Subaru Liberty has been a popular seller in Australia for more than 20 years and has attracted loyal buyers partly because it’s just that little bit different from the mainstream. Not only with its boxer engine and all-wheel drive but also because of its well-earned reputation for toughness and reliability.
The latest, fifth generation, Liberty was launched in 2010 with annual tweaks to keep it up to date ahead of the next generation model which is still a couple of years away. The model year 2013 Liberty arrived here late last year with some minor styling changes, handling improvements and extra equipment.
As before Subaru Liberty comes with a large choice of variants in either sedan of wagon bodies starting with the 2.5i then 2.5i Premium and 2.5i GT Premium. For 2013 there’s a new model called Liberty X with extra ground clearance which sits in between the standard Liberty and the more rugged Outback. There’s also a seven-seat people mover called Liberty Exiga.
As before, two petrol engines are offered with capacities of 2.5 and 3.6 litres although the latter, a six-cylinder unit, is now only available in the Liberty X. The upgraded four-cylinder 2.5-litre has managed the now-common combination of increased power and torque with reduced fuel consumption and emissions. Each of the changes is marginal, power up 4 kW, torque up 6 Nm, fuel consumption down 0.4 L/100 km and CO2 emissions down 11 g/km to make for more efficient vehicles.
Manual transmission (six-speed) is now only available with the 2.5 GT Premium which also has the option of five-speed automatic. The 3.6X only gets the five-speed auto while the lower-specced models all have CVT with paddle shifts.
Another big selling point for the 2013 Liberty is its price. With help from the high value of the Australian dollar against the drop in the cost of the Japanese yen, Subaru has been able to trim prices with the new entry-level Liberty 2.5i automatic sedan $1000 cheaper than its previous manual equivalent and so $3000 cheaper than the comparable automatic.
Externally the new Liberty gets a new grille, front fog light surrounds and re-designed alloy wheels. Inside there is a revised steering wheel design, one-touch lane-change indicator and electro-luminescent gauges with an integrated 3.5-inch colour monitor.
Subaru’s EyeSight safety system has now been extended further into the Liberty range. Originally only available in the flagship Liberty 3.6R Premium it now comes as standard in the Premium, GT Premium and Liberty X models.
Using stereo cameras mounted inside the windscreen on either side of the interior rear vision mirror EyeSight scans the road ahead and uses triangulation to estimate distances and angles of objects in front of the car. This information is sent to a computer that calculates which objects merely have to be monitored in case things change and those that require immediate action.
Where EyeSight anticipates a potential collision with an object in front of the car the computer can activate the brakes. If the speed difference between your car and the one it’s approaching is less than 30 km/h it can prevent a collision, above that speed a collision will take place, but the consequences will be less severe.
Other standard safety features include seven airbags and Subaru’s Vehicle Dynamics Control system incorporating ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, stability and traction control, hill hold and reversing camera.
Also standard are alloy wheels, leather-trimmed steering wheel, Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming, auxiliary and USB jacks, and voice activiation. All models above the entry level 2.5i and the manual GT Premium get Eyesight and satellite navigation.
On the road Subaru Liberty has a real luxury feel to it enhanced by improvements in Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) levels. Even in the standard 2.5i it really does feel like the kind of car that you could cruise in all day with confidence and emerge fresh and comfortable at journey’s end.
While it’s not what you call a driving enthusiast’s car (have a look around the Subaru showroom and check out the WRX and BRZ if that’s what you want) but nevertheless the underlying driving experience is one of confidence in the key areas of handling and safety.
AT A GLANCE
Liberty 2.5i four-door sedan: $32,990 (automatic) Liberty 2.5i five-door wagon: $34,990 (automatic) Liberty 2.5i Premium four-door sedan: $39,490 (automatic) Liberty 2.5i Premium five-door wagon: $41,490 (automatic) Liberty 2.5X four-door sedan: $44,490 (automatic) Liberty 2.5GT Premium four-door sedan: $52,990 (manual), $56,490 (automatic) Liberty 2.5GT Premium five-door wagon: $54,990 (manual), $58,490 (automatic) Liberty 3.6X four-door sedan: $55,990 (automatic) Liberty Exiga 2.5i five-door wagon: $37,990 (automatic) Liberty Exiga 2.5i Premium five-door wagon: $42,490 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Subaru dealer for drive-away prices.
ABS Brakes: Standard in all models
Automatic Transmission: CVT standard in 2.5i, 2.5i Premium and 2.5X, five-speed standard in 3.6X and $3500 option in 2.5 GT Premium.
Cruise Control: Standard in all models
Dual Front Airbags: Standard in all models
Front Side Airbags: Standard in all models
Electronic Stability Program: Standard in all models
Rear Parking Sensors: Standard in all models
Reversing Camera: Standard in all models
USB/Auxiliary Audio Inputs: Standard in all models
Bluetooth: Standard in all models
Steering Wheel Mounted Controls: Standard in all models
SPECIFICATIONS (Subaru Liberty 2.5i 2.5-litre five-door wagon)
Capacity: 2.457 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders horizontally opposed
Head Design: DOHC, four valves per cylinder
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Bore/Stroke: 94.0 x 90.0mm
Maximum Power: 127 kW @ 5600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 235 Nm @ 4100 rpm
Driven Wheels: All-wheel drive
Manual Transmission: Not offered
Automatic Transmission: Continuously variable
Final Drive Ratio: 3.083:1
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4790 mm
Wheelbase: 2745 mm
Width: 1820 mm
Height: 1575 mm
Turning Circle: 11.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 1481 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 65 litres
Towing Ability: 720 kg (1500kg with braked trailer)
SUSPENSION AND BRAKES:
Front Suspension: Independent, MacPherson struts, coil springs
Rear Suspension: Independent, double wishbone, coil springs
Front Brakes: Ventilated Disc
Rear Brakes: Disc
Fuel Type: Petrol 91RON
Fuel Consumption – Combined Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.0 L/100km
GREEN VEHICLE GUIDE RATINGS:
Greenhouse Rating: 6/10
Air Pollution Rating: 6.5/10
Three years/unlimited km