While the rest of the world seems to appreciate the understated, practical utility of station wagons, image-obsessed Americans generally flee from them in droves, preferring the perceived ruggedness of crossovers and SUVs. So we can’t totally blame Subaru’s U.S. marketing department from dropping the non-Outback Legacy wagon from the U.S. lineup, instead burnishing the Outback’s credentials as a crossover. Aside from its slightly burlier styling and higher ground clearance, it’s still basically a Legacy wagon, but its strong sales suggest Americans are convinced of its legitimacy as a crossover. But the Outback is coming up for a redesign, and the Levorg concept gives us a glimpse of what it might look like.
For its Americanized treatment, give it a little more ground clearance, and some chunkier-looking lower body cladding, and you’re basically looking at the next Outback. While the styling is clearly evolutionary, some of the mechanical changes coming are a major change from its predecessor. The trend of downsizing and turbocharging engines is in full force in the Levorg, with a 1.6-liter H-4 boxer turbo filling in as the base engine with 168 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, mated to Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT. If you’re looking for more power, Subaru offers a 2.0-liter H-4 boxer turbo producing a robust 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque in the concept. This engine is presumably a version of the engine offered in the 2014 Forester XT.
Why are the powertrain changes so significant? They could portend major displacement reductions for the U.S. Outback, which is currently offered with the choice of two naturally-aspirated engines, a 2.5-liter H-4 making 173 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, or an optional 3.6-liter flat-six producing 256 hp and 247 lb-ft. If the power figures of the concept are an indication of the production models’ output, we will see essentially unchanged output for the base model from a much smaller (and presumably more efficient) engine, and a power gain for the top engine, from nearly half the displacement of its predecessor.