2019 Subaru Outback 3.6 R AWD SUV Review

Subaru Outback AWD SUV Road Test Review 2019 MY

2018 COTY Outback 3.6 R front 34 2Subaru Outback 3.6R Overview

Subaru can justifiably lay claim to the fact that they started the AWD SUV revolution way back in the last century. It was in the 70’s with the Subaru Leone AWD wagon.

This has now seen, in Australia, the SUV segment account for some 50% plus of all passenger vehicle sales and Subaru has maintained its presence in that market.

We are testing the latest version of the Subaru Outback 3.6R which was updated early in 2018. Outback has been a previous winner in OzRoamer COTY.

Subaru Outback 3.6R External

While it forsakes the current high body design trend for its traditional wagon style, the Outback is every bit as capable as its SUV counterparts and, for the most part, way more capable than many. I like the style of the Outback wagon. It has a presence about it and while many call it sedate, I call it subtle.

The updated bonnet and chrome surround grill exude purpose without being overbearing. New design LED high and low beam headlights are integrated with Steering Responsive Headlight (SRH) and the Adaptive Driving Beam (ADB) functions. The bi-functional LED lights allow switching between high and low beam with a single bulb.

The LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) are integrated into the headlights and from the side, there is a high and again subtle hip line, 18 inch alloy wheels and roof rails. The colour coded mirrors and door handles blend into the body work.

From the rear, the wagon doesn’t have the slab back appearance that can prevail in other wagons. The wheel arches add a bolder, more muscular appearance. It’s very much a look that says I am good but I don’t have to brag about it.

2018 COTY Outback 3.6 R front 34 2

Subaru Outback 3.6R Internal

Internally, the Subaru Outback again exudes subtle style and luxury beyond its price. The updated interior is elegant, with soft touch surfaces and user friendly ergonomics that convey a luxurious impression for the occupants.

The updated electronically adjustable heated leather driver’s seat is really very comfortable, enjoys plenty of seat travel and with the height and reach adjustable leather steering wheel, it is simple to arrange a desired driving position. For my ageing back there is also an electronic lumbar support.

Even with the sunroof there is adequate head room for taller drivers. The driver’s foot rest for the left foot is comfortably positioned. Wider opening doors and higher seats allow easier access.

The dash in front of the driver is the familiar two dial style with a practical and informative dual multi-function display in-between. The centre stack has been redesigned and continues the subtle and stylish theme. It contains a feature-packed 8 inch touchscreen infotainment system with a wide array of functions plus speech recognition which again, is easy to use. This screen also houses the reversing camera display. Housed in the Multi-Function Display screen above the infotainment is a side and front view camera which is very handy for parking.

For those who require it, the system now has Apple CarPlay™ and Google Android Auto™ along with all the user interface benefits. The Outback 3.6R comes with factory fitted satellite navigation which is supplied by Tom Tom, one of the better and more user friendly systems available.

Rear seats have a cool recline function and are comfortable but suited more for two occupants rather than three. There is adequate head, shoulder, knee and leg room for normal sized passengers. There are two a/c vents in the rear but no USB ports.

Storage front and back is plentiful with door bottle holders, cup holders, centre console and a handy spot below the centre stack that holds wallet, phones keys etc.

The automatic boot lid is a nice touch and the boot space with automatic 60/40 split fold down seats provides a relatively large and versatile cargo space. Adjustable roof rails are another clever idea as is the rear door-space step that makes roof loading and unloading of the integrated crossbars easier. These negate the need for after-market rails and work extremely well.

2018 COTY Outback 3.6 R front 34 2

Subaru Outback 3.6R Features

Other features include Bluetooth/MP3/WMA/AUX/CD/voice command, compatible six-speaker audio touchscreen system, climate control air conditioning – dual zone with rear vents – electric parking brake, dual map lights, rain sensing auto windscreen wipers, light sensing headlights with auto on/off, DataDot security technology and a cool front wiper de-icer.

Sound is catered for by 11 harman kardon® speakers, subwoofer and amplifier. Occupant comfort features 8-way power seat with dual memory – driver, heated seats – driver and front passenger and one touch electronic folding rear seats.

2018 COTY Outback 3.6 R front 34 2

Subaru Outback 3.6R Engine and Drivetrain

The petrol engine is a 3.6 litre horizontally opposed 6 cylinder Boxer engine that produces maximum power output of 191 kW @ 6000 rpm and maximum torque of 350 Nm @ 4400 rpm. This is probably a little shy of some of the petrol competitors, yet the driving characteristics of the boxer engine, mean that it isn’t noticeable.

The power and torque peaks relatively high but the delivery is smooth and provides enough real world power. The Outback has a 6 speed Lineartronic™ CVT that is matched well enough to the engine characteristics to extract the best efficiency. There is also a two mode SI-Drive system. Fuel economy is just ok and on test we achieved around 12L/100Km with a mix of urban, freeway and off road driving.

2018 COTY Outback 3.6 R front 34 2

Subaru Outback 3.6R Driving Experience

All that theory is good to know, but it’s on and off the road where the Subaru Outback shines. On-road, the Outback is a relaxed, capable family wagon which transports its passengers in safety and comfort. Subaru’s combination of its Boxer engine, low centre of gravity and AWD powertrain creates stability and on-road handling that is amongst the best for this class of vehicle.

Off-road, the Outback is ideally suited to the adventurous family. Driving on forest trails, beach driving, trips to the snow, around the farm etc. are all easily accomplished. If the mood takes the driver, more adventurous off-road driving can be undertaken with extreme care. The limiting factors are the approach and departure angles.

Subaru’s active torque split Symmetrical All Wheel drive system has been perfected over a number of years now and works a treat. It provides active safety and a degree of off road capability that is strengthened by the X-Mode feature that enhances driver safety and confidence on steep hills off-road, where the optimum ride height of 213 mm is also a significant advantage.

Towing is ok with a limit of 1800 kg and 180 kg tow ball weight for the 3.6R. This is however enough for a small camper trailer, a seadoo or bike trailer which suits the adventurous lifestyle aspirations of buyers. While not everyone tests out the horn, I unfortunately had the need to use it and found it lacking in authority!

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 Subaru Outback 3.6R Safety

Safety has always been a feature of Subaru with their model range having a 5 star ANCAP safety rating for a number of years now but the latest Outback has taken safety to another level. There is the usual airbags complement including: curtain airbags – full length, driver’s knee airbag, dual front airbags, and dual front side airbags.

In practice, the Outback has a myriad of electronic safety features that beep and ding at you when you wander over lane lines or when a car or object is too close in front. Sometimes, it beeps or dings at you and you have no idea why.

Every new CVT Outback is also equipped with the award-winning third generation EyeSight® driver assist system, which can help reduce fatigue, avoid accidents or reduce impact. Key functions of EyeSight® driver assist system include Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking, Pre-Collision Braking Assist, Pre-Collision Steering Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Front Vehicle Start Alert.

Highlights of the current third-generation EyeSight® in Outback include: colour recognition – can see and interpret brake lights, pre collision steering assist – augmented collision prevention, using Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC). If the possibility of collision with a vehicle or obstacle in front occurs, VDC activates to assist the driver in potentially avoiding it.

The stereo camera achieves better active safety and less driver load. EyeSight® features four levels of inter-vehicle distance setting. The display of the driver’s own car appears when Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is turned on. Thankfully for some who find it a little touchy, the driver can choose not to activate the ACC. The system features a large 5-inch LCD display. External sensor and 3D image processing performance mean the system can easily recognise lateral and distant vehicles, stabilizing control in all speed zones and improving pedestrian pre-collision detection.

In further proof of Subaru’s safety commitment, Vision Assist features are also added to Outback, comprising: Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Change Assist, Auto dimming rear view mirror, High Beam Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert which detects passing vehicles when reversing from parking spaces.

Another safety development is the addition of an Emergency Stop Signal (ESS), which detects an emergency brake situation and flashes the hazard lights automatically, to warn following vehicles. One feature I liked is the unintended start prevention. This activates if an obstacle is detected in front of the vehicle, restricting sudden movement by unintended depression of the accelerator, providing a warning display and sound.

Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) constantly monitors vehicle movement. It flexibly controls the Antilock Brake System (ABS), Traction Control System (TCS, engine and brake LSD control), and VDC (engine and brake control for side slip prevention). VDC is also tuned for towing with the Subaru towbar. ATV is introduced to improve cornering performance and vehicle steering response. While cornering, brake is applied to inside wheels, distributing less torque to them; but more to outside wheels.

 Subaru Outback 3.6R Fit for Purpose

Subaru’s have always been for the sophisticated buyers that appreciate build quality and innovation along with an adventurous spirit. The Outback is for the family that will be heading further afield than the local shops. There are a lot of Outbacks every year at the ski fields as well as forest camping grounds and around the beach. All these areas are where the Outback excels.

There is also adequate room for a family and all the luggage for a driving trip. I have friends that own an Outback and regularly go scuba diving, or bike riding, utilising the clever roof rail system. Every new Subaru is covered by the the five year Capped Price Servicing program and the five year unlimited kilometre warranty. However the build quality is that good not much ever goes wrong with them.

Subaru Outback 3.6R Summary

The Outback is one of those vehicles that grows on you the more you drive it. This is because the subtle luxuries and safety features are not intrusive but become apparent as time progresses. That is the essence of great design. On and off road, the ride, handling and quietness is amongst the best in class.

The Subaru Outback should definitely be near the top of your list for a AWD SUV wagon that has the level of luxury and sophistication of many European vehicles that cost many thousands more. It is comfortable and enjoyable to drive and its subtle features, both safety and luxury, reveal themselves as you live with the vehicle longer.

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Good Bits:

  • Build Quality / design
  • Value for money
  • AWD Capability

 Not so Good Bits:

  • Front seat squab a little short
  • A little heavy on fuel
  • No head up display

Also look at

Model   Subaru Outback 3.6R

  • Model Price $49,140 MLP
  • Engine           3.6 H6 Boxer
  • Drivetrain     6 Sp CVT AWD
  • Power           191 kW @ 6000 rpm
  • Torque          350 Nm @ 4400 rpm
  • Safety            5 Star ANCAP
  • CO2               230 g/km
  • Economy ADR    9.9 L/100 km
  • Servicing      Fixed Price Lifetime
  • Tow Rating  1800 kg
  • Tow Ball Rating  180 kg
  • Warranty     5 Yrs / Unlimited km 5 Yrs Roadside Assist

Overall Rating:   86/100

  • Behind the Wheel 9
  • Comfort         9
  • Equipment         9
  • Ride & Handling 9
  • Performance         9
  • Practicality         9
  • Fit for Purpose         9
  • Towing Ability         6
  • Off Road Ability 7
  • Value for Money   10
2019 Subaru Outback 3.6R Review
  • Rating


The Subaru Outback should definitely be near the top of your list for a AWD SUV wagon that has the level of luxury and sophistication of many European vehicles that cost many thousands more. It is comfortable and enjoyable to drive and its subtle features, both safety and luxury, reveal themselves as you live with the vehicle longer.

About Rob Fraser 1800 Articles
Rob Fraser – General dogsbody & Director Rob is the founder of the business. He constantly mutters something about way too many red wines one evening being to blame. Often known for taking the 4WD in the driveway over the sports car, he has travelled pretty much everywhere in Australia and when he is bored goes for a drive. He first learned to drive on the farm in a left hand drive WW11 Jeep when he was 11, and was hooked on 4WDriving way back then. In addition to 4WD he is an avid motoring enthusiast and has maintained a strong interest in the industry ever since his teens. He has owned way too many cars in his time as well. Having previously lived at the top of corporate life he retired in 2000 and hasn’t put a suit and tie on since. Cars are his passion so why not have a business doing what you love he figures. He has towed either a caravan or camper trailer to most parts of Australia, has run guided tours for camper trailers’ and instructed drivers in off road towing.