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Subaru Outback 2023: facelift firming for future Australian release


North American Subaru Outbacks feature a markedly different face to our Australian ones, but we’re likely to see similar as our model year timeframes play catch-up.

Subaru Australia this month introduced its MY23 Outback range, lacking the aesthetic changes already seen in North American MY23 vehicles.

But why? Despite being a global model, the US Outback has a markedly different front end. There’s abundantly more plastic cladding to its face, taking styling cues from Subaru’s upcoming Solterra electric car, the brand’s debut EV.

The American Outback has a distinct look as a result. Some see a Joker-esque black cladded grin; others suggest the headlights are crying giant plastic tears. Either way, the photos are here for you to be the judge.

The US-market Subaru Outback

North American Outbacks feature wider and deeper front grilles, different LED headlights with reverse L-shaped driving lights below, larger LED fog lights and irregular-shaped enlarged plastic cladding around the wheel arches.

When will Australia see the updates?

Blair Read, MD of Subaru Australia, told Chasing Cars that the Australian Outbacks hadn’t seen the visual updates due to different model year timeframes between the left-hand-drive and right-hand-drive variants.

Subaru Outback XT Sport 2023 rear 3/4
Australia’s new Subaru Outback XT Sport

“There are a lot of similarities, but the US is running a slightly different timeframe for its MY23 updates,” said Mr Read.

North American Outbacks are built in the USA, while Australian versions are imported from Japan. Hence why we have an Australian-specification version.

“If you look at them in the flesh there are some subtle cosmetic differences between their Outback and our Outback, which are basically tuned for market,” Mr Read continued. 

Subaru Outback XT Sport 2023 driving highway
We’re not sure when a facelift could come for the Outback

“We’re happy with where we’re at and it always gives us a good chance if things (styling) are different to see what people think before we get them to market.”

Asked about specific timings of if and when Australian Outbacks would get the aesthetic changes, Mr Read said he couldn’t discuss future products.

“We’ll see,” he said. “We’ve got a good portfolio coming ahead of us for Outback over the next couple of years, but there are some subtle differences between them,” when addressing the differences between North American and Australian models.

The US-spec Outback with its different front end design

What MY23 updates have arrived for Australian Outbacks?

The biggest change is the much-requested introduction of turbocharged engines. Australians can buy forced induction in the Sport XT ($52,190 plus on-roads) or flagship Touring XT ($55,990 plus on-roads).

North America has had turbocharged Outbacks for almost two years, with their version featuring a detuned WRX engine good for 194kW/350Nm. Aussie Outback XTs use the same motor but with less power: 183kW/350Nm.

Subaru Outback XT Sport 2023 interior
Inside the 2023 Subaru Outback XT Sport

Again, why? 

“That’s down to us focussing on how the 2.4-litre turbo replaced the 3.6,” said Mr Read, referencing the previous generation Outback 3.6R model, a 191kW/350Nm 3.6-litre petrol flat-six which was the performance hero in the range.

“In terms of driving dynamics, torque, power delivery, the drivability of the vehicle – the tuning (for Australia) was really focused on how it replaced the 3.6, and how the overall package performed, rather than just chasing an output number. How a car of its size and what we’re looking for it to do, towing capability; how it performs in that space.”

Subaru Outback 2023 XT badge
The XT badge returns to the Outback with turbocharged grunt

Other updates found on all MY23 Subaru Outbacks include a new 18-inch alloy wheel design, wireless Apple CarPlay and full-screen wireless Android Auto. 

Other changes include a USB-C port, a Manage Devices setting to switch between connected smartphones, new shortcut buttons for the 11.6-inch infotainment; redesigned steering wheel buttons and expanded voice command recognition.

Subaru Outback 2023: prices in Australia

All prices listed are before on-road costs.

  • Outback (base model): $42,690
  • Outback Sport: $47,190
  • Outback Touring: $50,990
  • Outback Sport XT (turbo): $52,190
  • Outback Touring XT (turbo): $55,990