The Subaru Outback is a quasi-sport utility vehicle offshoot of the company's Legacy line. Known as sport utility wagons, these Outback variants feature SUV-like styling cues and higher ground clearance.
Like the Legacy, Outback sedans and wagons were enlarged a bit for 2005. A turbocharged engine became available for the first time.
Outback sedans come only with a 250-horsepower horizontally opposed six-cylinder. Wagons are offered with the six-cylinder, a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine or a normally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder.
Models have been realigned for 2006. A new 3.0 R wagon combines features of the Outback 2.5i with the 250-hp, 3.0-liter six-cylinder from top-end models. An Outback 3.0 R L.L.Bean sedan joins the L.L.Bean wagon. The Outback 2.5 XT Limited wagon is now the only turbocharged model.
A navigation system is now standard in Outback 3.0 R VDC Limited models and optional in others. The non-turbo engine's horsepower has grown from 168 to 175 hp due to a new i-Active Variable Valve Lift system. Outback 2.5i and 2.5i Limited models gain 17-inch alloy wheels for 2006. An engine immobilizer is now standard.
Ground clearance is 8.4 or 8.7 inches, depending on the model. Subaru offers three combinations of transmission and all-wheel-drive systems.
Subaru also offers a smaller Outback Sport, which is based on the company's Impreza.
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Current Outbacks look sleeker than their predecessors, but most 2005 changes involved technical modifications. Using aluminum on the hood and tailgate (on wagon models) helped reduce weight by as much as 180 pounds. The 2.5 XT has a functional hood scoop and a dual exhaust system.
Each Outback model seats five occupants. Wagons feature a 60/40-split, folding rear seatback. Standard equipment in the 2.5i includes an eight-way power driver's seat and remote keyless entry. Limited models feature leather-trimmed upholstery, a six-CD changer and heated front seats.
Under the Hood
All Subaru engines have a horizontally opposed cylinder configuration. In 3.0 R models, a 3.0-liter six-cylinder produces 250 hp and 219 pounds-feet of torque. A turbocharged four-cylinder in the 2.5 XT Limited wagon yields 250 hp and 250 pounds-feet of torque. Regular 2.5i wagons get a normally aspirated 175-hp four-cylinder. A five-speed-manual gearbox is standard in all but the 3.0 R, which has a standard five-speed automatic that allows for manual shifting. This transmission is optional for the 2.5 XT. A four-speed automatic is optional for the 2.5i.
Side-impact and side curtain-type airbags, active front-seat head restraints and all-disc antilock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution are standard.
Outback sedans and wagons are easy to drive and have advantages over the Legacy when driving on imperfect roads. These cars are satisfying alternatives to an SUV.
Performance in the turbocharged Outback 2.5 XT mimics an equivalent Legacy. But at higher altitudes, an Outback exhibited considerable turbo lag when passing. Acceleration from a standstill is reasonably quick, though tromping the gas pedal under certain conditions at higher speeds may momentarily produce no response.
The six-cylinder 3.0 R, also tested at higher altitude, lacked response at higher speeds. The six-cylinder engine is more refined than the turbocharged four-cylinder.
Outbacks ride smoothly on good surfaces. The ride can roughen as the pavement becomes harsh.
Like the Legacy-based Outback, the Impreza-based Outback Sport features SUV-like styling cues. Subaru has restyled and repowered its Impreza line for 2006, including the Outback Sport.
Available only in wagon form, the Outback Sport is powered by a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder that teams with a standard five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic. For 2006, output has risen from 165 to 173 hp. All-wheel drive is standard.
A Sport Special Edition with a rear spoiler, a 260-watt premium audio system with in-dash six-CD changer and a leather-wrapped steering wheel returns for 2006. Cargo-area utility bars have been added for 2006. Back to top