Is it a station wagon or an SUV? It's kinda both. The new Outback AWD Sport XT has the AWD capabilities of an SUV but the concise handling of a station wagon and it's a wonderful combo for a family car.
The Sport XT is one of the two models Subaru is offering with a new turbo-petrol engine (hurrah) and it sits second from the top in the line-up but how does it stack up after a week with my family of three? Check it out below.
Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
The Sport XT will cost you $52,190, before on road costs, but you get a lot of features fitted as standard, which makes it feel like you're getting your money's worth.
Some of those features include, electric heated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, powered tailgate, dual-zone climate control, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, 18-inch alloy wheels, a full-size spare tyre and a large 11.6-inch touchscreen multimedia system.
And that's just a 'few' of the features! Even the entry-grade has great specs, if you didn't want the extra power from the turbo-engine.
The Sport XT comes with electric heated front seats. (image: Glen Sullivan)
Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?
I love how roomy the interior is. Taller occupants will be singing its praises (from both rows).
The 213mm ground clearance also makes this the perfect height to get in and out of, for my six-year old all the way to my 72-year old father. No grunts or complaints were heard this week!
Individual storage is great with a large glove box, middle console with a shallow shelf, two cupholders and drink bottle holders in the first and second rows plus double-sleeved map pockets in the second row.
The back seat is wide enough that, with the right seats, you should be able to fit three side-by-side. (image: Glen Sullivan)
There's no underfloor storage because of the full-size spare tyre but there are little pockets on the side of the wheel arches for smaller items. You can bump up the storage to 1783L when the back row is folded flat.
Considering Subaru's sponsorship of the ski fields, I was surprised that the back row only has a 60/40 split fold configuration and not a 40/20/40, which would allow for internal stowage of longer gear… like skis. However, you do get strengthened roof racks with anchor points for bigger gear.
There are ISOFIX child seat mounts on the outboard rear seats and three top tether child seat anchors. (image: Glen Sullivan)
The amenities in each row are pretty good, too. The rear seats enjoy directional air vents, USB ports, reading lights and heated outboard seats.
I enjoyed using the tech this week, it's easy to use and looks good. My favourite combo.
The 11.6-inch touchscreen multimedia system has built-in satellite navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It was ridiculously easy to connect my iPhone and I like the Bluetooth connectivity, too.
Boot storage is good with 522L of capacity and a level load space – perfect for sliding in a pram or luggage. (image: Glen Sullivan)
There is a USB-A and USB-C port and (unusually) an 'aux' port in the front row, but backseat passengers can also stay charged up with two USB-A ports. There are two 12-volt sockets for other charging options but basically, you're sorted with outlets.
Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission?
Our model has the new 2.4-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol 'boxer' engine with a maximum output of 183 kilowatts and 350 Newton metres of torque. That's a big step up in power from the previous non-turbo engine.
I thoroughly enjoyed driving this. The engine is powerful enough to easily handle winding mountain roads, always a plus in a big family car, but the pick up is also good and you can zip across traffic or overtake when needed.
The cabin is delightfully quiet and the suspension creates a smooth ride without being floaty.
The tight 11m turning circle and accurate steering means cornering feels concise and controlled.
I thoroughly enjoyed driving this. (image: Glen Sullivan)
It's pretty easy to manoeuvre this around but you'll miss having front parking sensors in a tight car park because the nose is deceptively long.
I like how crisp the image is from the reversing camera but it's disappointing that it doesn't have a 360-degree view camera for where this Sport XT sits in the model range.
Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?
The safety features are well-stocked in this and it has items I always like to see on a family car, like LED daytime running lights, automatic emergency braking, rear emergency braking, lane departure alert, lane keeping aid, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, a reversing camera and rear parking sensors, but not front parking sensors, which you'll miss.
A highlight is the 'Driver Monitoring System' which is a fantastic feature.
The system literally watches you and scans your face for signs of drowsiness and distraction. If it detects them, it will sound an alert and a pop up comes on in the instrument panel.
I tested the sensitivity a lot this week and couldn't stump it. Thumbs up.
I like how crisp the image is from the reversing camera but it's disappointing that it doesn’t have a 360-degree view camera for where this Sport XT sits in the model range. (image: Glen Sullivan)
The Outback has seven airbags, but it is missing the newer front centre airbag, which is a shame.
The Subaru Outback AWD Sport XT has been a great car for my family this week. It was popular with everyone and for good reason. It has loads of space, it's easy to handle and now has the grunt under the bonnet to satisfy me as a driver. However, you are paying for that grunt with the thirsty engine and that could become tiresome with the rising costs of fuel. At this price point, I also didn't love the weird-feeling material on the seats but it still impressed with its practicality and the safety features.
My son enjoyed being in this and loved the green accents and cool 'army' green colour. It was also a great height for him to get in and out of unassisted.
Smooth and easy handling
Near-perfect dimensions for urban and off-road adventures
Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication. Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.
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