Subaru is hard at work wrapping up the development of the 2015 Outback crossover. Our spy shooters caught this pre-production Outback clad in camouflage, and out testing alongside a 2013 Audi Allroad Quattro and a 2013 Toyota RAV4.
It looks like the 2015 Outback will be an evolution, not a complete overhaul like that applied to the Outback line in 2010. To help keep the 2015 Outback up to date, it appears Subaru will smooth out the blocky shape that is presently on sale. We wouldn't call the 2015 Outback svelte by any means, but the fifth iteration of the off-roading wagon looks to have a more rounded nose, more streamlined headlight cluster shapes, and smoother surfacing. New taillights look more cohesive than the oddly shaped units seen on the 2013 Outback, and they once again stretch into the tailgate. Corner reflectors on the rear bumper, SUV-like rocker panels, and a beefy roof rack remain, too.
Inside, we can see a new gauge cluster that is flanked by two silver-ringed binnacles and a new steering wheel with large buttons. The center console looks to be lifted straight from the 2013 Impreza and Forester, but we're not sure if this is the final design or simply a cobbled-together console built for this pre-production vehicle.
Expect to see an updated version of the 2.5-liter boxer-four from the 2013 Outback – currently rated at 173 hp -- serve as the base engine in the 2015 Outback. However, the six-cylinder engine probably isn't long for this world – the 2.0-liter turbo-four in the 2014 Forester is good for 250 hp, just six less than the output of the current Outback's 3.6-liter flat-six. We wouldn't be surprised to see the Outback replace the six with the turbocharged four, and move exclusively to four-cylinder power. Chances are that the six-speed manual and continuously variable transmissions will carry over.
Despite the fact that the current-generation Subaru Outback is just four year old, it's clear that Subaru wants to keep competitive in the hotly contested crossover segment. The 2015 Outback will most likely make its debut next January at the 2014 Detroit auto show, with production starting at Subaru's Lafayette, Indiana plant next summer.