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2015 Outback 3.6R Limited: More luxury with improved recreation abilities

We take the 2015 Subaru Outback and put it through a vigorous test at altitude. How did the new crossover handle the extreme environment?

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The new 2015 Subaru Outback is all about providing its owners a versatile multi-use recreational vehicle that will take them just about anywhere they want to go. Subaru redesigned the Outback wagon for 2015, and it continues in the tradition that made it a popular crossover for those with active lifestyles. But the new-generation 2015 Outback comes with more luxury, safety and high-tech equipment than ever before.

This week we are test driving the 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited ($32,995) model. It comes with the optional Moonroof Package ($2,195) that includes Keyless Access and Push-Button Start plus Navigation. Total price including $850 destination and delivery is $36,040. The 2015 3.6R Limited model comes with a $900 price increase over the outgoing model.

What new for 2015?

The new Outback midsize crossover is all-new for 2015 and rides on an all-new platform with standard Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive and Lineartronic CVT. The five-speed manual transmission is no longer available for 2015 here in the U.S. market. Outback gets extensive revisions like quietening updates that includes a new acoustic windshield and liquid-filled engine mounts. Underneath, the crossover gets a new standard Active Torque Vectoring and electric power steering for greater agility. Outback features new updated styling on the outside and a more upscale interior with extensive soft-touch materials used throughout.

Inside Outback Limited

As we entered the cabin of the new 2015 Outback, we could tell that the Limited offers a higher level of luxury than the previous generation Outback. It has a new cleaner styling, more upmarket feel and uses more soft-touch materials throughout than ever before. The Limited is definitely more upscale and comes with leather seats, two-position driver's side memory, heated front and rear seats, rear seat climate control vents, and a harman/kardon 576-Watt-equivalent audio system with 12 speakers.

Outback feels bigger even though it keeps the same footprint. Interior volume is increased to 108.1 cu. ft. (cargo area max volume 73.3 cu. ft.). The standard 60/40 split-fold rear seat expands carrying capacity and access to a larger cargo area. We hauled lots of boxes this week and lowered the seats for expanded cargo carrying ability.

Other upgrades inside this Limited tester included an all-new infotainment that includes standard touch screen display and high resolution backup camera as standard on all trim levels. The backup camera came in handy backing out with a full load of boxes in the rear cargo area that blocked our view. Other safety features in the Limited include new front seat-cushion airbags to keep occupants in place during frontal collisions, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. We played with the Limited's 7-inch touch screen display with multi-touch control that offers swipe, scrolling gesture control. It worked as advertised and made it easy to scroll through the menu to find all the new high-tech voice-activated controls, SiriusXM, SMS text messaging and iTunes tagging features.

Power and fuel-mileage specifications

The 2015 Outback Limited is powered by the same 256-hp, 247 lb.-ft. of torque, 3.6-liter BOXER six-cylinder boxer engine. It comes mated to a Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) automatic with 6-speed manual mode and steering wheel paddle shifters. With the new CVT, the Outback wagon has improved fuel economy while still using regular grade unleaded gasoline at the pump. The new 2015 model now gets an EPA estimated 20/27/22 mpg city/hwy/combined.

On the road with the 3.6R Limited

We are able to test the new Outback 3.6R Limited where many of these multi-use crossover are purchased. Here in Colorado, the Northeast and Northwest areas of the country are ideal climates and terrain for this type of vehicle. We took the Outback up I-70 at altitudes between 9000-10,000 ft in elevation and the crossover had plenty of power for all driving situations. It has plenty of torque to get you moving and we powered up the mountain with ease. The ride was smooth and comfortable and the MacPherson strut front suspension and double-wishbone rear suspension offered a nimble, sporty feel in the tight mountain corners where we live near Evergreen. Of course, Outback still features 8.7 inches of ground clearance for all-terrain ability.

Off-road with Outback

Because we live in the mountains west of Denver, it affords us a few nice off-road trails to test the latest vehicles. The new Outback is really a contrast in function between luxury and function. The inside is plush and comfortable, but underneath, this crossover is designed for getting away from civilization. The 2015 Outback now comes with a new level of features for off-road recreational use.

All 2015 Outback models now come equipped with the X-Mode system, which debuted on the 2014 Forester. We engaged it by simply flipping a switch on the console. Outback owners won’t be sitting on the couch watching extreme sports. The’ll be in their new Outback in the back country and on the way to the ski slopes. This vehicle can navigate high mountain passes that are covered in snow and ice. The new Outback is even better for extreme conditions with X-Mode. We used it on a steep hill as we were going downhill. X-Mode keeps the vehicle from moving out too quickly in steep terrain.

Outback also comes with a newly refined version of the Active Torque Split version of Symmetrical AWD. So Outback’s ability to handle extreme conditions, gets better. The system’s Active Torque Split AWD optimizes traction and steering response when accelerating through turns and curves, particularly when the road surface is slippery. We took this tester off-road and it handled the steep terrain without issue. We took it up a steep rocky incline, and all four wheels dug in and it pulled the hill with minimal effort. You won’t find a multi-purpose crossover with better off-road capabilities than the new 2015 Outback.


The new-generation Outback is for anyone with an active lifestyle who needs a versatile multi-use recreational vehicle that will take them just about anywhere they want to go. It features a standard Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system with new upgrades for even better off-road capabilities. But the new 2015 Outback comes with more luxury, safety and high-tech equipment than ever before. The 3.6R Limited is the top of the lineup and offers a higher level of luxury than the previous generation Outback. The more powerful 3.6-liter 6-cylinder has more power for hauling extra cargo and people, and the new CVT automatic gets decent mileage and still uses regular unleaded fuel. Limited offers another level of comfort with leather, heated seats and a number of high-tech features. The new 2015 Subaru Outback gives buyers an extra level of security with its many safety features.

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