LONG LIVE LIBERTY: Large car sales may be dwindling, but talented all-rounders with high specifications like Subaru's Liberty question the need for SUVs.
LONG LIVE LIBERTY: Large car sales may be dwindling, but talented all-rounders with high specifications like Subaru's Liberty question the need for SUVs.

MY16 Subaru Liberty 2.5i Premium road test and review

THIN Lizzy were on to something back in the '70s.

The hard rockers belted out the Freedom Song where they proclaimed "Long live liberty" and it was appropriate that this came on to the radio when climbing aboard our latest test machine from Subaru.

Early last year the Liberty strutted back into the mid-size spotlight with aggressive pricing and a swag of new features.

The Premium derivative remains arguably the best value offering in this segment at $35,990.

High riding wagons are the key stumbling block for this market, and passenger cars look like being overshadowed by sports utility vehicles this year.

But there is good reason to reconsider the sedan segment, as our experience revealed.

The MY16 Subaru Liberty.
The MY16 Subaru Liberty.


Standards rose in leaps and bounds when this new variant was first launched, gaining an edge of luxury rather than pure clinical design.

It verges on European quality in terms of look, finish, feel and ride.

Updates to the MY16 line-up enhanced the performance on coarse chip surfaces for less harshness on bumps with fine-tuning of the shock absorbers … but to be truthful we found it pretty good on first initiations.

Interior space is outstanding for families and for adults. Head, leg and knee room is sizable both front and back.

Fitting child seats is simple via the parcel shelf tether points, and an adult can fit between two boosters if required with ample hip space. Those in the middle do need to straddle the transmission tunnel.

The MY16 Subaru Liberty.
The MY16 Subaru Liberty.

On the road

While there is the option of a 3.6-litre six-cylinder for an extra $7000, there really is little reason to look past this hard-working four-potter.

Many scoff at continuously variable automatic transmissions, but the Subaru version is a cracker. It performs extremely well under load, and whereas many self-shifters of this ilk rev hard for no response, this partners with near perfection.

Steering wheel-mounted shifters are available, but we suspect most won't need them or make use of them after the initial novelty wears off.

Acceleration times won't have you preparing for the quarter mile, although the powertrain does the job adequately whether in traffic, on the highway or on the winding open road.

Those enthusiastic drivers may find the Liberty pitches and dives a little too much for their tastes despite the reasonably weighted steering, but there's a fair chance they will be shopping for a WRX rather than this mid-size sedan.

Various driving aids are useful, especially the blind spot warnings which let you know when a vehicle can't be seen. Although the beeping can become annoying, especially the lane keep assist … you just have to always maintain concentration to stay within the lines and indicate well before changing lanes.

The MY16 Subaru Liberty.
The MY16 Subaru Liberty.

What do you get?

Pricing rose by $500 earlier this year, but it's a small price to pay for some outstanding equipment - features usually found on circa-$100K European models.

One of the key standard includes is the EyeSight technology which incorporates blind spot monitoring and lane change assist, and auto dimming rear view mirror, automatic high beam, radar cruise control and an alert which detects passing vehicles when reversing from parking spaces.

Other complimentary kit incorporates leather trim, sunroof, keyless entry with push button start, sat nav, 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.

Other options

The giant killer in this segment is the Toyota Camry Atara SL ($37,440) courtesy of hefty fleet sales, while there is also the Skoda Octavia 162TSI RS ($37,590), Mazda6 Touring ($37,290), Hyundai Sonata Elite ($36,990) and Kia Optima Si ($34,490).

The MY16 Subaru Liberty.
The MY16 Subaru Liberty.

Running costs

Fuel consumption was about eight litres for every 100km, which is about what you would expect for a mid-size sedan.

Subarus are renowned for longevity and reliability, and while there is capped price servicing the intervals are every six months. Getting back to the dealer twice a year can be a painful exercise.

Sat nav map upgrades are also complimentary for three years.


It has the same size boot as a VF Commodore at just under 500 litres, but the Subaru has a 60-40 split folding rear pew which can be dropped via handles in the luggage area and there is also another button on the seat-tops.

You get a pair of cup holders front and back (in the fold-down armrest), along with bottle holders in each door. Storage spots are well looked after, with a large centre console, as well as a spot for phones in front of the shifter which is close to a pair of USB slots, auxiliary port and 12-volt plug.

The MY16 Subaru Liberty.
The MY16 Subaru Liberty.

Funky factor

Well, the old-man beige on our test offering wasn't setting hearts aflutter. Still, the Liberty cuts an executive figure.

The lowdown

Experiencing monumental growth in a shrinking segment, buyers are seeing great value in the Liberty.

The features list alone at this price point justifies the growing popularity.

Subaru's Eyesight technology is outstanding, and life saving. This really is the complete package for those chasing value and comfort.

What matters most

What we liked: Impressive features list, value for money, quiet and refined ride.

What we'd like to see: Less intrusive lane keep assist sounds (you can turn them off).

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.

Vital statistics

Model: MY16 Subaru Liberty 2.5i Premium.

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

Transmissions: Continuously variable automatic.

Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer petrol generating maximum power of 129kW @ 5800rpm and peak torque of 235Nm @ 4000rpm.

Consumption: 7.3 litres/100km (combined average).

CO2: 167g/km.

Bottom line: 2.5i Premium $35,990.

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