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Nuts and Bolts: 2014 Subaru Outback

Bottom line: Anyone in the market for a compact wagon or crossover utility vehicle should put the new Subaru Outback on the shopping list. It inarguably is one of the best of the genre.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Very good marks in all three. People needing more oomph — for light to moderate towing, for example — might want to consider the more powerful 3.6R six-cylinder version of the new Outback.

Head-turning quotient: The exterior has some sport-utility pretensions, which I personally can do without. But the interior is top-notch design and quality. Way to go, Subaru!

Body style/layout: The 2014 Subaru Outback is a front-engine, all-wheel-drive wagon with four side doors and a rear hatch. It is offered in four equipment/trim levels—2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, and 3.6R Limited.

Engines/transmissions: It comes with a standard 2.5-liter, 16-valve, horizontally opposed (“boxer” or “flat”) gasoline four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing (173 horsepower, 174 pound-feet of torque). The engine is linked to a standard six-speed manual transmission. The wagon driven for this column came with an optional, continuously variable (no fixed gears) automatic transmission. A 3.6-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine is available.

Capacities: Seating is for five people. Cargo capacity with rear seats up is 34.3 cubic feet. It is 71.3 cubic feet with rear seats folded. The fuel tank holds 18.5 gallons of gasoline. Regular grade is recommended.

Mileage: I averaged 27 miles per gallon in highway travel carrying a light load (approximately 125 pounds) and one adult passenger.

Safety: The 2014 Subaru Outback gets top crash safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes, ventilated front/solid rear; four-wheel antilock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; front and rear head air bags.

Pricing: The Price of the 2014 Subaru Outback Limited wagon starts at $29,395 with a dealer’s invoice price of $27,589. Price as tested is $32,094 including $1,874 in options (panoramic glass roof and other items) and a $825 factory-to-dealer transportation charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $29,938.

— Warren Brown