The fourth generation of Subaru’s ground-breaking Outback crossover vehicle arrives in showrooms this month and, thanks to a raft of changes, it’s better than ever.

Launched in Europe in 1996, the Outback pioneered the ‘Crossover’ concept, combining the comfort, interior space and superior on-road handling of a family estate, with the off-road capability and ground clearance of a sports utility vehicle. This special blend of abilities has now been further refined.

The new Outback is longer, wider and taller than the model it replaces. It is also more capable and more engaging to drive on-and off-road, and offers increased space and comfort for all occupants.

While it retains the bold, assured stance of its forebears, the New Outback boasts a distinctive new ‘face’. There’s a prominent grille which features Subaru’s now-trademark ‘wing’ motif. This bold detailing, coupled with a pair of ultra-modern, three-dimensional headlamps, gives the go-anywhere vehicle a refined yet purposeful look.

In profile, the Outback’s premium feel continues thanks to muscular, flared wheel arches, standard-fit 17-inch alloys, and a chrome-framed glass-house. Its roofline sweeps towards the rear, where it meets new body-coloured D-pillars.

On the inside, you’ll find a sophisticated interior design that perfectly complements the new Outback’s subtly muscular exterior lines. Subaru’s design team focused heavily on producing a feeling of spaciousness and quality and, thanks to several improvements such as increased seat adjustability, softer cushioning and reductions in NVH levels, the Outback’s cabin is an even more luxurious and cosseting place in which to travel.

The new vehicle comes with the choice of three engines: a four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel; a four-cylinder 2.5-litre petrol; and six-cylinder 3.6-litre petrol engine. Subaru’s commitment to the ‘Boxer’ engine layout continues, as all of these powerplants utilise the firm’s preferred horizontally-opposed cylinder configuration. This not only delivers superior levels of refinement, but it also helps maintain a low centre of gravity – one of the key elements behind Subaru’s fabled handling performance.

The 1,998cc diesel, which has a six-speed manual gearbox, produces a maximum of 150ps and a top torque figure of 350Nm. The 2.5-litre petrol unit with its standard ‘Lineartronic’ automatic transmission, develops 167ps and 229Nm, and the top-of-the-range 3.6-litre five-speed automatic R offers a mighty 260ps and 350Nm.

Lineartronic is the name of Subaru’s all-new, in-house-developed fully automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT)-type transmission. Offered to buyers of the 2.5i petrol versions the unit enables the engine to operate continuously at the most efficient part of its rev-range – resulting in strong, linear, seamless acceleration and maximised fuel economy.

Boasting completely re-engineered suspension and a new all-steel unitary structure, the Outback’s handling and stability have been greatly improved. It’s yet to be crash-tested, however, the New Legacy Tourer with which it shares its underpinnings has just been awarded the maximum five-star rating by Euro NCAP. The presence of the Japanese firm’s highly acclaimed AWD system will also reassure buyers that it is sure-footed in all weather conditions.

“The original Subaru Outback pioneered the ‘crossover’ niche and, while other brands have launched rival models, it has always offered a highly-compelling blend of capabilities not available elsewhere,” comments Paul Tunnicliffe, Subaru’s Managing Director. “The all-new, fourth-generation Outback raises the bar yet again, in particular thanks to its peerless go-anywhere driveability and its spacious and luxuriously-appointed cabin. Alongside its Legacy Tourer sibling, it represents a significant new chapter in Subaru’s brand resurgence.”

There are generous levels of standard equipment to be found across the Outback range. Even the entry-level 2.0-litre D SE model boasts leather upholstery, electric windows fore and aft, Bluetooth connectivity, six-CD stereo, dual-zone automatic air-conditioning, cruise control, and automatic activation for wipers and headlights.

UK buyers will be offered five Outback models. The line-up starts with the £26,295 2.0-litre diesel SE and 2.5i SE petrol models, and is topped by the £33,295 petrol 3.6-litre R. It’s on sale now and available from your local Subaru dealer.

2010 Subaru Outback

2.0D SE: £26,295
2.0D SE NavPlus: £28,295
2.5i SE*: £26,295
2.5i SE NavPlus*: £28,295
3.6R: £33,295

* Lineartronic gearbox fitted as standard