The new design encompasses new flared fenders (like the
World Rally cars), a new face with oval headlights and trademark trapezoidal grill. In the
rear the changes are a bit more subtle. A large rear wing that hangs over the tailgate and
redesigned taillights mark the most noticeable changes.
This "baby" Outback is outfitted like its bigger sibling but its smaller
design lends itself more to the rugged nature of the Outback line. The body side molding,
along with the front and rear bumpers and lower body panels, are in Graystone Metallic.
The front fascia has built in fog lights and theres a clever cargo area tray for
dumping dirty things on and four cargo tie-down hooks, among other Outback-only touches.
There is a ton of storage space with the rear seats folded flat (another new feature
this year), 61.6 cubic feet, since you asked so nicely. And the 12-volt outlet back there
really makes life in the backwoods easier.
The 80-watt AM/FM/CD radio sounds nice with its four speakers pumping out everything
from country to rock, rap and hip hop. The storage space above the radio is good for
holding a couple CDs or sunglasses but not much else. Wed prefer to have both spaces
(radio and storage) taken up by the Macintosh unit from the big Outback.
The seats, with their tweed-looking material, were supportive and comfortable. The side
bolsters on the bottom cushions and seat back kept us in place during radical cornering
maneuvers and they never impeded heavily on our personal space like some sports cars
Speaking of cornering, the Outback Sport was just that
sporty. We had a great time
flinging this highly maneuverable car around our test loop. For truly fun driving, you
need good handling and plenty of power. In the power front, our cars 2.5-liter boxer
four-cylinder put out 165 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque, which gave us enough
oomph to scoot out of corners and made the straights that much shorter.
The day we took the Outback Sport to our favorite test loop it had rained that morning
and the road was still wet. While this didnt deter us too much, we had to take
things a bit slower, because on most corners we were pushing the Outbacks limits.
Thankfully the ride was very controllable, in part because of all-wheel drive, and the
decent size tires of P205/55 R16s.
Our Outback Sport came equipped with tons of standard features like all-wheel drive,
anti-lock brakes, four-wheel independent suspension, air conditioning, a single CD player
with a decent radio and a whole bevy of other things. And all Outbacks come with
For all that, the standard price for our tester was only $18,695, compared with $17,495
for a base Impreza, thats a really good bargain. The only optional equipment on our
Outback Sport was a keyless entry system ($175) and wheel splash guards ($150), bringing
our total as-tested price, after a $525 destination charge, to $19,545.
For the price, the 2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport is a better bargain than the Mazda
Protege5, Ford Focus ZX5 and the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix twins. Its a fun vehicle
to drive and will be a pleasure to own for its practicality and sporty flair.