New Car Reviews

2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited – Four Seasons Update – February 2010

Long-Term 2010 Subaru Outback Update: Winter 2010 Array Miles to date: 0

Months in fleet: Four
Miles to date: 7188 miles

After spending a few weeks in New York, our Four Seasons Subaru Outback 3.6R is now back home in Michigan. Our staff members are really starting to appreciate both major and minor details that make the Subaru a pleasant car to live with.

Web producer Evan McCausland spent a weekend with the Outback and reported: “I’m quite impressed with the lack of road noise, the tight body-panel gaps, and the strong powertrain.”

Deputy editor Joe DeMatio, on the other hand, pointed out two smaller details that are also extremely desirable. “The thick rubber mat in the cargo compartment,” he noted, “allowed me to throw a load of kindling wood into the back without worrying about sullying the carpet with residual dirt and snow on the wood. All I had to do was sweep it out after I hauled the kindling to a friend’s house. Also, the rearview camera works FAST. Put the transmission in reverse and the camera immediately overrides whatever else is on the screen and gives you the rearview image. This includes the lawyer-mandated warning for the nav system, which requires you to touch the ‘AGREE’ button on the touch screen — if you put the Subaru in reverse, that stupid screen disappears and you get your rearview image immediately. Sounds simple, you say? It’s not: In most expensive German cars, BMWs in particular, the rearview image gets delayed while the system processes the fact that you haven’t ‘agreed.’ The rearview image in some cars gets delayed by as much as fifteen or twenty seconds — by which time you’ve already backed out of the parking space. Subaru does it better.”

Unfortunately, our Subaru isn’t better than a BMW on the highway, as we’ve pointed out in previous monthly updates. Senior Web editor Phil Floraday recently weighed in. “Although everyone else has already mentioned it,” he wrote in the car’s digital logbook, “I want to go on the record and wish for better steering. I thought it was a combination of slick roads, winter tires, and speeds around 80 mph that made it hard to keep the Outback centered in its lane last night, but it seems to be a recurring problem on a variety of road surfaces. And not only is the suspension a bit on the squishy side, the steering has no feel on-center.”

Despite this, the Outback is still extremely usable, although some of us have conflicting opinions regarding where the vehicle fits in the automotive scheme of things. “I think this is one of the best blends of SUV and wagon we’ve seen yet,” McCausland offered. His online colleague Floraday, however, has a different point of view. “I actually think the Outback is more like the old Forester now that the Forester is more like an old Ford Explorer,” Floraday noted. “The growth isn’t hugely offensive since the weight gain is a modest 95 pounds, but the old Outback looked more svelte. My personal preference is to have a wagon that’s the same ride height as a sedan or an actual SUV capable of going off-road instead of a half-and-half crossover like the Outback. Still, the Subaru may look just right to many consumers.”

One thing’s for sure: Now that the snow is really starting to fly in Michigan, the Outback — with its Yokohama winter tires, high ground clearance, and all-wheel drive — looks just right to us here at Automobile Magazine.

2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited

Base price (with destination): $31,690
Price as tested: $35,541

Body Style: 4-door wagon
Accommodation: 5-passenger
Construction: Steel unibody

Engine: 24-valve DOHC flat-6
Displacement: 3.6 liters
Power: 256 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 247 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Drive: 4-wheel
Fuel economy: 18/25/20 mpg (city/hwy/combined)

Steering: Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Turns lock-to-lock: 3.2
Turning Circle: 36.8 ft
Suspension, front: Strut-type, coil springs
Suspension, Rear: Control arms, coil springs
Brakes F/R: Ventilated discs, ABS
Wheels: 17-inch aluminum
Tires: Yokohama Ice Guard iG20 (winter)
Tire Size: 225/60R-17

Headroom F/R: 38.7/39.3 in
Legroom F/R: 43.0/37.8 in
Shoulder room F/R: 56.3/56.1 in
Hip room F/R: 54.5/53.9 in
Wheelbase: 107.9 in
L x W x H: 188.2 x 71.7 x 65.7 in
Track F/R: 61.0/61.0 in
Cargo Capacity: 34.3/71.3 cu ft (rear seats up/down)
Weight: 3658 lb
Fuel Capacity: 18.5 gal
Est. Range: 370 miles
Fuel Grade: 87 octane

Standard Equipment
Stability control
Front, side, and side curtain air bags
Tire-pressure monitoring system
Power windows, mirrors, and door locks
Ten-way power driver’s seat; four-way power front-passenger seat
Heated front seats, sideview mirrors, and wiper de-icer
Leather-trimmed upholstery
Tilt and telescopic steering wheel
Trip computer

Option Package 08 (power moonroof, voice-activated navigation system, auxiliary audio USB/iPod input, backup camera, Bluetooth audio capability), $2995
Popular Equipment Group 1a (auto-dim mirror/compass, security system shock sensor), $326
Sirius satellite kit, $461
All-weather floor mats, $69