Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Probably the biggest news here are the vastly improved Subaru Outback safety systems. Chief among these is EyeSight, which uses a pair of stereo cameras to provide a number of driver assistance devices. Available on automatic ‘Lineartronic’ Outbacks only (Subaru isn’t expecting to sell many manuals anyway), it’ll warn you if you stray out of your lane unintentionally.

There’s a throttle and braking control function if the car also senses you’re about to have a collision, and adaptive cruise control will adjust your car’s chosen speed to match the vehicle in front.

If that all sounds par-for-the-course in today’s health and safety society, think again. Where most attempts at this are effective at best and jerkily clumsy at worst, Subaru’s is different. There’s a fluid operation combining the systems and the over-riding impression is one of elegant simplicity.

It’ll pull the car up to a complete halt as well if it senses the driver is doing nothing to prevent an impending collision, but it does this in two stages of deceleration so it’s far more progressive than other firms’ attempts. If you need to swerve to miss an obstacle, the car will help out by braking the inside wheels and sharpening the turn. It won’t steer you into a barrier, though, so don’t worry about that.

It all feels very user-friendly and it’s amazingly easy to use. Simply control it all with the buttons on the steering wheel to set the cruise control speed and the distance you’d like to keep from the car in front and the car will do the rest.

Since the system can detect brake lights in front using the cameras, it’s able to prepare the car for what needs to happen next and during cruise control will decelerate far smoother than rivals’ laser-based systems. Go for an over-take and it’ll pick up speed immediately, so you’re not waiting until you’ve moved out before building velocity.

A lot of car firms nowadays are focusing on taking responsibility away from the driver, but Subaru’s approach is different. Instead of intervening, it will simply warn you if it detects something amiss. Drift out of your lane and the car beeps at you, rather than steering you back in. These systems are there to help out, not to take control away from the driver.

The EyeSight system will also prevent you from pulling away if the car in front is still stationary, potentially preventing one of the most common types of incident.

Other safety systems on offer include six airbags, whiplash-reducing front seats, two ISOFIX child seat mounting points, advanced traction and stability control systems, hill-hold assist for preventing rolling backwards upon a hill start and an alarm and immobiliser function.

Late in 2014 the Outback scored a maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, and that’s without some of the EyeSight features we mention above.

As you might expect for a car supposedly so versatile, Subaru Outback practicality is among its biggest strengths. You’ve got a 510-litre boot space, which is capacious to say the least, but the real news is the cabin. It’s huge. You can seat four adults in absolute comfort, with loads of head- and leg-room to spare. We’d happily sacrifice the boot space of other models for a more comfortable cabin, and that’s what’s happened here.

The boot, which measures a massive 1,848 litres with the rear seats folded flat, also has a usefully low loading lip. The Outback would make an excellent dog bus.

There are four cup-holders (two up front and two in the rear centre arm rest), a cubby under the stereo, storage in the doors and a good-sized glovebox.

SE Premium cars get a useful powered tailgate, though this is a little slow in operation and may result in getting wet if you’re caught in a deluge in the supermarket car park.

Basic equipment

The basic equipment list includes equipment that is standard across all versions of the Subaru Outback.

  • 3x3 point rear seat belts
  • ABS
  • Alarm
  • Alloy wheels
  • Audio remote
  • Body coloured bumpers
  • CD
  • Driver`s airbag
  • Electric driver`s seat
  • Electric mirrors
  • Folding rear seats
  • Front electric windows
  • Front fog lights
  • Headlight washers
  • Heated mirrors
  • Heated seats
  • Height adjustable drivers seat
  • Isofix child seat anchor points
  • Lumbar support
  • Parking sensors
  • PAS
  • Passenger`s airbag
  • Rear electric windows
  • Remote locking
  • Roof rails
  • Sat Nav
  • Service indicator
  • Side airbags
  • Steering wheel rake adjustment
  • Steering wheel reach adjustment
  • Traction control

Equipment by trim level

To view equipment options for a specific trim level, please select from the following list:

Equipment included on some trim levels
  • Cloth seat trim
  • Cruise control
  • Electric passenger`s seat
  • Electric sunroof
  • Leather seat trim

SE equipment

SE standard equipment
  • Cloth seat trim
SE optional equipment
  • Cruise control

SE Premium equipment

SE Premium standard equipment
  • Electric passenger`s seat
  • Electric sunroof
  • Leather seat trim
SE Premium optional equipment
  • Cruise control