This last week I received my fourth Subaru to test, a 2012 Outback with the six-cylinder engine. It was the 3.6R “Limited” model in Ice Silver metallic with black leather interior. This car is made by Fuji Heavy Industries, a Japanese firm, in Lafayette, Indiana. The Limited is the top-line Outback, out of six models offered in both four-, and six-cylinder configurations. This one had an option package that included power moonroof, navigation system, 440-watt harman/kardon stereo, Bluetooth phone, backup camera, and Ipod/USB connections. This $2,995.00 package, plus $223.00 for “puddle lights”, brought the total M.S.R.P. to $35,886.00, including freight. I really enjoyed the puddle lights that shine beneath each of the four doors on the vehicle, after dark.
The Outback is a derivative of the Subaru Legacy wagon, introduced in 1994. It was originally called the “Legacy Outback”, and the Legacy name was dropped in 2003. Subaru in the 1990’s could not afford a new design for its “crossover SUV” to be produced, so simply modified an existing offering. They added side body cladding, raised the ground clearance, and added a rugged-looking rack on the top. In 2009, the second generation Outback came out, and sales since then have been brisk – over 90,000 in 2010 and over 100,000 in 2011. Crossover SUV’s are quite popular nowadays, and in large part it is the fault of the Subaru Outback.
Power for the Outback is supplied by a 3.6 liter, “boxer” six-cylinder, DOHC, all-aluminum engine with 256 horsepower and 247 lb. ft. of torque. Boxer refers to its horizontally-opposed configuration, like a Corvair or Porsche. The weight of the engine, although modest, is kept at a lower center-of-gravity with this design. Ground clearance, however, is a category-best 8.7 inches. The transmission is a five-speed automatic with manual mode and paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. All-wheel drive, is, of course, standard equipment. Fuel economy is rated at 18-city and 25-highway for the car, and I observed about 20 mpg during my trips to Denver (2), along with running around Greeley. The tank holds 18.5 gallons of regular gasoline and acceleration from zero to sixty is reportedly in the 8/9 second range. Wheelbase/length/weight are 107.9”, 188.2”, and 3,631 lbs., respectively.
The front leather buckets in the Outback are nice, and the three-passenger rear seat is split and reclines somewhat. Cargo space is 34 cubic feet with the back seats up and 71 cubic feet with the back seats dropped down. The center passenger in the rear has a shoulder belt, adding to the Outback safety reputation. Both of the front seats are power-adjustable, and the driver ergonomics are fine.
I don’t think the Outback styling is its calling card, but I happened to like it OK. The 17” alloy wheels on the Limited are attractive, and they are surrounded by 225/60R17 all-season radials. The silver paint was offset with the dark cladding and bumpers, and the black roof rack gave the car an off-road look. I did not go off-road, but took some bumpy dirt roads with satisfactory results. I like the hefty feel of the car both in town and out on the highway.