A mid-size car that could roam through challenging terrains and climes did not exist before 1994. But with the introduction of the Subaru Outback, a model manufactured by Japanese automaker Fuji Heavy Industries, the story took a more exciting turn. With some similarity to the second-generation Subaru Legacy, Outback became a vehicle perfect for drivers and families who wanted a tough ride for different seasons and everyday driving needs. As a unique idea, the Subaru Outback, with its advantages over truck-based SUVs, was able to save the then-dying distributor Subaru of America.
1994 – 1998: First generation (standard features for a touring wagon)
The original Subaru Outback, also called the second-generation Subaru Legacy, looked like a sport utility vehicle with a normal ground clearance. This model had a standard suspension, berber carpet floor mats, heavy cloth interior, fog lights, and a luggage rack. But when the 1996 model was introduced, the look shifted to a more aggressive style, with front bumper covers, taller tires, and a higher ground clearance. The models also used Subaru’s own EJ engine, which had 16-valve four cylinders in horizontal alignment. These all-wheel-drive models had a fuel capacity of 2.5 liters, and depending on the model, transmission could be automatic or manual, with some equipped with continuous AWD system. Some luxury features included a Momo black leather steering wheel, plaid seat upholstery, and a digital climate control.
1999 – 2003: Second generation (upgraded features for a sedan-style SUV)
Also called the Lancaster, second-generation Subaru Outbacks still had the horizontal engine layout but with two additional cylinders. The main difference in these models was the removal of the foldable rear seats, but that was compensated with the addition of headrests for these seats. The ground clearance was 190mm, five millimeters higher than the first-generation units. Running at 165 horsepower with a peak torque of 166 pound-feet, these models were better than the previous ones in terms of power. Some models that had the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine had a timing belt that wore around a hundred thousand miles; others with the 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine used instead a timing chain that rarely needed replacement. The luxury features included were a McIntosh stereo system, a six-disc CD changer, Vehicle Dynamics Control, dual moon roofs, and a black leather steering wheel matching with the parking brake handle and gearshift knob.
2004 – 2008: Third generation (more style and performance upgrades for a supercharged Outback)
Models belonging to this generation were equipped with a 3.0-liter engine with six cylinders that were horizontally arranged. With a ground clearance of 220mm, this model looked more like an SUV, but was still a little bit lower. The standard features were MP3 compatibility for the stereo, wood and leather steering wheel, perforated leather seats, glass moon roof, and GPS navigation. In 2005, a model that could produce 243 horsepower with a four-cylinder engine came out. This model was available in any of the three transmissions: 5-speed Auto-SportShift, 5-speed manual, and 4-speed Auto-SportShift.
2009 – present: Fourth generation (upgrades for a safer, user-specific Outback)
Models introduced from 2009 onwards offered more security features, which included airbags for the passengers and driver, side airbags, side curtain airbags, and a knee bolster airbag for the driver. The ground clearance remained at 220mm, and there were a lot of color options for the exterior. A lot of features were not available in all models, wherein some were only made available for limited-edition units and specific trims. Some of the upgrade options available were Bluetooth and iPod capability, a glass moon roof, cloth interiors, a stereo with CD changer, and a digital climate control system.