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2013 Subaru Outback Styling

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It was completely restyled a couple of years ago, and now more than ever, the Subaru Outback wears what the automaker says are "SUV details." Among them are bigger roof pillars, wider rear quarter and side windows, and larger front and rear wheel arches. It's a bit more exaggerated, and that makes the Outback look less like a station wagon and more like a crossover than ever. That might please some SUV intenders, but owners of the previous model may just sigh in acceptance.

It's much the same for the 2013 model year, though a heftier grille is now paired with a wide rectangular opening under the front bumper and larger fog lights. The bumper and headlights are new too, but you'll still have to look twice to see the differences. Although the Outback remains a wagon version of the Legacy sedan, the plainer Legacy wagon is no longer offered, so the sum of all those "SUV details" adds up to a vehicle that looks just slightly like a steroidal cartoon of itself.

Once inside the Outback, the driver faces a simple instrument cluster, with the center console sweeping down from the dash panel to the tunnel. Controls are simple, fairly large, and generally self-explanatory. The design is restrained, and while it's hardly avant garde, it's easy to imagine living with it for a number of years--not always the case with the latest and greatest instrument panel design flourishes.

Subaru styling's chief virtue: it looks like a Subaru.

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