Months in fleet: Eight Miles to date: 22,755
The Subaru Outback continues to be a strong seller in the United States, and Automobile Magazine's Four Seasons Outback 3.6R Limited has also been quite popular as summer has started to warm up.
Art director Matt Tierney drove the Subaru to North Carolina for the second time in as many months and was again generally pleased with the vehicle. Still, he criticized the navigation system. "There's not enough detail in many cases," Tierney noted. "Zooming in too far leaves you without markings on most roads-even highways-and zooming out often meant losing all secondary roads."
Senior editor Joe Lorio also expressed some negative comments about the nav system when he had the car in New York. "This navigation system strikes me as rather rudimentary," Lorio reported. "It cannot display audio information (CD track, radio station, or satellite-radio song title and artist) together with the navigation map. You have to choose one or the other. Also, the point-of-interest function requires you to input a city; it can't just find nearby POIs (helpful when you exit the interstate and you aren't sure of your exact location but just want to find nearby hotels or restaurants). Outback shoppers are probably better off skipping this nav system and buying a top-notch portable navigation unit instead."
It would be much more difficult, unfortunately, for consumers to address the issue that associate editor Eric Tingwall recently described after driving the Outback back-to-back with our Four Seasons Audi Q5. "I was well aware that the Subaru isn't a great handler," Tingwall wrote, "but I was surprised to find that the ride doesn't feel any better than in the Q5. The Outback has a football field's worth of vertical suspension travel, and although it's certainly more softly sprung than the Audi, all that body motion makes for a busy ride over broken pavement."
Another logbook commenter agreed: "There were few curves on my journey, but plenty of body roll was still evident. The 3.6R is plenty quick enough for such energetic driving, but I wished for a 'sport' transmission mode that would provide more aggressive shift mapping. Heck, the B9 Tribeca from several years ago had such a feature ... Why not the sportiest Outback of 2010?"
Despite the body roll, though, the fact that the car continues to be booked for lengthy road trips says a lot about the vehicle's quality and desirability. Check back next month for more news from the road.
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: Continental ContiProContact (all-season)
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 Equip Group 1a (auto-dim mirror/compass, security system shock sensor), $326
Sirius satellite kit, $461
All-weather floor mats, $69