Subaru OutBack 2.5 Limited
Click Image to Enlarge

Day 1:
I picked up a Subaru Outback 2.5 Limited today and will be doing an extended 7 day blog of impressions, I welcome any feedback you may have on this format.

First impressions are always key, I wasn’t particularly pleased with the Willow Green colour but once I opened the door to the beautiful Taupe leather interior with black / taupe dash and silver accents I warmed up quickly to the vehicle.

My tester came equipped with 4 blizzak winter tires which should prove usefull in the next week as winter has returned to the Capital of Canada with snow and cold. From the small amount I have driven the vehicle so far it felt sure footed and ready for a blizzard. The seats are comfortable and supportive and the heated leather is a nice touch. The sunroof is massive letting in a bit of light on a cloudy day made the car feel more spacious and airy.

Not much seat time as of yet, here are my initial likes and dislikes right off the bat.

Likes:
Well appointed interior (photos to come)
Cargo cover in the rear
Nicely sized and weighted steering wheel, has a grippy feel and is thick enough and small enough it feels sporty.
Dual zone climate control seemed to work well and all controls were easy to read and easy to access right out of the gate.
Ride is supple but sure footed
Excellent adjustments for seating position, a very long adjustment range.
Large glass sunroof.

Dislikes:
Exterior somewhat bland…… but that’s being picky.
Electric seat controls are a bit sensitive
Throttle input lags, feels like 1 – 2 seconds before power kicks in and the vehicle downshifts, using sport mode didn’t seem to help much.

Outback 2.5i Limited MSRP: $38,995

For more information on Subaru and their models please visit Subaru Canada

Updated February 7th 2006

Subaru OutBack 2.5 Limited
Click Image to Enlarge

Day 2:
Winter has certainly returned to Ottawa with a vengeance. It was +6 degrees Celsius on Sunday and this morning -19 with the wind-chill. The Outback started right up as expected, I turned on the seat heaters and idled the car for about a minute as I cleared the snow from the windows. The auto-climate control kicked in only 2 minutes into my journey blowing warm air, a very nice feeling at 7:00am on a cold wintery day.

I came across a few notables today ranging from those seat heaters to the ride and handling of the vehicle.

So about those seat heaters….. well I drove a good 45 minutes today in the vehicle and as much as I love the seat heaters, the 4 settings provided by Subaru do not seem to be well done. Full on gets too hot after 20 minutes, crank it down a notch or two and you feel nothing, so I was constantly adjusting them.

During my drive and photo session I got a much better look at the interior, the faux wood accents are done very well, it is not a shiny plastic material that catches your eye it really compliments the interior decor.

Subaru OutBack 2.5 Limited Interior
Click Image to Enlarge

I was glad I happen to have this vehicle today, I found an excellent deal on some used office chairs, and the Outback pulled through with its huge cargo area. With flat folding rear seats and a large rear opening I was able to fit 2 large sized office chairs into the rear without a struggle. A question about rear leg room was posed, I had no issues, with the seat adjusted for my seating position, I found ample leg room in the rear seats. Although I am only 5’9″ tall, I would suspect a 6 footer behind a 6 footer would have issues, but not many vehicles will accommodate that arrangement.

I was impressed by the noise level …… or lack thereof in this vehicle, Subarus tend to have a bad reputation for allowing a lot road noise in their vehicles. Not so with the Outback, even with Blizzak tires on the highway only a very slight amount of wind noise can be heard, the vehicle is extremely tame, engine noises can only be heard with large amounts of throttle input and it never sounds harsh, just a nice roar from the 2.5 liter flat 4.

Updated February 8th 2006

Subaru OutBack 2.5 Limited
Click Image to Enlarge

Day 3:
Three words, “Seven Nation Army”. That is how the day started for me.
As any good blogger would do I intended to respond to questions asked in the feedback to my blog and “How does the stereo sound” was tops on my list to evaluate.
I tuned the radio to a local rock station and started to crank it up and as The White Stripes began to fill the car with some bass guitar, I remembered question number 2 on my list “How does the engine perform?”…

So how does that engine perform? Well…….. Well. Acceleration is not what I would call vigorous but it certainly is more than adequate. Off the line the car pulls very well up to 2nd gear. The gears seem to be a tad tall and there is a lag from the shift to when power surges again up to 80km/h. The engine really does produce a pleasing growl and if you didn’t know it was a 2.5 liter you could be convinced it was a small 6 cylinder as it is smooth refined and torquey. After getting acquainted with the manu-matic transmission I’m a little more pleased with the merging and passing capabilities of the car. Passing becomes an art, I find the auto tranny to be a little slow on downshifting, so anticipating and downshifting not only provides good acceleration but also a hint of fun!

So what about that radio? It’s great, although I found the radio reception to be a bit sketchy I’ve never had this particular station lose its signal strength and provide static as it does in the Outback. That being said, bass is great treble is great, mid tones a little harsh as the “Seven Nation Army” attempted to break free from the door panels.

Ventured a little “off-road” today onto an uninhabited uncrossed snow and ice covered trail, the Outback felt very sure footed, grip was exceptional, unfortunately the trail was short and I couldn’t spend my day off-roading, I was surprised at the compliant ride even on a bumpy trail.

So the day started with some rock and roll and ended with……… a check engine light. Sometime between my off-road adventure and my drive for some curling fun the check engine light illuminated, the cruise control light began to blink on and off and stopped working.

Tomorrow brings another day, first objective? Bring it in for servicing, yet another adventure in automobiles.

Updated February 9th 2006

Subaru OutBack 2.5 Limited
Click Image to Enlarge

Day 4:

Day Four, otherwise known as the day of “wreck”oning…….. no wait that was yesterday when the check engine light illuminated forcing me to trek down to the Subaru dealer at 7 in the morning to get the vehicle checked out.

Lucky for me even though I didn’t drive the Outback much today I was holding back for a rainy day and have more impressions to give you.

Let’s talk visibility for a moment. Ninety-nine (99) percent of all your driving decisions are based on visibility, many facets of a car inherently block your visibility, such as “A” pillars around corners, “B” pillars create blind spots beside your head and “C” pillars give you another blind spot near the rear of the vehicle. The Outback is unique in that it has windows all around, good sized mirrors and what seems to be a smaller A pillar than some other cars I’ve been in. All of this combined gives excellent visibility, very few blind spots and an open feeling that really gives you a sense of your surroundings. As mentioned in the comments in this blog the projector beam headlights are excellent, although I was flashed a few times on a dark country road they may be aimed a tad high due to the ride height of the vehicle.

On top of this active safety of seeing where you are going and where others may be coming from, in 2005 the Subaru Outback SUV was the only vehicle to score five stars in all four categories, driver and passenger front impact safety and driver and rear passenger side impact safety, an outstanding achievement.

Noticed something else that I really didn’t pay attention to until I arrived home late at night with the vehicle. All my neighbours use their remote locking devices to lock their cars when they arrive home. Typically the car will honk the horn once or twice to give notice that this has been set…… well it’s annoying to your neighbours at 10 or 11 or 12 pm! The Outback doesn’t use the horn, it has a buzzer type sound that is loud enough for you as the locker to hear but your neighbours won’t. Clever!

What about the Check Engine light? Turns out a faulty O2 sensor, parts were ordered and I should have it back tomorrow. I really have bad luck with those O2 sensors and this is not the first I’ve heard of them failing on newer Subarus.

Updated February 10th 2006

Subaru OutBack 2.5 Limited
Click Image to Enlarge

Day 5:
Day Five leads to day six which will be my most exciting day with the Outback as I’ll get a chance to try it in a slalom test and fling it around a snow covered track. Back to day 5 though, unfortunately not much of an adventure with the car today, I picked up from the dealer after the O2 sensor was replaced.

I did find a feature today that I had previously overlooked and really appreciated the quiet ride of the Outback after a hard day at work and trudging through the -20 degree weather.
After picking up the Outback from the dealer the wipers didn’t seem to work very well, possibly from sitting out in the cold over night who knows, I got out to bang them on the windshield and noticed some wires running in the windshield where the wipers sit. Seems like a great feature for -20 weather like we had in Ottawa today, keeps the wipers from freezing to the windshield.

I was able to get a rare opportunity to deal with a dealer service department for a vehicle review, what a great opportunity! I will not mention the dealer but I will mention the process. Thursday I dropped the vehicle off at 7:10am before the dealer opened. I filled in the drop off form and dropped the keys into the slot. I received a courtesy call at approximately 11am to explain to me the car was in service and should be available by mid afternoon.

Later Thursday afternoon I received a call explaining the problem and that a part had to be ordered. I was informed that I could pick up the vehicle if I required it as it was drive able and to return it on Friday when the part was in. I simply left the vehicle at the dealer.

I received a call Friday afternoon informing me that my vehicle was ready for pick-up, everyone was pleasant when arrived and picked up the vehicle at 4pm on Friday. All in all a great experience, and before comments arise that I was treated special, I don’t believe I was as when I picked up the vehicle they did not even realize the vehicle was a press car.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more impressions!

Subaru OutBack 2.5 Limited
Click Image to Enlarge
Subaru OutBack 2.5 Limited
Click Image to Enlarge
Subaru OutBack 2.5 Limited
Click Image to Enlarge
Subaru OutBack 2.5 Limited
Click Image to Enlarge

I’ve added some more photo’s to the bottom of the article, be sure not to miss them!

Updated February 12th 2006

Track Duty, Subaru OutBack 2.5 Limited
Click Image to Enlarge

Day 6 & 7:
“So how does it drive?” I’m sure most readers are asking themselves this very question by now. I’ll get to that in this final blog about the Outback as I had a chance to take it around a snow covered track to get a real feel for it’s handling capabilities on ice / snow and how the AWD system handles accelerating turning and braking.

Let me preface all of this by saying the Outback is on Blizzak WS50 Winter Tires, one of the best winter tires available. Do these same tests with all-seasons (affectionately know as no-seasons) and this car would behave like any other car in the same extreme conditions, the AWD would be negated by the horrible tire compound.

The Outback does not have traction control or stability control (you’ll have to pony up $45,995 for the 3.0 VDC version for those options), even though you have a great AWD drive-train if you are unfamiliar with the characteristics of snow / ice driving you could have some scary moments. Acceleration on an icy / snowy ground, provides some initial wheel spin of the front wheels and as torque is transferred to the rear wheels the backend of the vehicle really begins to rotate, counter steering and a little less throttle input is required to keep the vehicle on the road.

AWD Traction does not help you stop and contrary to popular belief ABS does not help you stop quicker on ice and snow either. This vehicle weights 3500lbs and can take a considerable distance to stop. During some braking tests stopping distance from 40km/h on ice was disappointing to the say the least. The ABS system really kicks your foot back and the vehicle just does not want to stop. The vehicle does stop in a perfectly straight line which is excellent.

Handling is very neutral feeling, the Outback is really stable at speed and in the corner it settles nicely after initial turn in and a little lean. In the class this vehicle is placed which is a small SUV class it really handles much more car like. The Outback really gives you confidence through a slalom even on ice as it transitions extremely well and is sure footed. Parking lot maneuvers are really easy as the steering lightens up the perfect amount at slower speeds and even though the vehicle is much larger than what I normally drive I had no issues parking or reversing the Outback. If you do happen to get the Outback sideway by accident or on purpose the steering rack is quick enough and light enough to get yourself out of trouble with some quick counter steer to get you pointed in the proper direction.

Fuel Economy in the Outback was not stellar, I averaged 11.4 L / 100Km based on the computer read outs over 400km. This was approximately 60 percent highway 40 percent city driving.

Here is one great advantage to a blog rather than your traditional car review.

On Day 1 I gave some quick initial impressions of the Outback, after driving it for 1 week things have changed a little, below is a new list of likes and dislikes.

Likes:
Well appointed interior
Cargo cover in the rear
Nicely sized and weighted steering wheel, has a grippy feel and is thick enough and small enough it feels sporty.
Dual zone climate control seemed to work well and all controls were easy to read and easy to access right out of the gate.
Ride is supple but sure footed
Excellent adjustments for seating position, a very long adjustment range.
Large glass sunroof.
Ride and feel of the vehicle
AWD / Handling / Braking all great
Very smooth transmission, it really shifts extremely smoothly.

Dislikes:

Exterior somewhat bland…… (This has grown on me it’s not that bad)
Electric seat controls are a bit sensitive
Throttle input lags, feels like 1 – 2 seconds before power kicks in and the vehicle downshifts, using sport mode didn’t seem to help much. Still find the initial acceleration lags, there seems to be a delay.
Heated Seats are either too hot or too cold.

Beautifully finished trunk area…….. this could be bad or good I suppose, to me it’s bad, if I’m going to be putting anything “dirty�? in my trunk I want rubber mats and sides or something similar, the outback is finished in plush carpet which easily gets dirty and greased up especially in the Tan colour.

Ratings out of 5:

2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i
Acceleration wheelwheelwheel

Handling wheelwheelwheel
Comfort wheelwheelwheelwheel
Interior wheelwheelwheelhalfwheel
Audio System wheelwheelwheel
Gas Mileage wheelwheelwheel

Subaru OutBack 2.5 Limited
Click Image to Enlarge
Subaru OutBack 2.5 Limited
Click Image to Enlarge
Subaru OutBack 2.5 Limited
Click Image to Enlarge

counter hit xanga

Connect with Autos.ca