Except for the Legacy GT's turbo-engine variant, the Outback shares much mechanically with its more asphalt-oriented sibling. As indicated above, two engines are available, a revised 2.5-liter, normally-aspirated flat four (including Subaru's i-Active valve lift system which fattens the engine's torque curve), offering 170 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 170 lb-ft of twist at 4000 rpm. This is available with either a new 6-speed manual transmission together with a viscous locking center differential, or a really, really all-new CVT companioned with an electronic continuously variable transfer clutch. A chain-type system, this CVT is impressively compact, and notably, the world's first longitudinal, awd CVT application. And for folks bewildered by its infinite gear-ratio options, a pair of steering wheel paddles afford a sort of a six-step program for recovering descreet-ratio addicts (each toggle beckoning a new synthetic ratio).
The new regular-grade gas-swilling 3.6-liter flat six (which debuted in the Tribeca) replaces the previous gas-picky, premium-grade-demanding 3.0-liter, while offering 16 extra horsepower and 32 additional lb-ft of torque in the bargain. Only one transmission is available here, a five-speed auto which is coupled to Subaru's VTD (Variable Torque Distribution) AWD system (wherein a center diff interacts with a continuously-variable hydraulic transfer clutch). No matter the engine (or transmission or awd system), all Outbacks now enjoy 18.5-gallon fuel tanks, a useful bump from the previous edition's 16.9 gallons. Mpg numbers are expected to be 19/27 for the manual-transmission 2.5i, 21/27 for its CVT version, and 17/23 for the 3.6R.
Securing either the 2.5-liter or 3.6-liter engines are new, widely-spaced mounts which greatly subdue the transfer of vibration. Moreover, these mounts themselves are joined by a new third mount located beneath the engine's nose. And this, in turn, was made possible by a new, full-perimeter front subframe which helps to both locate the wider-track MacPherson strut front suspension and better manage the powertrain's motion in a frontal crash. The Outback's outback is now supported by a double A-arm rear suspension, replacing the previous multi-link assembly, and all models now enjoy stability control, ABS and electronic brake-force distribution. And amusingly, every Outback variant is now shod with taller sidewall tires to improve ride quality-Subaru's tradition of counter-chic design is reassuringly alive and well.
And that's a throw-back detail the adventure-weary Indiana Jones in every Outback aficionado will surely appreciate.