Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Subaru Outback

This is another area Subaru has done a lot of work on, and it shows. We’ve only driven SE Premium models, so can only report on those for the time being.

The clever trip computer (standard on automatic models) displays all of the information you need to drive the car using the excellent adaptive cruise control. It’s flanked by a rev-counter on the left and a speedo on the right, while rings around both can change into one of ten colours.

These rings will also change to red when the Eyesight safety system is active or in manual mode. The multifunction steering wheel has controls for the stereo, Bluetooth telephony, cruise control and trip computer.

What’s the Outback like to sit in?

We found the driving position brilliant and easy to adjust with the electric leather seats on the cars we tested.

The gear lever sits in a conventional location and in front of the electric handbrake, while most of the parts you touch are made of tough yet soft plastic. By far the most obvious part being the dash, which is covered in high-quality material that feels like it would survive a cataclysmic disaster.

There are some harder, cheaper substances used in parts – such as under the dash and to the sides of the central console – and we’re not sure about the piano black finish around the stereo screen either; we can imagine infuriating fingerprints could become the bane of your life. Not the end of the world by any stretch, though.

Infotainment system lacks appeal

The multimedia system itself is very impressive. While it perhaps lacks some of the graphic appeal of higher-cost attempts, it echoes the rest of the car’s mantra in that it simply works, from the moment you switch the car on, quickly, effectively and without fuss.

The screen itself feels advanced compared to most – it registers your inputs confidently and immediately provides the next necessary option. It’s easy to get this wrong, and many very expensive systems do, so this is another area the Outback impresses.

It’s perhaps worth saying here that Subaru hasn’t reinvented the wheel in this respect. Rivals do have equally (if not higher) quality interiors. This one works very well, though, and it’s tough too.

Subaru Outback

Here’s another mightily impressive attribute. Subaru Outback comfort levels are exemplary. We loved the seats in our top-spec SE Premium model, and the ride quality (thanks to plump tyres and soft suspension) is great too.

The petrol model is marginally better in this respect, presumably because it weighs a good chunk less than the diesel over the nose of the car. The same is true of engine noise, which is far more evident in the latter model.

Subaru Outback: Hushed ride, comfortable interior

Subaru has done a lot of work on the exterior of the car to improve looks, but also to improve aerodynamic performance. While the primary result of this is lower running costs, it means there’s less wind noise too. Road roar, thanks to the fat tyres, is almost non-existent too.

The sheer size of the cabin is worthy of mention here. It’s tall enough that a six-foot-tall person has no hope of running out of headroom and wide enough for two adults to sit side-by-side without feeling like you’re getting too cosy.

Subaru has even gone to the trouble of putting extra padding on the arm-rests.