Months in fleet: Eleven
Miles to date: 35,145
In its eleventh month, our Four Seasons Subaru Outback 3.6R recently won over one more staffer.
Art director Matt Tierney, father of two young children, recently declared, "I'm giving the Outback the 'Easiest LATCH Award' for installing and removing car seats. Why can't every car manufacturer figure out a way to give this kind of easy access to the LATCH mounting points? With most cars, even if the mounting is easy, disconnecting a car seat is almost always a pain. Not with this car. This is what the whole LATCH revolution was supposed to be, yet almost no car makes it this easy. Extremely well done, Subaru!"
Given the Outback's 35,000-plus miles, it's obvious we've taken this car on a lot of road trips. This past month has been no exception. This time, it was senior web editor Phil Floraday, lighting out for Chicago. He says: "Comfort was pretty good for three adults, all over six feet, and a moderate amount of luggage. I particularly enjoy the Subaru's smooth power delivery from the six-cylinder boxer engine. The automatic transmission is only a five-speed, but it executes shifts well and never hunts for gears. Other than wishing for a little more lumbar support, there's not a lot to complain about in terms of long-distance comfort."
The car's powertrain also earned praise from deputy editor Joe DeMatio, who cited its "seamless acceleration." On the downside, DeMatio noted that, "the loosey-goosey steering on the highway is still a bummer."
Others have previously criticized the relaxed damping of the long-travel suspension. But, after a stint of mild off-road driving, assistant editor David Zenlea acknowledged that "the soft suspension does a lot for ride comfort when the road becomes a pair of ruts."
Once again, however, the navigation system was the target of our ire. But this time, is operator error to blame?
"The Subaru's navigation system is frustrating and badly executed," DeMatio reported. "My particular pet peeve? The map displays symbols for various retail locations (restaurants, hotels, gas stations, etc.) and if you're in a crowded urban area, these symbols or graphics completely hide the roads and your location needle. I tried and tried but could not figure out a way to turn them off. Aaaarrrgghhh!"
Mr. DeMatio, and anyone else who might be similarly frustrated by the POI icons, there is a fix: Tap the voice-recognition button and say, "hide icons."
That's one problem solved.
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