2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R
2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R
2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R. Click image to enlarge

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Test Drive: 2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R
First Drive: 2010 Subaru Outback
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Inside Story is a review of interior comfort features, cabin controls, storage options, trunk space and under-hood accessibility based on a seven-day evaluation. For driving impressions, please see our Test Drives section.

Review and photos by Michael Clark

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2010 Subaru Outback

2010: the year Subaru makes contact with buyers.

There’s been a serious growth spurt in the stature of the Outback for Twenty-Ten. It carries upon its shoulders the wagon contingent for the Legacy line, and a face that is finally starting to look like something other than an Accord or Camry rip-off. It also carries accolades; the Best New CUV/SUV under $35,000, as chosen by the members of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. (Why can’t we all just call it a wagon?) This week’s IS tester is downright close to sharing that trophy, a Subaru Outback 3.6R, with an MSRP of $35,695. (Prices shown do not include freight, taxes, regional or promotional incentives.)

2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R
2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R
2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R. Click image to enlarge
The Cockpit/Centre Stack

The three-spoke tilt/telescoping wheel sports sound and audio control tabs, plus shifter paddles for the 5-speed automatic. The paddles are of robust construction, with downshift stage left, and upshift stage right. Downshifts occur automatically as the vehicle slows, with the ability to perform a second gear start for slippery conditions. The paddle shifters are the only allowance for manual shifting of the automatic, with no floor shift manu-gate. Note the litres per kilometres sweep in the left-hand corner of the IP, providing real-time scoring for your throttle inputs. IS would prefer that gauges of this nature possess a user-selectable colour display mode for good behavior, much like the Honda Insight. Additional fuel consumption information is available on the display above the audio head unit. The headlamp switch on the turn signal stalk gets an auto detent.

To the left of the driver is the control bank for the stability control, power heated mirrors, dimmer control, electronic parking brake, and the user-selectable Hill Holder system. The parking brake is a cinch to use, so don’t be intimidated by the mondo label. Sniggle alert: those exterior mirrors do not possess a breakaway ability. The driver’s door pod includes an auto up/down pane for the driver.

The single CD head unit includes SIRIUS satellite radio capability. Manual HVAC controls are simplistic, though IS recommends lighted indicators for the fan and temperature positions. The blueconnect Bluetooth handsfree system works well, though it is anything but a seamless integration. The oversized unit fits in a centre stack space normally reserved for storage. The microphone has a classic Radio Shack feel, with its mounting point atop the steering column. On the tactile front, Subaru has opted to locate soft-touch materials where they are most needed, on the door panels. The dashboard uses no soft trim.

2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R
2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R
2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R. Click image to enlarge
Cubbies!

Both front and rear doors include bottle-specific holders in their storage pockets. The rear seat uses a dual cupholder in the centre armrest, positioned at the proper angle for level bevvies. A small open cubby populates the rear of the centre console, while the only seatback pocket is found on the front passenger seat, from the House of Mesh. The locking glovebox still allows good storage space with the owner’s lit stowed. The front console cupholder uses a removable cincher biscuit. 12-volt DC power occurs first in the storage cubby ahead of the shifter. It pops up again within the centre console, with an audio auxiliary input, and a USB dock. The console adds an upper storage level, with an underlid holder that looks very iPod-friendly. (Provisions are in place to route cables.)

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