EXPERT REVIEW

Mother Proof's view


I recall sitting in Mr. Anderson’s elementary school class wondering who the genius was who decided every state needed its own bird, color, flower, song and tree. That bitterness likely stemmed from the fact that I had to memorize all the states, their capitals and, in some cases, their state motto. Little did I know then how easy I had it; these days, at least 20 states have designated a state amphibian, and of the 27 states that have designated a state beverage, 18 of them honored milk. Pennsylvania even named the Slinky its state toy. All that got me wondering about what kind of car my state would choose as its official vehicle. After a round of completely unscientific polling and observation, I concluded that Colorado’s state car would be a Subaru.

Subaru’s Outback wagon is by far the most ubiquitous model in my neck of the woods, with the Impreza WRX a close second. After a recent test drive of the newly designed and affordably priced Impreza Outback Sport, I suspect it will soon become another ultra-popular choice. Admittedly, I was initially weary of its smallish size and plasticky appointments, but after driving it I found that the Outback Sport has most of the features I need in a simple, sporty package. Check out a side-by-side comparison of this car with last year’s model here.

There’s both an MP3 player input and steering-wheel controls for the audio system, which made driving the car and listening to my favorite tunes (when I wasn’t listening to my teenager’s favorites) easy and fun. This car made me feel just a little bit younger and a whole lot cooler. I loved the way the Outback Sport looked, and the LED “dotted” taillights give this little hatchback a sweet appearance. All contribute to upping my cool factor.

The Outback Sport features Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system, which contributes to the automaker’s popularity in places with inclement weather. Unlike an SUV, however, this car’s smaller size makes it easy to maneuver and park. Because my weekly rounds take me to the grocery store more times than I would like to admit, parking ease is pretty high on my list of must-haves. I had no problem loading up my groceries in the ample-sized hatchback cargo area, and I loved the fact that it had a really nice plastic liner to keep winter muck from dirtying up the light gray interior. I worried because the backs of the front seats weren’t made of the same material, and my kids managed to get plenty of muck spread on them, but the seat fabric was quite easy to clean. After letting the gunk dry, I was able to brush off most of the dirt.

As I mentioned, the plastic interior was my biggest beef (which no state has named as its official food, surprisingly enough) with this car. The controls feel light and breakable, and the look is a little cheap. Despite this, I enjoyed my two-week drive in the Outback Sport and believe it would be a great car for a small family or young driver. Now, I’m off to Denver to petition getting Subaru’s star cluster logo added to our state seal. Wish me luck!

*For more information on the Subaru Impreza Outback Sport and its safety features, visit Cars.com. With questions or comments regarding this review, write to editor@motherproof.com.

LET’S TALK NUMBERS

Latch Connectors: 2

Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5

IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair

Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

SENSE AND STYLE

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair-Great

Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Good Times

Specs

2008 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport

Base price: $19,995

Price as tested: $20,805

Engine: 170-hp, 2.5-liter H-4

Fuel: 20/27 mpg

Length: 173.8″

Width: 68.5″

Ground Clearance: n/a

Turning Radius: 17.4′

Cargo space: 19.0-44.4 cu. ft.

NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings

Frontal Impact

Driver’s side: 5 Stars

Passenger’s side: 5 Stars

Side Impact

Front occupant: 5 Stars

Rear occupant: 4 Stars

Rollover resistance: 4 Stars

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