Visually, most people would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the 2016 Subaru Liberty and its predecessor.
However, check the equipment list and, better still, drive the newcomer and the changes become more apparent.
The 2.5i Premium (as tested) and 3.6R (both costing $500 more than before) feature Vision Assist in addition to Subaru’s Eyesight, a safety package that bundles together active cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, and pedestrian/collision detection.
Vision Assist comprises blind spot monitoring, lane change assist, auto dim rear view mirror, high beam assist and rear cross traffic alert.
A map update program for factory-fit navigation systems is also now standard. It includes a guaranteed, complimentary yearly map update for three years, subject to the vehicle having its scheduled services at an authorised Subaru dealer.
Standard across the range is an emergency stop signal that automatically flashes the hazard lights to warn following vehicles. A Dark Blue Pearl has also been introduced to the range of paint colours.
Fine-tuning of shock absorbers – aimed at delivering a smoother ride, improved handling and lower NVH levels – has proved successful in the way the vehicle handles larger corrugations and bumps, although it doesn’t completely erase minor creases and surface changes in the road. That said, overall the Liberty is a comfy, accommodating drive that would more than meet the expectations of most buyers in the mid-sized sedan segment.
As mid-range in the Liberty line-up, the Premium comes well-equipped with electric sunroof, dual-zone auto air-con, eight-way powered front seats and extensive connectivity.
All Liberty models are fitted with a CVT automatic, which works smoothly and efficiently in unison with Subaru’s signature 2.5-litre petrol flat-four (Boxer) engine. Power and torque output – at 129kW/235Nm – remains unchanged.
Like all Subarus, the 2016 model boasts a five-star ANCAP rating, scoring an impressive 35.99 out of 37 possible points in testing.
As well, the safety inventory includes electronic stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD, BA and seven airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee).
While the incremental improvements and additions might be small, it’s all about making the Subaru Liberty – already a pretty good drive and ownership proposition – a more complete car. Can’t argue with that.