Subaru's one of the few automakers who enjoyed sales increases for 2008. Today at the New York International Auto Show they introduced their new 2010 Outback, which is based on the completely redesigned 2010 Legacy chassis.
It's fitting Subaru chose the U.S. for the 2010 Outback's release; many of the Outback's exceedingly loyal, go-anwhere iconoclast customers are located in the States. The new Outback, they say, is the second example of their "customers come first" design philosophy, the first being the wildly successful 2009 Subaru Forester. The U.S. is clearly the most important market for the new Outback.
The 2010 Outback gets plenty more storage and passenger space, allowing it to "compete head-on in the midsize segment." The track is two inches wider, interior volume is up eight percent, wheelbase has been stretched 2.8 inches, and yet the whole thing is actually smaller than before. Ground clearance is up, at 8.7 inches. They claim the new vehicle uses more high-strength steel for its safety cage than any other vehicle in the segment.
Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel drive remains across the lineup, as do its growly boxer engines. Fuel tank capacity has been upped to 18.5 gallons, and along with increased fuel efficiency that means extended range on a tank. The base 2.5-liter four makes 170 hp, while the turbo 2.5-liter moves up into WRX territory with 265 hp and 258 lb-ft torque, both available earlier in the engine's operating range. A 6-speed manual makes its debut, as does a chain-type CVT that replaces the aging 4-speed automatic (finally). The top engine option is a large 3.6-liter flat six that rings in at 256 hp and 247 lb-ft (both oddly less than the turbo four). Let's hope the six has got a killer low-end.
The 2010 Legacy's front suspension continues with a MacPherson strut design but is now mounted to the engine sub-frame. In the rear, the multi-link arrangement has been replaced with a double-wishbone arrangement. Both changes were made in the name of increased stability, better handling, and more refinement.
New interior features include a voice-activated GPS navigation unit, ambient lighting, and 60/40 fold-down rear seats. Also new are an electronic parking brake and a revised hill-hold system for assist in parking on uneven surfaces.
While I'm sure this vehicle will resonate with its market and increase the Subaru sales onslaught - offering improvements in space, performance, convenience, and ability - I'm a touch sad to see the Outback's sharp-edged styling morph into something softer, more swept, and quite crossover-ish. The cowl appears a bit higher, but at least the greenhouse still looks tall and expansive so hopefully front sightlines haven't diminished too much.