Nuts & Bolts

2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The bottom line: Since its inception in the mid-1990s, the Subaru Outback has been the perfect answer for many people who want a sport-utility vehicle without the size, egregious fuel consumption and often difficult ingress-egress. The larger size of the new Outback will do more to please than offend those buyers. But here's hoping that Subaru does not stray too far from its usual common-sense approach to reality.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Ride and acceleration get excellent marks here. But the 3.6R Limited's handling proved a bit dicey in sharp curves, where slow speeds were needed to keep its rear end in line.

Head-turning quotient: Subaru creates controversy even when it's aiming for the mainstream, as it's doing with the elongated and oddly muscular exterior of the new Outback. Subaru missed, again.

Body style/layout: The 2010 Subaru Outback is a front-engine, all-wheel-drive mid-size wagon with four side doors and a rear lift gate.

Engines/transmissions: For buyers seeking slightly better fuel economy, there is a 2.5-liter, flat four-cylinder engine ("flat" and "horizontally opposed" are used interchangeably to denote a side-by-side cylinder layout) with a maximum 170 horsepower and 170 foot-pounds of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard with that engine. A continuously variable automatic is optional. For drivers wanting more power with only a modest reduction in fuel economy, the tested 3.6-liter, flat six-cylinder engine with 256 horsepower and 247 foot-pounds of torque is the way to go. It is mated to a five-speed transmission that can be shifted automatically or manually.

Capacities: There are seats for five people. Cargo capacity is 71 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 18.5 gallons of recommended regular gasoline.

Mileage: 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

Safety: Front and rear ventilated disc brakes with four-wheel antilock protection, electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability and traction control, side and head air bags, rear-seat adjustable head restraints, and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

Price: The 2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited starts at $30,995. The dealer's invoice price on that model is $29,024. Price as tested is $35,146, including $3,456 in options (power glass roof and onboard navigation with backup camera) and $695 in destination charges. Dealer's price as tested is $32,562. Prices are sourced from Subaru;; and, an affiliate of The Washington Post.

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