The 2015 Subaru Liberty.
The 2015 Subaru Liberty.

2015 Subaru Liberty road test review | Bargain at $29,990

THE 2015 Subaru Liberty sedan spearheads an aggressive attack from the marque, which will start its improved mid-size range from an uber-sharp $29,990.

While the Outback large SUV has also received a host of cuts, Subaru has been cut-throat with its sedan.

Headlining the repositioning is the top-shelf 3.6R variant which has been reduced by $14,000.

But features haven't been sacrificed in the process. Instead all Liberty models will gain additional features.

Prompting the price cuts are the growing European competitors entering mainstream, along with the Japanese free trade agreement, more efficient manufacturing and a favourable exchange rate.

Opportunity knocks

There is method within pricing madness at Subaru.

Not only acknowledging the growing shift toward European and prestige offerings, the imminent closure of local car manufacturing by Ford, Holden and Toyota has opened the door to new opportunities.

Those still in the market for a six-cylinder sedan will find the Liberty has what it takes to fill the void, while the Outback does the job as family hauler.

Comfort

Subaru needed to make ground in this area, and the improvements are up there with the Europeans.

Across the dash is noticeably upmarket, and thankfully the touch-screen system has been overhauled. Whereas the old entertainment unit was clunky and difficult to navigate, this latest inclusion is intuitive with operations more smartphone-like by swiping, pinching and flicking to find your way around the audio, phone, apps and sat nav settings.

What do you get?

Stock-standard equipment incorporates a six-speaker CD stereo with auxiliary/USB compatibility and colour touch-screen, dual zone climate control air con, electric park brake, multifunction leather trimmed steering wheel with paddle shifters, 18-inch alloys, automatic lights and wipers as well as the Eyesight safety suite.

The 2.5i Premium gets leather trim, sunroof, keyless entry with push button start, sat nav, Pandora internet music app and piano black interior highlights.

Top-shelf 3.6R gains some extra chrome finishes along with dual exhaust pipes, 12-speaker harman/kardon sound system and the addition of sport mode to the SI-Drive system.

 

Jim Haefner

Practicality

 

With a massive boot, the Liberty can handle the weekly trip with ease. The 60-40 split of the rear pew offers additional flexibility.

Other key includes are rear air vents, a pair of cup holders front and back, along with bottle holders in each door. Stowage points aplenty, there is a large centre console, as well as a spot for phones in front of the shifter close to a pair of USB slots, auxiliary port and 12 volt plug.

Running costs

Expect about eight litres for every 100km from the 2.5-litre petrol. Those wanting the burly six will have to pay more at the pump for the privilege, slurping about 10 litres/100km - although it will take standard unleaded.

Capped price servicing is available at dealers, but the intervals are at six months when many other car makers have stretched it to one year.

Funky factor

Typically conservative, as we've come to expect from the Japanese, the Liberty is still a smart looking offering with has executive status. Adding some extra sporting lair to the 3.6R are the dual exhaust pipes.

The lowdown

Subaru sits with interesting territory. The brand has kudos, sitting one rung below prestige yet above mainstream.

The driving force behind that perception is a history of reliability and sound resale values.

But this new pricing structure brings the Liberty into the frame for most Australians.

Subaru's EyeSight has been lauded the world over, achieving better safety scores than the likes of Mercedes and Volvo, and to have that technology available on base models sets a new standard.

Mid-size sedans may well be slowing in popularity, yet this may well prompt some to rethink their shopping choice.

What matters most

What we liked: Pricing makes compelling case, touch-screen operations and infotainment improvements, easy to drive.

What we'd like to see: Extra internal flair, a knock-out punch from the six-cylinder.

Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Capped price servicing is available for the life of the car, and prices are listed for the first five years or 125,000km. Intervals are every six months or 12,500km. Average price of servicing over five years is 2.5i - $432, 3.6R $516.

Vital statistics

Model: MY15 Subaru Liberty.

Details: Five-seat all-wheel drive mid-size sedan.

Transmission: Continuously variable automatic.

Engines: 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer petrol generating maximum power of 129kW @ 5800rpm and peak torque of 235Nm @ 4000rpm; 3.6-litre six-cylinder boxer petrol 191kW @ 6000rpm and 350Nm @ 4400rpm.

Consumption: 2.5i - 7.3 litres/100km (combined average); 3.6R - 9.9L/100km (a).

CO2: 2.5i - 167g/km; 3.6R - 230g/km.

Bottom line plus on-roads: 2.5i $29,990, 2.5i Premium $35,490, 3.6R $41,990.


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