Ready to start a new chapter in its illustrious history, the fully redesigned 2015 Subaru Outback made its debut at the New York Auto Show boasting more of everything that matters. Still available in 2.5i/2.5i Premium/2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited variants, the fifth generation of Subie's versatile compact all-wheel-drive crossover SUV matches a bolder appearance with enhanced on/off-road capabilities, greater efficiency, new tech touches and a more refined overall character. 

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Marginally longer, lower and wider than the vehicle it replaces, the 2015 Outback has a sleeker and more stylish profile abetted by a redrawn greenhouse that brings a more steeply raked windshield and back glass. The new front-end shares grille and lighting cues with the also new-for-2015 Legacy Sedan while upsized wheel/tire fitments impart an even greater sense of purpose. Ground clearance on the 2015 remains a generous 8.7 inches, but boonie bounders will be happy to hear the recasting process also increased both the approach and departure angles. 

Inside, the 2015 Outback takes a step up in look and feel thanks to additional soft-touch surfaces, new trim, better sound isolation and enhanced standard features highlighted by a new gauge cluster plus a selection of model-specific upgraded infotainment systems that have a 6.2-inch touchscreeen display and full smartphone/Bluetooth/iPod integration. Modest gains in hip and shoulder room enhance passenger comfort while  cargo space rises from 34.3 to 35.5 cu ft with the Outback's rear seatback up and 71.3 to 73.3 cubic feet with it folded. In addition to new easy-release/fold-flat backs, accessing the rear bay is now more convenient thanks to a lower liftover height and an optional power rear hatch. 

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Motivation for the 2015 Outback comes from an enhanced and slightly more potent --- 175-hp vs 173-hp - version of the 2.5-liter flat-four and a carryover 256-horsepower/3.6-liter boxer-6 but both are now backed by a standard Lineartronic CVT that offers six virtual gears that can be selected using shift paddles on the steering wheel. That transmission change plus Active Grille Shutters on the 2.5 and new electric power-assist steering on both helps improve EPA numbers across the board, adding 2 mpg to the combined ratings. The 2015 Outback's mechanical remake bolsters the existing suite of vehicle dynamics systems with an extensively retuned suspension, upgraded brakes and enhanced Symmetrical AWD with Active Torque Split power vectoring for improved stability plus Subaru's driver-selectable X-Mode system that further optimizes engine and CVT mapping on all terrains.  

Safety also figures prominently into the 2015 Outback's recasting process, with all models getting new front seat-cushion airbags, rollover sensors and rearview cameras while Limited-spec vehicles add a Rear Vehicle Detection System (optional on the 2.5i Premium) that includes Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The latest version of Subaru's stereo-camera EyeSight driver-assist system also is an option on Premium and Limited models. 

The 2015 Subaru Outback will arrive in dealers this summer. Pricing will be announced closer to its on-sale date. 

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