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Subaru introduces 5th-gen AWD Outback with up to 10% improvement in fuel economy

17 April 2014

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2015 Outback. Click to enlarge.

Subaru of America, Inc. introduced the 5th-generation 2015 Outback. The 2015 all-wheel drive Outback offers the roomiest interior, most capable chassis and highest fuel-efficiency in the model’s 20-year history.

New for 2015, all Outback models come standard with the Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission), which features paddle-shift control switches and is instrumental in the Outback’s significantly improved fuel economy. Manufacturer-estimated ratings of 25 mpg city / 33 mpg highway / 28 mpg combined (9.4, 7.1 and 8.4 l/100 lm, respectively) for the Outback 2.5i model are up from 24/30/26 (9.8, 7.8 and 9.0 l/100 km, respectively) in the 2014 model—a 7.7% improvement in the combined figure.

These figures place the 2015 Outback 2.5i at the top of the midsize crossover class, bettering front-wheel drive versions of some competitive crossovers, Subaru noted.

Due largely to its new Lineartronic CVT, the 6-cylinder Outback 3.6R Limited also improves fuel economy, with manufacturer-estimated ratings of 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway/22 combined (11.8, 8.7 and 10.7 l/100 km, respectively) vs. 17/25/20 (13.8, 9.4 and 11.8 l/100 km, respectively) for the previous version—a 10% improvement in the combined figure.

The 2015 Outback 2.5i is powered by a double-overhead-cam (DOHC) FB series 2.5-liter BOXER engine that debuted for 2013 and now receives numerous enhancements for lighter weight, improved efficiency and quieter operation.

Power is increased slightly, to 175 hp (130 kW) vs. 173 hp (129 kW) before. Peak torque remains at 174 lb-ft (236 N·m) but is spread over a broader engine speed range for more responsive performance in all driving situations.

In the Outback 3.6R Limited, the 3.6-liter BOXER 6-cylinder engine produces 256 hp (191 kW) and 247 lb-ft (335 N·m) of peak torque. Notably, the 3.6 engine sustains at least 225 lb-ft (305 N·m) of torque from 2,000 to 6,000 rpm, making the Outback 3.6R Limited feel exceptionally smooth and responsive in everyday driving.

While all Outback models now come standard with the Lineartronic CVT, the 6-cylinder model uses a high-torque version. Changes made to reduce friction in the CVT contribute to higher fuel efficiency. The CVT’s selectable manual mode offers six pre-selected ratios to allow the driver to “shift” manually using steering wheel paddle switches. This feature can provide added driver control when driving down inclines, for example.

A new Active Grille Shutter system on the 2015 Outback 2.5i helps to improve fuel economy by reducing wind resistance when closed. Electric Power-Assisted Steering and improved aerodynamics also contribute to the increased efficiency in all models.

Standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and enhanced capability. A newly refined version of the Active Torque Split version of Symmetrical AWD comes standard in all 2015 Outback models. The system’s electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch actively controls torque distribution in response to driving conditions and wheel slippage. Taking input from acceleration, steering angle and yaw rate sensors, Active Torque Split AWD optimizes traction and steering response when accelerating through turns and curves, particularly when the road surface is slippery.

All 2015 Outback models come equipped as standard with the X-Mode system, which debuted on the 2014 Forester. When engaged by a switch on the console, X-Mode optimizes engine output and CVT ratio position, increases Active All-Wheel Drive engagement and uses enhanced control logic for the Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) system to reduce individual wheel spin.

Engaging X-Mode also activates the new Hill Descent Control, which uses engine braking to help maintain a constant vehicle speed when the Outback is traveling downhill, enhancing vehicle control. New Incline Start Assist helps to momentarily minimize forward or backward vehicle rolling on inclines, and the electronic Hill Holder System holds the vehicle in place until the driver presses the accelerator pedal to pull away from a stop.

Safety and security technology. The 2015 Outback adds new front seat-cushion airbags that help to keep occupants in place in a frontal collision. All trim lines come standard with a rear-view camera, and a new rollover sensor can deploy the side curtain airbags if an imminent rollover is detected.

For added nighttime security, the 2015 Outback features new standard Welcome Lighting that automatically turns on cabin illumination and exterior lights as the driver approaches or departs the vehicle. The Limited trim offers a Keyless Access & Start system with PIN Code Access.

The new Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection System, which is standard on Limited trims and available for the 2.5i Premium, offers three functions:

  • Blind Spot Detection detects vehicles on either side of the vehicle, in the driver’s blind spots;

  • Lane Change Assist detects fast-approaching vehicles in adjacent lanes; and

  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert detects vehicles approaching from a perpendicular direction while reversing, such as from a driveway. LED indicators on the side mirrors alert the driver. Rear Cross Traffic Alert uses an indicator in the rear view camera display.

The 2015 Outback offers the latest version of the EyeSight driver-assist system, the highest-rated front crash prevention system by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Available for Outback Premium and Limited trim lines, EyeSight uses Subaru-developed stereo camera technology and integrates Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking and Vehicle Lane Departure Warning. Subaru expects the 2015 Outback to achieve the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award, as the 2014 Outback did.

Models equipped with EyeSight also come with new Steering-Responsive Fog Lights. The feature, which works only when the fog lights are turned off, activates the left or right fog light independently, depending on vehicle speed and steering angle, to provide enhanced illumination in the direction of the turn. The fog lights are pre-aimed for maximum coverage in corners.

Agility and ride. Subaru extensively revised and retuned the MacPherson front strut suspension and double-wishbone rear suspension for greater handling agility and a more compliant ride—a difficult balance. New quick-ratio electric power-assisted steering delivers outstanding feel and also helps reduce fuel consumption.

Active Torque Vectoring, an enhancement of the Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) stability and traction control system, fosters more neutral cornering by applying brake pressure to the inside front wheel. The Outback 2.5i now uses larger brakes previously available only on the 6-cylinder model, and all models now have ventilated rear discs in place of solid discs used previously. The Brake Assist safety system automatically applies maximum braking pressure in an emergency stop.

The cabin blocks more sources of noise thanks to a new acoustic windshield, liquid-filled engine mounts, thicker panels in key locations (floor, toeboard, rear wheel apron, inner fenders) and expanded use of foam insulation and floor damping material.

The 2015 Outback arrives in Subaru dealerships in summer 2014.

April 17, 2014 in Engines, Fuel Efficiency, Transmissions, Vehicle Systems | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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