The 2013 Outback features a restyled front end, with new headlights, grille, front bumper and fog lights, for a more powerful appearance. Standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive distinguishes the Outback from crossover competitors, which generally offer all-wheel drive as an extra-cost option. The Outback continues with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, which is higher than many crossovers and some dedicated SUVs.
The 2013 Outback 2.5i models debut a new double-overhead-cam (DOHC) 2.5-liter FB series Boxer engine for increased performance and fuel efficiency. The new engine produces 173 hp and 174 lb.-ft. of torque, compared to 170 hp and 170 lb.-ft. with the previous engine. More significant is that the new engine produces greater low-end torque across a broad speed range, making the 2013 Outback 2.5i models feel more responsive in everyday driving.
Outback 2.5i and 2.5i Premium models offer a choice between a standard 6-speed manual transmission and the second-generation Lineartronic CVT; the latter is standard on 2.5i Limited models. Outback 3.6R models continue with a 256-horsepower 3.6-liter 6-cylinder Boxer engine and 5-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission.
Official EPA fuel economy figures are not yet available, but Subaru projects that the 2013 Outback 2.5i with the Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) will achieve 24-mpg city/30 mpg highway/26 mpg combined, up compared with the 22/29/24 for the 2012 model. Subaru also projects that the 2013 Outback will achieve a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The 2013 Outback models add a new Brake Override system, and now an airbag deployment signals a fuel cutoff.
Unlike a conventional automatic transmission that uses fixed gear ratios, a CVT provides infinite variability between the lowest and highest available ratios with no discernable steps or shifts. The CVT continuously and smoothly adapts to performance demand, helping to keep the engine in its most efficient operating range. Models with the CVT also feature a 6-speed manual mode with steering wheel paddle shifters, which allow the driver to control the transmission via six pre-set ratios.
The 2013 Outback (and Legacy) models debut Subaru’s new EyeSight™ driver-assist system, which integrates Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking and Vehicle Lane Departure Warning. Projected to be one of the most affordable such technologies available in the U.S. market, EyeSight uses a stereo camera design developed by Subaru to provide a detection angle wider than that of radar-based systems.
The EyeSight system processes stereo images to identify the vehicles traveling in front, as well as obstacles, traffic lanes and other items. Below relative speeds of approximately 19mph, EyeSight is capable of detecting pedestrians or objects in the vehicle’s path and can activate in order to mitigate or even avoid the collision. Under certain circumstances, Eyesight is able to bring the car to a complete stop.*
At relative speeds above approximately 19 mph, EyeSight can apply the brakes when an object is detected, and will attempt to brake if the driver takes no evasive action, or does not brake appropriately, to help mitigate collision damage.
The Lane Departure and Sway Warning feature can detect if the car begins to wander outside the intended lane without a turn signal being used, or if the car begins to sway within the travel lane. Intended for freeway use, Eyesight’s Adaptive Cruise Control system can maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front, braking and/or accelerating the car as needed to maintain the driver-selected target speed and traveling distance. Adaptive Cruise Control is operational from 1-87 mph and can fully brake the vehicle to a stop if the system “locks on” to a vehicle ahead. As an added convenience, Adaptive Cruise Control assists the driver in heavy “stop and go” freeway traffic by maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.
In heavy traffic conditions, EyeSight will also alert the driver when the vehicle ahead has moved if he or she doesn’t react within several seconds. The technology can also help reduce collision damage by cutting the throttle when it senses an obstacle in front, but the accelerator pedal continues to be pushed.
The Subaru Outback is smart-sized compared to other 2-row crossover vehicles, featuring a mid-size interior in an easy-to-maneuver and off-road-capable wagon. The Outback provides the crisp car-like handling with the versatility of an SUV. The 8.7 inches of ground clearance is higher than for many large SUVs and crossovers while maintaining a low step-in height.
Total passenger volume of 105.4 cu. ft. and maximum cargo capacity of 71.3 cu. ft. (with the standard 60/40 split rear seatbacks folded) rivals that of larger, heavier vehicles. The Outback also features a rear cargo area that is deeper and wider than in many SUVs.
Numerous enhancements to the body structure, suspension and steering give the Outback an even smoother and quieter ride for 2013, while also helping increase handling agility. Greater stiffness at key points of the structure, including the front strut mounts and rear frame rails, helps to reduce transmission of vibration while also contributing to more responsive handling.
In tandem with the structural enhancements, Subaru increased the diameter of the double-wishbone rear suspension’s sway bar and also increased the spring and damper rates and bushing stiffness. As a result, body roll has been reduced by up to 40 percent. The Outback driver will experience a more responsive, yet quieter vehicle overall.
New, more comfortable seat fabric and a new light matte wood grain trim provide a sophisticated appearance. The Outback Limited models for 2013 offer a new Special Appearance Package option that provides a new Keyless Access & Start system along with a two-position memory system for the already-standard 10-way power driver’s seat. With the Keyless Access & Start system, the driver, while carrying the remote control in a pocket or purse, can unlock the car by touching the door handle button. The rear gate also has an unlock touch sensor.
Also in the Limited models, a new electro-luminescent instrument cluster integrates the 3.5-in. color screen for the multi-information display, which also shows EyeSight functions when the car is so equipped. Rear A/C outlets have also been added as standard to Limited models, to make the standard 60/40 split-reclining rear seats an even more hospitable place to be.
The Outback was the first crossover to feature as standard factory-installed foldable roof crossbars. For 2013, a new adjustable design allows the rear crossbar to be moved rearward to carry longer items; the distance between the front and rear bars can now be increased from the standard 29.9 inches up to 39.7 inches. This enhancement, made as a direct result of Outback owner feedback, allows greater ease in carrying longer items like kayaks and other outdoor gear on the already easy-to-use roof rack system.
The 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i models are available in three trim levels – base, Premium and Limited. Outback 3.6R models will be offered in base and Limited. The base 2.5i features a long roster of standard features, among them steering wheel cruise control and audio switches; Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming capability; a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat with recline feature; electronic parking brake with Hill Holder System and an automatic headlight function.
Outback Premium models add additional amenities, including a 10-way power driver’s seat (with power lumbar support adjustment) and driver’s auto up/down window; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter (CVT); instrument panel storage bin with door; ambient light for the overhead console; body-colored side mirrors and 17-in. alloy wheels (all 3.6R trim lines have 17-in. alloy wheels as standard).
The Premium models offer three option packages. (1) The All-Weather Package adds heated front seats and mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer. (2) The Power Moonroof Package with Rear Vision Camera also includes an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with Homelink garage-remote function. (3) The harman/kardon® display-type premium audio system with standard XM® satellite radio service (4-month free trial subscription included), a 4.3-in. color display, and 440-watt high-performance audio amplifier and 9 harman/kardon premium speakers, with subwoofer.
The Limited trim lines add to the Premium a standard Lineartronic CVT, perforated leather upholstery, dual zone automatic climate control, the display-type harman/kardon Premium Audio Package, rear A/C ducts, electro-luminescent gauges and a 4-way power front passenger seat. The Limited models also exclusively offer an available voice-activated GPS navigation system with a 7-in. LCD display, Rear Vision Camera and XM NavTraffic, among other features. (See “Updated Audio Technology” section, below.)
The standard audio system in the Outback 2.5i models is upgraded for 2013. New features include Bluetooth hands-free phone capability and audio streaming, iPod® control capability and a USB port. The system continues with an AM/FM stereo, single disc CD player, Radio Data Broadcast System (RDBS), 3.5mm aux. input jack and 4 speakers.
The top-level Outback Limited models exclusively offer an optional new navigation system with premium audio. In addition to all of the features in the harman/kardon Premium Audio Package, this option includes: touch-screen GPS navigation system with 7.0-inch LCD display; voice activated controls and navigation; XM NavTraffic (subscription required); Rear Vision Camera, and an SD card slot for convenient navigation map updates.
Subaru offers three different Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive systems in the 2013 Outback line, each tailored to the type of transmission. In Outback 2.5i models equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission, the Continuous AWD system uses a viscous-coupling locking center differential to distribute power a nominal 50/50 front to rear. Slippage at either the front or rear wheels will cause the system to send more power to the opposite wheels.
Outback 2.5i models equipped with the Lineartronic CVT use Active Torque Split AWD. An electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch actively controls power distribution in response to driving conditions and wheel slippage.
The Outback 3.6R uses the Variable Torque Distribution (VTD) AWD system with a 5-speed electronic automatic transmission. A planetary center differential works with an electronically controlled continuously variable hydraulic transfer clutch to manage power distribution. The VTD system normally sends more power to the rear wheels (45:55) to enhance handling agility, and it can continuously adjust power distribution in response to driving and road conditions.
The Subaru Ring-Shaped Frame Reinforcement body structure has been proven for occupant protection in more than a decade of use. Inside, the Outback features standard front side pelvis/torso airbags and side curtain airbags that offer front and rear outboard seat coverage.
Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) combines stability and traction control functions, and traction control works to augment the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive functionality. The 4-wheel disc Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) integrates Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and the Brake Assist safety system that automatically applies maximum braking pressure in an emergency stop. The electronic Hill Holder System holds the vehicle in place until the driver presses the accelerator pedal to pull away from a stop. New for 2013, a Brake Override system ensures that engine power will be cut when both the brake and accelerator are pressed simultaneously.
Subaru produces a full line of all-wheel drive sedans, crossovers and SUVs, and for 2013 has also introduced the rear-wheel drive BRZ sports car to its portfolio.