The Subaru Outback was one of the original modern crossover suvs, a two-tone option package for the 1995 Legacy station wagon that became a separate model for 1996. That 1996 Outback went on sale the same year as Toyota’s RAV4, and arrived nearly a decade after the last AMC Eagle – the real original crossover SUV – had been produced. The Outback employed the same basic design and engineering philosophy as the AMC Eagle in that it mated a station wagon body to an all-wheel-drive system, a raised suspension, and SUV styling cues.
The difference, obviously, is that the AMC Eagle didn’t fly, while the Subaru Outback is still blazing a trail across the sales chart.
Today’s Subaru Outback remains based on the Subaru Legacy, but is a separate model that has replaced the Legacy station wagon in the automaker’s lineup. It competes against 5-passenger crossover SUVs including models such as the Chevrolet Equinox, Dodge Journey, Ford Edge, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Jeep Patriot, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, Nissan Murano, Toyota RAV4, and Volkswagen Tiguan.
For 2013, Subaru has made numerous changes to the Outback, so we scheduled one for a week-long test-drive over the holidays, and put the car to work toting children and gifts around the Los Angeles area during a week of uncharacteristically cold and wet weather. In other words, perfect meteorological conditions for the 2013 Outback.