The all-wheel drive Subaru Outback has a lot of new competitors now that
the crossover market has heated up. It has a very car-like ride but also
has some of the best features of SUVs, like excellent traction on slick
roads and a roomy cargo area in back.
There was a time when
the Subaru Outback was unique.
Back in the mid 1990s,
when campy ads featured an Australian pitchman touting the all-wheel
drive "sport utility wagon," there wasn't anything quite like the
Outback. It was a car-based vehicle, but it had a slightly higher ride
height and off-road capability of a small SUV.
Today, we don't call
those vehicles "sport utility wagons." We call them crossovers, and
Still, like wildlife on
a remote island, the Outback has stayed true to its roots while the rest
of the automotive world has evolved in a different way. Crossovers have
generally become bigger, more bloated and more SUV-like, while the
spunky Subaru has stayed as nimble and wagon-like as ever.
Today's Outback is far
more car-like than most of its crossover competitors. It has a
comfortable, compliant ride, crisp steering and solid brakes.
Overall, this Japanese
car with an Australian name has an oddly German feel to it. It's so
solid, so robust that you wonder whether it ought to have a higher price
and a three-pointed star on the hood.
While it doesn't have
all the luxuries of a Mercedes, the Outback has definitely moved
upmarket in recent years. The version I tested came with a touch-screen
navigation system, leather seats and a terrific Harman Kardon stereo
system for around $31,000. The base Outback starts around $22,000.
There's one noticeable
change to the 2009 Outback. Now every model get's Subaru's Vehicle
Dynamics Control as standard equipment, which is designed to keep the
car moving in the direction you steer it, particularly on slippery
roads. That's important, because a big portion of Subaru's sales are to
people who need to drive on ice and snow. You see a lot more Subarus in
the North and mountain states than you do in the South.
Even if you live in
Miami, the Outback's standard all-wheel drive setup keeps the vehicle
firmly planted on the road. Its chassis feels like it could handle a
huge amount of power, and it's almost impossible to get the tires to
lose traction on dry roads. It's a comforting feeling.
Subaru offers five
different versions of the Outback. The 2.5i comes in a base version,
Special Edition and Limited, all of which have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder
engine that makes 170 horsepower. The 2.5XT Limited adds a turbocharger
to make 243 horsepower, and the 3.0R Limited has a six-cylinder engine
that makes 245 horsepower.
What was tested?
The 2009 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited with a base price of $30,495.
Options on the test car: Rear cargo net $51. Total MSRP price as tested
including a $665 destination charge: $31,211.
Why avoid it?
Some of its crossover competitors are more roomy and powerful.
Why buy it? It
drives more like a car than most crossovers. It also feels remarkably
solid and comes with Subaru's excellent all-wheel drive.
Bottom Line: If
you like Subarus, you'll like the Outback. Even though it has more
competitors as the crossover market has matured, there's still nothing
that looks and feels the same as an Outback.
By Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San
Byline: Subaru Review provided by Tony
Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Subaru Home Page
Top-selling Subaru more car-like than most crossovers
Topic: The 2009 Subaru
Outback 2.5i Limited
Word Count: 637
Photo Caption: The
2009 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited
Photo Credits: Subaru
Outback Internet Media
Series #: 2009 - 23
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2009 Subaru Outback
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2009 Subaru Outback