For 2005, the Subaru Outback is all new from the ground up. Based on the equally redesigned Legacy wagon, the Outback shares with it a fresh new platform that will lend itself to other new vehicles in the future.

Its departure from the Legacy wagon is in its higher ground clearance and trim differences, along with a third engine choice; in addition to the 2.5-litre and 2.5-litre turbo in the Legacy, the Outback also offers a 3.0-litre, horizontally-opposed “boxer” six-cylinder engine. It offers the same horsepower as the turbo, but it’s quieter and more refined than the forced-air powerplant.

The Outback is offered in five lines: the naturally-aspirated 2.5i and 2.5i Limited, the turbo 2.5XT, and the 3.0R and 3.0R VDC, named for its Vehicle Dynamics Control. All models feature symmetrical all-wheel-drive with a limited-slip rear differential.

The entry-level 2.5i features four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and electronic brake distribution, five-speed manual transmission, CD player with six speakers, air conditioning, dual exhaust, roof rack system with lockable crossbars, 16-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, fog lights, cruise control, power windows, power locks with cruise control, heated seats, heated power mirrors, 60/40 folding rear seat, cargo tray, cargo cover, eight-way power driver’s seat and cloth upholstery.

The 2.5i Limited comes with a four-speed automatic and adds leather interior, six-CD system, dual-zone climate control, and power sunroof.

The turbocharged 2.5XT comes with a heavy-duty five-speed manual gearbox; along with the features found on the 2.5i, the 2.5XT adds 17-inch alloy wheels, leather interior, functional hood scoop, sport seats, dual-zone climate control, six-CD system, integrated LED turn-signal mirrors, electroluminescent sport gauges, power sunroof, four-way power passenger seat, and MOMO steering wheel that includes gear selectors when the car is ordered with an optional sport-mode five-speed automatic.

The 3.0R also comes with the features found on the 2.5i, and adds the five-speed automatic, 17-inch alloy wheels, six-CD stereo, integrated LED turn-signal mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control and cloth interior.

The 3.0R VDC adds Vehicle Dynamics Control with traction control, along with leather interior, twin power sunroof, six-CD/MP3 stereo, Homelink system, four-way power passenger seat, and leather-wrapped, mahogany-trimmed MOMO steering wheel with audio controls.

Subaru is moving into a premium market with the Outback, offering smooth and powerful engines with upscale interiors. Handling is extremely responsive, acceleration on the six-cylinder is powerful and immediate, and its brakes bring it down from speed quickly and accurately. It’s all-wheel-drive and a superb cabin for a price lower than or comparable to many competitors; the BMW 325xi Touring is $595 under the top-end Outback, while the Volvo XC70 is $1,500 more and the AWD Audi Avant 3.0 is $2,695 extra.

The Outback is built in Lafayette, Indiana

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