<b>Months in fleet: Six
Miles to date: 13,754
Our Outback has been racking up miles at fairly quick clip, which means that it has twice required routine maintenance. Ann Arbor's Dunning Subaru has obliged, and both oil-changes/checkups have cost just $36 apiece, give or take a quarter. Not too painful at all.
Some of those miles were the result of a recent 1500-mile trip around Lake Michigan, in which our Four Seasons Outback was loaded up with two passengers, two collies, and plenty of gear.
From the logbook: "I rotated the two longitudinal roof-rack rails to their transverse position, clicking them into place so we could attach a Yakima bag on the roof. And I used the neat luggage-cover stowage under the cargo floor so we could flip down the rear seats and open up the space for the dogs. I wish that there were luggage hooks for the cargo area, though; our stuff sometimes rolled around - into the dogs."
Even with the heavy load and the roof-mounted luggage bag, the Outback's 256-hp flat-six engine was impressive: "It's a smooth, powerful motor that has lots of oomph for pulling out into traffic."
More road trip notes: "The driver's seat is comfortable for long hauls, but I don't understand why the Outback has lumbar support for the driver's seat but not for the passenger's bucket. After all, on these long drives, the passenger is often resting for a driving stint, so it helps to have a refreshed passenger."
Closer to home, the Outback was the vehicle of choice when one editor and four friends made several trips downtown for the college hockey Frozen Four. "The Outback was a pleasant companion for my multiple weekend trips to downtown Detroit for the college hockey Frozen Four, which was held at Ford Field. Five guys squeezed into the Outback for one round-trip jaunt, and they didn't complain too much. The extra weight seemed to make ride motions more pronounced. The Outback's raised ride height, however, made for no-stress journeys over giant Detroit potholes and through steep, uneven parking structures. I was also fairly pleased with the trip computer's indicated averaged of 23 mpg over my more than 400 mostly highway miles; that's better than the Outback 3.6R's EPA combined rating of 20 mpg, if not quite as good as the EPA highway rating of 25 mpg."
Next month, we'll report on how Subaru's hot-selling Outback performs as Michigan's seasons shift toward spring.
2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
Base price (with destination): $31,690
Price as tested: $35,541
Body Style: 4-door wagon
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
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: 225/60TR-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
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
Tilt and telescopic steering wheel
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