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EARNING ITS SUCCESS: 2017 Subaru Outback Touring packs luxury features, off-road capability, interstate serenity into a high-riding AWD wagon

Subaru is, pardon the automotive pun, on a roll.

The little Japanese company has been on a sales tear month after month, and its annual sales for just-completed 2016 set a record for the ninth consecutive year.

And perhaps more telling, Subaru’s Outback crossover is one of the hottest models in the country, as determined by the average number of days a car sits on the lot before being sold. Its 16-day turnover placed it number one in the Kelly Blue Book “days to turn” rankings in June 2016.

As Subaru has steadily edged the Outback’s design into a more mainstream direction, while still maintaining its original wagonesque approach, it no longer just appeals to the snow country Birkenstock crowd. More people are also coming to appreciate the company’s devotion to all-wheel drive.

subecabinAll Subarus (except for the BRZ sports coupe) come so equipped, a major highlight of the company’s relentless drive for ever-improved passenger safety. Toss in the Outback’s five-star crash-protection ratings and Subaru’s award-winning EyeSight system of driver alerts and assists, and owners can feel confident their traveling companions are well-safeguarded.

New for 2017 is the Outback Touring model, which features virtually every option available, including a comfortable, roomy cabin dressed up with handsome Java Brown perforated leather seating surfaces with contrasting ivory stitching, wood-grain trim accents, and a heated steering wheel.

Our Touring tester came with the base 2.5-liter “boxer” four-cylinder engine. (A six-cylinder engine is optional.) Its 175 horsepower is adequate, but there are moments more gumption would be welcome. Its 32-mpg highway rating will be compensation enough for most buyers, credited in part to the efficient CVT automatic transmission.

On the road, the Outback is quiet and well-planted. Off-road, its 8.7-inch ground clearance and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive provide a surprising amount of capability. Throw in its cavernous cargo capacity, and a-camping you will go.

Subaru has worked hard to steer the Outback toward general acceptance. It’s an effort that is paying off handsomely, both in design and the company’s bottom line.

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