Subaru’s Outback will celebrate a quarter of a century on sale in Australia with an all-new version arriving in March next year, with more technology but a familiar look.
The sixth generation of the Japanese go-anywhere wagon will be the latest model to graduate onto Subaru’s Global Platform (SGP), bringing a host of safety, efficiency and handling advantages enabled by the new architecture.
Despite the significant evolution in its underpinnings, the new version’s aesthetics have not taken such a dramatic leap forward.
While there are noticeable evolutions to the head and taillight design as well as some other subtle body re-sculpting, the 2021 Outback is immediately recognisable.
No full images of the Australian market version of the new model have yet been released, but the sixth-gen Outback is already rolling on US roads and offers a good idea of what to expect.
However, Subaru Australia has confirmed local models will arrive with their own unique specification that's not offered anywhere else in the world.
What has been confirmed is that all versions will be powered exclusively by a 2.5-litre boxer engine.
However, that information does not include if the mentioned engine is the naturally aspirated four-cylinder similar to the existing unit or the more potent turbocharged unit available in North America.
If the turbo engine is made available to Australians, it will give the Outback a powerful 194kW/375Nm petrol unit that comes close to the performance of the current 3.6R flagship.
An increase of towing capacity to 2000kg (braked) adds fuel to the theory that a turbo-petrol powered Outback is on the way.
Subaru Outback Touring (US market)
Speaking of which, no mention is made of either the 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel or a 3.6-litre naturally aspirated six-cylinder that are offered in the run-out line-up.
Subaru is also silent on the possibility of a hybrid version of the Outback to join the XV and Forester electrified forays, but the new SGP has the flexibility for hybridisation so watch this space.
While about half of all Subarus sold in the US – including the Outback – are produced in the local Indiana factory, Australian-market Outbacks will be stamped and screwed together at the company’s Japanese plant in Yajima.
Subaru Outback Onyx special edition (US market)
Proprietary EyeSight safety and driver assistance technology that has earned great acclaim in the Forester will also migrate over to the new Outback, bringing the latest version of Subaru’s technology suite.
It includes a Driver Monitoring System, driver recognition for automatically setting seat position and other preferences as well as forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep/departure warning.
Another key feature of the 2021 Outback can be found at the centre of its spacious cabin and a new 11.3-inch touchscreen which has been rotated 90 degrees for a more smartphone-like portrait orientation.
The new central display will offer more intuitive interaction with information and entertainment systems as well as extra “key vehicle controls", according to Subaru.
Subaru’s respected permanent all-wheel-drive system will be standard as before along with a number of all-terrain ability boosting features including a generous ground clearance.
The continuously variable transmission (CVT) auto will also carry over to the new model although any enhancement or update is yet to be detailed.
Despite its status as one of the Japanese car maker’s older models - the fifth-generation arrived in 2014 - the Outback is still the company’s third best-selling model, behind the much more recent XV and Forester.
A fresh new version with a generous list of technology, practical features and safety systems will doubtless put a spring in the model’s step when it touches down next year.
Exact Australian specifications, line-up and local pricing are expected soon and the full features are promised early in 2021.