In 1995, Subaru launched an upgraded, top of the line version of Impreza L Sport Wagon called the Subaru Outback Sport. Presently, it is only available in the US market. Apart from the lifted suspension, almost all the features (mechanical and performance based) it carries are identical to the lower trim levels. Subaru never introduced the Outback Sport package on their Impreza sedan or coupe version, despite the fact that the Outback package is offered for both Legacy-based wagon and sedan. Compared to the Outback, the Outback Sport is smaller in size.
Initially, it was available with only one engine choice, i.e. a 2.2-L. This engine was offered for the very first time in US-spec Impreza. In the later years, the 2.5-L engine was added in the range. In the Japanese market, the Impreza Sport Wagon took the same approach as the Outback Sport and commonly known as Impreza Gravel Express. It was powered by a WRX turbocharged engine. Following the dwindling sales, Subaru decided to withdraw their Gravel Express out of the market and offered as replacement vehicle in the form of Subaru Forester. There was a range of optional features offered in the Outback Sport including: a gauge pack mounted on the dashboard featuring a digital compass, displaying external temperature as well as barometer/ altimeter readings.
In 2001, the second generation Outback Sport was launched in US market that remained in market until 2007. However, the name is changed from Outback Sport to Impreza RV. It was also offered in Australia where it featured a dual-range manual transmission never offered in US spec version. When the third generation of Impreza was launched, the name of Impreza was once again changed to Impreza XV.
With this smaller version of the larger Legacy-based Outback, Subaru was able to achieve some good sales results. In fact, the Outback Sport integrates the ruggedness of the Outback with the distinctive characteristics of the Impreza suggest one of the post on Outback Sport website. The Subaru is intended to offer the Outback Sport as a performance version of the Impreza, though with necessary exterior and interior alterations to keep it up-to-date according to the changing trends of the market.
The Outback Sport is a perfect vehicle for those who want to have an alternative of the Forester and don’t want to have a vehicle with high ground clearance or SUV/CUV look. Both the smaller Outback Sport and the larger Legacy-based Outback, but the latter had good sales records than the former one. If compared mechanically with the Impreza hatchback, both the vehicles have similar features.
It is relatively easy to distinguish between the Outback Sports versions and standard Sport Wagon or five-door hatchback. The most distinctive feature is the color combination used on the front and rear bumper covers with matching door rub strip.
In 2010, the third generation Outback Sport was launched in the European market at the Geneva Motor Show under the Impreza XV nameplate.