer/ CVT
Power/torque: 260 horsepower/ 277 lb-ft of torque
Fuel (capacity): Regular (70 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 9.5 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 12.9 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/60,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Audi A4 Allroad, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota 4Runner