The Subaru Outback, an SUV-alternative, was redesigned for 2010. Though Outback sedans existed in previous years, the Outback has been available only as a wagon since 2007, leaving the sedan space to the Legacy, which was also all-new for 2010. The Outback grew last year, adding much-needed space to the backseat. It competes with wagons such as the Toyota Venza, Volvo XC70 and Volkswagen Passat, as well as small SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Subaru's own Forester.
The Outback's two models, named after their engines, include the 2.5i and the 3.6R; both come in base, Premium and Limited trim levels.
New for 2011
There are no significant changes for 2011.
The Outback's ground clearance increased to 8.7 inches last year, and it shows in the new version's more SUV-like presence. Though the interior is markedly roomier, the car is fractions of an inch shorter from bumper to bumper than the previous generation.
Standard on the base 2.5i are 16-inch steel wheels; 17-inch alloys come on all other trim levels, including the 3.6R. Like the Legacy, the Outback's headlights recall Nissan and Infiniti designs, but the prominent bumper distinguishes it more than the Legacy.
An innovative standard feature, the roof rack has hinged cross-members that swing 90 degrees to tuck into the side rails when not in use, which reduces wind noise and improves aerodynamics. Exterior features include:
- Standard 16-inch wheels
- Available 17-inch alloy wheels
- Projector beam headlights
Subaru says suspension changes and higher-profile tires improved the Outback's ride quality with the 2010 redesign. In addition to a nearly 4-inch increase in backseat legroom, the whole car became a couple of inches wider, which helps hip and shoulder room in the front and back. The cargo space is a bit deeper and wider, but its overall size and shape aren't quite as versatile as those found in some competing small SUVs. The backseat is split, 60/40, and folds down to extend the cargo area forward.
Interior features include:
- Standard tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio and cruise-control buttons
- Standard keyless entry
- Available Bluetooth audio streaming capability
- Available dual-zone climate control
- Available navigation system with backup camera
Under the Hood
The 2.5-liter four-cylinder and 3.6-liter six-cylinder come in the 2.5i and 3.6R models, respectively, delivering 170 horsepower and 256 hp. The 3.6-liter engine, which replaces the previous generation's 3.0-liter six-cylinder, is thirstier than the 2.5-liter, but it runs on regular gas instead of premium, for some cost savings. Mechanical features include:
- 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder
- 256-hp, 3.6-liter six-cylinder
- Six-speed manual transmission (2.5-liter)
- Continuously variable automatic transmission with manual mode (2.5-liter)
- Five-speed automatic (3.6-liter)
- Standard all-wheel drive
Standard safety features include:
- Four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist
- Electronic stability system
- Side-impact airbags
- Side curtain airbags for front and rear seats
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