NEW FOR 2008:

– Redesigned front and rear end
– New mirrors; smaller but more powerful mirror-mounted turn signals (where applicable)
– New wheel designs
– Revised interior with new seating fabrics, revised instrument cluster and dashboard
– Keyless entry functions moved to key from separate key fob
– Engine revisions for improved low- to mid-range torque and improved fuel efficiency
– Redesigned five-speed automatic transmission with downshift blipping control
– SI-DRIVE added to 3.0-litre models
– Stability control standard on 2.5i Limited, 2.5XT, 3.0R, 3.0R Premier
– Exterior colours: Deep Bronze Metallic and Quartz Silver Metallic added; Regal Blue Pearl and Brilliant Silver Metallic deleted

For 2008, the Outback receives several updates, including a redesign that gives it a "crossover" look and further differentiates it from the Legacy, itself redesigned to give more of a sport sedan or wagon appearance. Base prices are unchanged from 2007.

Based on the Legacy wagon, the Outback comes with a choice of three engines: a naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre horizontally-opposed four-cylinder in the 2.5i, 2.5i Touring and 2.5i Limited; a turbocharged 2.5-litre in the 2.5XT; and a naturally-aspirated 3.0-litre horizontally-opposed six-cylinder in the 3.0R and 3.0R Premier. A five-speed manual transmission can be optioned to a four-speed automatic on 2.5i models and a five-speed automatic on the 2.5XT; the 2.5i Limited uses the four-speed automatic only, and 3.0R models come only with the five-speed autobox. The 2.5XT and 3.0R models include SI-DRIVE, a driver-selectable engine control system that can be selected for economical or sportier driving. All use the company’s symmetrical all-wheel drive (the name refers to the symmetrical configuration of the components, for better balance); the Limited, 2.5XT and 3.0R models include stability and traction control.

Features on the 2.5i include 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, CD/MP3 stereo, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, cruise control, tilt and telescopic wheel, power windows, heated mirrors, fog lamps, roof rails, roofline spoiler, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear wiper/washer, anti-theft system, and 60/40 split folding rear seat.

The 2.5i Touring adds 17-inch alloy wheels, cargo tray, tonneau cover, body-colour mirrors and handles, twin-panel power sunroof, lockable roof rack crossbars, splash guards, windshield wiper de-icer, and heated seats with eight-way power driver’s adjustment.

The 2.5i Limited adds premium six-CD/MP3 stereo, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, woodgrain trim, and leather-wrapped wheel.

The 2.5XT adds wheel-mounted audio controls, aluminum rear gate sill cover, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, functional hood scoop, electroluminescent gauges, multi-information display, sport-type seats with perforated leather upholstery, four-way power passenger seat, and rear-seat folding centre armrest.

The 3.0R is equipped similarly to the 2.5i Limited, but with premium cloth upholstery.

The 3.0R Premier adds premium speakers, garage door opener, twin-panel power sunroof, DVD-based navigation system, leather upholstery, and four-way power passenger seat.

Always displaying a bolder, more aggressive stance than the Legacy, the Outback is further distanced from it by its new styling, which should appeal to those who like the beefier wagon for its country-club looks. It isn’t meant for truly rough off-road driving, but it’ll handle mud and snow very well, and get you over rutted cottage roads while maintaining a smooth ride and coddling its passengers in upscale interiors.

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