Shopping for a new Subaru Outback?
SEE LOCAL CLASSIFIEDS
by Al VinikourIt’s no longer necessary to travel an entire day to see the Outback. All you have to do is trot on down to a Subaru dealership. The company recently started selling the third generation of what was a crossover before anybody knew what a crossover was.
Defined in its simplest terms, the Outback is a great-looking sporty car that bears a strong resemblance to a station wagon. There the similarity ends, however. For Outback III, Subaru has infused a new level of sporty driving performance, a lighter, stronger body structure and revised suspension and steering systems to provide sharper handling response and a quieter ride.
Interestingly, Subaru has classified the Outbacks as trucks with the fuel-economy Feds. The company says it’s because buyers want more SUV-like features – but it’s also a good bet the chunky Outback would lower Subaru’s otherwise excellent fleet fuel economy, too.
Family of movers
The Outback isn’t just a single model. Rather, it’s an entire family of them. Six trim levels are available as a wagon – beginning with the Outback 2.5i and topping out with the Outback 3.0 L. L. Bean Edition and an Outback 3.0 R Sedan.
The Outback 2.5i and 2.5i Limited constitute, for lack of a better description, the entry-level Outback. Both are powered by a 2.5-liter SOHC horizontally opposed (boxer) four-cylinder engine, producing 168 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, while a four-speed automatic transmission is optional.
The Outback 2.5 XT and XT Limited are both powered by a DOHC 2.5-liter intercooled turbocharged engine that has 250 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. This is mated to a standard five-speed manual transmission. All-wheel drive is standard on all the above; optional is a five-speed automatic transmission with Variable Torque Distribution all-wheel-drive a more sophisticated and complex version that allows the drivetrain to shift power better between the four wheels to deliver more traction.