The 2015 Subaru Outback Is Just What We Expected

And that's a very good thing for Subaru. Here's why.

Apr 20, 2014 at 11:30AM


The all-new 2015 Subaru Outback was revealed in New York this week. Photo credit: Subaru.

Subaru took the wraps off its all-new 2015 Outback in New York on Thursday. I was there, and I got a close-up look at the new Subaru and heard what the company's executives had to say about it.

Here's what I can tell you: As I expected, the 2015 Outback is all new, but it's not a revolutionary product. As you can see from the photos, inside and outside it looks like, well, an Outback. In fact, casual car fans might be hard-pressed to tell the new one from the outgoing model. 

It's an all-new vehicle, but it's right in keeping with Subaru's don't-mess-with-success approach: a whole lot of incremental improvements, but no big changes.

I suspect that will turn out to be exactly the right approach.

A very familiar all-new package
Outside, at first glance, the new Outback is awfully familiar -- and that was very much Subaru's plan. But look more closely, and you'll see some new details: New LED headlight trims and taillights add a more premium look, while bigger fenders and wider tires give it just a hint more SUV-ness.

Inside, there's a big touchscreen in the center console, with what Subaru says is "a new generation of interface design." In keeping with what we've seen from other mass-market automakers recently -- and in keeping with Subaru's changes to the Legacy sedan, which was unveiled earlier this year -- the quality of the materials used on interior surfaces has gone up a notch.


Like the exterior, the inside of the 2015 Outback has been overhauled, but it's still familiar. Photo credit: Subaru.

Parts of the Outback's frame and some interior panels have been reshaped to provide a bit more visibility and passenger space without affecting the car's handling, Subaru says. The Outback's back seat felt a little roomier to me; Subaru says shoulder, elbow, and leg room are all improved. 

And as we've seen with other mainstream vehicles recently, the 2015 Outback gets a bunch of new safety-related technology. There's a new "EyeSight" blind-spot camera system, fog lights that respond to the steering to turn on automatically when you're cornering at night, and a new electronic collision-warning system.

The Outback will be offered with your choice of the latest versions of Subaru's two familiar engines: the 2.5-liter "boxer" four-cylinder making 175 horsepower, and the 3.6-liter six-cylinder boxer that makes 256 horsepower. 

The changes may seem subtle, but this is a big deal to Subaru
How important was the debut of the 2015 Outback to Subaru? It was this important: The boss came all the way from Japan to tell us about it.

Fuji Heavy Industries (NASDAQOTH:FUJHY) CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga spoke to reporters for several minutes before the new Outback was revealed at the New York International Auto Show this past Thursday. (Fuji Heavy also has aerospace and agricultural divisions, but Subaru is the company's core business.)  


After speaking to reporters, Fuji Heavy Industries CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga posed for photos with Subaru's U.S. chief, Thomas Doll (left), and the new Outback in New York on Thursday. Photo credit: Subaru.

Speaking carefully in English, Yoshinaga said that while the company is in the process of putting together its plan for the next several years, he was confident that "we at Subaru will continue to regard the U.S. as our most important market."

He left no question that the Outback is an extremely important product to Subaru, which has seen sales and profits boom recently. While sales of the Outback have recently trailed those of the Forester (which was all-new last year, and has posted big year-over year sales gains), the Outback handily outsells all other Subarus here in the United States. 

Preserving the formula that made the Outback successful
It's no secret why. From its introduction in 1994, the Outback has had a simple, winning formula: Add some of the capabilities of an SUV to a vehicle that otherwise looks, feels, and handles like a safe, familiar midsize station wagon.  

Subaru officials were at pains on Thursday to explain that the Outback is a vehicle that can go from a muddy trail in the woods to a night on the town without ever seeming out of place. (In fact, the actual unveiling of the new Outback included two actors who first appeared in a wooded scene with a bike rack on the car, then reappeared -- again in the Outback, but minus the bike rack -- dressed for a fancy night out.) 

I suspect they're right that that versatility -- coupled with Subaru's long reputation for reliability and fuel efficiency -- is the key to the Outback's enduring appeal. 

From what I saw on Thursday, Subaru may have improved the Outback, but it's done nothing to mess with that essential winning formula.

Are you ready to profit from this $14.4 trillion revolution?
Every investor wants to get in on revolutionary ideas before they hit it big -- like buying PC maker Dell in the late 1980s, before the consumer computing boom, or purchasing stock in e-commerce pioneer in the late 1990s, when it was nothing more than an upstart online bookstore. The problem is, most investors don't understand the key to investing in hypergrowth markets. The real trick is to find a small-cap "pure play" and then watch as it grows in explosive fashion within its industry. Our expert team of equity analysts has identified one stock that's poised to produce rocket-ship returns with the next $14.4 trillion industry. Click here to get the full story in this eye-opening report.

John Rosevear owns shares of The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information