By on July 13, 2009

Back in the late ‘90s, Hollywood unleashed a barrage of light-hearted, cookie-cutter teen movies. The gist: quasi-geek exists just outside the fringe of the high school “in crowd.” He’s intrinsically smart, casually cool, but socially a bit awkward. He’s followed by legions of adoring and affable nerds, cast in the shadows of the popular conformists.  Inevitably, our geek has his eyes on the prettiest girl in school and a thirst for leaping the social chasm to popularity. Predictably, this is accomplished through a bit of dumb luck, by selling his soul through transformational makeover, and by alienating those who supported him. Allow me to introduce the latest geek-turned-sellout: the 2010 Subaru Outback.

Not to go off on too Faragonian of a branding rant, contrary to the latest “It’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru” campaign, “it” is nowhere present in the new Subaru Outback. Yes, the usual hardware bits are there. Boxer engine? Check. Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive? Check. But past these binary, objective metrics, the essence of a true Subaru is woefully absent, starting with the styling . . .

I’ll forgive the new Outback’s wacky headlights, weird taillights, and gimmicky body cladding. Let’s face it: the refreshing cleanliness of the last generation Legacy/Outback’s styling was too good to last. But I can’t the turn a blind eye to the Outback’s thyroid condition that balloons the Outback out of the clever off-road-wagon segment it created, square into the congested crowd of bloated CUVs.

Towering more than four inches higher than its predecessor, spanning two inches more across the beam, standing another awkward inch higher off its tires, the new Outback looks—no, is huge. The super-chunk roof rails are grossly exaggerated (until you discover the trick design that allows the crossbars to disconnect and swing 90 degrees to find residence integrated in the longitudinal rails). The rear quarter view screams “Venza!”—which is like shouting “movie” in a crowded firehouse. Curiously, there wasn’t a Tribeca on the showroom floor. Cannibalism avoidance? Either that or the former “flying vagina” was hidden by the swollen Outback.

Inside, hoping—praying—for refuge from the calamity outside, you’re greeted by wide, comfy seats and increased legroom for all five passengers, thanks to a stretched wheelbase and the aforementioned middle aged spread. Despite the front captain’s chairs’ higher hip point, rear toe-room is just as miserable as the old model’s. The 60/40 split rear seatbacks now recline, but the pivot point is too high; occupants feel awkwardly contorted instead of comfortably relaxed.

Oddly, the Outback is two inches shorter than previously, sacrificed in the cargo bay. Fortunately, the height gain and the taller hatch opening collaborate with revised rear suspension packaging (now multi-link instead of a strut) to allow more junk in your trunk.

The Outback helped start the trend toward big/multiple/panorama sunroofs, yet the 2010 model reverts to a classic-sized hole over the front seats only. Probably for the better, as you don’t need more light cast upon the smorgasbord of plastics that muddle the instrument panel.

Gone is the understated and subtle classiness of the previous Outbagacy’s upscale interior bits. Cheezy glitz defines the rock-hard polymers that mimic textured stainless steel on the gaudy and protruding tall center stack (an annoyingly awful new Subaru family trait) and [faux] aluminum on the trim wings spraying out to the doors. Subaru grained and sheened the top shelf of the instrument panel convincingly enough to make you think it’s from Ingolstadt. Nein.

The Outback’s ergonomics couldn’t be further from Audi’s if they were designed by Daewoo. Every button on the Outback’s dash now requires reading glasses, a precise finger and a map. Twin Big Gulps and a swollen armrest bin take precedence over the handbrake, which has been demoted to a tiny button buried left of the steering column amidst a myriad of other tiny, illegible, and obstructed switches for stability control, external mirrors, trunk release, and a bunch of curious blanks. To compensate, the twin steering column stalks are chunkier. Thanks. So much.

My tester was a 2.5i Premium CVT, equipped with Subaru’s standard and most popular engine. Subie’s [allegedly] massaged the 2.5-liter Boxer-4 for improved economy and driveability, but with no marked increase in dyno performance (170 hp/170 ft-lbs). It doesn’t matter. Subaru’s latest gee-wizardry is my good grief: the “Lineartronic” chain-driven CVT.

Rather than expound on what it’s supposed to do, let me tell you what the powertrain really does. It tips in painfully slow off idle, winds in a thrashy tizz up to max horsepower at 5600 rpm and festers there. If there were anything resembling an exhaust note, it might remind you there’s a Boxer under the hood; gone is the traditional Subie burble. Instead, from the minute you start rolling, you’re annoyed by a constant cosmic din of CVT chain noise that the Ford Freestyle’s CVT never had on its worst day, even as an early prototype.

Meanwhile, you’re waiting for acceleration to happen. Wait long enough and you’ll get to sixty miles per hour—even if you can’t quite remember quite how it happened until the morning after. You can slap the squat shift lever into manu-matic mode and flop through simulated gearshifts as if were a really crappy traditional automatic transmission. Appeasing to the lab coats at the EPA, this powertrain combo somehow manages to muster 29 mpg under optimal highway conditions. Color me indifferent; claimed driveability is an epic fail.

Wagonistas of Subaru faith seeking dynamic chassis goodness were exiled when the Legacy Wagon died in ’08. The previous Outback was not exactly light on its feet. While the ground clearance is a boon to adventurers, it’s a bane to roadgoers as exaggerated primary dance moves (roll, dive, and squat) make hustling corners ill-advised. The 2010 is no different.

The Outback’s steering gets a welcomed hydraulic boost at parking lot speeds. But as soon as the sunburst-backlit speedometer needle goes north of ten, the helm goes novicane numb and becomes lethargically slow. Wafting down the boulevard, the ride—especially from the rear axle—has gone all jiggly (in addition to the preexisting harshness). “Plush” does not seem to be a word in the Subaru vernacular. That’s a shame, as they’ve deprived this car of anything resembling fun.

Let’s do the math.

Subaru’s once trademark all-wheel-drive is a “so what” in the market segment the Outback now occupies. The virtues of the Boxer engine are all but diminished to irrelevance by the entire vehicle’s lousy dynamic performance. All of which leaves the 2010 Outback nothing more than an awkwardly bloated carcass of a what used to be an interesting car. But then there’s the other calculation . . .

Pandering to the least common consumer denominator by creating yet another lifeless, overgrown, misguided fashion-trend of a rolling appliance (read: CUV) will guarantee Subaru’s continued sales trajectory. It’s a winning model perfected by its new step-parent Toyota, which makes this revelation of suck all-the-less surprising.

At the end of the stereotypical teen movie, the geek-turned-stud usually recognizes the collateral damages of his foolish ways, and returns with renewed self-confidence, truer to himself, ultimately a better person for it. However, punch-drunk on the elixir of newfound sales popularity, it’s unlikely Subaru will look back—save to fly the bird to its wide-eyed, once-loyal nerds.

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164 Comments on “Review: 2010 Subaru Outback...”

  • avatar

    I lol’d. Ruefully. This review echoes what’s been said a whole lot on Subaru has lost its way, at least with the faithful. Once the manual disappeared from the Legacy wagon – got mine, the last of ’em in the US – I knew my next car would have to be an Audi wagon.

    • 0 avatar

      I was sickened by this. Has anyone actually driven these vehicles?
      I currently drive a 95 Subaru impreza outback and I love it. It has
      over 235 thousand miles, and they are hard earned miles. It makes
      our 97 dodge neon look like a joke. The engine, transmission, and
      other major parts are original to the car, and it still runs quietly and
      perfectly. I’ve only paid for minor up keep and repairs.

  • avatar

    Subaru is (has been) the new SAAB. A small core of buyers, and everybody else smiles and buys elsewhere.

    Having owned four of them, I can say they are a curious mix of great, stupid, and really bad. And the G, S, RB is very unpredictable in its allocation.

    My last Subaru was a used 1999 Outback, which in three years, and only 30k miles, cost me $8500 in repairs and depreciation. My worst vehicle purchase, EVER.

    Ever rhymes with NEVER. For all the flack GM takes, I’d buy a GM vehicle in a minute over Subaru.

    • 0 avatar

      (1) Having just said goodbye to my 1991 Saab 900 Turbo, I chuckle whenever I hear the “Subaru is a Saab” statement. Certainly not a pre-GM Saab.
      (2) “…I’d buy a GM vehicle in a minute over Subaru…”
      Don’t separate the two so quickly. GM was heavily invested in Subaru until recently, and is still lightly invested now.  There’s also a good link on this site showing the Subaru Forester sold as a Chevy Forester in India.

  • avatar

    The Outback deserves to look better than this. The Forester is my favorite family scubie now.

  • avatar

    Excellent review Jonathan! One of the best I’ve read on TTAC. It’s a shame that one after another, the once focused and admired car companies have lost their way – BMW, Acura, Subaru, SAAB, etc. There is an obvious disconnect at the top. We enthusiasts see the slide plain as day. Very frustrating. Vista-like blunders left and right.

  • avatar

    It sounds like the CVT does just what it’s supposed to. I’ve been meaning to test-drive one, and I’m looking forward to test-driving it more!

    • 0 avatar

      after going through 5 cars in last 8 years, i finally found one that i want to keep for a LONG time.   my 2010 outback.   it gets 35 mpg on highway.   great sound system.   i can haul practically anything in it.   the roof racks are amazing.   my kayak goes on and off very easily.   looking forward to a road trip next month.   great car.    i don’t understand what isn’t to like about it.

  • avatar

    Big all wheel drive wagon and 29mpg? Um…that’s fantastic!

    • 0 avatar

      For the record, I get the same 29 mpg(average)  in my Volvo XC70.

    • 0 avatar

      It is fantastic. I’ve test driven 4 and 6 cyl, stick and auto, and closed my deal today for a 4 cyl with CVT. Styling’s subjective: I like it; you may not. But that’s just superficial: Let’s talk about things that really matter. How can you argue with 8.7″ ground clearance, 4″ more rear seat space, more storage without lengthening the car? How can you argue with 22/29 mpg? Now, drivebywire, I DO think i could argue with your reported 29mpg average in an XC70. I just checked the website and the two engines listed at Volvo get 16/22. Quite a stretch to be milking 29 out of that. If it’s true, i guess you could get 35+ out of the Outback.

    • 0 avatar

      On the highway I can consistently achieve 31 mpg. That’s averaging 75mph with long, steep Arizona inclines. On a flat highway in midwest USA, averaging 60mph, I could average close to 36mpg. Easily. I don’t know where the EPA obtains it’s estimates but they must have tested the Subaru while driving like a Hazzard boy.
      It rides amazingly smooth and takes corners like a champ. Yes, it is higher and there for a bit less confident around the sharp ones, but c’mon. It’s the best car you can buy for under $27,000. I got my 2010 Outback for just under $26,000. I have put nearly 25,000 miles on it in a year. I checked the Blue Book value last week and it is STILL worth $25,500. The CVT is a bit awkward to get used to in the beginning but after that phase you start to appreciate how much gas you are saving AND how smooth the gear change is. Also, it has no annoying “chain” sound. The inside can fit, very comfortably, four big-n-tall adults. The trunk is huge. I bought a 50 inch plasma with a bulky TV stand and a 6 foot long futon in one weekend after purchasing my house. I fit all of it in the trunk with the rear seats folded. I did not, however, have to sacrifice an inch of leg room in the driver seat. It’s like a cave back there.
      True Subaru owners, and I know I am still a novice-subie, will tell you that the experiences you have in your car are what make it a part of you. One test drive will not suffice.

      • 0 avatar

        Absolutely. If I drive nicely I get about the same (but not in DC traffic). I think this review is so bogged down by heavy opinion the real points are missed. Is this a high performance vehicle? No, it’s got a CVT (torque sapper). Is it a luxury vehicle? No. It doesn’t try to be. What it does do is give you a very safe and efficient way to get from point A to point B, and that’s all it tries to do. I also had to look up the value recently for a refinance and found it’s worth more than I paid for it. We paid around $24000 and 32000 miles and 2 years later it’s still worth $25000. Subaru cars have been great to my family for a long time, and I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. That said I really wish I got the v6, and the headlights are an absolute nightmare to change.

  • avatar

    Had a 2000 Outback – liked it OK, but would have liked it better with about 50 more horsepower. Wasn’t going to spring for the H6.

    Liked the third generation’s looks, and available turbo/manual setup, but wasn’t in a position to buy when the 2000 got totaled. Liked the looks less in more recent years when ‘freshened’ with the chrome grille.

    As it stands, this one won’t even be on the short list next time around. Lost their way, indeed.

  • avatar

    They even got rid of the burble?

    I think we’ve got to accept that the 2005-2009 Legacy was an anomaly. Nearly every other Subaru before and since has been an oddly-styled device.

    I’m personally to blame for the demise of the manual shift LGT wagon, which existed all of one model year. Said I would buy one, didn’t. Still have a soft spot for them.

    I’ve been predicting that 2010 will be the final model year of the turbo four LGT. It’s manual-only this year, and priced $2,000 over the 3.6-liter H6 model. A recipe for slow sales. And in recent years Subaru kills models that don’t sell well. After it’s gone, they’ll have an N/A four with manual and automatic, and a six with automatic only–just like everyone else.

    Will the new Outback prove reliable? Responses to TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey suggest that the 2008 Imprezza / WRX had a shaky launch, but it has since improved to average. The 2009 Forester, which has been selling extremely well for a Subaru, had a clean launch.

    We hope to have a quick initial result for the 2010 Outback and Legacy as well–just depends on how quickly owners sign up.

    Details here:

  • avatar

    Big all wheel drive wagon and 29mpg? Um…that’s fantastic!

    Applying the classic definition, I would tend to agree. The last vehicle I recall that seemed to manage this something for nothing feat was the 200 hp-ish Ford Five Hundred. It might have been what we should have wanted, but nevertheless we just didn’t buy it. The Subaru faithful might be the right demographic to tolerate such lackluster performance in theory, but will they tolerate the Venza-ness of the new package?

  • avatar

    Those headlights look vaguely Infinit-esque (a rip off the M45 if you ask me).

    Was never much of a Subaru man, even though those vehicles have always struck me as ‘quirky’ in a Saab kinda way.

    This is just plain weird.

  • avatar

    Oh the irony. I read this article while I was inside my 2001 Outback (can’t leave home without my laptop).

    I’m going to reserve judgement until I see it in person and drive one, but this new version appears to get rid of the fun, “ready for the back roads” appeal that I liked in the previous generations. It’s like the Price Is Right without Bob Barker. It’s got the same major ingredients, but the package as a whole just doesn’t feel right.

  • avatar

    The new Forester is a disappointment (where is the 4turbo/manual combo), but why does it even exist anymore? If the Outback is going to become another high-roofed CUV what’s the point of the Forester?

    At least Subaru righted the wrong it made with the ’08 WRX. This wrong is going to take a lot more work to right. I’m curious how the Legacy drives. Hopefully it has not lost its soul.

  • avatar

    The CVT sounds like a nightmare. In my book, a CVT is an automatic, but worse. A saving grace of the 2010 Outback is that a six-speed manual is still available with the base engine. It would be nice to see a “take two” review of one of these.

    I would agree that recent Subarus have fallen prey to bloat and the SUV craze. They’re still very robust cars and offer a great number of advantages over the competition (available manual transmissions, real AWD, wagon format, etc.)

  • avatar
    Jonathan Gregory

    The turbo-4 is gone in the OB – LGT only (stay tuned for that review). A 6-spd manual is standard on base 4-cylinder OB which may salvage some driving pleasure, even though the entire powertrain feels disconnected from the vehicle.

    @Michael Karesh: the exhaust note is very muted, which only serves to accentuate the thrashiness of the engine and the absurdity of the CVT sound. Vibration-wise, it’s smoother than before.

  • avatar

    I’d love to see the sales figures in a year or two, because I thought the old Legacy/Outback models were a huge step ahead for Subaru: probably as good as ever, only with some elegance and class thrown in.

    To hell with elegance, obviously: that frontal shot above shows the car in all its hideousness, and it has about as much class as a Florida trailer park after Katrina went through. Moreover, from what I read in the review, it’s not better but worse than the model it replaces. A strong contender for the 2009 “What the *$%& were they thinking” awards.

    And, while we’re on the currently-hot TTAC topic of gay marketing, do they really think the erstwhile lesbian target demographic is going to part with their dollars for something that makes them look like any other soccer mom, only with bad taste?

  • avatar

    Jonathan, I hope you get to review the Legacy with the 3.6L six cylinder and automatic transmission. I was thinking about that car, since I don’t want a manual transmission, and the turbo only comes with a manual. I am anxious to see how the 3.6 drives.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    I heard that Subaru had completed a large contract to Waste Management Inc. for fleet of pint-sized trash haulers. The special edition vehicles will be called the “Mon-back.”

  • avatar

    I own a 2006 legacy GT wagon. Had to automatic instead of the manual. It’s a shame to read that subie has taken everything that was good and fun about the wagon and spoil it everything middle america wants, larger, taller, more numb. Subie should have been looking at their sales during this catacylsmic time for most automakers and see that their previous offerings were more in tune with their customer base. Hopefully the legacy GT sedan will be better

  • avatar

    Applying the classic definition, I would tend to agree. The last vehicle I recall that seemed to manage this something for nothing feat was the 200 hp-ish Ford Five Hundred. It might have been what we should have wanted, but nevertheless we just didn’t buy it. The Subaru faithful might be the right demographic to tolerate such lackluster performance in theory, but will they tolerate the Venza-ness of the new package?

    Yep…this reminds me of those F-150 ads that appeared about this time last year boasting about the trucks’ 21 MPG fuel economy. Right – as if it were some sort of monumental achievement worth bragging about.

    The fuel efficiency of Subarus often seems to suck these days. Why can’t they even deliver base 4-bangers that can break 30 mpg on the highway? Why are the turbo versions getting Hemi-esque fuel economy numbers?

    • 0 avatar

      “The fuel efficiency of Subarus often seems to suck these days. Why can’t they even deliver base 4-bangers that can break 30 mpg on the highway? ”

      well, for starters, because they’re awd? Name any awd suv/wagon 4cyl that gets the 29 hwy the new outback is rated at, or its 24mpg overall: You’re either gonna have an extremely short list or, i suspect, no list at all. This site seems populated by people more interested in dramatic statements than fact. Look at the Ford Escape Hybrid: the awd model gets 4-5 mpg LESS than the front drive version with the same engine.

      As for the fella who says his Volvo XC 90 gets 29 mpg, for ex: Y’all believe that?

      Personally, I like the Outback balance of space and economy. (My other cars: a Boxster, an Infiniti FX, and a Camry Hybrid). I don’t go rock-climbing with any of them, but the FX is the only one (it’s awd) i can count on when i go off-road, in florida sand or kentucky dirt. The Outback would do that at least as well, get 50% better mileage, have better visibility. Yep, the FX’ll take it in a race, but that’s not what i’m buying my cars for. To each his own.

    • 0 avatar


      Its only rudimentary / elementary that the reason why fuel economy isn’t in the 30s for any Subbie (and other vehicles and companies in its competition) is the AWD. Now, regardless of the AWD unit of ANY Subaru, the WEIGHT of the vehicle is still the biggest challenge. Do remember.. that hybrid anything.. ISN’T the answer to fuel economy!! If I wanted good fuel economy, I’d dump a 5-10yr old 4cycl anything and go out and buy a diesel 3/5dr GTI from Wolfsburg. I might even buy and bite the rep bullet, the 2ltr motor and trans combo that is the 2011 GDI Sonata (if I wanted a “midsizer”), or any vehicle they plan to put that GDI motor tranny system into. I wouldn’t pay the 3-5g “surcharge” for the OBESE, hybrid system stuffed into any current midsize / fullsize car OR CUV regardless of the power and or fuel savings available!! Its plain not worth it compared to as long as it would take in miles AND fuel costs over a 10yr period to PAY for the hybrid unit.

      While I absolutely / completely detest the current design, size and heft of the Legacy Wagon. It doesn’t surprise me that its fuel eco sucks. Even when I tested a decent Impreza hatch.. fuel eco is in early 20s, and that ISN’T ground breaking! Most of that issue is the awd, and I refuse to drive a vehicle of its weight, even though it has a hatch!

      I see a total problem with AWD, as its a pointless concept on 95% of vehicles on market (SUV/CUV).. because they don’t have SNOW TIRES, regardless of their ability and or the capacity of those who operate the damn things to have tires that take advantage of the inherent technology.

      As far as the Legacy Wagon itself.. it is now as large as any CUV: Escape, CRV, Patriot / Compass / Liberty. Its just wayy too damn large. I believe the vehicle has a 4 and or a 6cycl. Id also bet money that people don’t buy the 4cycl cause the car wont move with it.. because of its size issue.

      And ya dont buy AWD hoping for good fuel economy.

      Ya buy AWD, prayin ya safe with driving in snow.. albeit with all seasons.

  • avatar

    I haven’t driven the 2010 Outback. Given how un-NSFWing believably bad the previous 4 speed auto was, is the new CVT worse, or is it just the whole “I don’t like CVT’s” , or is it “It’s just a crap transmission even by CVT standards,” Because honestly, the old 4 speed auto operated more like a 2 speed, and in some vehicles (Nissan) have had good

    So let me get this straight, Subarus are now uniformly ugly, they perform worse and get worse gas mileage than their competitors, have terrible materials/assembly quality, poor reliability, and drive like crap, backed up with terrible service and an almost complete manufacturer refusal to acknowledge problems. (cough cough head gaskets). Now that the last-gen Legacy is out of the picture, Subaru doesn’t even make one decent car in any class.

  • avatar
    John R

    Well, it seems like the Borg, er…Toyota has gotten their tentacles firmly implanted in this one now, too…sigh…

  • avatar

    One thing Subaru has done fairly well in the past has been to muster its small resources and anticipate where the market is going. The previous generation Legacy and Outback, Forester and WRX were brilliant. They created niches and markets where none had existed before. Of course, there was the occasional wrong turn like the Tribeca. But then no ones perfect all of the time, right?

    But somehow the sure-footed design and marketing sense of one of the few companies to continue to sell well in the current downturn went off the cliff. The payoff from the Toyota investment is apparently there for everyone to see. There are a lot of Toyota design cues in the new design- bad Toyota design. Those caricature flares over the wheel wells- ugh!

    My six year old daughter said it best when approaching my ’95 Subie. “You are a Bus”. What? Well that is how you pronounce Subaru backwards. ‘U’ ‘R’ ‘A’ ‘BUS’.

    Subaru, you’ve created one hell of a Legacy Bus. My only hope is that it is not as big a disaster as it appears currently.

  • avatar

    Wow, that’s ugly. The new Legacy isn’t exactly pretty, but it’s gorgeous compared to the Impreza and this thing. This is one of those fascinating designs that manages to do everything wrong at once.

  • avatar

    Having read about the new Legacy GT’s appealing specs — turbo power, AWD, large trunk, reasonable price — I dropped by a dealer to investigate. I found only base models, and could not believe how UGLY they are. Unlike many cars, they actually look better in photos. I still want to test one, and will reserve final judgment until then, but I was appalled.

    So I tested a 2009 WRX instead, and loved it. Yes, the suspension is a little soft for a serious performance car, but it provides a great ride/handling balance for an enthusiast’s daily driver in an urban environment. Based on this, I wouldn’t say Subaru has entirely lost its way, but the new Legacy/Outback are cause for concern.

    • 0 avatar

      Have you considered a lightly used 09 LGT? The performance will be very close and it still has all the practicality, but it’s not puffy and hideous.

      You’ll save a mint, too.

  • avatar
    Jonathan Gregory

    @mikeolan: I’m not a huge fan of CVTs to start, but know that you can tune them nearly infinitely to at least give the impression of power, a nearly turbo-like slingshot effect. This one is dead linear which is to say sloooooow. Furthermore, throttle modulation does little to vary acceleration – the pedal feels merely a volume adjustment.

  • avatar

    WTF has happened to Subaru? I have basically had to scratch every model off my future buying list becasue they keep screwing them up for me. My wife wont be very happy to know that our current Legacy GT will probably be the last Subaru we buy becasue they have become Toyota-AWD.

    If I wanted a Toyota I would get a Toyota and then drive off a cliff in bordom.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Great review, Jonathan. Can’t wait to what the turning-radius is on your phrases when you review a car you actually find appealing…..

  • avatar

    I was hoping to see a new six speed automatic in the new legacy as the old four speed (as is in my ’08 Impreza OBS) leaves to be desired. CVT’s have not historically done well on these shores, although Nissan has been trending that way recently as well. I don’t dislike the looks and I would guess the new Legacy/OB series will do well enough in the market as Subaru is one of the few companies to increase market share this past year…..Forester and Impreza. I love both my Subies…also own an ’09 WRX, and I’ve owned most brands including 3 Audis. Maybe a real tranny is in the OB’s future?

  • avatar

    Hey, look everyone! It’s a Toyotaru!

  • avatar

    About that CVT: it’s one thing to buy a naturally aspirated Subie knowing that its four speed slushbox can also handle the blown engine. Knowing that the CVT is only available for base engine models? That would give me pause. Plus I don’t like the thought of driving up steep grades to the mountain cabin with a CVT (as we’ve done often in our (her) slushbox Forester).

  • avatar

    In January I took our 2003 Legacy SE 5-speed wagon car to our original dealer for an oil change (coupon), and within a few minutes they told me that a bad engine gasket had to be replaced – which they did later that week, at no cost to me and entirely on their own initiative, even though the car was more than 5 years old (it still had fewer than 60,000 miles, so they decided to stretch a point in my favor).

    Last week I went to the same dealer to have the malfunctioning right rear seatbelt replaced under lifetime warranty (which I was glad to learn about).

    But I saw the new Legacys and Outbacks outside while I was waiting. The horror…

    With cars like these, why would I ever remain so loyal to the brand as to repay such a good experience with my Subaru dealer by someday buying another new one? Instead I’m just going to do all I can to maintain our ’03 forever.

    [When our Legacy was new, I came across some Subaru sales literature that extolled the structural benefits of frameless door windows (i.e., more metal in the body shell itself). I suppose the 2010 brochures are extolling the benefits of window frames?]

    [And another thing: The new Forester is available with the large sunroof and lots of other optional equipment. It’s a few inches narrower, but it costs a hell of a lot less than the new Outback, with little apparent difference in usefulness. Why not offer the 7-passenger Exige in the US instead, and cancel both the Outback and the Tribeca? I can’t believe any 1998-2009 Outback buyers will go for the present offering. Come on, Subaru of America – wise up.]

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe it’s because the Outback is the car that put Subaru on the map and is the very definition of their brand in their higher volume areas (Everywhere it snows), and it would therefore be a monumentally stupid idea to kill it?

      That’s like asking Porsche to stop making the 911.

    • 0 avatar

      There is no such thing as an Outback.

      Its the Subaru – Legacy – Wagon, and the OUTBACK is the tan and or green trim, that surrounds the lower half of the vehicle around the wheel wheels.

      It isn’t the Outback that people went for initially.. its the Impreza 4dr / 5dr rally car that was made available and the WRX that KIDS used to buy, who grew up.

      And Subaru started out in the 70s pushing front drive cars.. soon moving to awd, when the rest of the damn auto WORLD was doing rear drive in the 80s, soon to move to fwd in the 90s, with fwd dominating and awd now being the standard.

      It has been AWD that SUBARU has had as a lower cost mass market brand vs Audi’s Quattro.

      And.. if you really would like to get picky.
      It hasn’t been till just lately that the Legacy is only offered in the wagon (no sedan), and is sized and directly marketed against the Japanese midsize (read: fullsize leaders). But.. I cant honestly imagine ANYONE debating which to purchase.. and buying the generic looking / obese to drive Legacy Wagon / CUV (now marketed to anyone with a checkbook) and or no concept to care / know the difference.

  • avatar
    Jonathan Gregory

    When our Legacy was new, I came across some Subaru sales literature that extolled the structural benefits of frameless door windows (i.e., more metal in the body shell itself). I suppose the 2010 brochures are extolling the benefits of window frames?

    Wouldn’t know – seems the cars beat the brochures to the dealer. They don’t even have the website updated with pricing or spec info yet.

  • avatar


    Subaru *did* acknowledge the head gasket issue on the 2.5L N/A DOHC engines. There was a campaign where owners were notified that if they went to their dealer for a free cooling system refill with some additive that it would extend the head gasket warranty to something like 8 yrs/80k miles.

    I know, I ran across it when the head gasket(s) went in my 99 Legacy SUS with said EJ25D. Only at 140k-ish miles it didn’t matter much.

  • avatar

    Why post a review of the non-turbo 4-banger on a site that presumably caters to car enthusiasts?

    My wife’s 2008 Outback turbo has enough get-up-and-go. It’s no WRX, but no slouch either. I’d be more interested in knowing how that engine pulls the extra heft of the 2010 model than the base model.

    I think it’s *good* that Subaru offers a high mileage option, even if it has lackluster performance.

    I do agree that the Outback and Forester seem to be on a collision course.

  • avatar

    My wife grew up in Utah where many folk buy Subies. As a result, she hates ’em. Due to their weird styling, I hate them now, too.

    I agree with one of the above comments that so many previously loved car makers have really lost the plot. Ironically, the ones finding their mojo from a product and design perspective are the underdogs Ford and Hyundai. Who knew?

  • avatar
    Jonathan Gregory

    srh: Why post a review of the non-turbo 4-banger on a site that presumably caters to car enthusiasts?

    RF will likely argue this site caters to those who seek the Truth, no matter what the car. As such, the 2.5i is the OB’s volume model and [should] be representative for the typical OB-seeking buyer. But as further defense…

    My wife’s 2008 Outback turbo has enough get-up-and-go. It’s no WRX, but no slouch either. I’d be more interested in knowing how that engine pulls the extra heft of the 2010 model than the base model.

    We’ll never know the answer to this one; the turbo-4 OB is dead, my friend. Enjoy yours while you can. I know I will.

  • avatar

    Sat in a Legacy the other day. (Same interior.) What you can see in the photos here is the elimination of those pesky, expensive curved surfaces. Think Ford Five Hundred — more plains than Nebraska.

    As for the fake wood, that matte-finish pseudo-Scandinavian polymer is replaced by the usual over-luminous red glossy stuff.

    Subaru’s campaign to move upmarket and up in price just ran aground on the beach. What’s the opposite of “surprise and delight,” anyway? “Alarm and appall”?

  • avatar

    Test drove that same model two weekends ago. Same deal as another noted…cars were there, but no brochures and the website isn’t updated yet.

    I sat in a base model, no leather, and the material has a goofy pattern, unlike the dark cloth interior of my 2006 Outback.

    Well, about the leather interior CVT base I drove…nothing special with the engine, but I expected that. With a CVT, you WANT to have a slow drone with constant acceleration. There are paddle ‘shifters’ but you should only fake-shift a CVT to slow down to slow down a bit. Fake up shifting is silly.

    The inside was more spacious, and now has plenty of storage spots where there were none in my wagon. A little too big on the inside though. My mother liked it, liking the ‘high up seating position’ and smooth ride.

    No doubt this will sell well with the mpg conscious looking to downsize from giant SUVs into smaller more affordable cars.

    Me, I’ll probably go with a VW tdi sportwagen or hope for a A4 diesel allroad unless I hear something definitive about Subie’s diesel plans.

  • avatar

    By the way, I test drove a friend’s Legacy as he just got the $199, true $0 down, sign and drive special current Legacy 2.5i SE (I think he paid $25 or so more for the slushbox), and it was teeny on the inside, and we were laughing because of how slow it was pedal to the metal.

    If the new one is worse, I can’t fathom that concept.

    And for the record, CVTs should be banned by law.

  • avatar

    Well, we saw it coming really, when the new Impreza came out in 2007. All the technical toys like a superb torque-controlling center diff in the auto, and rear LSD — gone. Traction control by electrons. Low seating position now standard, instead of the classic WRX from 2002 to 2007. Absolutely crap interior, touted as being “far higher quality” by Subaru and the press, when anyone with an eyeball could see how excruciatingly awful it was.

    And the public LOVED them. Ditto the new wobbly Forester. Hey, if you were a betting Subaru exec, it only makes sense to wield the ugly stick, remove the good mechanical pieces and present the new Legacy and Outback to the world, complete with all-wheel gerbil drive.

    That’s why I got an ’08 Legacy GT. It looks good, has traction to spare, and in my hands at least gets reasonable mileage for the fun it provides growling about the landscape.

    Oh well. The new one is what it is.

  • avatar

    I’m driving a Impreza 2.5 this week. The CVT has to be better than the Auto. In std mode, it hesitates for 1-2seconds in some cases. In sport more, it is a great sport-auto, but I’m sure consumes gas.

    Did you drive teh car in the rain? I noticed the glass seems to give very poor sideways visibility in the wet.I’m sure some Rain-X could cure the problem.

  • avatar

    “And for the record, CVT’s should be banned by law”

    Having driven cars with CVT’s, this blanket statement is ignorant. .

    In their best applications, CVT’s are among the best of Automatic transmissions. A good example is the 2009 Maxima. Find a traditional 5-6 speed slushbox in a similar price range that performs as well- the only thing that I can think of is Volkswagen’s DSG.

    Along with that, a lot of people seem to hate CVT’s, but don’t really know why. For example this comment:

    ” Plus I don’t like the thought of driving up steep grades to the mountain cabin with a CVT (as we’ve done often in our (her) slushbox Forester).”

    Steep grades are where most CVT transmissions excel. . Especially compared to the POS 4 speed Automatic in the Subaru Forester (I know because I owned one.) I know Nissan’s is able to detect incline and allow for engine braking, along with keep the engine in the ideal power band. Unlike the 4 speed, a slight change in grade won’t warrant 2 gear downshift to maintain speed.

    A well-engineered CVT can be a fantastic transmission. It should be made clear that Subaru’s CVT is apparently not well engineered (like all of their automatic transmission it seems.) Some people think it’s dumb to be able to ‘shift’ a CVT, but why? It’s not ‘faking’ the gears so much as simply ‘locking’ it to a specific ratio, something that can be desirable when passing or coasting. Using the Maxima’s CVT as a reference, it works exceptionally well- in fact, aside from VW’s aforementioned DSG, I don’t know of any traditional automatic that shifts as rapidly.

    So to you “CVTS ARE KRAP!” people, would you actually test drive its various implementations before making some ridiculous comment? It’d be like saying “ALL AUTOS ARE CRAP” just because Subaru’s particular implementation is horrible.

  • avatar

    carguy622: The Forester XT Manual is gone because Subaru did not sell enough of them.

    The ’09 Outback’s rear seat had no toe room under front seats. The ’10 Outback rear seats do have toe space, but not as much as the ’09/10 Forester.

    The Outback’s ride bump imact harshness may be due to its Bridgstone tires (Forester’s Yoko tires are better but no match for Nokians). Older Outbacks tended to lean a lot in turns (Forester ’09 XT’s leaned less, but will heel over if pushed hard).

    Sounds like ’10 Outback needs a second take, possibly with someone armed with a sound level meter to measure CVT noise.

    BTW, TTAC might try driving a Lexus RX 450h. It may be surprised how firm (and somewhat harsh) the RX ride is.

  • avatar

    Steep grades are where most CVT transmissions excel. . Especially compared to the POS 4 speed Automatic in the Subaru Forester (I know because I owned one.) I know Nissan’s is able to detect incline and allow for engine braking, along with keep the engine in the ideal power band. Unlike the 4 speed, a slight change in grade won’t warrant 2 gear downshift to maintain speed.

    I don’t care about downhill. It’s not a big deal. I care about crawling uphill at a steep angle for long distances. I don’t care to try that again and again with a rubber band transmission.

  • avatar

    I saw one this past weekend at an event – alongside a new GT. Currently, I drive an ’06 GT Spec. B (#390 of 500) and love it even more than my previous 4 Subarus.

    Two words on the Outback – Epic Fail!

    I mean, it is so bad that it must have been designed by a team of Aztek and Envoy refugees while GM still had their 25% of Fuji Heavy.

    If it gets 29mpg now, it would probably get 40 with that totally idiotic roof rack ensemble removed. Hell Subaru, why don’t you just design a rear hatch that slides down under the bumper like my dad’s old Olds wagon (1972?).

    Cardinal sin on this new “Legacy” (OB AND Legacy) is that the damn thing got 3″ wider and the side-view mirrors don’t fold in.

    They’ll sell a bunch in the heartland, but the East Coast, City Dwelling, Tree-hugging, Hope-mongering effete will be off to another brand.

    That’s too bad, they WERE once really great, somewhat iconoclastic vehicles.

    As a past SVX, GT, SVX, Outback, GT customer, I feel betrayed!

  • avatar
    Jonathan Gregory

    kurtamaxxguy: Sounds like ‘10 Outback needs a second take, possibly with someone armed with a sound level meter to measure CVT noise.

    I was waiting for somebody to take me to task on this one :) A simple SPL meter doesn’t tell the tale; it’s a broadband whirring noise on top of all the other powertrain noise, that could approximately be order-cut only if you can track the CVT’s primary and secondary clutch speeds. The fact that you can hear the belt at all is unacceptable (thus my all-too-intimate reference to the Freestyle) much less the level the Subie’s is constantly audible at.

    But by all means, anyone is welcome to write their own take – I look forward to the read.

    The Outback’s ride bump imact harshness may be due to its Bridgstone tires (Forester’s Yoko tires are better but no match for Nokians). Older Outbacks tended to lean a lot in turns (Forester ‘09 XT’s leaned less, but will heel over if pushed hard).

    The harsh ride might be forgiven if the handling was firm with sporting intentions. But it’s not. My argument is if you’re going to give me nautical handling, at least give me a creamy, quiet ride. Questionable tire choice is a likely culprit – the last gen’s Bridgestone’s weren’t nicknamed “Craptenzas” by Subaru owners without merit. Tire Rack was subsequently thankful.

  • avatar

    It’s amazing how inconsistent and unfounded many of the readers comments are. We have that the car is ugly, was influenced by Toyota, will have crappy reliability, is too bloated, etc. The last time I checked with Consumer Reports, Subaru was among the more reliable brands sold in this country, for all models. And if there is Toyota influence, how does this translate to inferior quality? As for appearance, I’m not crazy about the new look either, but the front end looks very much like the G or M products from Infiniti, which this site seems to hold in high esteem. As for its bloated size, the last generation Legacy/Outback was constantly knocked for its small back seat.

  • avatar

    Subaru isn’t exactly a mainstream brand. Never was. And its current attempts at mainstreaming their brand offerings won’t attract those who wouldn’t give it the time of day (i.e. Toyota and Honda shoppers). But it does serve to alienate the core customers.

    Of course Saab had this same problem, and look how that turned out.

  • avatar

    Doesn’t seem like something they’d have Paul Hogan doing commercials for, does it?

  • avatar

    It’s amazing how inconsistent and unfounded many of the readers comments are.

    Enthusiasts have traditionally loved what niche players like subaru stood out for: awd, wagon, manual, turbo. Now those things are being taken away (except awd), so it’s understandable folks are upset.

    But the general public want cuv’s, because cars are not about fun to the vast majority of folk.

    To top it off, this thing is ugly. At least the tribeca was going for a certain look in the grille, but this is bland AND hideous.

    • 0 avatar

      Just to let you know..
      Subaru started out with FRONT drivers back in the late 70s…

      But this LEGACY.. is everything thats fucked up about the CUV / SUV market.

      The GOD DAMN car was being marketed for coming on 2yrs as a suv.. when in fact it was a CUV in the least (the difference meaning the frame the vehicle is built on).

      The vehicle is / was in essence a WAGON!
      A WAGON in every shape and or form of the word as we know it…

      Its ugly.. to the point that ya cant even kill it with FIRE!
      Its large to compete with every other “midsize” car (read: Accord and Camry) that have suddenly packed on the donuts.
      To me.. it represents EVERYTHING that is Its popular in the market NOW (Read WRONG).
      A clad vehicle.. (quietly masquerading as a sedan with a hatch shhh WAGON, thats been jacked up to holy hell.)
      It DOESNT have SNOW TIRES — the basic essentials of a vehicle with AWD. Essentially VOIDING any and all traction ability this thing MIGHT have.. on the most positive ot notes. It essentially doesnt matter if it has a viscious coupling operating each tire through a pumpkin indepentdantly of the other with a million sensors and or shafts.. it doesnt have snows.. so the purpose of actually driving it as designed or now MOOT.

  • avatar

    As John Williams writes above: “[Subaru’s] current attempts at mainstreaming their brand offerings … does serve to alienate the core customers.”

    Subaru had already tried to be a mainstream company in the US market in the early to mid-1990s, but in that case, Subaru of America offered both front- and all-wheel-drive models in four different product lines — SVX, Justy, Legacy (with optional turbo), and Impreza — using the “What to Drive” campaign (see Randall Rothenberg’s “Where the Suckers Moon: An Advertising Story”). This was a disaster. Afterward, when SoA began to offer only AWD models around 1997, it was the core customers who were targeted and who benefited (i.e., those who bought the AWD models when AWD was optional).

    Will there be any such core customers left if the same cycle happens again? As already noted, AWD CUV customers have a lot of choices now — whereas AWD wagon customers who would have bought a not-too-tall, not-too-wide, fling-it-around-the-corners, damn-the-rear-seat-passengers’-comfort 5- or 6-speed Legacy don’t really have any choices in this market. (Possible competitors such as Mazda’s previous-generation 6 Wagon weren’t even offered with AWD in the US market, even though it was an option elsewhere.)

    Years ago in Philadelphia, I once noticed, along a numbered street about 10 blocks north of City Hall, a collection of about five DS-type Citroens that obviously were cherished and irreplaceable, although they were just as clearly not pristine. As someone who would probably have bought a manual-trans Legacy wagon every time the previous one wore out (say every 12 to 15 years) indefinitely if they’d been offered for longer than 20 years, I can now envision myself as one of a small band of preservers of the tradition, keepers of the flame.

  • avatar

    This review is a really great piece of writing, for a number of reasons. It’s too bad the car is so underwhelming. My ex-girlfriend has an ’04 which I love despite the slushbox, for the driving dynamics, and the way the car feels exceptionally well put together, and it’s really sad to hear that they’ve taken the fun out of Subaru. And I hate that CUV look, but I enjoyed the digs at CUVs in the review.

  • avatar

    Until someone else offers affordable AWD with ground clearance, Subaru will dominate in the snow belt. I’m not sure why everyone else hasn’t figured this out. Jeep, Ford, and GM go too far with their SUV/CUV offerings. Suzuki and Mitsubishi has too little presence. VW missed the boat with their Tiguan instead of offering a Jetta Syncro Sportwagon. Honda is close with the Element. Maybe the Koreans will figure this out and keep Subaru honest before Subaru over-designs itself out of its own niche. I so wanted the Honda crossover to be a wagon.

  • avatar


    Maybe you missed the last part, but it’s going uphill where the CVT excels due to its ability to hold a particular ratio and keep the engine in peak power, where a conventional automatic would be caught shifting between the top 3 gears (in prior Subarus, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th) . There is likely less wear on the transmission as a result. Again, you may want to actually drive a (decently engineered) CVT, and yeah, you’ll agree it’s pretty much in all ways superior to a conventional automatic.

    And it’s not a rubber band so much as a highly reinforced chain or steel belt. Welcome to 2009, kid.

    @mesh: Why would anyone pick a Subaru Outback over a comparable CUV? God knows it doesn’t get better mileage or perform any better.

  • avatar

    @ John WIlliams:
    “Subaru isn’t exactly a mainstream brand. Never was. And its current attempts at mainstreaming their brand offerings won’t attract those who wouldn’t give it the time of day (i.e. Toyota and Honda shoppers).”

    Sad thing is that the market was coming to Subaru – per the last 2 years of sales results – in the search for an “everything mobile” only more efficient. And the Outback certainly was that – especially vis-a-vis the Ford (Taurus X and Fl’X) and other Venza-like creatures.

    Now, Subaru has delivered a design too much in the direction of those hulking P’s of S they were taking sales from. Sad.

    @ rudiger,

    What you said, sir, pretty much captures it. Though, perhaps, the intended target for this new Outback perceives “outback” as the back way to Dunkin’ Donuts…nothing wilder.

  • avatar

    Wow…this model reminded me on how much I liked the previous generation.

    This Outback looks cobbled together with designs from other cars/CUVs:

    Infiniti G and M headlights
    Nissan Maxima grille
    Nissan Rogue and Mazda CX-7 rear 3/4 profile
    Volvo XC70 fog lamps and enclosures
    Toyota Venza taillights
    Mazda steering wheel and console
    Honda Accord wheels

    This isn’t the best time to release a dud vehicle. I guess I’ll see a bunch of 2010 Outbacks in the rental car lots in the very near future…and mourn the death of one of the last clean designs of any jacked-up wagon.

  • avatar


    Maybe you missed the last part, but it’s going uphill where the CVT excels due to its ability to hold a particular ratio and keep the engine in peak power, where a conventional automatic would be caught shifting between the top 3 gears (in prior Subarus, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th) . There is likely less wear on the transmission as a result. Again, you may want to actually drive a (decently engineered) CVT, and yeah, you’ll agree it’s pretty much in all ways superior to a conventional automatic.

    I don’t think you get the fact that I’m on a dirt road climbing a mountain at a very steep grade for an extended period of time. I put the goat in first and up we go. You’re losing me yet again with this “2nd, 3rd, and 4th” business. Your fingers say you’re talking about driving uphill but your logic says something else entirely. CVTs are probably fine for lightweight city vehicles, but I won’t be relying on one for serious mountain goat use any time soon – especially not in a vehicle as hefty as the new Outback. I respectfully suggest that if that tranny were so robust Subaru would be making it available with all engines. My strong preference is for manuals anyway, so it’s difficult enough for me to tolerate the slushbox in my wife’s Forester. The CVT is just not an option.

  • avatar

    I test drove this car last week. I knew I was in trouble when, a few minutes into the ride, the sales person turned to me and said, “I’m not so much into this car.”

  • avatar

    Subarus are very popular in the Northeast region especially the infamous WRX sti. I rarely see Outbacks.

    No comment about the reliability. I never drove or owned a Subaru.

    But one thing about the Subaru it is really good on snow according to my friends.

    Did the author or reviewer of the Subaru Outback actually drove the car?

  • avatar

    This vehicle is a great way to alienate the traditional Outback fans. The charm of the previous Outback was always that it was basically an AWD wagon (based on Legacy) that had been raised a little for off-road performance. The people who bought it most were city dwellers who needed a vehicle for their outdoor hobbies but hated the idea of buying an SUV. But now, this vehicle looks just like any other SUV/CUV out there, big bloated, “raised”, numb, etc. It was a big mistake for Subaru I think. An iconic niche vehicle destroyed…

    Perhaps the vendors or most of the buyers hate the idea of a traditional wagon that was raised a bit.

    Ford Freestyle, gone, replaced by Taurus X.
    Subaru Forester, not a true wagon anymore
    now this.. Subaru has lost its way.

  • avatar
    Jonathan Gregory

    @BEAT: Yes, I did. Otherwise, there would be no review.

  • avatar

    Jonathan Gregory,

    Do you frequent any of the Subaru forums?

  • avatar
    Jonathan Gregory

    @AndAfter : I’ve been known to lurk around.

  • avatar

    I don’t know what you guys are talking about.

    Compared to my old Impreza, this car sounds like a dream. The engine doesn’t sound like a horde of angry lawnmowers. It’s ugly for sure, but attractive Subarus is an oxymoron, and from where I stand, should we really expect a vehicle that’s marketed as an alternative to SUV’s to have the same driving dynamics of a sports car?

    I’ve always felt that a car’s ‘character’ is just a nice way of saying that it’s flawed, and Toyota has done a masterful job of ironing them out. A flawless vehicle such as this should be getting five stars.

    • 0 avatar

      In case you didnt know..

      For the past 2-5yrs Subaru was pushing the Legacy in a dozen different ads.. with the word SUV.. used to make my blood pressure rise!

      The vehicle was a WAGON! It has a wagon shape (long and low), little to no clearance needed.

      Now.. its high enough that its comparable to basically any SUV / CUV POS on the road now!

      And Toyota didnt iron them out..
      It yanked it out with FORCE.

      Im sure, its also not difficult to actually DRIVE the DAMN car as intended (last gens only.)

  • avatar

    Someone forgot who their market is. Dumb.

  • avatar

    quasimondo :

    Watch some of their old commercials. That’s exactly what they were touting. If all a Subaru is, is an alternative to a traditional SUV then they’re playing in a heavily saturated market where they have little competitive edge.

  • avatar

    Sorry I’m not used of seeing pics around a dealer.
    it’s usually the car and the driver.

    Sorry I don’t want to create another Frenemy.
    The new Subaru Outback looks taller and longer than the previous Outback.
    I saw one recently and it was tall and fast.

  • avatar
    Jonathan Gregory

    @BEAT: No worries. I didn’t have my camera with me for the drive. I went back a few days later and snapped some at the local dealership. I don’t care much for using manufacturer-generated photos, and avoid that when possible. Also because it was a Sunday when I took pics, I couldn’t get inside/under the hood – so those are courtesy of the manufacturer.

  • avatar

    I don’t care to try that again and again with a rubber band transmission.

    Don’t be DAFt, man.

  • avatar



    Brilliant! Wonder how many readers will get it. Perhaps just the Dutch ones or the ex-Volvophiles.

  • avatar

    I wasn’t Born yesterday.

  • avatar

    Hah! :-)

  • avatar

    Enthusiasts have traditionally loved what niche players like subaru stood out for: awd, wagon, manual, turbo. Now those things are being taken away
    NO, TTAC simply picked worst spec model.

  • avatar

    Just read another review of this beast on another car site. They went to the manufacturer kool-ade fest out West….and loved the car.

    Maybe it’s better w/less oxygen in the brain because here at sea level +230′ in Providence it sure is fug!

    Nice write-up Johnny.

    RF, I hope Jonnie wises up and comes back…ie, doesn’t sell out.

  • avatar

    There are so many things going wrong over at Subbie..

    1. Their last generation of vehicles.. were advertised as SUVS.. even though they were clearly WAGONS. But I believe its the extra 1″ of ground clearance that the EPA / NHTSA looks at to tell you what kind of vehicle it is.. and how it should be graded.

    2. The Impreza is a PERFECT example of a Subbie gone TOYOTA! It WAS distinctive. It was decent to look at, and it didnt resemble a COROLLA! Now it looks like shit, its forgettable.. and without the hatch.. ya look like ya driving every other japanese sedan on the road — albiet the lesser known ones.

    3. With the Outback.. they are clearly going after the Accord and or Camry for size, and sales. Now since when… did SUBARU EVER need to justify their marketing and design of a vehicle against TWO leaders of the midsized / now fat ass / large japanese sedan market?!

    4. Making it larger.. doesnt mean its better. Its just larger. It also negates ANY ability to be moved around easily by a motor under a 2.5. Ya have to use a 6. Just like Accord.. shouldn’t be stuck with a 177hp 4cycl. The car is too damn big to be saddled with that mill.

    5. Id love to know.. how SUBARU considers Accord and Camry competitors.. when they dont even offer wagons. Camry is somewhat excluded knowing they produce RX / VENZA / Highlander / Sienna on the same frame.

    6. Its another pointless vehicle.. that has gotten larger.. for the sake of being larger. Now instead of me kind of liking it for its cladding and decent looks.. its just a fat ass car, like every other in its segment.

  • avatar

    Ok, I guess original fans don’t like the 2010 model much. But being new here, I’d like to chime in with a different take.

    I’ve been researching a new vehicle for about 3 months now. I have certain criteria that I’ve been looking for.

    1. AWD or 4WD (I live in blizzard country; WNY)
    2. Be able to tow a 2500lb boat
    3. Some cargo volume; not looking for the most, just a reasonable amount.
    4. A reasonable MPG figure.

    I’ve looked at and driven about 20 different brands of SUV’s/CUV’s and hardly any meet the above criteria. BUT, the Outback does. With the 3.6L, it can tow 3000lb, has excellent weight per horsepower, and still gets 25 mpg. That’s hands down better than any that I’ve looked at. Most of the CUV’s sacrifice power and towing capacity in order to get to maybe 24 mpg.

    Never having a Subaru on my radar before, I didn’t know what to expect until I saw one. I absolutely fell in love with it. (sorry) It had everything I wanted and then some. And the dealership, which is small, was jam packed with people looking at the Outback and new Forrester. So maybe it’s no longer catering to the enthusiasts, but I think their market share is going to climb.

  • avatar


    Forgive me for being hypercritical but the subject of Suvs / CUVS v wagons.. is a hotly contested one.

    The biggest gripe that I have among every automaker that makes any vehicle with a hatch AND a AWD unit… is one single thing.


    I’d bet any amount of money that the great majority of the US that *THINKS* they need these.. doesn’t have snow tires on the vehicle. And don’t know how to drive / operate a 4wd unit / haldex transfer case that puts power to where its needed.

    And as for not catering to enthusiasts, this is a CLASSIC marketing scheme to bring in more people. BMW did it with the X3, X6, X1, R Class and the 1 series, all the while taking away wagons, that could be / were equally as fast and useful.
    Jeep did it with the Compass / Liberty / Patriot and Commander.
    Hell R.R / Bentley are also doing it by catering to those out of their target audience.

    Subaru has been doing it, ever since they devised the Forester / Tribeca and canned the manual for the Legacy.. and made it a porker to go mug to mug against Camry and Accord. Which makes no sense.. considering either doesn’t have.. a WAGON. (Venza / Highlander / RX doesnt count).

    If anything..
    They’ve sold out to Toyota and thrown the last big of wagonness out the window to any poser-SUV/CUV driver. Who THINKS they need 4wd / awd.

    I’m sure any fwd car.. with snows.. could do just fine while towing a boat.

  • avatar

    Really, you people are complaining about how a Subaru looks, really? Almost nobody who buys this cares how it looks… next

    Its a giant wagon on stilts, its not going to handle like a sports car, it will handle better than an SUV . Its not going to accelerate fast, buyers of this don’t care. It does get 31 or so mpg highway, this they care about.

    If you want a Subaru wagon that handles and goes like a sports car, get…the WRX, there’s even a new Impreza 2.5 GT with all the go fast goodies of the WRX but a softer suspension. As far as I’m aware every trim level of the Impreza platform is sold as a wagon (technically a hatchback I guess).

    Really the complaints brought up don’t seem to be relevant to this car’s purpose. Its a large wagon with decent ground clearance, top notch safety, decent gas mileage, good reliability (so far as we know), and an unbeatable AWD system. Everything else is secondary.

    P.S. Toyota’s ~10% stake in Subaru was bought from GM of all companies. Better ‘Toyotafied’ than ‘GMified’

  • avatar


    I’ve owned 2 previous 4×4’s, an old Pathfinder and a ’99 GMC Jimmy. Loved both for snow; hated both for mpg. My current vehicle is an ’05 Mazda 3 5 door; and I have a set of 4 Blizzacks for it. Can’t get around the 4.5″ of ground clearance though. And what, you think I’ll be towing a boat in a snowstorm? I luv my Mazda, but the closest thing they make to what I want/need is the Tribute, a glorified Escape.

    If you look at the Mazda 3, it’s easy to see why I like the new Outback. And, I don’t consider the 2010 Outback as a big wagon. It’s shorter than the ’09 and a foot shorter than say a Ford Freestyle, and about 500 lbs lighter. I think it’s a perfect substitute for a two ton suv.

  • avatar


    Your very “conundrum” Id bet probably has a lot of legroom.. in many people who bought the aforementioned vehicles.

    I would have thought the earlier Legacys were nicer on the eyes, and were more WAGON than jacked SUV / CUV.

    Im also pining for a ’10 Mazda 3 5dr, and while I find it wildly entertaining to trade a 3 hatch for a Legacy.. Im also stumped.. as to why ya waited THIS LONG to pick one up.

    I could definitely see from a cocked-hat point of view.. how good looking the Legacy is, but only in its earlier and more wagon designed body.

    But alas..
    I’m not the one who wants these things.

    Even though I cringed every time they called the Legacy a CUV or SUV, and compared it to the compact mess on the market in recent advertising.

    Then again..
    I cringe every time I see a Impreza.. and mistake it for a Corolla.

    As for comparing sizes..
    Subbie is taking the Legacy.. into Camry / Accord terrortory. Which is also staring down the compeition of 300 / Taurus / 500 / Freestyle and every other large obese tub-of-lard out on the market.

    SO in short..
    A foot really isnt much at all in the market.

    And if I had the choice of a 500 / Taurus / wagon ( S60 / S80 or the Legacy…

  • avatar

    A fantastically-written article that remains informative and deliberate even in spite of its brashness and occasional off-color joke.

    As an employee at a Subaru dealership since 2006 and as a Subaru owner who currently owns a 1991 Legacy and has in the past owned a 1988 XT and a 1979 GL 4WD wagon…

    … I’ve been bemoaning the pussification of Subaru for years.

    Long gone are the strange and obscure, yet charismatic and rock-solid Subarus of yesteryear.

    Now in their place are these monstrosities which not only fail to live up to Subaru’s former reputation of durability and frugality, but even fail to live up to the reputation of the European douchemobiles they’re so ostentatiously trying to compete with.

    Indeed, their failure is epic.

    Now Subaru is indeed its own entity, which makes its own decisions (well, those that Toyota don’t make for them). If they’re now solely interested in the vapid instead of the vanguard, then they’re more than welcome to move in a different direction.

    By the same principle, however, so am I.

    My Legacy (which is no longer my daily driver; I keep it only for sentimental value) will be my last Subaru.

  • avatar

    “Im also pining for a ‘10 Mazda 3 5dr, and while I find it wildly entertaining to trade a 3 hatch for a Legacy.. Im also stumped.. as to why ya waited THIS LONG to pick one up.”

    Well, never had a boat to tow before; that changed the whole dynamic of what I was looking for. As I said, Subaru has never been on my radar before. I guess I missed it. I’m a different breed of car nut; having owned a complete mish mash of autos. From an Opel GT, to a Celica GTS, to a Camaro Z28, to a Pathfinder, next to a Jimmy, and finally to a 3 hatch. Not much of a pattern eh? As my needs/$/interests change, so do my cars.

  • avatar


    I too bemoan the change in the current Legacy/Outback.

    I can only hope that – for their sake – Subaru are heading towards broader appeal and even greater sales volumes.

    I note that the July numbers are out and that Subaru had the largest increase of all the manufacturers – passing VW in total US sales. The Forester is driving that result and I am sure there was some bargain hunting for the (now last generation) Outback. We’ll see what transpires as the new OB comes into the mix…

    I have to say – and I surely am hexing myself here – that my 1996 Legacy GT was more dependable than my two 1992 SVXs (brilliant cars they were), my 2001 OB VDC was better than my 1996 Legacy GT and my 2006 Spec. B is the best one I have had yet.

  • avatar

    I test drove this a few weeks ago. I ended up buying a Ford Escape. I could not relate to the review of the car at all. If you are interested in the vehicle drive it your self and make your own mind up. On the flip side I have never owned or been interested in Subaru products. Its obvious to me that Subaru did their homework and tried to create a vehicle that would appeal to some like me, a Subaru novice.

    I liked the car well enough, I went with the Ford becasue it had more room and I believed offered a better value. Having said that, the Outback was not a bad car at all.

  • avatar

    I don’t know about you Americans, but in Canada, the base ’10 Outlooks (the PZEV and “Sport”) come with manual transmissions still. The CVT is optional.

    Of course, we could buy legacy wagons until just this year so maybe we’ll loose our manual transmissions for 2011…

  • avatar

    Funny how all these car “enthusiasts” are so finicky about such silly aspects of the car. Subarus have NEVER been attractively styled cars, complaining about this one and calling the last outback “attractive” is hilarious, LOL! What outbacks have always been special regarding the off road ability for a wagon of modest bulk, this one is more of the same but with more size, which is exactly the main complaint against the old one. The current outback is the most efficient, best value in an AWD wagon and unlike ALL the others it CAN go off road. Funny this road test doesnt even test the vehicle off road, which is stupid, as 20% of all outbacks see off road duty regularly, and the new “numb” steering makes the vehicle much better on harsh off road duty at some speed according to other tests. Other tests hate crappy cable shifted manual that subarus are so famous for, I hated my legacys manual tranny it was awful, worst of 7 car manual trannys I’ve ever had. I am no cvt fan, but the CVT is FASTER and more efficient than the manual folks, according to REAL performance testing. The 3.6R looks like a better vehicle as the engine is better matched to the vehicle which is a whopping 65lbs heavier than last years outback.

    As the owner of a BMW 335i I understand how the “faithful” just hate change of any kind, even when the vehicle performance is clearly superior. All those “BMW faithful” nearly died when the best turbo powered powerplant ont he planet was put in the 3 series engine bay, LOL! You see they wanted to see the back end of the infinity G, performance enthusiasts that they are.

  • avatar

    I thought I’d wait til I’d seen some other reviews (several…) and driven one myself before I posted a comment. I have to agree with the last reviewer. Subie addressed a couple of the persistent complaints about the most recent Outbacks, the 4 speed auto, mediocre rear seat room, made it bigger, kept the weight about the same and increased the mileage rating. Road manners are about the same. I found the CVT 4 cyl. To offer adequate acceleration, handling is similar to my 07 OB, perhaps not quite as responsive off center but that could be the tires. 5 stars for a Ford Flex and 2 for an OB??….not in Montana. The Ford Flex has barely enough clearance to avoid leaving a trail of sparks on Montana’s fine highways, let alone drive up a Forest Service road to a trailhead somewhere. Figure in the price and MPG rating for a Flex and it’s easy to see why they’re scarce in Montana. Toyotafication? The OB has the same MPG rating as a FWD Venza, handles better and undercuts the price by quite a bit. Venza has the same clearance issues as a Flex, which also explains why you see about as many Venzas here as Flexes. Check out some other OB reviews and owner comments.

  • avatar

    I test drove a 3.6 Limited yesterday. Looking to replace my ’06 Highlander with something smaller/ more engaging. I had pretty much settled on the ’10 Outback until I drove it. The OB drove a lot like my Highlander: very isolated and numb. The OB is an absolutely solid car and reminded me of a brick. The steering was heavy and that made the car feel heavy, even though it weighs about the same as my Audi A4 2.0T. The transmission with the shift paddles was awesome. Very quick to up/downshift and imperceptible at light-moderate throttle. The interior and leather was as good as or better than the Highlander. After having test driven a Honda Element and loving the road feel and quickness of that car, even though it is almost as heavy as the OB, I was very put off by the OB’s ride isolation. Looks like I’ll be going for the RAV4 V6. I really wanted to get away from Toyota, too. Oh yeah. I won’t try the Venza because I don’t want to have to pay for 20″ tires in the future.

  • avatar

    Well folks I bought this car on the 9th of August. Went to buy a new turbo Forester but my wife fell in love with this car. So we drove the turbo forester and then the 2.5 Outback. Liked the turbo Forester power but the Outbacks 2.5 was sluggish. Then we drove the 3.6. Incredible differance. We love the comfort of this car. smooth ride, excellent power, cool accessories, MPG (25-26 on a trip to San Deigo. And when you want to go fast this car performs. I wouldnt say that it steers and accellerates like a WRX or a Vette but as a Vette owner I will tell you that it is very responsive and steering feedback is great. The traction control refuses to let tire spinn occur on loose dirt or gravel. Very cool. I would dare to say that this car nearly posesses the lateral G-force as my 2005 Vette. Really Cool. The onboard sound system rocks. The bluetooth thru radio phone system has docked with both phones on the first attemp and works great. As this is our first Subaru I can say that I am not a Subaru purist by any means but really love this car. I couldnt disagree more with the reviewer. On our trip to San Diego I was approched at a gas station by a BMW fellow who noticed my car and asked “is that the new Outback?” He asked how I liked it which lead to a 5 minute discussion. And I got many head turns from older Outback drivers. I strongly recommend this car.

  • avatar

    I once owned a ’97 Outback for a few weeks and sold it immediately after almost rolling it at 55mph in a simple accident-avoidance maneuver. I can’t imagine the new model, with its 1″ higher lift and 400# extra weight, performing any better, no matter what technologies are tacked on.

    I now own a ’99 Legacy L 30th Anniversary Edition Wagon, and I find its styling clean and attractive. The body’s ground clearance is 2′ lower than the ’97 Outback’s, and I replaced its stabilizer bars with larger-diameter units and replaced its rear coil springs with stiffer Legacy GT units. The revised suspension coupled with the strong, smooth, fuel-efficient, bulletproof 2.2 liter Phase II engine and redesigned-that-year 5-speed manual transmission make this vehicle perform like a dream. It has also traversed the worst roads and plowed through the deepest snows without hesitation.

    I happen to like the looks of the ’05-’07 Legacy Wagon, thinking it a logical, refined design extension of the ’95-’99 generation (the ’00-’04 generation was mechanically problematic and its styling forgettable). However, Subaru axed the manual transmission in non-turbo, with-sunroof Legacy Wagons after ’06, axed the Legacy Wagon itself after ’07, and, therefore, axed me as a potential new-car customer.

    The Outback has seemed bloated and pretentious in comparison to my ’99 and the ’05-’07 Legacy Wagons, and the ’10 model (it looks like the geezerly, bulbous Buick Enclave) only exacerbates the problem. Mr. Gregory’s pull-no-punches review of it only further disappoints me with Subaru’s recent direction.

  • avatar

    I understand how some loyal fans may not like the changes but I was pleased with a more comfortable car than previous versions and pleased that somebody could ride in the middle of back seat. It may not be for everybody but now it’s a contender to replace my 10 year old 4Runner.

    The CVT is different but it moved a family of 5 plenty well enough and we rode the same test circuit with our more powerful minivan and 4Runner.

    We also tested it against cars costing much more. I’ll test a 6cyl before I buy but right now it seems like it’s an improvement for anybody who will use the back seat often.

  • avatar

    This is long string of comments yet many seem to be by former OB lovers jilted by the styling of this one. Sorry about that; I’ve always thought Sube’s were deliberately made ugly and the older OB was an aberration. Now we’re back to normal.

    The question is, will this one handle thick sand and moderate climbing with the CVT that gets the good MPG, as opposed to the manual tranny with the center differential? Everything else about this OB, including the more room but shorter length, the usable back seat, the wagon rear and wagon roof for racks, the reliability rep, and yes the ugly, fall right in line.

  • avatar

    tb5791, Subarus have NEVER used cable shifters on their manuals.

    I drove a 2010 Legacy sedan 4cyl CVT a couple weeks ago, and it is by far the worst Subaru I have ever driven.

    The CVT is garbage; the revs slowly climb instead of going straight to the powerband when you put your foot down. If you shift it manually, it shifts like a manual with a worn clutch, slipping profusely into the next gear.

    The engine sounds terrible. I like Subarus to make some noise, but not that horrendous grating this new engine makes (I’m guessing the new intake manifold is to blame).

    The MPG gauge is by far the dumbest thing I have ever seen. It constantly goes up and down of course, which is very annoying. But it couldn’t be more vague: it’s either + or -. Seriously?

    And the electric parking brake is just screaming how bad Subaru wants to be like BMW.

    As I said in my first comment, Subaru is as good as dead to me. They’ve moved on, and so have I.

  • avatar

    Subaru’s for the most part were quirky, ugly, and @ss back-wards. But I still have respect for my bullet proof “82” Subie and the others that followed.
    I’d put any of these 2010 models in my lane. Subaru was being passed up by the world. It had to change. Plenty of people that overlooked Subaru just a few years ago will now buy. That’s what its all about. Its not about selling a few thousand cars to a bunch of weirdos.

    Honda Element? Give me a break. I dumped my EX AWD 2006 after 7K miles of torture. What a gas eating,worthless AWD, turd……..Rude, harsh,gas hog, bad brakes, noisy- yeah. But its a Honda and we should all love them- yeah right.

  • avatar

    For several months have been poking at the new vehicles from different makers. Flex was on my short list,,, great interior space, I like the exterior a lot, but too large and underpowered (and the ecoboost 2010 option gets expensive). VW TDI Sportwagon had possibilities, but stucture is not very stiff and no AWD. Liked the Edge, but felt disconnected and underpowered. BMW X3 and Audi Q5 rattled, and were way too pricey for what they offered. Mazda had possibilities with the CX7 and Mazda3, but nothing reached out and grabbed me about them either.

    Ended up eventually at a Subaru dealer and tried their wares. Forester was decent, but the 2.5 std motor was slow. The Forester XT was much better. And the plastic hooks for tiedown points on the interior would likely not last long combined with a filled cooler and decent curve.

    Then tried the 2010 Outback variants. 2.5 with CVT was better than the std automatic,,, but only slightly. Was certainly not inspirational either way. CVT might have great mileage and be greener, but I’d be kicking myself everytime I would drive it up a hill.

    Finally drove the Outback 3.6R,,,, and I was sold. Stiff structure with no rattles or shakes on speed bumps (one of my test procedures). Great torque and horespower compared to the others I’d tried. Decent driving visibility. Could wish for folding mirrors, a temp gauge instead of the dumb MPG gauge, and a straigher/squarer roofline (better visibility/space/utility).

    For the 3.6R base’s $27Kish, AWD, good power at reasonable mpg, solid tie down points, and decent leg and head room (I’m 6’1″),,,, it was easily the best value. Put down my deposit and ordered one. Will have the things I want, at a relative bargain price. Added benefit is that it is still at least somewhat different than the crossovers and SUVs the image seeking folks drive around my area. Subaru unfortunately went in a “Me Too” direction in the redesign, but it is still a bit different and a value for what it offers.

  • avatar

    Got to throw my two cents in here–I actually test drove one today w/ the CVT, as well as the Forester w/ the 4 speed auto. The Forester felt very weak and underpowered. Comparatively, the CVT felt pretty decent. It obviously doesn’t feel like my WRX, but it made the 4cyl engine accelerate better than the Forester’s. Most people looking to buy a 4 cylinder wagon aren’t looking for a high performance car anyway, so it can’t hurt to boost the gas mileage a little. As for the interior, I thought it seemed solid and well put-together, and a step up from the ’09.

    All the snobbery in the review about–gasp–PLASTIC! I guess the older Outbacks had entire dashboards made of carbon fiber, or brushed titanium, or maybe constructed entirely of wood from the same tree, so the grain matched perfectly? I must have missed that:) Come on, what other freakin car for $25k doesn’t have plastic in the interior?

    And–oh the “calamity” of the exterior appearance… I think it looks great, and I think the older Outbacks are some of the more ugly cars out there… personal preference, but you gotta expect car designs to change–it happens. They’re gonna make and design what sells the best, and if you don’t like the way it drives or looks, you have to accept that maybe you’re in the minority–no matter how loyal a customer you may be. I think the new WRX is butt ugly, but I don’t go into fits of melodramatic rage over it…I just hope they make it cooler looking before it’s time for me to buy another one:)

    • 0 avatar

      I gotta say this…

      The new Impreza sedan is soo horrible looking…
      I mistake it for a Corolla..

      And this is coming froma guy who can tell make, model AND YEAR of cars, in the dark, at night, from BEHIND ME.

  • avatar

    I finally saw one in person and was also surpised in a bad way by how big it got. Fat. Not phat. engorged.

  • avatar

    This is one of the ugliest cars I’ve ever seen. After 30 years of Subaru ownership, i will never buy a new one again. I have the 2009 Outback, last of decent styling. However it rattles (I blame that on US construction) and the color selection and interior (dark gray) leave a lot to be desired. and they eliminated the compass! it drives me crazy. I tried the Forester – hate it. Too bulky looking – just like every other small SUV on the market. Headrests hit me in the head, deal breaker. So i’ll keep the 2009 Outback as long as possible, and just searched out and found 2006 Outback Sport to replace the dying 1999 Legacy wagon. (I also hate the newly designed versions of Outback Sport – again look like every other car out there.) Has Subaru hired US car maker design staff? When did Subaru fall into lemming styling or worse? (I agree with bloated thyroid condition of rear of Outback – who would design this?) No more distinctive styling. UGLY.

  • avatar

    Yes, its bigger. Its also a well appointed and totally honest and capable 4WD wagon, unlike the goofy-ass Venza and Crosstour.

    I’ve driven all flavors of the Outback. The 6-cylinder / 5-spd auto is very strong if a little thirsty. The 4-cyl / CVT combo was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

    The 4-cyl / 6-spd manual is the way to go though. It has a nice gearbox and the mileage is phenomenal, especially considering that this is a large 4WD vehicle. Good luck finding a manual, or even a review of one.

    • 0 avatar

      Add SNOWS, reduce the weight by 1000lbs and it might actually be credibile..

      Then again..
      Finding someone who actually HAS snows.. and a manual is virtually impossible.

  • avatar

    I personally know 3 ladies at work with Subarus of 1999-2002 vintage and by 70-80K miles they couldn’t wait to get rid of them. Tranny failures, wheel bearing failures, engine noises, exhaust system failures and other maladies conspired to keep there purses empty and the dealers fat and happy. Enter the 2010 blandified looks like everything else version. The interior looks higher quality but the thought of living with a CVT or outdated 4 speed auto transmission leaves me feeling nothing for this new line of Subarus.

  • avatar

    My wife must have bought a Subaru anomaly. She purchased the 2005 Legacy GT wagon stick shift for $23k/rebates no haggling and it still puts smiles on our faces. It is a hoot to drive and we love the looks. Not a single complaint.

    We got a 2010 Outback as a loaner and were horrified with the “improvement”. I don’t see any reason to own or purchase a new Subaru.

  • avatar

    If the ’10 Outback is so bad as many posters here claim, why is Subaru selling them, and (per TTAC review) the equally despised ’09 Forester like hotcakes? Subaru dealers I’ve visited have very few of either in stock.

    Subaru did extensive surveys with their customers, carefully tabulated the requests, and for the most part implemented them for ’09 Forester and ’10 Legacy/Outback. Those changes generally made the vehicles better at hauling people around (btw, while not great, toe space in the ’10 Outback rear seats is way better than the ’09!).

    Granted, some aspects of new Subaru interiors feel rather cheap now (the painted finishes scratch easily, and some metal trim feels tacked on). ‘Bu’s also have too many rattles for their price points. But they will haul families and their stuff around with reasonable dependability, comfort, and expense.

    Meanwhile, the turbos for ’10 Outback, like manual Trans for ’09/’10 Forester XT, went away because Subaru could not sell enough of them. And to be honest, why would those be big sellers when, for same or little more money, an enthusiast can buy a RWD turbo V6 or V8
    vehicle offering far more fun than a lesser powered AWD-er?

  • avatar

    My wife and I drove a ’10 Outback 3.6R Limited, yesterday. She has an ’01 H-6 LL Bean wagon currently, which we bought used in ’05. She previously had a ’95 Legacy sedan. I had an ’00 Impreza RS four-door, and now have an ’05 Legacy GT sedan (yeah, wish it were the elusive 5MT wagon!!). So obviously, we’re Subaru nuts. Not to mention the three or four others, in our families. I’m also a member on most of the major online clubs, here and abroad.

    I’m no huge fan of the exterior styling, to say the least. The 2005-2009 Legacy/Outback was largely loved when it came out, but not without exception. Every new Legacy that comes out, is said to “look like a Camry!!” just as much as the Imprezas mimicked Corollas. Well, this is by design – we ARE, after all, talking about mass-market vehicles, which therefore have to have some mass-market appeal. Just with a little twist of uniqueness.

    The horrid Chrysler grille (similar to the 2008+ Tribeca’s, if you ask me) and bad body cladding aside… I don’t really side with all the extreme hate over the ’10 Outback. Yes, it’s bigger. Yes, it looks like some other SAVs/CUVs/crossovers/whatevers from certain angles. But here’s the thing: AWD *is* a “so-what?” asset these days, as stated above. Subaru lost that particular niche. So, they’ve not much choice but to try to blend in.

    The numbers clearly show that they can’t support themselves solely on WRX and STi sales. They sell well, but perhaps never again as well as the 2002 WRX sold, when it first came Stateside. They can’t stay afloat as a manufacturer, with that being their only trump card. Believe me, I want an STi Legacy in THE WORST WAY…. but it ain’t gonna happen. Not in the US at least, until certain people start snatching up sport sedans again. Maybe we’ll get a little closer, with larger SUVs finally dying off, but I think the North American car-buying mentality is too far off the curve, from what’s sold in Japan that all we sport-sedan nuts salivate over.

    So, we’re left with a predicament. The Outback needs to undergo a redesign, and it’s got to compete with one of the largest markets out there: the crossovers. Yeah I’m a little sad that it’s so much taller than the 2009 (though not that much longer, really – most people don’t realize that). I’m bummed that the XT is now defunct (though, again as stated above, the numbers don’t lie – it just didn’t sell well enough).
    A little side of me said “Holy Aztek!” when I first saw the ’10–possibly the worst automotive insult there is–but I always give new cars a chance. Particularly ones which are sold by brands I love.

    We liked how it drove. A lot, actually. The new 3.6R has a few more horsies than the outgoing one, plus the benefit of the extra 0.6 liters of displacement. Great acceleration, and the gen.2 5-speed automatic is pretty nice, as far as “regular” automatics go. It’s no Porsche PDK or Audi DSG, but we’re also talking about a $27-32K car (depending on your salesman).

    Every car has its share of good and bad experiences. I’ve had Subaru heartaches too, but the brand as a whole (and that’s what is important) is extremely reliable. Few groups of owners are as fiercely loyal. I’m not 100% hung on the brand, I mean if there’s an Accord wagon with SH-AWD and good power and a stick shift, you can bet I’ll consider it (I owned and loved two Hondas).

    This was a good review, even if I obviously didn’t agree with much of it. I just wonder why people sometimes discard everything but kneejerk reaction, and never give a new car a shot. Besides – there’s always a mid-cycle refreshening. I foresee a (hopefully) prettier face, and maybe a little less body cladding, by the time model year 2011 rolls around.

    Let’s just hope that the market, some time soon, justifies the return of the Legacy wagon, if not (unfortunately) a true STi division in each dealership, with leather lounge chairs and a kiosk where you can custom order your twin-turbo, 400hp spec.B. Subaru claims to be moving upmarket – who knows, maybe we’ll see something to truly fight the M3/M5s, AMGs and S4/S6s, some day….

  • avatar

    Oh! About the loss of the “boxer burble” we all love…

    The same thing happened on I think it was the 2006 Impreza 2.5i. This occurred after Subaru went to a more equal-length exhaust manifold design. A lot of the talk on the forums was that the unequal manifold length/offset is what caused the burble sound, with the air flow patterns. So, the loss of the sound is actually an improvement in efficiency and performance (if very minimal).

    Though yes, it’s a bit of a bummer to lose the noise. :) Or at least some of it; I think the horizonally-opposed engine will always have that lower tone to it, no matter what tinkering is done to the exhaust. Just to a lesser degree, with the newer cars, just as with equal-length aftermarket headers which some people buy.

    My $0.02.

  • avatar

    Subaru seems to take a fair bit of time doing market surveys and studying the results. The fact that the redesigned Forester and Outback sales have improved dramatically suggests they guessed right about their customers and market.

    I suspect a lot of folks bash Subaru because it’s no longer building quirky racing rally cars that built the foundation for decent reliability and a certain market presence. However, these folks weren’t buying two examples of quirkyness; Forester or Outback XT’s (the turbo ones) with Manuals, so it’s no surprise Subaru dropped the models.

    If TTAC wants to bash Subaru for what it’s not these days, that’s its choice. Meanwhile, Honda’s making ACURA RDX’s with turbo rush, race car ride and handling. Why not review the 2010 RDX and see if they’ve kept the Enthusiast magic?

  • avatar

    TTAC did a great job at deconstructing the new OB in the context of a very seamless narrative that subaru and its fans have been successful at creating and reproducing – you know, the one about a company that has just been out there doing its own quirky thing til one day, it realized there were consumers with (bad) opinions but (good) money, so subaru sells its soul to the devil and invents the 2010 OB.
    i don’t think it’s terribly inaccurate either. i struggled, and struggled some more, over whether to go for a lightly used 09 or a new 2010. i drove both, and found the 09 to be far more familiar, car-like, and subaru-like. it seems smaller, even though, as TTAC notes, it’s a bit longer and only a smidge narrower. i found the aesthetics of the 2010 to be exaggerated and unappealing, but the handling and interior experience to be exceptional. in the end, the price point was really what pushed me over. low mileage 09s were coming in around the same price as a base 2010, and i was getting not only a new car, but one that has a higher build quality, improved fuel efficiency (so far, averaging 27-30 mpg on mixed driving), and a look that will, i think, eventually become less exaggerated and maybe more appealing over time. but time will tell.
    the real question here is why, why, why, do the europeans not only get awesome-looking new legacy wagons and classy looking outbacks without chunky plastic paneling and goofy roof racks??

  • avatar

    This is by far the most negative review I’ve seen of the Outback. My wife and I test drove both the 2009 and 2010 Outbacks and the 2010 is far superior. Quieter, smoother ride, better acceleration, more safety features and better gas mileage. We purchased it and absolutely love it.

    Sales of the new Outback have been white hot, Oct. sales up 175% from last year. Apparently this reviewer’s taste do not reflect those of the typical Subaru buyer. If you are thinking of buying one I suggest that you ignore this reviewer and go test drive one yourself.

  • avatar

    I just purchased the OUTBACK. I’ve owned/leased a Subaru for personal or company use for over 20 years. They make  great cars. It’s true about the bulkiness of the car and the hard to read lettering on the dash is difficult but the over all largeness of the car is a welcome. My 2003 Forester has little leg room in the back. I saw HONDA, CHEVY and TOYOTA to compare rear leg space.This one I can put 2 child car seats a big dog and a cargo roof top. I travel long distance to see family and friends,  the manual/automatic is unnecessary,but the MPG is excellent. I ‘m a big fan of ABS and AWD. I guess people will have to make up there own minds, like I did.

    • 0 avatar

      There must be a good reason that the Subaru Outback won the Motor Trend 2010 SUV of the year. I’m not the car expert but I’m relying on experts and professionals truthful comment. With all the articles I’ve been reading (Motor Trend, Car and Drivers, etc.) the 2010 Subaru Outback received pretty good reviews.

      Any car has its strength and weakness. Depending on what you’re looking for and personal preference.

      I bought a 2009 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport for my son in college. It is a great car in every aspect. I will have no second thought to purchase a second Subaru.

      BTW, it is odd to see this review pictures from a dealer’s lot.

    • 0 avatar

      The AWD unit is MOOT without SNOWS.

      Car and Driver, R&T have lost credibility due to the fact of their CONTINUOUS bias towards certain vehicles.. and inaccurate reporting. Then there is the whole concept of if ya pay enough for advertising.. and pay enough for marketing.. its got to win something. — STINKS of JD Power B.S

      NTM the adding of SUVS in a mag for (3 BOX) CARS.

      I give LESS than NO credit to Motor Trend for giving it an award based on the concept that the Legacy IS A WAGON! Its not an SUV. Its not built on a TRUCK FRAME. It doesnt have LADDER FRAME construction. It was designed as a UNIBODY (3 box CAR). There is no reason or rhyme. If you truely want reviews ya look to Insideline by edmunds.. not the car mags.

  • avatar

    All I get from this review is that the reviewer does not like the looks of the 2010 Outback because it looks like some other popular cars and obviously CVT is not the right choice of transmission for everyone.

    Is there a problem with 2.5i with Manual or 3.6R with Automatic?
    Can the 2″ ground clearance increase cause any performance/reliability/safety issues?
    Is there anything else I should consider before buying this car?

    • 0 avatar

      Lets get a few things straight.

      1. Its virtually impossible to find a manual tranny in a vehicle that people dont buy to DRIVE.
      2. Only reason for the larger motor.. is cause the WAGON is a PIG.
      3. Obviously a CVT isnt the right choice of tranny for everyone?…. Few people even know the benefits of what the unit could do.. besides knowing about the belts and its non shifting nature. Forget about the differences in who makes them.. and their quality.
      4. Is 2″ in extra ground clearance.. an issue with performance/ reliabilty/ safety issues. You should see Ford about the groudn clearance issue… they are still paying court fees from people who bought SUVS and died / horribly maimed and or permenantly disfigured because they trusted the clearance of their exploder.  But enough of that. I was hoping that the LACK of clearance would be a boon to cornering or handling.
      5. And no, it doesnt LOOK like other “popular cars” his issue is its big / took on weight for the heck of it. Subaru is desperate to sell its larger car.. on the idea that Toyota Camry/ Honda Accord owners cross shop with their cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Is Forester any better?
      What budget Car/SUV would you recommend to drive in up to 1 to 2 feet of snow?
      We also have icy roads few times a year.

    • 0 avatar

      The Forester is sized to compete with every other CUV on the market. (When in FACT it TOO was a WAGON… with a high roof.)
      From the gutless to the horrible…
      Kia / Hyundai mess
      Liberty / Compass / Patriot

      Im my own twisted belief..
      Any vehicle made by anyone (CRINGE) would suffice for pretty much anyone’s needs. No one has any need so specific that a Kia or Chrysler vehicle couldnt suffice. None have any ability over the other, NTM the abilities arent used anyway…

      Escape fights a size v power v weight v cost battle with Explorer / Edge, just like RAV4.
      The CRV from Honda.. just irks me. They made the vehicle larger.. to fix the size / packaging issues the old one had.
      The Jeep stuff.. is so horrible to even mention, is so gutless and pathetic to even be produced. They are essentially fine as vehicles.. but dilute the purpose / concept of what a Jeep is.
      I cant mention Chrapco / GM stuff.. because I have a morale clause not to buy shit from a company that OWES ME FUCKIN MONEY (and everyone else on the board) ntm the whole bankruptcy thing.

      So in the end…
      Buy a decent sedan from pretty much anyone or some 3yr old Ford Freeestyle (leaving off GM / Chrapco) with snow tires.. and ya should be fine.

    • 0 avatar

      They don’t make Ford Freestyle anymore, and BTW it had CVT. Any idea why Ford stopped making Freestyle?
      I already have a sedan and believe me it can not handle more than 8″ of snow. But we get up to 2 feet of snow and sometimes even more than 2 feet.
      Forester, Outback and RAV4 are the only affordable options that I can think of. I can not afford Volvo, Audi, etc.

    • 0 avatar

      I know exactly (highly surmising) why Ford stopped making the Freestyle..

      If you forget:

      Freestyle was out about 2yrs, then got redone (in Ford’s terms, a new front / rear clip, nt, renamed and released) to have a new name for 2yrs.. THEN, canned cause its sales were disgusting. Its because it was selling the Exploder, the Escape with the Flex coming and the Edge out… Freestyle was competing against its own vehicles. Just like the Mazda 6 wagon / hatch were competing against Escape for Mazda, CX7 / 9.

      Who wants to buy a single “wagon” choice when ya got 3 SUVS / CUVS to choose from. This is the reason why modern wagons arent being sold. An Im not even getting into how TIGHT this vehicle (Freestyle) was in the Taurus DEBACLE.. can you say.. NOSE TO NOSE! I bet you could pick one up for a song.

      Its a roll of the dice for the rest.
      The resale should be low enough on the 500/ Taurus wagon..

      Stick a set of snows on it.. should be just fine.

      I never mentioned Audi / Volvo etc…
      Just the dirtbox useless UTE bunch…
      Look cute do nothing.. couldnt pull ya out of tapioca pudding with a winch and a plow!

    • 0 avatar

      There is nothing wrong with this vehicle. I have the 2.5 with CVT and it performs great for me. If you want great gas mileage go with the 2.5. If you want horsepower go with the 3.6. The car does not have sports car like handling but it does very well, even with 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

  • avatar

    Has anyone commenting on this topic ever driven a national forest road in MT?  You need a vehicle with good ground clearance.  Period.  These forest roads are not well maintained.  They have big water bars that are sometimes washed out.  Rocks are never cleared from the road, and people leave ruts when they insist on driving these roads before the roads have dried out in the summer.  I don’t drive off-road, just these “soft roads.”  Awd is nice when you’ve got one wheel in the air going over a water bar or trying to stay out of ruts when the ground is slick or icy.
    I recently purchased a new RAV 4, but wish for the ground clearance that the Subies have.  I may trade in my Audi A4 and get a new Outback.   The only other vehicles that offer similar or better ground clearance have truck frames and drive like crap and get gas mileage in the mid to low teens.   And yes, I run winter tires on all of my vehicles in the WINTER TIME.   Whoever that was that expects cars to come from the factory shod in winter tires is living in some alternate reality where you can drive winter tires year round.
    I’ve driven the new Outback with the flat six and it’s a solid driver,  kind of like a bank vault.  The engine and transmission are great.  The ride and handling so-so. 
    That’s why I went with the RAV 4 V6.  The RAV 4 rides like my ’06 A4 and out accelerates it.  But the last time I went for a hike, I was wishing for a little more ground clearance.  The RAV 4’s underbelly looks fragile.  I might let my ex-wife drive it and I’ll get a new Outback.

  • avatar

    I have to say I am suprised just how many have had an opinion on a car they have not bought, test driven or even seen.
    We bought one, top of the range 2010 all the bells and whistles in it and we love it..loved it so much that we part exchanged our 2008 mustang gt in for the subie
    I agree on the impreza having lost the way on it’s former glory but people must realise what the outback is for. It is a 4 wheel drive stationwagon thats meant to carry upto 5 people in safety and comfort with loads of space for extra’s in the trunk.
    It was never meant to be a traffic light quarter mile strip car, it was never meant to outburn a camaro. But everything it does well and in some cases brilliantly I also know it will have some good residuals at sale time.
    We tried many suv’s/crossovers such as the edge etc and they were far to tall but the outback has got the hieght,power and function just right for it’s market. As to want performance go get a fast it doesn’t give 29mpg + on a run?
    It’s a lovely car..hit’s the market it was aimed for and undoubtedly will keep subaru going whilst so many other car manufacturers are going ..under
    Try it for a few will love it

  • avatar

    I am glad for the success and market uptake of the new Outback.  Glad for Subaru, that is.  I guess I am just more of a sportwagon type.  One who needs more wagon than the STi will provide and more sport than the new Outback.
    I guess I most lament that the old Legacy wagon was a parsimonious man’s A4 Avant – albeit with less understeer!  Yes, less!
    Now, I guess I’ll have to be off to that $60k twin turbo Bimmer 5Ser…and putting some service manager’s kid through Dartmouth!

  • avatar

    Great car this 2010 Subaru Outback 2010 , I bought one on Dec 2009, fills great in the road and best in long trips, very very comfortable and roomy inside, powerful enough with the 167 Hp motor; 2100 rpm at 80 mph and more than 30 miles per gallon in highway at 80mph thanks to continuous variable transmission (6 electronic variable shifts). The well located manual automatic shifts on the steering wheel respond quickly and give you all the security filling you might demand down slope in mountain dirt roads. Feels like a tank in the sand. Super car, makes you feel safe and all mighty.
    You have to ride it…, makes all other SUVs feel like small cars.
    Armando Chocano
    Lima- Peru

  • avatar

    Wow, is this about the car or the reviewer’s imaginative poetry. I suggest you try one instead of listening to a highly personal take on the Outback 2010. I did. I bought. I love.

    Like all top cars, it has its foibles. Which doesn’t at that great price level for a well-finished, reliable (check Consumers’ Reports if you don’t buy that fact) and competent 4×4 with high road clearance (I live in snow country folks) and without all the mechanical stuff hanging out to be swatted by snow or rocks below the bodyline?

    It’s not sporty like my still great Impreza Sport 1999, nor does it handle like it, but who cares for most driving? If my wife didn’t need the CVT I would have bought the manual version (though less fuel efficient than the well-acting CVT transmission for normal SUV/waggon driving). I wouldn’t touch a new Impreza, though, that has even gone more towards the Corolla look.

    Current cars won’t land in the top designs of MMofA. The Chryslers of the low roof Al Capone look or the Audis and Volks and others of the “Big Jaw” look certainly won’t either. The 2010 Outback will look pretty good now, and 10 years on. Nothing else in its price range, in my humble opinion.

  • avatar

    I’ll be crossing off buying an Outback this year. The 2008/09’s were sleek and sophisticated but Subaru’s latest offering is straight out of a GM lot or a comic book. The roof rack must have come from NAPA. What’s next for 2011? Perhaps a double raised hood like the old Pontiac Aztec, maybe slit windows and gun ports. It’s way to similar to their dud, the Tribeca. If anything, the Outback styling should be a hit with 8 year olds.

  • avatar

    If Subaru had kept selling cars designed for the Japanese market in the USA, as they were doing, and ignored several years of USA focus testing and clinics that gave the info for making the changes they’ve done on all but the Tribeca, their sales would not have dramatically improved the way they have in last two years.

    The same rear seat foot room as an ’09 Outback?? There was __no__ footroom in any ’09 Outback with a power seat: The ’10’s much better but no match for ’09/10 Forester. For Forester though, having a subwoofer kills toe room under the driver seat.

    The ’09 Outback XT didn’t sell, neither did the Forester XT with manual trans, so they are gone. Should Subaru go under by marketing cars people don’t buy?

    Meanwhile, Subaru enthusiasts get ever stiffer suspensions in the STI and WRX (is the next step welding the wheel axles to the unibody ?).

    Lastly, I’ve driven both ’09 Forester XT and ’10 Outback R 3.6. Outback offered more room and better side impact safety, but felt heavy and ponderous compared to the XT.

  • avatar

    Really disrespect the opinionated review of the 2010 Outback. Did you really do any research on the car or did you decide what you wanted to say and then spend time with the car? The engine is different than prior version or current Forester, if you spend the time to look. The transmission is highly rated and incredibly smooth, maybe it’s not what you are used to but hey – it’s not a 1995. 29+ mpg out of AWD with quiet comfort is fantastic; or if you want serious power go with the potent 6 cylinder – so why pan an economic alternative? And a rough ride – do you drive a Ford LTD?

    The Outback is one of Subaru’s hottest selling units, they continue to grow sales volume and profitability through 2009 and 2010. Much better than some auto companies today. Safety rating is very high and reliability is up with the best. Did you even take the car off road to see how it performed?

    Seems Motor Trend doesn’t agree with your panning the 2010 Outback either. Oh yea, maybe it’s just nerds that read that magazine too.

  • avatar

    You may have seen some of the Microsoft Ads where variuos users claim to have designed Windows 7. Subaru could cast me as a designer of the new Outback. After driving my 2006 Outback for a while, I advised Subaru to add more interior room, especially in the back seat. They did.
    I complained that the 4EAT automatic transmission robbed horepower and fuel efficiency and suggested they resurrect the CVT they introduced over a decade ago. They did, but designed a more durable unit.
    I told Subaru that I was always removing the crossbars from the roof rack and carrying them around in the cargo area. Subaru came up with the new roof rack with retracting cross bars.
    I complained that the large diameter foglights were mostly ineffective and did nothing for the otherwise sleekly styled front end. They now offer optional, smaller foglights on the new Outback. I have yet to determine if they are more effective.
    I asked if Subaru might offer dark tinted windows for the rear windows. The now are available on the Premium models.
    I asked why were there two exhaust pipes tucked under the bumper when one larger diameter pipe would do the job.
    Subaru went back to one tail pipe.
    So you can blame me for some of the changes.
    What I did not ask for (nor would I ask for!) are the following:
    Replace the engine temperatire gauge with a “fuel economy” gauge.
    The trip computer provides more precise displays of fuel economy so who needs the analog reminder taking the place of a more critical instrument?
    I need a wagon that never leaves the pavement. The extra two inches of ground clearance does nothing for me, and makes it harder to step into the vehicle and wash the roof. Why can’t the US get the Legacy wagon that is available on every other contininent?
    Ther grille design is somewhat ugly. It looks like the grille designers did not check with the hood designers. The open slot above the grille looks like a bad repair job.
    Even though I don’t drive off road, I still play in the dirt. The light colored upolstery is very impractical in the real world.
    So the new Outback is not perfect, but when I found that the 2011 model has breakaway (folding) side mirrors and optional protective door moldings, I placed my order. I have not seen the 2011 yet. My hope is that they will also give me an engine temperature gauge and a redesigned grille.

  • avatar

    Jim, nice comments. I’m surprised at some of the complaints here: “too big”–yet it’s an inch shorter than it’s predecessor though 4 inches more legroom and other interior gains. what’s not to like? 65 pounds heavier? ok, regrettable. but is everyone here choosing to leave their second grader at home because his/her added weight would just be SUCH a drag on the car? and if acc azda atcha mentions snow tires one more time, I’ll scream. we get it, acc, ok? besides I count on the AWD on dirt roads in Ky and deep sand in Florida, and no, I don’t mount mudders on it, either.

    I’ve had my 2010 OB ltd 5500 miles and like it a lot. I got 29 mpg on my first 1k-plus road trip, 31.2 mpg on the second. now, broken in with 5k miles, I’m 225 miles into a road trip and have nursed an amazing 35.7 mpg out of it so far, even though the last third of the trip has been in Ky/w va mountains. I know I won’t sustain that for the whole 1400 mile trip but I bet I get more than 32 and that’s awesome for AWD.

    now, id like a temp gauge too though I find the economy indicator very instructive in learning to drive efficiently. my BT isn’t working reliably. my only big disappointment: the gps system is wacky. two lane state roads I’m driving on don’t appear on the map even though the gps has routed me on them; cities seldom show along the way; you have to change settings every time you set a destination in a new state; you can’t pick a city as a dest and then select “city center” you have to go points of interest>categories>city center> etc. when I picked up my OB two salespeople at the dealership spent 90 minutes trying to figure out how to set a destination city for me, and couldn’t. the system doesn’t seem to utilize the GPS to set the time. those are just a few examples. point is I’ve had 4 cars with gps in the past year and the OB gps remains the most frustrating of them by maybe a factor of ten. it’s as if it was designed by someone who’d never considered the ways goss generally work–and work well.

    end of rant. so don’t buy the gps. buy snow tires. :). but all in all it’s a very nice car.

  • avatar
    be aware

    My 2010 Outback is three weeks old and the secondary pressure sensor and transmission control module needs to be replaced! Anyone else having issues with the transmission? This is not acceptable! Looking into lemon laws, and awaiting the next problem.

  • avatar

    Sorry to hear this. Check out, lots of posts there on the 2010 / 2011 models. You may find others there with the same types of issues. Personally I haven’t heard of these issues yet.

    BTW – do you have a 4 cyl or 6 cyl Outback?

  • avatar

    Recently purchased a new Outback 3.6R limited and I am really enjoying it. I needed something that was fun to drive, good gas mileage, plenty of room and could survive some steep muddy roads on my ranch in the winter when I wasn’t in my truck. I referenced a lot of on line reviews ie; motortrend, car and driver ttac, etc and wittled my choices down by test driving volvo xc60 and xc70, Infiniti FX35, mercedes GLK, audi A4 Avant & Q5.
    By far my favorite drive was the Audi A4 Avant, however being 6’7″, not really practical. Also we have a large herding dog so the seats would have to be folded down while dog was in the car. Liked the Q5 but not the engine and really felt like an Avant lifted and not much more room for price difference.

    Infiniti felt really jerky to me like it was trying to emulate a porsche or bmw in driver control and accelleration but missed the mark with transmission and smooth shifting. Lot of torque though and pretty nice interior however again not enough room for the dog.

    Volvo was considered because of safety and I could get a smoking deal and considered doing a European delivery. XC60 was very nice plenty of power and sporty enough, interior was impressive and felt solid, but disliked some of the odd controls and the nav reviews sounded horrible, sketchy offroad tails and reviews though and I was very worried about resale down the line as Volvo has poor fuel economy and company is really at a crossroads.

    I test drove the GLK 350 4Matic after reading a review on TTAC and I was very disapointed with the GLK. The reviewer had said it was supple without being soft. The GLK was very loosy goosy and during tight turns on a twisting road the steering felt as though it would waffle back and forth. Overall the size inside is very avergage and very small with the rear seats up, the reviewer made it sound a lot larger so I also disagreed with that as well, and found it to be one of the worst crossover suv’s out there.

    I guess the point I have taken away from scouring over a lot of car reviews and reading a lot on this site, ie outback, glk, q5, audi avant etc. is that many people have many different opinions and you must actually test drive and make your own. That’s quite obvious! But a lot of the comments in regards to the outback sound to me unfounded and not based on any first hand experience. I agree with a few points of the review, its not that attractive definitely last gen better looking. However to overlook the incredible things the car offers- way better handling than a MB GLK, more room than all of the wagons/ crossover suv’s, better mileage and better resale value for a car that costs less than most of the upscale competition and delivers more I find that the reviewer focused way too much time on his own personal feelings of subaru selling out a brand and distorted his review because of it. At the end of the day I am left scrathing my head as to how TTAC gives the MB GLK a glowing review and bashes the new outback. Its a shame this site has lost a little credibility to me as one of your reviews on the FJ 4×4 which was my last truck got me interested in the FJ and I had a great time taking that truck for the last 4 years through some incredibly difficult terrain; thus living up to your review. I can’t say my experience with the subaru outback thus far has lived up to TTAC review. Thanks for the rant space!

  • avatar

    What a crock of @#$! this review is. But as usual there’s a long line of me-too lemmings parroting the review without ever having sat in the car reviewed. We’re pathetic, people.

    Look, I realize that in the car journo biz it’s considered cool to be cynical and flip. Fine. Do your wannabe-famous car journo shtick, which seems to be trying to copy the irreverent wit of the Car and Driver of 40 years ago, back when Car and Driver was the hot thing in the car mag world. But please draw the line at misleading jive and outright misrepresentation.

    Confession: Ours is a Subie family, at least at the moment. I presently drive an ’08 STI, my son drives a ’98 Sport Wagon that’s not radically built, but has been heavily massaged. We both like these, the small/quick/light end of the the Subie lines over the years.

    But after seeing this review I went to the local Subie dealer and finagled a drive in an Outback 3.6R, the base version. And I have to tell you I was impressed as hell. No, it’s not an STI. Compared with the STI is like comparing the Queen Mum with Catwoman. But the Outback was not intended to be an STI.

    What it is, though, is a damn nice dual-purpose vehicle. It’s comfortable without being mushy, the suspension is firm without being harsh. Since they tossed my wife and me the keys and said to come back whenever, I drove it down some dirt roads (not hard to find in Arizona) and through a stretch of twisties. Again it’s not the STI and it’s not a Porsche (previous two cars were Porsches), but it handled pretty well, both on twisties and particularly on the dirt, where it drove like a dream — superb suspension for fast passage over dirt, well-planted on both straights and turns.

    I didn’t drive the 2.5-liter engine, but the 3.6-liter flat-six is outstanding. An informal 0-60 run was just over 7 seconds and, unlike the STI, it seems to have deep torque everywhere in the rev range. This is a *sweet* motor. I have no experience with CVTs, but the 3.6 does pretty well with the 5-speed auto. If they offered this flat-six in the Legacy Spec.B with a twin-clutch tranny I’d sign up for one now.

    The model we drove has a fuel computer that indicates both average and instantaneous miles per gallon. At 65mph cruise I saw mpg in the high 20s, in light around-down driving I saw low 20s. In our drive overall (about equal portions street and highway, with some dirt and hooliganism thrown in) I saw an average of 22 mpg. This for a vehicle with less than 100 miles on the odo, so I’d expect better later. That is damn good mileage for a mid-size dual-purpose vehicle with full-time all-wheel-drive.

    So when I ignored all the journo-cynical and me-too-lemming text-turds what I saw for myself was a first-rate traveling machine for traveling anywhere, anytime — highway, back roads, dirt, snow, sand, anything, and doing it both comfortably and competently. I’d have no qualms about putting 600-mile-plus days in this thing, chasing back roads, or shooting down a trail. It’s big enough to sleep in, which is important criteria for me — I travel cheap and often in the boonies — yet it still gets better mileage than my much smaller STI and having an engine that is smooth, sweet, and strong.

    I handed back the keys trying to figure out an excuse to buy one. Between the STI and the NISMO 4×4 pickup we already own there’s really not much room to pretend we need an Outback, but my wife and I both left the dealership trying to think of an excuse. Damn nice all-around vehicle, the 3.6R Outback. Yeah, I read all the whining about how “it’s not like it used to be,” but that crap gets said about every new car ever since the Model A replaced the Model T. Get over it. (The Datsun 510 and Beemer 2002 aren’t coming back either, and if they did you’d realize what crap they are compared with what you’re driving today. Same with old Subarus.)

    Really, people, wake up and smell the 100-octane. Instead of parroting the cynical party line, when you read a car review go check the vehicle for yourself. And evaluate it for what it is, not what some guy who has to crank out a new article a day says he wishes it to be. Car journos are paid to rabble-rouse, stir controversy, and be “colorful,” so when you read a car review that is just one string of flip sarcasms after another, bear in mind that he gets paid to crank out stuff like that and accuracy and balance are far distant considerations.

    Now back to the Outback. My wife says she likes it a lot more than my STI, which I can easily believe because her nickname for my STI is “Satan.” But how can I get rid of the STI? What would I do for my adrenaline therapy? Maybe if my wife would let me out of my no-more-sportbikes promise I could get rid of the STI in return for an Outback 3.6R *and* a Suzuki Gixxer 1000….hmmm. Ideas, ideas…

  • avatar

    this review is a total baloney. Only 2 car companies did not suffer a setback during the last nasty recession – Hyundai and Subaru. 

    Hyundai because of its perceived improved quality and the fact that you can return your car if you lose your job and Subaru because of is superior AWD, technological excellence, handling, mileage, safety and value for money. 

    There is a saying ” you can’t build a reputation on what you plan to do “. Subaru’s reputation was proven by how its cars worked – not by automotive analysts. Numbers don’t lie. People would not be buying Subarus if they’re crap. Forester 09 and Outback 10 being voted by the industry as best SUV winners 2 years in a row by the same manufacturer – BEAT THAT.

    My 2 cents

  • avatar

    Currently own an ’03 Outback Limited, an ’03 Legacy GT, and had another Outback GT in the family. Three Subarus…three sets of blown head gaskets. Thankfully, Subaru ponied up for this design flaw (the elephant in the room recall that wasn’t) and repaired all, after no small amount of grief. Still, we love these vehicles in the rain and snow, despite their coarse, agricultural boxer motors and propensity to consume engine sensors (Unlike our CR-V which has been bulletproof for its 110K+ lifetime-turn the key and go.). This in mind, went and drove the new 2011 Outback Limited, thinking to replace one of the other vehicles. Surprisingly, the CVT wasn’t horrible, and the handling, despite the higher center of gravity and spare tire around the midsection, was quite locked down. I liked it, despite the motor…
    Then the deal breaker: for a vehicle marketed toward the outdoor enthusiast, the rack design makes absolutely no sense. I routinely load 21′ surfskis (kayaks), bikes, skis, etc.  and the gimmicky poseur plastic rack outfitted to this vehicle certainly was not intended for anyone who actually spends time in the outdoors. Most vehicles come with cheesy obligatory factory racks which are routinely jettisoned and replaced with real systems from Thule and Yakima, but not Subaru (?). They saw fit to make theirs permanent, shy of major modification/fabrication.  Suddenly, Honda, Toyota, and Nissan are the only game in town.

  • avatar

    We are thinking about purchasing a Subaru Outback in the near future due to the fact that we are tire of buying vehicles that DO NOT last and are always in need of repairs!  It is our belief that the Subaru family is a long lasting vehicle yet most of the posts only point out the cosmetic features or lack of speed.  Comfort is important to us as is performance yet we also want a vehicle that will not be needing 100’s of dollars worth of repairs within a few years.  We also do not need all the bells and whistles the vehicles have these days that cost a mint to repair and seem to control the whole car so if one component goes bad you have no choice but to get it fixed.  We are very maintenance conscious when it comes to our vehicles.  Please advise of the longevity of the Subaru overall.  Thank you

  • avatar

    My family has been driving Subarus for over 30 years. We’ve loved the durability, safety record, reliability and snowy-weather performance.

    One thing has bothered me, though: my 1981 GL Wagon got about 25 mpg; my current 2001 Outback (4-cyl, auto) gets about 25 mpg. All the other car makers seem to have figured out how to squeeze a few more miles per gallon over the past decade or so, but Subarus have gotten heavier and less efficient.

    And now (with the Tribeca and latest Outback) very, very ugly.

    Unfortunately, I agree with this review 100%.

    We loved the function and appearance of the 2005-2009 Outbacks, but we didn’t buy because we were just sure that – any year now – Subaru was going to come up with an AWD wagon that would get at least 30 mpg all around. We were really hoping for 35 mpg. An Impreza wagon, perhaps? A hybrid? A super efficient transmission? We would have happily gone back to 120 HP if we could also have a little better gas mileage.

    Sadly, when our current Subaru is mostly worn out (at 200-300k miles), I doubt we’ll be buying another.

  • avatar

    TahoeMartin writes ” we didn’t buy because we were just sure that – any year now – Subaru was going to come up with an AWD wagon that would get at least 30 mpg all around”

    I bought the new Outback and think you might be denying yourself a pleasure. It’s far from perfect, but it’s darn good compared to the competition (I’m not fond of the GPS, for ex.). I’ve gotten as high as 33 mpg on a 100 mile Interstate trip, and routinely (and more typically) average 30 on trips of much longer lengths. Can you tell me ANY AWD or 4WD car you can buy in America that gets that? I don’t think so. Add in the reliability and cargo space and any number of other niceties, and you end up with a pretty nifty package. Unless you’re willing to revert to 2WD to find a car with better mpg, I think the Outback distinguishes itself very well.

  • avatar

    TahoeMartin wrote: “One thing has bothered me, though: my 1981 GL Wagon got about 25 mpg; my current 2001 Outback (4-cyl, auto) gets about 25 mpg. All the other car makers seem to have figured out how to squeeze a few more miles per gallon over the past decade or so, but Subarus have gotten heavier and less efficient.”

    My ’99 Legacy Wagon with its 2.2L Phase II engine (a jewel!) routinely averages around 30mpg.

    The 2000-2004 Legacy and Outback models got significantly heavier ~ approx. 400 pounds worth. Because of that, they had to be fitted with the larger 2.5L engine, which was problematic (can anybody say “head gaskets”?) from its introduction in 1996 through the 2004 model year.

    Subaru reduced the weight by approx. 100 pounds in the 2005-2009 generation and fixed the problems with the 2.5L engine while refining it. That generation routinely gets 30+ mpg and is quite handsome to boot.

    The 2010-present Subaru Outback gets good reviews for mechanical refinement, durability, and driver/passenger comfort. Along with the new Honda Odyssey, however, it remains one of the most ungainly-styled cars on the road. So much so, that I can hardly bear to look at it when I see one tooling around.

    I won’t own an ugly car. When my ’99 finally dies, I’ll be looking for a manual-transmission 2005 Subaru Legacy Limited/GT Limited Wagon or a 2006 Legacy SE Wagon to replace it.

  • avatar

    This site is the TRUTH about cars. Truth is, that there is nothing spectacular about this or any brand car. They are tools so don’t fall in love, just choose the one that suits your needs. Need AWD and X amount of space, then the outback is a good option. Chains or all season tires and any other car will also work in many (not all) cases (especially if you need that type of traction only a few time per year). I owned a 1999 that developed head gasket issues around 100K miles (I owned a 1999 Gm Silverado that has had minimal issues in 255000 miles…I even had a few jeeps (various years)that saw over 160k with very minimal maintenance costs….My Toyota p.u. also had head gasket issue….go figure.
    The boxer design is a poor choice IMO for certain applications. The new Subaru outback gained mass, and the CG seems higher so, that may be one source of perceived, performance decline. Power to weight is always a determining factor in performance. Looks are subjective, and change through time. FWD with all year (studded?) tires and or chains will get me trough most conditions if driven with care, so the Outback and its increased long term maintenance is not for me. Also, parts seem higher than domestic and some other imports.

  • avatar

    The sheet metal on these car is disgraceful also. Acorns ruined the hood of our Forester, while the Volvo 240 and Chevy Silverado escaped unscathed.

  • avatar

    I found this article woefully inadequate. Essentially the author wishes for a mid-late 90s outback, or is comparing it against a WRX. Well go buy one then. The new one is an evolution of the old. The old one had huge inadequacies too, such as sounding like a high strung sewing machine, tinny doors, probably less safe in a large wreck.

  • avatar

    Wow…the 2010 – 2012 is one of Subaru’s best-selling models. It addressed every concern about previous models: bad fuel economy (just returned from a 250 mile moutain trip where I averaged 31mpg in the 2011), uncomforatable seats (new rear seat is like a limo), quietness (new model is…well..again…like a limo).

    The Outback retained its stellar snow / offroad performance, while providing the best ride, comfort, and gas mileage available in its class.

    The sales figures speak for themselves. The reviewer in this article was either in a bad mood, or had a chip on his / her shoulder.

    • 0 avatar

      I bought my 2010 Outback new, after the headgasket went on my 1997 Outback, and my repair guy said “its time to move on.” I’ve been in a bad mood about the 2010 ever since! I LOVED my ’97 Outback, which I got in 2000 off a Toyota dealer’s used car lot when my ’85 Camry station wagon bit the dust and I discovered Toyota had stopped making the wagon. It was love at first site with that ’97 Outback. As for the 2010 – I’ve been wanting to dump it since the first week I drove it. Its a parody of my dream car – on steroids! Its always felt awkward to me and I’ve just been reviewing 2009 models on-line to see about trading in my 2010 for the pre-steroid- shaped Outback. Not something I thought I’d ever find myself investigating – trading in for an older model of Subaru!

  • avatar

    This review is nearly a complete waste of time. Why drone on complaining about the aesthetics of the car? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and each person can readily form their own opinion concerning styling.

    Further, the author critiques the lack of sports car handling from this off-road minded car, which brings me to my final thought; there was absolutely no review of how this handles in inclement weather and off the beaten path. Isn’t this entirely the point of having extra ground clearance and all-wheel drive?

    The author should not be allowed to review anything but luxury sports cars, since it’s obvious he doesn’t have any interest in reporting about intended purpose of a vehicle such as this. I’m giving the review a D+, meaning it’s slightly more informative than reading a brochure.

  • avatar

    Let the majority of these comments stand as a record and testament to the short sightedness and insecurity of pre 2010 Outback owners. The 2010 Outback trounced the 2009 Outback in US sales. Every year the Outback did even better until the sales more then doubled the “wonderous” 2009 in 2012.

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