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FEATURES | 8 out of 10
The graphics look dated, particularly once you get into the menus, and it all runs off old-school DVDs, not a hard drive.
lengthy standards roster
cross bars for the standard roof rails...swing out of the way and lock into the side rails when unneeded
Car and Driver
easy-to-use sound and climate systems
There are three major trim levels for the 2012 Subaru Outback: the base 2.5i, the Premium, and the Limited. Even the simplest 2.5i has some nice standard features, including a steering column that telescopes as well as tilts, an outdoor temperature display, and three interior 12-Volt power plugs. Air conditioning and cruise control also come standard, and the base audio system has four speakers and an aux input jack.
Remarkably, both Premium and the high-end Limited trim levels can be ordered with any of the three engine/transmission combinations: the 2.5-liter four with six-speed manual, the four with the LinearTronic continuously variable transmission (CVT), or the 3.6-liter flat six with a conventional five-speed automatic. Moving from 2.5i to Premium adds a power-adjustable driver's seat and standard fog lamps, among other features. Moving up again to the Limited trim level adds in dual-zone climate control and a standard stereo from Harman Kardon.
One of the 2012 Outback's more attractive features is the low starting base price of the 2.5i model, which is roughly $24,000. A fully optioned-out Limited model with the large engine still comes in around $35,000. That's at least $10,000 less than the high-end Jeep Grand Cherokee, and probably $20,000 lower than a comparable Volvo.
Options on the Outback are less high-tech than they are practical. The very popular all-weather package adds heated seats, heated outside mirrors, and windshield-wiper de-icing. Other available features include dual-zone automatic climate control, a nine-speaker, 440-Watt premium sound system from Harman Kardon that includes satellite radio, a power moonroof, and a 10-way power adjustable driver's seat. Optional on the Limited trim level is a navigation system with an 8-inch dashboard display screen that also displays the picture from the backup camera. Oddly, though, getting that navigation system requires also ordering the moonroof--peculiar, to say the least.
One option that regrettably isn't available on any Subaru Outback is a memory function for seat and mirror settings for multiple drivers, something that's increasingly standard on high-end cars and a feature we heartily recommend for any family vehicle.
The 2012 Subaru Outback offers remarkable value for the money, with trim levels and features that include a few luxury and comfort items, but more often simply add practicality.