2016 Subaru Liberty: The smartcar of the future

All our devices are now imbued with smart technology; our phones, computers, even our houses. It only makes sense that our cars are now getting the smart treatment. The sixth-generation Subaru Liberty combines the dynamic performance of a sports car with the intelligent technology we’ve come to expect from all our devices. The Liberty is fully equipped for you to do things faster, smarter, and with an increased sense of freedom. Thanks to the smart key entry and push start ignition on both the Subaru Liberty 2.5i Premium and the Subaru Liberty 3.6R, it only takes the push of a button to begin your next road adventure.

Subaru Liberty

Since its launch in Australia back in 2014, the Liberty 2.5i Premium has resonated well with mid-size sedan buyers, helping the sixth-generation four-door become the third-best-selling car in its sub-$60,000 segment - it beat out the Volkswagen Passat and Ford Mondeo, but came behind the Toyota Camry and Mazda6. But what sets the Subaru Liberty apart from its previous incarnations and other sedans is the amount of technology that has been packed into the expanded space. The impressive lineup of the latest technologies will make your drive easier, safer and more connected. The sophisticated rear-view camera features a new, ultra-wide angle to provide an improved field of vision covering everything that’s behind you, which is displayed on a monitor in front of you. It will eliminate the guesswork involved in reversing down a narrow driveway, thus reducing the risk of any bumps and scrapes.

In addition to the eyes at the back of the car, the Liberty also provides you with an extra set of front-facing eyes with the EyeSight Driver Assist; it keeps an eye out for potentially dangerous situations on the road, such as cyclists, pedestrians suddenly crossing, or other hazards. The Eyesight system comes as standard on all automatic Libertys, which includes active cruise control, pre-collision assistance, tells you when the car in front has moved and basically beeps at you if you're going to crash.

The cruise control on the Liberty is super-efficient, as it can sense when other road users are slowing down and speeding up, or when the car in front of your finally moves during heavy traffic. A 7-inch touchscreen and satnav are also standard on the Liberty, although the Premium gets a little extra in the form of lane change assist and blind spot monitoring. With the satnav, you can even avoid bad traffic by splitting the screen to simultaneously display route information and live traffic updates. On the Subaru Liberty 2.5i Premium and Liberty 3.6R, the satnav guides you to your destination with audio commands, turn-by-turn directions, and a large map interface that you can pinch, zoom and swipe your way through on the 7-inch LCD touchscreen.

However, the key piece of technology that turns the Liberty into a car for the space age is the Bluetooth hands-free technology. You’ll never have to take your hands off the wheel again now that you can manage your smartphone with your voice, or with the controls on your steering wheel. With these controls, you can also operate the vehicle’s navigation, audio, Subaru Intelligent-Drive (
SI-Drive) function and adaptive cruise control. SI-Drive also allows the car to adapt to your driving style; you can choose from Intelligent mode for everyday driving, Sport mode for enhanced acceleration and sporty performance, or SportSharp mode the on 3.6R.

Subaru Liberty

The Liberty 2.5i Premium also features a large centre display with a touch LCD screen featuring audio, smartphone, driving and vehicle information using easy-to-understand graphics which can be controlled with Bluetooth technology. You’re never be short of entertainment on long road trips with the new level of on-board infotainment and two USB ports centrally located in the front console of the Liberty 2.5i Premium as standard. You also have the single CD player, AM/FM radio and USB connectivity for your smartphone or iPod. All playing crisply through your surround sound system, or the 12-speaker harman kardon sound system in the Subaru Liberty 3.6R.

It might almost seem impossible to fit all these technological improvements in even a standard sized sedan, but the Subaru Liberty has been redesigned as a luxury sedan with even more space, style, and comfort than its previous incarnations. The interior cabin has been expanded to accommodate five adults, which is an excellent feature for families. Each passenger can travel in absolute comfort, now that the Liberty provides more stretching space, rear seats that sit higher for a better view, and a quiet cabin atmosphere thanks to the automatic dual zone climate control air-conditioning. However, the biggest expansion is in the rear; the trunk space in the Liberty is huge, capable of carrying 493-litre. It's a good size and shape, too, meaning you can properly pack things in and if you need more space, you can drop the seats and get a lot more.

During the winter months, the Liberty 2.5i Premium and Liberty 3.6R can ward off the cold with the three stage, heated front seats, and heated side mirrors for quick demisting that come as standard in these models.

Subaru Liberty

The Liberty has also been given a facelift, so it looks even sexier than previous models. The exterior is available with a metallic paint as standard, and the interior is fully decorated with man-made leather upholstery on the seats and steering wheel, and the polished dashboard design, silver highlights, stylish seat stitching and front and rear cup holders complete the sophisticated aesthetic. All in all, it’s a significant upgrade from the plastic-looking fifth generation Subaru; the paint is good, everything fits properly and there's no more squeaking.

But finally, we get down to the most important aspect of the Liberty; how well does it drive?

Undoubtedly, the sixth generation Subaru brings its smoothest performance yet, with a blend of power, precision, and control from the ground up. It benefits from a Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (SAWD) system for better grip and control, even on wet roads, so it’s safe to drive in bad weather conditions, and it helps deliver maximum power, greater precision, and doubles your tractive capacity. The Liberty’s electric power-assisted steering is light and accurate, and although free of much feedback, the steering and the 11.2-metre turning circle, makes manoeuvring the 4,795 mm-long sedan smooth and easy.

Speaking of smooth rides, the Subaru Liberty also features Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) to change seamlessly through a continuous range of effective gear ratios. Lineartronic CVT is extremely responsive whilst traversing winding roads and hills, with super strong pulling power, and incredibly smooth in urban and highway conditions. The manufacturers have combined a Euro 6-compliant 2.5-litre horizontally-opposed four-cylinder ‘boxer’ petrol engine with a CVT, resulting in 129 kW of power at 5,800 rpm and 235 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm in the 2.5i Premium. The boxer engine sits lower and flatter in the engine bay, so the driver can make rapid changes of direction with even more confidence, thanks to the lower centre of gravity.

The Liberty is also fully equipped to handle sudden stops, unexpected roadworks, and hairpin turns. The electronic driver assist system, called Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), features a range of stability and braking technologies. VDC steps in to help maintain your safety in extreme situations. Should the worst happen, and you collide with another vehicle, the Liberty includes seven SRS airbags - dual front, dual front side, curtain-style and drivers-knee - and a whiplash reducing design, which provides extreme support for passengers’ head, neck and torso. Its safety features are top of the line, and have earned the Liberty the maximum five-star ANCAP occupant safety rating.

Fortunately, on an average day you could find yourself happily cruising down the roads at 100 km/h at 1,800 rpm, while the naturally-aspirated four-cylinder delivers solid mid-range torque between 2,400-4,000 rpm. Drivers also enjoy excellent fuel consumption figure of 7.3l/100 km on a 2.5-litre engine paired with Lineartronic CVT. The 3.6-litre engine also returns an improved fuel consumption figure of 9.9l/100km despite its 191 kW of power.

So how much can you expect to pay for a car that, for all intents and purposes, must have come from the space age? When the 2014 Subaru BRZ was launched drivers could get a Premium model equipped with a six-speed manual transmission for a starting price of $25,595 in the United States. The Liberty was priced at $35,990 (before on-road costs), so it’s definitely more expensive than its competitors. However, drivers should bear in mind that the Liberty is a higher quality vehicle with top-of-the-line technology, high standard road safety features, and a superior performance. Despite the midsize sedan dying a slow death at the hands of SUVs, buyers keep coming for the Liberty, and it’s clear to see why. Surely that level of comfort, safety, and performance is worth the starting price.

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