Crossover SUV Comparison: 2010 Subaru Outback, 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander, and 2010 Suzuki Grand Vitara

Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
If Mitsubishi is building the sporty crossover and Suzuki has the off-roader, that leaves Subaru to cover the straight and narrow mainstream. Driving the Outback quickly shows how close Subaru has come to replicating what you might expect in a Ford, Honda, or Toyota.

For this test, we borrowed the Outback 3.6R Limited that's part of our Four Seasons fleet. Priced at $35,541, it's equipped with a moonroof, navigation, satellite radio, and all-weather floormats. Standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control, power and heated front seats, and a nine-speaker Harman/Kardon stereo.

Inside, the seats are wide and generously cushioned. The new Outback rides two inches taller than the outgoing model, but the driving position still feels lower and more car-like than the competitors here. The interior doesn't exude much style, but controls are logically laid out and there's plenty of space in every interior dimension.

I love that the Outback is still basically a wagon. It would fit my needs for a family hauler, flyrod holder etc. And you don't have to step up on footboards to get into the thing. But when I got into one, looked at the dashboard and asked the saleman where the temperature gauge was ..... and he said there wasn't one but it had this nifty MPG gauge! Needless to say I was dumbfounded. No temperature gauge on a $25-$35,000 car? I get miffed getting into pickup trucks without voltmeters, oil pressure gauges and transmission oil temp gauges. Idiot lights are for idiots. Subaru design management must think I'm an idiot. Sorry Subaru, sale lost.
@bob_adams I agree that the lack of a temperature gauge is a significant oversight on Subaru's part. I also agree that analog, instantaneous MPG gauges are largely useless. In fact, they're a distraction.
I've been shopping for a replacement for my 1992 Volvo 240 S/W. I love this rear wheel drive car with room enough to put a 9 ft flyrod in without breaking it down everytime a drive to a new spot on the river. But she's getting long in the tooth. And even though I drive her everyday to work but I want something I can absolutely trust to use on long trips with the family.So I was interested in the Outback. But I won't buy one. You know why? Subaru doesn't put a temperature gauge in any of their cars. They put this instantaneous MPG gauge in its space. Inquirying minds might want to know. Since this test mentioned how soft the ride is on the Outback maybe Subaru put that MPG gauge in there for the soccer mom. They might be the only type of driver that would be interested in that sort of thing. Are the moving away from their original target market and headed mainstream?

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