Vehicle Type: Mid-size Wagon/Crossover
History/Description: For model-year 2010, Subaru launched a new Outback range that was bigger, chubbier, softer and more comfortable than the one it replaced. Though some driving enthusiasts fond of the previous generation Outback’s more agile handling and smaller size were left out in the cold, the new-generation machine aimed to put it on the mental radar of shoppers after a sensible crossover by being less sporty and agile, and more roomy, comfortable and refined.
Fierce loyalty, brand perceptions and intense competition make it a tough place to enter, but one that’s rewarding once inside. After 20 years in existence, this-generation Outback would aim to storm that so-called bank-vault with more features, more affordable pricing and more space.
Outback, of course, packed standard AWD on each and every model sold. Shoppers can look for features like voice-activated GPS navigation, a back-up camera system, Bluetooth phone interface and streaming Bluetooth audio. There’s a media hub for your iPod, as well as an available Harmon/Kardon stereo system on higher grade models.
Standard is a tilt/telescopic steering wheel with built-in audio and cruise controls, as well as a split-folding rear seat with armrest. Subaru also installed four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and Brake Assist on all models, alongside a life-saving Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) system to help drivers stay in control at all times.
Engines / Trim: Subaru’s do-it-all 2.5L BOXER engine was under the hood, revised for reduced internal friction and lighter overall weight this time around. At launch, it created 170 hp, the same as the outgoing model, but offered improved performance via the hardware attached to it – namely a new Lineartronic Continually Variable Transmission (CVT) in place of an automatic, and a six-speed manual for shoppers who preferred to shift their own gears.
Subaru’s 3.6L flat-six engine was available too, making 256 hp – though most used models will have the four-cylinder engine.
What Owners Like: Outback owners taking to the web to share their ownership experiences typically talk about great wintertime handling, appreciable handling characteristics, sizing, and an all-around feel of planted confidence on virtually any road in virtually any weather. Some owners call the Outback the perfect mix of SUV confidence and a car-like drive.
What Owners Dislike: Typical owner complaints centre around a less-than-impressive standard stereo system, wind and road noise at speed, and interior finish quality and materials that fall behind the competition. Performance from four-cylinder models is said to be adequate and nothing more.
Here are some owner reviews for your perusal.
2010 Subaru Outback, 2013 Subaru Outback. Click image to enlarge
The Test Drive: Though Subaru has a reputation for building some solid and reliable cars, maintenance remains key when it comes to long-term durability. As such, shoppers are advised to seek out a used Outback that’s available with documentation proving that all fluid changes, servicing requirements and tune-up work is up to date. Especially in an older or higher mileage example, a full fluid change including transmission, differentials, brake fluid and coolant, should be carried out for maximum peace of mind if service records aren’t available.