Why The 2014 Subaru Outback Is A Car With Integrity

Front 3/4 view of 2014 Subaru Outback
The 2014 Subaru Outback.

We have discussed art (in the Lexus IS 350 F-Sport review), and form and function (in the Audi Q5 review).  But what about identity?  There is something compelling about a brand that stands for something and that does not blur that identity in an attempt to be all things to all people.  Such honesty can even overcome other shortcomings.

Subaru is a classic example.  For the most part, Subaru builds reasonably priced, but not cheap all-wheel drive vehicles of good quality, high value and remarkable utility.  The one that essentially sealed the image for the masses is this one, the Subaru Outback.

Rear 3/4 view of 2014 Subaru Outback
2014 Subaru Outback.

Originally a station wagon version of a Subaru sedan with a bit more ground clearance, the Outback has become its own machine as the crossover SUV boom has hit, which is spectacularly good timing.  Subaru dealerships outside the snow belt were frequently lonely places, but in the past year, dealerships from Mankato to Miami are finding themselves in short supply of just about every model, save the unloved Tribeca.

The Outback we tested was the 2.5i Limited model.  Base price $29,395 and an as-tested price of not much more than that---$33,030, thanks to a substantial list of standard features that left little wanting other than a moonroof and satellite navigation, which were the options that this car had.

It comes with the rugged and tested 2.5 liter four-cylinder.  Yes, there is a 3.6 liter six-cylinder available, but the 2.5 is more than adequate and the larger engine will cost you significantly at the gas pump.  The four is estimated by the EPA to deliver 24 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway.  That drops to 18 and 25 with the six.

Interior view of 2014 Subaru Outback
2014 Subaru Outback Interior

Standard on the Limited are leather-trimmed seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 440-watt Harmon/Kardon audio system, heated front seats and outside mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, a dual-zone climate control, remote keyless entry and a 65/35 split folding rear seat.

Needless to say, the Outback is popular with skiiers. But its real value is that it doesn't attempt to be stylish or to dazzle the driver with gadgetry and brightwork.  It tends to your comfort, it entertains you with a better-than-average audio system, it gets you where you are going without drama with its all-wheel-drive system and it does it without a huge toll on the ecology by squeezing out up to 30 miles from every gallon of gas, a saving of $1,500 in five years over the average new vehicle.

All those are attributes the typical Subaru buyer has embraced for decades.  Now, it appears, they are being appreciated by a larger audience.  That is what integrity gets you in the long run.