2010 Subaru Outback
2010 Subaru Outback. Click image to enlarge

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2010 Subaru Outback

St. John’s, Newfoundland – All new for 2010, the Subaru Outback is longer, taller and wider than the model it replaces. It’s also more car for less money, with buyers sure to appreciate that the starting price has dropped by a significant $2,000.

At $28,995 for the entry-level Outback PZEV, the comprehensive makeover is timely because the market was catching up with this particular Subaru, and was actually poised to overtake it. Suburban chic vehicles like the stylish new Toyota Venza, forthcoming Honda Crosstour, and maybe even the Ford Edge have taken the “raised ride-height, all-wheel drive wagon/crossover” concept and are making a determined fight of it.

With a bigger, better equipped, better looking, lower priced 2010 Outback, Subaru counterpunches.

2010 Subaru Outback
2010 Subaru Outback. Click image to enlarge

The 2010 Outback’s exterior design is more aggressive and substantial than the 2009 model, topped off with clever standard roof rails that incorporate built-in swing-over crossbars. At the front, the new grille introduces subtle power bulges that bulk up the hood. At the rear, the slim D-pillars are built so that they don’t obstruct vision and work well with the new roof spoiler and wider rear door. The side view is enhanced by standard six-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels (no monster wheels….yet). Overall, the latest styling works better on the Outback, I think, than the Legacy.

All 2010 Outbacks arrive on a larger platform with new front and rear subframes and a new double wishbone rear suspension. New this year is an electronic parking brake with driver-selectable hill-holder system, and other standard equipment includes anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist, steering-wheel integrated audio controls, automatic headlights, an instrument cluster mounted ECO-gauge, 10-way power driver’s seat, reclining rear seats, air conditioning, stability control, power group, and, of course, full-time all-wheel drive.

Two versions of Subaru’s “flat-four,” horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine power the Outback, along with a “flat-six” (Subaru terms these engines H4 and H6, based on the pattern of the cylinders).

2010 Subaru Outback
2010 Subaru Outback. Click image to enlarge

The 2.5-litre H4 is available in $28,995 PZEV (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) and $31,795 non-PZEV forms, both of which make 170-horsepower at 5,600 r.p.m. and 170 lb-ft torque at 4,000 r.p.m. The PZEV engine conforms to stringent California emissions standards that reduce emissions by up to 90 per cent compared with conventional engines, and will interest those wanting the most environmentally engineered Outback.

The non-PZEV H4 Outback is called the Outback 2.5i Sport, and adds a windshield wiper de-icer, Bluetooth connectivity, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and driver’s auto-up power window. Fuel consumption from both H4 engines is 10.6/7.4 L/100 km, city/highway (manual) and 9.5/6.9 L/100 km, city/highway (automatic).

The $35,695 six-cylinder Outback 3.6R generates 256 hp at 6,000 rpm and 247 lb-ft torque at 4,400 r.p.m., compared with 245-hp at 6,600 r.p.m. and 215 lb-ft torque at 4,200 r.p.m. from the 2009 3.0 L H6 engine. So power is up for the H6 this year, while fuel consumption at 11.8/8.2 L/100 km, city/highway is slightly reduced. The Outback’s 70-litre fuel tank is bigger, too, extending range with an extra five litres of capacity.

2010 Subaru Outback
2010 Subaru Outback. Click image to enlarge

You can buy your 2010 Outback PZEV and Outback 2.5i Sport with a new six-speed manual transmission or a $1,200 CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) with paddle shifters that from the driver’s perspective operates like an automatic transmission. The Outback 3.6R is only available with a conventional five-speed automatic, also with paddle shifters.

Available on the Outback 2.5i Sport with CVT and 3.6R, a $2,800 Limited Package adds a Harman Kardon audio system, automatic dual-zone climate control, perforated leather seating surfaces, woodgrain interior trim, a four-way power front passenger seat and an available $2,300 multimedia option that includes Bluetooth, rear-view camera and DVD-based navigation.

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