For 2007, the Subaru Outback line-up changes from 2006. There’s a new 2.5i entry-level model, which decontents the base 2006 model for a lower price; it can be upgraded with a Touring Package, based on the Special Edition package of 2006, or with the Limited Package.
The 2.5XT model now comes with SI-DRIVE, a driver-selectable engine response system that can be set into Intelligent mode for fuel efficiency, Sport for improved acceleration, or Sport Sharp for optimum engine performance and high-rpm shifting.
Based on the Legacy wagon, the Outback comes as the 2.5i, with four-cylinder horizontally-opposed engine; as the 2.5XT, with turbocharged four-cylinder horizontal engine; and as the 3.0R, with high-output six-cylinder horizontal engine. The 2.5i and 2.5XT come with a five-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a four-speed automatic on the 2.5i or five-speed automatic on the 2.5XT. The 3.0R comes only with the five-speed automatic.
All use symmetrical all-wheel drive (the name refers to the symmetrical configuration of the components, for better balance); the Premier Package includes Vehicle Dynamics Control system and traction control.
Features on the 2.5i include 16-inch alloy wheels, side and curtain airbags, black heated mirrors, fog lights, auto-off headlamps, roof rails, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear wiper/washer, six-way manual driver’s seat adjuster, 60/40 folding rear seat, air conditioning, CD/MP3 stereo with pre-wiring for satellite radio, and cargo area light.
The available Touring Package adds limited-slip rear differential, body-colour mirrors with integrated turn signals, power twin-panel sunroof, lockable roof rack crossbars, heated seats with eight-way power driver’s adjuster, splash guards, 12-volt outlet in cargo area, windshield wiper de-icer, cargo cover and 17-inch aluminum wheels.
The Limited Package is available only with the automatic transmission, and adds to the Touring Package with leather interior, premium six-CD stereo, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
The 2.5XT builds on the 2.5i features with 17-inch alloy wheels, body-colour mirrors and door handles, twin-panel power sunroof, lockable roof rack crossbars, splash guards, windshield wiper de-icer, leather interior, eight-way driver and four-way passenger power adjuster, heated sport seats, rear-seat centre armrest, leather-wrapped wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, premium six-CD stereo, sport gauges, tonneau cover and 12-volt outlet in cargo area.
The 3.0R, with the six-cylinder engine, builds on the 2.5i features with 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat, premium six-CD stereo, cargo cover and 12-volt outlet in cargo area.
The available 3.0R Premier Package adds leather interior, leather-wrapped MOMO wheel with integrated audio controls, upgraded speakers, twin-panel power sunroof, garage door opener, DVD-based navigation system, four-way power passenger seat, traction control and Vehicle Dynamics Control.
The Outback is the Legacy on steroids, with a bolder stance and more aggressive styling, but still with smooth performance and upscale interiors. Handling is responsive and all three engines do their job efficiently and smoothly (changes in horsepower ratings on the 2.5XT and 3.0R are due to new SAE measurements; the engine output hasn’t actually changed). The Legacy really isn’t meant for off-road driving, but it’ll get you over your rutted cottage road comfortably, and still take you to the country club in style. The new base model is a welcome addition, allowing buyers to buy for a sliver under $31,000.