NEW FOR 2009:

– New PZEV Plus (Partial Zero Emission Vehicle) model replaces Touring model
– 2.5XT model discontinued
– 3.0R and Premium models combined into a single 3.0R Premier model
– 2.5i adds heated front seats, power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, splash guards and Sirius satellite radio
– Limited adds multi-plate transfer clutch, 440-watt Harman Kardon stereo, privacy glass, splash guards and Sirius satellite radio
– Exterior colours: Satin White Pearl and Seacrest Green Metallic added, Deep Bronze Metallic with Harvest Gold metallic cladding deleted

For 2009, the Subaru Outback line-up is pared down from six models to four, and the turbocharged 2.5-litre XT model is discontinued.

A new model, the PZEV (Partial Zero Emission Vehicle) replaces the Touring model. It uses the 2.5-litre four-cylinder found on the 2.5i and 2.5i Limited, but with modifications that reduce its emissions by as much as 90 per cent when compared to a conventional vehicle. These include a dual-filtration air intake system, tighter fuel injectors that prevent evaporative emissions, a reprogrammed Engine Control Module that delays ignition timing to bring the system to ideal operating temperature sooner, and a PZEV-specific catalytic converter that contains more mesh and catalyst inside. The system is specifically for emissions control, and the car gets the same fuel economy as the conventional 2.5-litre models. Subaru is offering it on only one trim level to gauge customer reaction (it also replaces the base model on the Legacy sedan and wagon). The PZEV revs higher and has a slightly rougher idle immediately after start-up, but otherwise, the system is undetectable.

The Outback is based on the Legacy wagon, and comes with a choice of 2.5-litre horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine with five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic in the 2.5i and PZEV Plus, and with four-speed automatic only in the 2.5i Limited; and a 3.0-litre horizontally-opposed six cylinder with five-speed automatic in the 3.0R Premier. All use all-wheel drive.

Features on the 2.5i include 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input and Sirius satellite radio, sub-floor storage tray, cruise control, tilt and telescopic wheel, power windows with driver’s side auto down, heated mirrors, fog lights, auto-off headlamps, raised-profile roof rails, splash guards, roofline spoiler, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear washer/wiper, heated cloth seats with eight-way power driver’s adjustment, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, and standard open-type rear differential.

The PZEV Plus adds 440-watt Harman Kardon nine-speaker system with eight-channel amplifier, cargo tray, 12-volt outlet in the cargo area, cargo cover, body-colour heated mirrors and door handles, twin-pane power sunroof, roof rail crossbars, privacy glass, leather-wrapped steering wheel, traction control, stability control, and limited-slip viscous type rear differential.

The 2.5i Limited adds 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-CD/MP3 premium stereo, wiper de-icer, woodgrain trim, leather seat inserts, and leather-wrapped shifter handle and brake lever.

The 3.0R Premium adds DVD-based navigation system, wheel-mounted audio controls, garage door opener, colour touch-screen monitor, four-way power passenger seat, rear seat folding centre armrest, aluminum rear gate sill cover, electroluminescent gauges, ECO gauge, and SI-DRIVE engine management system.

Bolder and with a more aggressive stance than its Legacy wagon cousin, the Outback isn’t meant for serious off-roading, but it will handle rutted cottage paths and snowy ski terrain easily, while maintaining a smooth, comfortable ride. The new PZEV system meets California’s strict CARB regulations as well as Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV) standards while offering performance that’s unchanged from the regular model.

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