By on February 20, 2008

4217_116_lg.jpgStation wagons with manual transmissions are quickly going the way of the fedora. In fact, there are more gas-electric hybrids for sale stateside than row-your-boat wagons. If you want an all-wheel-drive model, the number plummets. Which makes me wonder: what's the point of the Subaru Outback five-speed?

Although I can't speak for Subie's Sapphic fans, sex appeal is NOT the Outback's raison d'etre. Oh, it's handsome enough; in a stern, trim, no grotesque affectations sticking you in the eye sort of way. Subaru's raised the beltline (to lose the Popemobile effect), added new lights (there was a sale on Japanese fish eyes) and stuck a Chrysler Pacifica logo on the snout. While the Outback now looks more expensive than it is, it's about as quirky as an accountant wearing different colored socks.

4217_059_lg.jpgThe interior is equally enthralling and twice as sensible. Fold down the Outback's rear seats and lifestyle load luggers enjoy almost as much schlepitude as Volvo's V70. Although Subaru's redesigned the Outback's instrument panel, "revised" the interior fabrics, added a telescoping wheel (yay!) and numbered the radio buttons from one to five, the cabin remains very much of a muchness. There's nothing tasteless, nothing tasty. Well, except for the meaty steering wheel…  

 The helm puts you in charge of Subaru's 170hp 2.5-liter SOHC aluminum-alloy 16-valve horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine. If Porsche went all Jaguar on us and tried to dip down market, this is the kind of engine I'd expect: smooth, free-revving and just about as gutsy as a four can be. But Outback drivers are never in any doubt that they're lugging around a couple hundred extra pounds of all wheel-drive (AWD) gear. 

The Outback's ride is comfortable without the slightest hint of refinement. Dry road handling is exemplary, with predictable body roll and enough steering feel to tell you when to quit (early and often). Try to accelerate out of a couple of turns and the Outback's architecture tells you that the vehicle could stand another 80 horses– and the rest. The no-fun factor might be considered a plus in a wagon full and kids and dogs and things to be inflated, but it's a definite drawback when you're all alone and late for work. And then…

I was fortunate enough to test our base Outback on fresh powder and packed snow. The worse the conditions, the better it got.

4217_050_lg.jpgNeedless to say, I developed an immediate and intimate respect for Subaru's time-honed Symmetrical AWD system. While other drivetrain layouts have all kinds of 90 degree kinks to sap power and response, the Outback's in-line engine allows more direct power transfer to all the wheels. At the same time, the low-slung boxer engine provides a lower center of gravity, like bending your knees when you're skiing.

The Outback's four-wheel disc brakes, with ABS and electronic brake-force watching over each wheel, proved highly effective on the white stuff. More to the point (of the vehicle's existence), when traction is iffy, it's nice to have more options than merely stop and go. The Outback's manual transmission gives the set up more feel. Sure, you can crank the automatic's lever back and forth, but it's not the same as feathering the clutch, whipping up the revs or using the engine as a brake.  

Taken as a whole, the Outback bites, rather than slides on, the snow; it felt like I had an invisible keel slicing through an unseen slot in the road. Although it doesn't have all the toys and [much of any] torque, the entry level Outback has still got the bad weather integrity that makes it an entirely justifiable for people who live in the… wait for it… outback.

Again, if you live in those parts of the country where you can get to grandma's house sans icy winds and killer snow drifts, and you're not likely to travel for hours on unpaved roads, the Outback is a different beast. Well, maybe "beast" is the wrong word. A different "animal:" one of those zoo dwellers that's odd but not terribly attractive. Though it's still adept at negotiating wet leaves, large puddles and the occasional hopped curb, the Outback's charms diminish in direct proportion to the civility of your driving environment. 

4217_048_lg.jpgThe number of American drivers who favor a manual transmission is in the single digits and falling fast. But Subaru's right to continue offering a stick shift, low frills, Outback with a relatively anemic engine.

What's the reverse of a halo car? You know: a car that shows that a brand is still in touch with the austere competence that endeared its products to its original financially-challenged, mechanically savvy customers? The five-speed manual base Outback is it. Well done to Subaru for not pulling-up its roots. Now, if they could just strip and flip the STI…

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

75 Comments on “2008 Subaru Outback Review...”


  • avatar
    italianstallion

    so true that a real wagon, especially with a manual, is an exceedingly rare item in the US car market. too bad for those of us who want one.

    the outback is a compelling choice for looks, reliability, size, refinement and safety. but even if one could get over the very serious fuel penalty for lugging around all that AWD equipment, subaru doesn’t offer stability control on the manual transmission models.

    i know VSC is controversial in some circles, but it is purported to be the biggest safety advance since airbags. why do we have to suffer a slushbox in order to get it?

  • avatar
    modemjunki

    No mention of fuel economy, rated at 19 city/26 highway for the manual transmission. It's not all attributed to the AWD, part of it is the chassis weight. But in my opinion this isn't all bad, Subaru has a reputation for making safe vehicles, not lightweight ones. And what about the quality of the interior? After looking inside the latest Impreza, I crossed it off my short list of potential commuter scooters. So, is the new Outback better or worse than the outgoing model in this respect? (Pssst – by the

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    99 percent of all SUV drivers would significantly benefit by switching to one of these. It just has to be more fun to drive that most SUVS and pickups. With good dedicated snow tires, it would do 100 percent better 100 percent of the time on 99 percent of the roads that most SUV buyers actually drive on.

    I’m still waiting, though, for TTAC to puncture through the obvious lies that power the SUV craze.

  • avatar
    1981.911.SC

    I had a 1996 base model, 5spd, radio, A/C (crank windows) now I drive a 2001 base model, 5spd, radio, A/C Electric Windows (whew hoo), and they will be high on my list for my next one. I’ve NEVER had a car with an mush-matic and I’d like to continue that record.

  • avatar

    modemjunki :
    No mention of fuel economy, rated at 19 city/26 highway for the manual transmission.

    Click on the “rating summary and performance review” link at the bottom of the review.

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    These things are simply THE car to own if you live in Canada.

    My ’02 Legacy GT with Artic Alpins is nigh unstoppable in the winter ice and slop. Its low center of gravity makes it a great car for occasional yuletime hoonage also.

  • avatar
    NN

    my first car was an 85 GL-10 Subie wagon, poop brown with a 5-speed. Ran to about 190k and was a perfect 1st car that sold me on the merits of a (relatively) frugal manual wagon. Then one day I tried to drive it on the beach, and caused $900 of front-end damage. So when gas was cheap I bought a 5-speed 4wd SUV that could drive on the beach and tow my boat. Now I have that, and I’ll keep it for those chores. But I’ve always greatly admired Subaru for sticking with the basic, affordable, manual wagon format…and I will continually remain an interested and likely future customer.

    These Subie wagons are in my opinion the most practical all-around vehicles that exist, and deserve way more popularity than they have.

  • avatar
    bolhuijo

    I have a 2001 Forester 5-spd shod with the standard all-season radials that Subaru dealers install. The tires lack grip on snow. Without any sort of traction control, this car is IMHO far more dangerous than a 2WD model. It is far too easy to break all 4 driven wheels loose on low speed corners on snow covered roads. When that happens, you begin to move sideways. Me, I happen to love the drifting, and play along like I’m some sort of rally driver (at low speed). I don’t think I would send my wife out in this car unless I upgraded to truly good snow tires. Have they improved this behavior on the 2008 model?

  • avatar
    BEAT

    This is the real CUV. Very good on snow and it’s a Subaru. When I first saw this car I thought it was taller and more durable looking than its predecessor and I won’t even call it a wagon.

    A well made CUV for all generation to enjoy.

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    My wife’s 2007 Outback 3.0 R LL Bean is no fun to drive, but is safe, utterly reliable, comfortable, and utile. A nice car for the highway, even in foul weather. I wish that it had less wind noise, caused by the frameless windows. Fuel economy is mediocre, about 16 mpg in suburban stop and go, but about 24 mpg on the highway. My 2007 Subaru spec.B is fun to drive, but I prefer the Outback’s six-cylinder for its linear power delivery and smoothness.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Now that Subaru has officially ditched the manual Legacy wagon, this is all stick purists get.

    Even in Hotlanta, you see far more of these than any other Subaru. Too bad Subaru can’t get the gas mileage up any. And yes, driving the XT ruins this car for you… if you want to get the base engine DO NOT under any circumstances drive the XT, you WILL decide you MUST have the turbo. Period.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Late 90′s Outbacks have been my wife’s favorite car. She sits high enough up to feel that she has command for the road, loves the sporty and clean design, and the four cylinder is rev happy enough to make her daily chores a bit more enjoyable.

    I recently did a study on a certain dealership’s trade-in’s. Over 4000 vehicles were traded in and out of that sample, Subaru had the second highest percentage of trade-in’s over 150k (33%) and the second lowest number of trade-in’s under 100k (22%). They were also one of the very few brands with more 150k trade-in’s than sub 100k ones. Given that all but one of the 39 were 1997 or newer, this seems to indicate that Subarus in general are among the most ‘driven’ brands out there.

  • avatar
    AuricTech

    Of course, if you want an affordable AWD vehicle with a manual transmission and electronic stability, there’s always the Suzuki SX4.

  • avatar

    The related 2005 Legacy GT was much more fun to drive. But they dropped the stick for 2006, then the Legacy wagon altogether for 2008. Seems too many people (myself included) said they’d buy such a car, then didn’t.

    TrueDelta has been reporting results for the Legacy and Outback for some time now. Though there will be an uptick in the repair rate for the 2005 in this month’s results, these tend to be very reliable cars. The most notable problem area: wheel bearings.

    Always looking for more participants in the research.

    http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    crc

    SLLTTAC “Fuel economy is mediocre, about 16 mpg in suburban stop and go..”

    If this was a pickup, SUV, or the new marketing favorite CUV being reviewed, there would be 20 posts saying that there are X number of other cars you could drive that get X mpgs better, and you don’t need all that utility of the vehicle except for a few times a year.

    I love wagons and I love manuals. But I’m not giving up my Jeep for city mileage like this. Regardless of its driving dynamics.

  • avatar
    red60r

    I have never understood Subaru’s penchant for crummy tires. My wife’s Forester rolled an OEM Yokohama Geolander 900 off the rim somehow — replacement Goodyear Assurance are worlds better in all conditions from dry concrete to deep snow, and seem to be wearing at a much more acceptable rate than the originals. I don’t think you can get your Subaru dealer to trade shoes pre-delivery, but ditch the original rubber ASAP.

  • avatar

    Had a 2001 (last gen) Outback wagon with the 5-speed. Best car I’ve ever owned. Super quiet on the road, and could haul large amounts of stuff — from band gear to runs to the dump. Manual made driving a little more engaging, and garnered slightly better MPG. I got about 24 with mostly freeway driving.

    Sold it after 3 years and 75k trouble-free miles because wife can’t drive a stick, and the MPG wasn’t what I wanted. I miss that car. Wagons (and small hatchbacks) are pretty much all I’ve owned, all but the latest with a 5-speed. I’ll not buy another auto — time to teach the wife to shift. :)

  • avatar
    Brendan

    There were two reasons why I didn’t get this car last year. 1) Poor fuel economy (a 2.5 liter getting 19 mpg is ridiculous) 2) worst automatic ever. Yes, I wanted an automatic, and Subaru matches an ancient 4-speed to the base Outback. The 5-speed on the H6 and turbo models is somehow worse.

  • avatar
    Axel

    I had one of these as a rental two weeks ago, drove it from Lafayette, IN to Cincinnati and back. Didn’t have snow, but lots and lots of rain. What I liked best was the awesome acceleration from a dead stop. The 0-10 jump was like a sprinter out of the starting blocks. I also loved the handling. This thing sticks to the road and carves corners. The feel of connection between driver and road was awesome.

    What didn’t I like? It was CRAMPED! Holy cow. I’m 6’2″, so the first thing I noticed was lack of leg space behind the wheel, but I’m also thin as a rail, so the lack of hip and knee room was really shocking to me. It made my ’06 Malibu Maxx cavernous by comparison. It makes a Honda Civic seem roomy. Also, I know this was a no-frills rental, but the interior struck me as cheap and full of hard, unforgiving plastics and imitation aluminum (yuck).

    The automatic transmission was just plain retarded (if you’ll excuse the political incorrectness). When I put the hammer down to pass, I got… nothing. Then about two seconds later, a two-gear downshift that throws me back in my seat. WTF? Maybe the previous renters abused it to the point of brain damage, I don’t know.

  • avatar
    WildBill

    “99 percent of all SUV drivers would significantly benefit by switching to one of these. It just has to be more fun to drive that most SUVS and pickups. With good dedicated snow tires, it would do 100 percent better 100 percent of the time on 99 percent of the roads that most SUV buyers actually drive on.”

    That may be true for the concrete commandos but the Subie won’t pull a 5,000 lb. trailer full of llamas like my Expedition will!

  • avatar
    Axel

    WildBillThat may be true for the concrete commandos but the Subie won’t pull a 5,000 lb. trailer full of llamas like my Expedition will!

    No, but I believe the 3.0R is rated for 3,000 or 3,500 lbs. (can’t remember) which is enough for a small pop-up camper, or even a two-llama trailer. And I bet you can install an aftermarket towing package that will up that figure to compact truck territory.

  • avatar
    NBK-Boston

    I wear a fedora.

    Not everyday, of course. But when I’m in a business suit and overcoat, and the weather is looking crummy, I bust out the old Borsalino. Funny thing is, it gets a bit of attention on the street, which I suppose this car does not.

  • avatar

    When I started driving, the car I learned on was the manual tranny Subaru wagon that my parents had already beaten on for 8 years beforehand. She wasn’t neccesarily fast off the stops (but give me County Line Rd. on a night with no cops and I could get it up to 140, easy, and she stayed right there for me), but I hauled all the stuff for my band without a problem, and she could go -anywhere-, and I never gave a damn about the weather when I was behind the wheel of that car. Snow? Downshift. Sleet? Downshift. High Winds? Whatever, my centre of gravity is better than some tanks. Hail? Eh, the paint job’s shit anyhow.

    This sounds very much like the successor to that old wagon, and I have to admit that I’ll be tempted to take a look at one sooner or later just for nostalgia’s sake.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Michael Karesh
    The related 2005 Legacy GT was much more fun to drive. But they dropped the stick for 2006, then the Legacy wagon altogether for 2008. Seems too many people (myself included) said they’d buy such a car, then didn’t.

    No, they all bought them, and unfortunately for Subaru, people drive ‘em to death. So they’re not buying new ones every couple years, which means no one bought new ones. Yeah, it’s sad, but let’s face it, wagons aren’t terribly hip right now.

    TrueDelta has been reporting results for the Legacy and Outback for some time now. Though there will be an uptick in the repair rate for the 2005 in this month’s results, these tend to be very reliable cars. The most notable problem area: wheel bearings.

    No way. Well, on both the reliability and the wheel bearings. Ours were damaged and replaced after the accident, haven’t had issues since then. But the brake rotors appear to be warped AGAIN and I’m not too thrilled about that. I always swear i’ll never buy the first model year of any vehicle, and then we went and did it with our 05 LGT and it has nothing but grief and pain. They tend to be reliable… as in, you either have a reliable one or you don’t. Some people don’t have a lick of trouble, some people have every single thing go wrong on the car. We appear to be in the latter group, unfortunately.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    Well, fedoras are making a bit of comeback fashionwise, even if they are being a bit restyled into more of a ‘pimp hat’. Is that good news for wagon lovers?

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    Hey, the BMW 328 wagon can be had with a stick. In fact, I think that is the default… you have to pay more to downgrade to the automatic.

  • avatar

    It surprises me to hear that the naturally aspirated four with a 5MT gets only 19/26, which is about spot on with the 19/25 that my XT (turbo) 5MT achieves regularly. Premium fuel (a bargain nowadays) and synthetic oil aside, the turbo, along with it’s extra 77 ponies) is worth every penny in juvenile grins alone.

    The only downside to the Turbo in MT form is that those extra horsepower approach the threshold of traction an order of magnitude sooner in the snow.

    Megan Benoit: Yeah, it’s sad, but let’s face it, wagons aren’t terribly hip right now.

    Ironic, as mainstream America is clamoring for better fuel economy… yet unwilling to give up versatility of their SUV. In practice, wagons are an existing and well-validated solution. Methinks it’s a rebellion against the Europeans, who actually have it figured out the wagons are the real deal – performance and versatility.

    Michael Karesh: The most notable problem area: wheel bearings.
    Megan Benoit: No way. Well, on both the reliability and the wheel bearings. Ours were damaged and replaced after the accident, haven’t had issues since then.

    Check the forums… wheel bearings are among the most problematic. I’ve replaced 2 already under warranty.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    I had honestly not heard a thing about wheel bearings up until today. Bad fuel injectors, stinky clutch, burnt out ECU/ECMs, squeaky dash, RE-92 hell, engine shudder, etc, etc, all that stuff I’d seen bandied about on the forums… but not wheel bearings. Our rear ones were replaced (like i mentioned), but we’ve never heard a peep or a squeak from the front, which is where most people appear to be having the problem. Go figure. And here I had thought we’d had EVERY problem we could have with ours. :)

  • avatar
    rpn453

    Wagons are actually making a comeback, but they’re calling them CUVs or something now.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    My last Outback was a 2001 with the H6. Before I drove it back across the country from San Diego I put on new tires. A set of V-rated Michelin Pilot All Season. Wow! I mean, WOW! Totally different car.

    When my brother bought his XT last fall, I urged him to upgrade the tires right away. He and his wife totally love what that did to the car.

    In terms of mileage – I get 27 on the highway with my Spec. B. You just have to know how to drive ‘em.

    Hope, though, that the diesel gets here soon.

    Finally, they just released a software upgrade for the slush box which, I understand, makes a big difference relative to downshifts.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    First rule for new Subaru buyers (non-Spec. B, non- STi): CHANGE THE TIRES.

    Once you do that it is a totally different car.

    Also, they just released an update for the software that controls the 5 speed slush-box. I am told that it makes a huge difference.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    I enjoyed the review.

    My wife and I are looking to get an 08 LGT. Most of the kinks have been ironed out and a few nice things have been added/made standard…and the pricing is hard to beat right now :)

    The standard subies (i.e. the base impreza, outback, and legacy) are great general transportation. Their fuel economy is nothing great, but they consistently do very well with safety and offer good performance vs. their competitors.

    But for me, cars like the LGT are really where Subie is shining right now. For 26-27k, I can get a 240-250 HP/TQ 5-speed sedan with heated, power leather seats, AWD, fold-down rear seats, and a number of other nice features standard. It still does 0-60 in sub 6 seconds and ~14.1-14.2 quarter mile…and it has great mid-range thrust, easy tunability, solid handling, and a nice ride.

    A few things: It’s one of the few 25k+ cars to not have stability control. But I would ask, does this car need it? Stability control can’t overcome inertia. If you don’t have traction, stability control can’t do much. This is a very stable, low COG, AWD car. If you begin to lose traction, you can usually increase it by applying throttle. Sure, stability control might help, but it’s not exactly like this is the type of car that would truly benefit from it.

    Gas mileage: City is abysmal. Modest speed highway (i.e. 70mph) seems to be decent, mid to upper 20′s. Not a strong point, but not really weak either.

    Stock tires: Not suited for long-life, despite having the ability to live too long. Wear em for 20-25k, and then move on. No big deal.

    Reliability: Subie, especially the N/A ones, are historically solidly-built, long-running cars with some quirks but typically a “keep-on-going” style. The new turbo ones tend to be less so, from anecdotal evidence. Still though, I don’t think 100k on a modern Subie, with proper maintenance, would be a problem. They aren’t 100k with-no-tune-up vehicles, but they don’t require timing belts either.

    One thing no one has commented on: Have you ever noticed how SLOW the windows go down on the electric-window models? Holy cow….it’s like 7-8 mississippi’s to go from top to bottom…

    Joe

  • avatar

    That was a really nice review–lots of useful info, fun to read, and a nice conclusion. But what is this Subaru and lesbians thing? Is that real, or someone’s imagination? I know plenty of heterosexual women who drive them, and families, and a few single men as well, and even a few lesbians. But is there any real evidence that this is the hot car among gay women? Could it simply be that a lot of everyone in the Northeast drives them, especially progressives, perhaps, including gay women?

  • avatar

    BEAT :
    This is the real CUV. Very good on snow and it’s a Subaru.

    Looks like a wagon to me. Walks like a wagon. Even quacks like a wagon.

    define “CUV”. It’s marketing speak. Orwellian.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    David Holzman: it’s for real. And Subaru has the highest percentage of its marketing budget go to gay/lesbian oriented media of any car maker.

    We’ve put on a 120k miles in 8 years on our Forester: total problems: two rear wheel bearings, two sets of front pads, one set of plugs, timing belt. Dead reliable.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    The Forester is definitely the more interesting vehicles of the two. When it comes to the ‘SUV-like’ vehicles in today’s marketplace, the only ones I would even remotely consider are the Forester and the last gen Xb.

    Then again… I tend to love old Volvo 240′s, W124′s, and minivans that have 5-speeds. If I were any more quirky, I would have ended up working for Citroen.

  • avatar

    The Forester–plug ugly, the plaid shirt of automobiles. But what great visibility! Every time I see one I get cognitive dissonance.

  • avatar
    8rings

    I seriously considered putting a 2.5 XT (Turbo) in my garage but in the end the cheapness of the interior and the boring driving experience kept me away. I respect Subaru for thier outstanding AWD system and solid reliability. I was coming out of an A4 Wagon at the time, it also being a beast in the white stuff, not quite the solid reliable vehicle that I would imagine a subie is though.
    In the end the Passat 3.6 4 motion wagon had the nice blend of quality interior and driving feel I wanted. Maybe next time Subaru, but for now the Outback is just an AWD Corolla wagon.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Joe O
    A few things: It’s one of the few 25k+ cars to not have stability control. But I would ask, does this car need it? Stability control can’t overcome inertia. If you don’t have traction, stability control can’t do much. This is a very stable, low COG, AWD car. If you begin to lose traction, you can usually increase it by applying throttle. Sure, stability control might help, but it’s not exactly like this is the type of car that would truly benefit from it.

    *shrug* We’ve had ours over 3 years now and driven it in all sorts of conditions with no stability control, and I agree — no traction is no traction. Which is exactly what the RE-92s give you on anything but dry pavement. The lack of stability control doesn’t make the car more dangerous, the woefully inadequate stock tires do (you can see my review of the 08 LGT on the site, I think I gave it 4 stars). The AWD compensates nicely for the lack of stability control, but you can get the LGT with VDC now, you just have to spring for the spec.B. I believe there is legislation in place to make stability control standard on all cars past a certain model year, so you’ll probably see it soon. But do you need it? Probably not.

    Gas mileage: City is abysmal. Modest speed highway (i.e. 70mph) seems to be decent, mid to upper 20’s. Not a strong point, but not really weak either.

    My husband regularly gets 22-24mpg mixed, rarely less than that, and he drives backroads into downtown Atlanta every day and routinely gets stuck in bad traffic. But he has the stick, too. The automatic tranny kills the gas mileage, even with the fancy s-drive options, and is just plain no fun. On the open road, we can easily get 27mpg, and that’s at Atlanta speeds. When we took the LGT to Yellowstone a few years ago, we got low to mid 30s, and most people we know that live in mountain states get similar.

    Stock tires: Not suited for long-life, despite having the ability to live too long. Wear em for 20-25k, and then move on. No big deal.

    That’s the understatement of the year. I don’t think ours made it 20k miles… we had snow tires even, so they saw less wear than they should have, and we are not hard on tires (yeah, try to squeal the tires in one of these… if you try really, really hard you can ‘chirp’ them and that’s it). We ended up replacing them with Continental ContiExtremeContacts about a year ago, which are better tires at a fraction of the cost (replacement RE-92s are ridiculously expensive for tires that won’t last 20k miles). Also had Blizzaks for snow tires, but we gave those to a friend who also bought a LGT when we moved to Atlanta. Can’t endorse good snow tires for the LGT enough.

    As for reliability, well, you’ve seen my earlier comments. The LGT spent two weeks in the shop a couple of summers ago because of a bad fuel injector that was on national backorder. TWO. WEEKS. That is simply not acceptable, and Subaru still will not admit there is a problem with the fuel injectors and issue a recall (hint: if you have a part on national backorder and it takes weeks to get a replacement, you may have a problem). Don’t wreck yours, either — getting genuine replacement parts will take weeks also. A newer one might have more of the kinks ironed out, but I would not call ours a reliable vehicle. When the lease is up, we’ll be replacing it with a spec.B or something else (the Civic Si is a frontrunner). But not another 05 LGT. That said, it’s still an incredibly fun car, and a great bargain. Just make sure you’ve got backup plans for when things start to go wrong.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    Wow!

    This is crazy!

    I am on Subaru number 5. (SVX, Leg. GT, SVX 2, Outback VDC, Spec. B)
    All have gone over 100k miles – mostly in New England – and my opinion – following the ownership of several BMW’s, Mercedes, Volvos and Jaguars is that Subarus are generally tremendously well engineered and built.

    With the exception of the well known transmission issues on the first SVX, they have all been bullet proof except for wear and tear items, 2 wheel bearings, an alternator and a fuel distribution unit. Only the bearings did I have to pay for.

    I will note that while I was living in Southern California, my 2001 VDC wagon had some strange problems: A/C solenoid burn-outs and a shorting fuel gauge. I let the dealer there replace the solenoid once but not work on the fuel gauge. When I got back to my dealer in RI (Pilgrim Subaru), those issues vanished. So I conclude that dealer variability is part of the experience equation with Subaru. Mine has been great.

  • avatar
    SLLTTAC

    Michael Karesh wrote: “The most notable problem area: wheel bearings.” My 1992 Subaru SVX went through two sets of wheel berarings. A friend’s SVX suffered failure of wheel bearings. My 1996 Outback, my 2006 spec.B, and my company’s two 2006 Foresters have not suffered such a failure. (By the way, each Forester is driven about 30,000 miles a year and each has been totally trouble-free.) Let us hope that this is no longer a weakness of Subarus.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Mr Holzman..

    this is A Wagon…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Wagon.jpg

    Crossover Utility Vehicle – According to Leo Burnett specializing in consumer behavior. CUV is just a marketing lingo but in fact it is still an SUV. hey just like saying P-Diddy was Puff Daddy
    get me?

    How can a CUV drives like a car when you can’t even do 45 to 65 mph on U-pin curve? try doing that and post it on You Tube.

    Do you know about AUV? It’s a marketing lingo

  • avatar
    GaryM

    I have an ’05 Outback XT LTD with a 5MT and really dislike this car. I agree with Bolhuijo: the rear end of this car slides out in the snow. And that isn’t just when it goes around corners… it is squirmy on slick roads trying maintain a straight line. I have replaced the horrible Bridgestones with Goodyear TripleTreds and that marginally helped. This season I put Blizzaks on it and it still slides out. Consumer Reports has repeatedly cited this car for rear end slide out and they are right. I personally do not feel safe in this car in the snow at speeds over 30. I never had this problem with my ’98 A6.

    In addition, the interior is cramped, the driving position too low, the gas mileage is very disappointing, the paint durability is crappy, the hatch overhang makes it difficult to put things on the too narrow roof rack, the clutch on the XT is incredibly heavy and the shifter is clunky.

    On a positive note, nothing has gone wrong with this car in 40k miles. If Audi could give me this kind of reliability, I would ditch the Subaru and go back to Audi in a heartbeat.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    GaryM and Bolhuijo, you may be interested in this thread on low-traction stability problems:

    http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/showthread.php?s=d142bdcaf2a3eec17765ac2af54759a4&threadid=11267

  • avatar

    Interesting – lots of Subie owners here at TTAC, based on the level of responses. Notably, we all like to kvetch. However it’s interesting to note that for all the quirks, they stand out above the rest of the crowd in terms of reliability and overall value (witness the numerous Audi owners and the same story – Audi builds a nicer car, but reliability sucks).

  • avatar
    BEAT

    SLLTTAC

    I like Subaru TOO and this is the only car that can compete with the Evo’s in rally events. I’m just wondering about the problems that some posters mentioned.

    The Question:

    If Subaru is not a high quality product how come it can compete in Paris to Dakar Rally, used for drifting competition, used in heavy snow in New England (beside the Saab)etc etc?

    My Friend’s mother drive a Subaru Outback for 9 yrs and the only problem she had was running OUT of gas in the middle of a winter storm on I-95.

    She cares about his Subaru or should I say car.

    Some High Performance mechanics mentioned to me that the Bad drivers don’t care if they running flat, don’t care if the headlight is busted, don’t care if they don’t have a break light bulb change and complain about a car all the time.

    And by the way, bad drivers drive very fast on the slow lane just to pass cars on the fast lane.

    Believe it or Not

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I know I am beating a dead horse here, but they either need diesel or better economy (which may neam 2wd?).

    Too many parts of the country do not need AWD. I like the height for floods, but I won’t buy a car like that which only gets 19 city. Forget it. I also like the drive and room that are not offered by camry and accord.

  • avatar
    GaryM

    rpn453- thanks for the link to the Outback forum discussion on the Outback’s stability problems in snow and ice. Anyone interested in buying an Outback should read this thread. It looks like a lot of owners are experiencing it.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    This thread (http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/showthread.php?s=d142bdcaf2a3eec17765ac2af54759a4&threadid=11267) is not worth much. Too many different cars, folks with non-standard sway-bars and all kinds of tires.

    A couple of cogent facts: Subarus each come with one of three distinct AWD systems. The one for manual cars is different from the one for the 4-speed transmission and that is different from the one with the 5-speed transmession. Some manual cars have VDC (vehicle dynamics control), most dont.

    Sway-bars can cause problems. A stiffer front bar will cause understeer (front end hits the wall) and a stiffer rear bar can cause oversteer (rear end hits the wall).

    Ice – especially patch ice can wreak havoc with some awd systems and is easier for fully electronic systems to cope with.

    All that thread says is that sometimes the going is particularly difficult. I don’t think there is enough uniform experience there to support the theory that Subaru has a design or handling problem.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Consumers Union has complained about Outback rear sliding, perhaps because Subaru biases the AWD for 55% rear, and due to suspension design. In any event a tail-happy car in ice and snow scares me to death. I drove all 3 ’08 Outbacks and none of them respond well to the accelerator or downshift without long pauses, and the XT in city driving proved to be a bucking bronco with its turbo lag (no, I do not drive hard – my Malibu Maxx has no such lag issues).

    I like the Outback concept, the AWD and its interior’s attractive, but will probably wait for the ’10 version which will be all new with many improvements such as the 3.6HI engine (no more premium gas, I hope!).

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Hey Megan,

    I’ve got 40k miles on my 06 Civic SI. My honest-to-goodness assessment: Don’t make the move downmarket.

    As you said, you bought a first year model with the LGT. My suggestion would be to move to a new TSX (if you can stomach/replace the grill) when it starts to offer their diesel or turbocharged engine. Or buy a CPO 335i sedan 6-speed w/ sport package and get the extended maintenance package…you’ll get 4 years/~80,000 miles of no worry driving. Of course, you’ll want to trade it in at the end since no one trusts those turbo engines for 100,000 miles of 15k oil changes…

    The SI is a fun, reliable car and I realize it’s worth a good deal more than they charge for it….but the drive by wire programming is pretty terrible, and it’s a jerky ride in traffic (due to the throttle tip-in/lift-off characteristics).

    At least go with the MazdaSpeed 3 in Pearl white (just coming out about now for the first time)….then you have twice the power at 3000 rpms than the SI to distract you :)

    Joe

  • avatar

    kurtamaxxguy: Consumers Union has complained about Outback rear sliding, perhaps because Subaru biases the AWD for 55% rear, and due to suspension design. In any event a tail-happy car in ice and snow scares me to death.

    The CR/CU complaint refers to oversteer tendencies witnessed in a double-lane change limit handling maneuver, which have much more to do with the chassis dynamics rather than AWD bias. Even so, it was still deemed acceptable.

    Driven normally, the OB is confident and capable in the snow. As with any AWD car that doesn’t have VDC or ESP, enough throttle will induce some level of oversteer as the rear tires break free.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Joe O
    It may be worth the move downmarket just for the improved gas mileage and the driving dynamics. I’ve heard they’ve done some ECU upgrades that help with the drive by wire issues — we noticed a big diff b/t the coupe we drove when they first came out and the 07 sedan we drove last year. I wasn’t that impressed with the MS3, neither was the husband, though I do love how they look. We did look at the TSX, I think it’s a shamelessly overpriced piece of crap and that Acura should apologize for making the least luxurious ‘luxury’ car i’ve ever driven (and that includes my Integra). We looked at a used one with comparable years/miles to the LGT and the interior was in sad, sad shape… literally falling apart. The interior on the LGT has stood up MUCH better to the test of time (despite subaru cheapening it year after year with each model). But if they revamp it seriously for this year (and offer it with a diesel) I’m sure we’ll give it a look.

    kurtamaxxguy
    Didn’t notice any turbo lag on your malibu maxx? Probably because it doesn’t have a turbo. I think Subaru has done a good job with later models to map the throttle to minimize turbo lag, but even then, if you notice it has a jerky ride, it’s probably because you’re either not used to having that much power underfoot and/or you’re driving the manual version, which takes a bit of getting used to to shift smoothly. I don’t find the automatic jerky at all (hard for it to be, with the amount of power loss thru the transmission), and comparable to other crappy automatics in terms of the time it took to downshift… no better, no worse, and no fun. If you think the XT w/ an automatic tranny is a bucking bronco in city traffic, then you haven’t driven a manual LGT. If you do, you may want to pack airsick bags.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Megan Benoit says:
    “The interior on the LGT has stood up MUCH better to the test of time (despite subaru cheapening it year after year with each model).”

    I just got my ’08 Legacy GT, and have a friend with an ’05 version. I cannot see where the interior has cheapened, except for the deletion of the Momo steering wheel, and the substitution of a Subaru one. So where do you think it has been cheapened? I note you made the same remark in your actual review of the LGT.

    I had an Impreza auto before, which lasted so long I got fed up with it, and I find the 5 speed auto in the GT works a treat. I’m an engineer, so the first thing I noticed is that the normal S mode has a very loose torque converter feel, and is great for stepping out quickly, but a waste of gas in slow city driving. Use I mode – its much tighter at town speeds. When you need to go quick just hit the S# button on the wheel on the fly. Simple.

    The manumatic feature on the console shift on both 4 and 5 speed autos is basically useless, because it’s backwards and completely counterintuitive to me. However, the shift paddles are just great, and the blipping throttle works a treat. I use them all the time. Cruising along at 60 klicks or so, clack that left hand paddle 3 times, you’re in 2nd almost instantly, and shove your right foot down. Gone.

    My car is very smooth, so haven’t come across any bucking issues. But it was a lightly used demo, apparently driven by the prez of Subaru Canada – that’s what I was told, anyway, and it took over two weeks to arrive.

    First car I’ve ever owned that people compliment me on the looks. Happens every day. (Twice today) I’m not used to that at all. And it’s the sedan.

    So far, I’m pumped. I like Subies.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    True, Megan, the Maxx has no turbo. It also has more low end torque than the Subies do, at expense of ultimate high end revs. I found the Outbacks gutless until the revs got well over 3500 rpm, at which point they responded better, but the Dec ’08 models I tried had long delays in downshifting and auto trans response. As for manuals, no thanks – too much heavy traffic here in Portland OR for those to be enjoyable (still, if Subies shifted like the Honda CR2000, I’d be tempted ;-) ).

    I wonder how the Outback handles a CU style lane change with AWD bias set more like the Forester, which is more FWD biased. Unfortunately, only the STI models allow that sort of tweaking. In any event, the double wishbone on the Imprezas and (soon) Foresters got rid of those vehicles’ tendencies to do tail slides.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Hey Megan,

    I was specifically referring to the new TSX…the current one just isn’t it. (Whats with the bright red felt ashtray, anyway?).

    Honda revised the DBW programming in October of 06, I had mine reflashed. Previously, the throttle had a way-too-long delay at times and the revs would “hang” at the rpm you were at when you pushed the clutch in…for about 2 seconds. No longer there.

    Nonetheless, it’s still quite difficult to get a smooth shift about 50% of the time. Note though, I’m not saying 1/2 of the shifts. I swear, and I’ve corrobated this with other owners, that on somedays it’s easy to shift everytime…and others, it feels like you’ve owned the car for a week.

    BTW, I drive 60-70% highway right now and 30-40% suburban. I average 26-28mpg depending on winter/summer driving conditions.

    I’d like to get my wife into an 08 LGT or a CPO 335i 6-speed sedan. Sure, there’s an 8k difference in cost…but you only live once :)

    Joe

  • avatar

    So… I see lots of accolades for both the LGT (spec.B it seems? I dunno, no one here says which model, and here in Canada that’s an $18K model gap), a CPO BMW 330 or something. Gah. What market was the Subaru designed for? I was always under the impression that it was budget hoonery. No?

    To me, the spec.B is upmarket. $44k CAD for a midmarket (is it even that?? since when?) sedan is highway robbery.

    Also to me, a stripper is a complete letdown. For us folks that spend more time on the road than we do sleeping in a day, I enjoy a few niceties for my commute. A $26k stripper is also highway robbery, when I can get a 16k nicely appointed Golf City (think Nokian or Goodyear ‘winters’ for handling, etc… little upgrades in which their value far exceeds their cost), Suzuki SX4 etc. for a little more $$ for an AWD kit…

    So… what is a Subie? ?Low/mid/upmarket? Depends on the model? And once we’ve established that, are they worth the premiums over a) the other Subie models and b) the rest of the market (and by worth I mean TCO etc. not anecdotal stories)?

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Megan Benoit we have an 05 LGT also with a some nagging issues but overall its been reliable. One rear bearing, warped rotars all the way around, fried ECM, skip-o-matic CD player, and bad injectors. All replaced without too much of a hastle under warranty. The injectors are the only thing still giving us problems and those horrible tires. Question, has the dealer been able to fix the 2800 rpm stutter that that turbo relay fan was supposed to fix? They have replace the relay, ECM, reflashed TWICE, and replaced the #2 injector and we still get that annoying hicup right before rocket launch.

    After 40K miles everything else about the car has been great, even the interior has held up great, and everyone who gets in our car in impressed and very surprised it’s a Subaru.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    Redbarchetta,

    Right on with your comments!

    I have an ’06 LGT Spec. B.

    0 problems, except for the 2,800 rpm hiccup – followed by a nice launch. They got rid of it once – with a reflash and and new air filter, but it came back.

    And – folks are impressed and suprrised that it is a Subaru. They were with my 2001 VDC wagon as well.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    One of the main, continued problems with the Legacy GT has been that hiccup or stutter. It looks like a surefire answer to this is aftermarket tuning (Cobb, etc.). Subaru also has a reflash for 07/08 models which seems to help, but no guarantee.

    I think the Legacy GT, to me, represents upscale mid-level performance. It offers a very unique blend of performance tuning, amenities, ride quality and sound dampening for it’s price range. I like that it’s one of the few cars on the market right now that seems to offer almost everything I’m looking for in all the right doses….

    To me, it also seems like a transition car for those going from economy to entry luxury…it’s got more practicality than a 3-series, more performance than a base 3-series, good safety, and alot of standard options.

    Joe

  • avatar

    I’ll chime in on yet another Subaru thread and tell you about my wife’s 210,000 mile Impreza that just had the original clutch replaced. I’ve never had a wheel bearing problem. This car has been almost annoyingly trouble free the entire time we’ve owned it (bought used with high mileage). My main gripes with the car are the frameless windows and the cheap interior. The fuel mileage isn’t Imprezzive, but it’s a tradeoff I accept for the AWD.

    All of this tail-happy handling talk gave me pause. The spouse complained once she looped the thing leaving the parking lot at work with little provocation, so I spent some painful (LOL) time with in myself in the snow to see what the deal was. I think the problem is more the driver. AWD cars handle differently than pretty much anything else I’ve driven (and I’ve rally-tested a lot of cars). You have to pretend it’s a Porsche; don’t lift in the turns. Give it a little more throttle. Worst thing it will do is understeer a bit. Usually it will just plant itself and go where you point it.

    12 years of outdoor living and poor maintenance on my part has the clearcoat failing. That, and it’s advanced age generally, has me considering replacement. It’s proving real hard to get excited about anything other than a Subaru simply because I never have to work on the thing. I’d really like a 3 series wagon, but do I really want to hear my wife complain about failed window regulators again, like I did with the VW that preceded it? Tough choice: appliance, or joy at a cost of my own garage time and wallet?

  • avatar
    dgduris

    ddavidv,

    I think you have nailed the Subaru experience that keeps most of us coming back: they just keep going and going. And we buy cars to drive them, don’t we.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Interesting about Cobb but apparently nothing for Outback except ECU reprograming to stage 1 (and wouldn’t Subaru void your engine warranty out if they caught any changes to their programming?.

    ddavidv, do other AWD vehicles behave as the Outback does? Does the Forester, which has different F/R AWD bias than the outback, behave similarly?

  • avatar
    dgduris

    I believe that baseline torque distribution differs by transmission, not by model.

    That is to say, a 5MT Forester has the same baseline torque distribution as a 5MT Outback and a 5MT Legacy.

    The 4EAT (electronically adjusted automatic transmission) is different as is the 5EAT. The STi is variable.

    My bet is that these reports of spinning on ice are a combination of driving style and – perhaps on ice – the various transmissions method of coping with quickly and widely varying traction at each wheel.

    I had a conversation a couple of years ago with an Audi/ BMW dealer about the advantages of each system. He said that the A4 was better than the xi in snow, but that the xi was far better on sheer ice because the traction control on the BMW happened only at the wheels – not in the driveline(this was with the initial xi system which was essentially freely spinning shafts regulated simply by automated application of the brakes).

    I find it difficult to loop my 5MT Spec. B. I can’t imagine it is too easy to loop an Impreza either. Though you may get a wee bit of lift-throttle oversteer due to engine braking in low gears, there is not enough mass behind you to keep the tail going unless you totally panic and slam on the binders. Certainly not the characteristics of an older Porsche, where the engine is back there just waiting to swing around and say “Hi!”.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    dgduris I thought the Spec B came with a 6 speed manual. I really wish my LGT had one more cog.

    ddavidv I’m pretty sure our LGT has a slight rear bais I can drift it ever so slightly in hard turn, but spin it around I find that hard to fathom. I have broken all 4 tires a couple times in wet pavement(stock tires suck for sh*t) and the car just plows in a straight line from where is let loose. If you let off on the throttle the car grips hard and goes where ever the wheel is pointed, I have a feeling that is what people might be doing. I have shown my wife how it works because in a panic situation doing what you would normally do in a FWD car might drive you into a ditch.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    @Redbarchetta,

    First year Spec B (’06). They made 500 of them in a unique silver exterior with a really beautiful black, brick red and aluminum interior. Alas, they were 5-speeds. But it is the nicest Suby interior ever! And, much nicer than the current black and blue treatment….or is it all just dark grey now?

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    dgduris I remember seeing one of those at the dealer when we bought our Legacy, the interior was really nice, that red reminded me of this Oxblood interior I saw in a concept. I didn’t realize that first run was only 5 speeds, I thought the STI tranny was a big part of the price hike. But the interior might make the more money worth it, is it holding up well? Our ’05 with 40,000 miles hasn’t had any interior issues considering the heavy use my wife and daughter put it through. What is up with Subaru flubbing up and/or dumbing down their interiors year after year. Ours is the black exterior with sand leather interior and wood accents and then in 2006 you could only get it black on black with the fake aluminum. Makes the car look less luxurious than I think ours does. And then the new interiors in the Impreza/WRX looks cheap in comparison to the older model. Weird and worrysome trends they have had lately.

  • avatar
    dgduris

    Redbarchetta,

    The Total value of the Spec. B is the aluminium suspension and the inverted Bilstein (ergo, the “B”) struts. The interior bits are just baubles on top of less unsprung weight. The 6-speed is nice, but most of my driving is city-based rowing so I rarely get out of third (and it is too fun to keep up the revs).

    Is the interior holding up? Yes. Fantastically well. I have never had a Subaru with interior issues other than the two SVXs, which had door panel rattle issues that needed to be massaged – but the SVX’s was such a way cool interior…who cared?

    When I bought it (the Spec. B), I was about to trade my VDC wagon for an STi. Then I saw that oxblood interior and the choice was simple.

    My VDC had 140k miles on it. I had lived in SanDiego and made daily trips to the dog beach with the airedale in the back. And, of course, the car sat in the hot sun many days. There was never an issue with the quality of that interior (tan leather/ wood trim) whatsoever.

    Subaru never were much for a large selection in interior pallets as was, say, Audi. But even Audi has caved from interior options that used to include 10 colors of leather, three woods, aluminium and carbon trim. Heck, you want an S4 wagon now? You can have any color interior so long as it is black, with the afforementioned aluminium trim.

    Subaru did design a stunning interior after the SVX. It is in the B9 – sorry RF. But, I think that – in general – they have fallen into the trap of black/ charcoal grey and aluminium trim. It’s the cliche’ interior for any car with sporting pretentions these days whether it be a Bently (in which case the alu-trim is machine burnished) or a Pontiac.

    I sat in an STi a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t unimpressed with the interior – but I wasn’t overly assessing it either. I don’t think that – in terms of interior luxury – one should expect too much from Subaru, true limited editions like the ’06 Spec. B aside. They aren’t luxury cars. But, in my 500k+ miles of driving them, I have never had an instrument light burn out, a switch fail or some trim pop off, which is more than I can say for my friends BMWs, Audis and Benzs.

    I may have to wait a year for the STi though. At $40k I think it should have heated seats and mirrors – especially here in New England – especially at my advancing age.

  • avatar
    twincamalfa

    It’s almost a miracle that Subaru is still selling cars in the US. Subaru is a small fish in the business; there are some things they can’t afford to do or to offer. And Subaru cars have traditionally had character, but character doesn’t sell cars in the US—unless it’s the character of snob appeal. But Subaru needs the US market. Hence they’ve chosen to abandon some of their charm to broaden the cars’ appeal. The US car market is an odd thing, at least to me. For so many people the car is another fashion accessory, or maybe just another place to make phone calls, eat lunch, or check your makeup while presenting yourself via your car to the rest of society. Good driving dynamics and functional utility from the work of talented designers and engineers isn’t what generates mass appeal and large sales in a nation where everyone drives but hardly anyone is a driver.

    I see Subaru giving in more to the mainstream, and it’s bothersome. I’m going to have to replace my ’96 2.2 5 speed Outback someday. It’s a great car in every respect. It’s the only car I’ve ever driven that feels like it has four very sticky yet agile round feet instead of mere tires. In those moments which really count, I can’t imagine a better friend on the highway.

    If things get really bad, I think I will pick up and live somewhere in the EU and find a Citroen D for longer trips and just walk or take the bus…

  • avatar
    willamettejd

    We leased an 08 base outback manual tranny, in silver/grey, in August. Love the car.

    FYI – gas mileage is more like 30mpg freeway….on a recent 400 round trip up and down mountain passes and involving about 40 miles of in-town driving, we averaged 29mpg.

    Passing power is merely adequate….fine with driver only, labored with a passenger, nearly impossible with 4 passengers and a full load….you’ve got to slam it in to 3rd and floor it

    The back is a textbook example of excellent engineering…backs seats are push-button fold down nearly flat for hauling anything; secret compartments under the floor and in walls to keep purses, bungie cords, first-aid kit, etc…it’s my favorite feature of the car; nice touch in having various fold-down, self-retractable hooks around the back for tie downs and bungie cords

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    I got to compare ’08 Outback I and XT and ’09 Forester XT extensively, and while there were things to like about the Outbacks (nicer trim and interior finish, quieter on the road, less fuss over big bumps), the Forester won out. Why? Outback drivelines clunk a lot – Foresters don’t. Outbacks really lean in turns – Foresters lean less. Outback Limited Slip Diff causes tail happy handling (Consumers Union vid shows Legacy, Outback’s sedan version w/ same drive, nearly swap ends in emergency handling) – Forester doesn’t wag tail. Outback XT power waits until 3500 rpm and then comes with a whoosh (SI drive either neuters or makes Outback edgy, not more powerful) – Forester’s faster, more linear, and uses less fuel. Where’s the space for your feet in the Outback’s rear seat? Not there – you’ll find plenty in Forester.

    This is not to say Forester’s perfect – Megan here had many complaints about it, some of which are true (Forester’s interior, other than leather, is cheap/rattles/easily damaged, the 4 speed trans could use another gear).

    However, if you want manual trans and Turbo, Outback’s your only choice (Subaru tried manual trans and turbo with Forester – lost money because no one save a handful of enthusiasts would buy ‘em).

    If you go either way, get rid of the Stock tires as fast as you can afford to, and put Nokians or some quality tire on the Bu’s. They’ll make a world of difference.

  • avatar
    revolver1978

    I’ll be in the market for an AWD 3-dog capable hauler. While this Subie was initially lowest on my list, after checkiing ti out in person at the local Autoshow it’s now near the top.
    Regrettably, my sig other refuses to lern how to drive a manual, which means I’ll have to buy an automatic.
    How I came to pick the Subaru?
    1. Practical cargo area
    A lot of CUV’s & SUV’s have rediculously tall cargo areas with not much floor space. The Suzuki Grand Vitara is the most obvious in this regard. Any Infiniti product = hatch area is a joke.
    2. Nice Interior
    Whomever gave the fake wood in the Subaru a matt finish deserves a silver medal. (They would get a gold if it were birch or clear maple, but I think only mkaresh and I like light colored wood trim.) It’s in tasteful amounts (small doses go along way) and is not in such bizare shapes as to look like plastic. It warms the cabin without looking tacky. The materials are soft-touch and low sheen. You can get heated seats with a cloth interior. Panoramic sunrooof.
    3. Decent fuel economy
    Save for a 2.0t Audi A4 avant, this gets better milage than most 5 seater CUV and SUV’s. My other contender, the Ford Edge / Lincln mkX, rates @ +/- 16/23. An AWD Volvo V50 doesn’t do better, and the V70 & XC70 are worse.

  • avatar
    sullie

    I test drove the Passat, the Audi, the Volvo and I kind of fell in like with the Subaru Outback XT 5-speed. To be honest, I took it home for an extended test drive. I drove it all over the city, took it to work the next day and then bought it.

    Before I brought it home I had the STI short throw shifter installed and later I gave COBB tuning a call. Now I LOVE the car! :)

  • avatar
    bluesilenus

    i am buying my first car and a bit nervous. i work in one of america’s ports which means: lost of trucks, potholes, junk in the road. i am really concerned about safety. was planning on buying the outback or legacy b.c of it’s stellar crash test results (passive safety) and performance (active safety) but saw the consumer reports video showing the fish tailing during emergency handling–also mentioned by kurtamaxxguy. visions of honda accords are filling the void (seriously, the accord did very well in crash tests) wondering if anyone knows if the new legacy will prob fishtail as well? is there a way to find out from someone other than a subaru salesperson?

  • avatar
    dgduris

    Oh! Please!

    An Outback wagon – even with the turbo – hasn’t the power-to-weight ratio to fishtail on dry pavement. On slippery pavement any rear-wheel drive car will fishtail. An AWD car will likely do so less because the torque is split between the front and rear wheels as well as side-to-side.

    Of course, with a front-wheel driver you don’t have an option to mash the throttle to help get around a slippery curve and always end up nose first into the snow bank.

    Yes, you can get a bit of a funny movement out of a manual turbo Legacy sedan if you step off the throttle at high revs and speed in a turn. You won’t be getting there in an Outback, though…and certainly not on slippery roadways…you’d have to be crazy or over-libated to drive that fast.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India