The Extra Mile: 2013 Subaru Outback Limited 2.5i
Base Price: $29,395
Price As Tested: $33,907
This week, we're driving Subaru's updated 2013 Outback Limited 2.5i AWD, a station wagon style SUV/Crossover that to this day is one of Subaru's most popular vehicles. For starters, even though our fully equipped top line Limited went for over $30K, consumers can take solace that the entry Outback, with the same engine and a manual transmission, will look just as nice in your driveway for just $23,495 delivered.
Noteworthy is that "Consumer Reports," everyone's favorite consumer magazine, notes that for the first time ever, Subaru earned the "top score" in its automaker report cards for 2012. Consumer Reports auto report cards reflect the performance, comfort, utility, and reliability of more than 275 vehicles, resulting in an overall magazine score based on road test scores and reliability ratings.
Subaru engineers continue to tweak its novel Boxer 4-cylinder engine, which sits lower in the engine bay and virtually flat compared to other engines. The result is a better handling vehicle with less if not any body roll when compared to inline four's or V6 designs. The engine puts out 173 horses and 174 lb. of torque and delivers solid 24 city and 30 highway MPG numbers. Acceleration is decent although not exhilarating, and there's a V6 with 256 horses waiting for those who demand more go. Expect a big drop in fuel economy with the V6, however, with 18 city and 25 highway listed on the window sticker.
The engine's Boxer nickname not surprisingly comes from prize fighter lingo. Subaru's horizontally opposed design is very different from other rotating piston/crankshaft assemblies in that the engine's "punch and counter punch" piston movements are like that of a boxer's jab punches. This design results in a smoother running engine, overall. For history's sake, the only other car manufacturer currently utilizing a Boxer engine design is Porsche, one the world's top car builders.
Built in Lafayette, Indiana, our tester features a continuously variable transmission called Lineartronic CVT with a 6-speed "manual mode" and paddle shifters. This automatic, which is standard on Limited models, allows the above mentioned excellent fuel economy. Underneath, Outbacks feature a fully independent suspension for better ride characteristics without sacrificing safety and comfort.
Our tester came with one option, a $3,645 Navigation and moonroof package with some really nice features. Included are keyless start, power tilting moonroof, auto dim mirrors, voice activated navigation, integrated rear safety camera, Homelink, 440-watt nine speaker Harmon Kardon premium stereo, Bluetooth, USB, iPod, XM Satellite, 17-inch alloy wheels, and much more. Your Subaru dealer will gladly explain all of the features in this expensive package. (As for me, sans the rear safety camera, I'd pass on this one and check out other, less expensive packages).
Standard safety features, of which there are many, include traction control, anti-lock four wheel discs, advanced airbags, vehicle dynamic control and the famous Subaru Symmetrical AWD system, which is a high tech wonder. Each and every Subaru comes with these features as standard fare.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 107.9 inches, 34.3 cu. ft. of cargo space expandable to 71.3 with rear seat lowered, 8.7 inch ground clearance, 2,700 lb. tow capacity and an 18.5 gallon fuel tank.
Subaru is without question a four-wheel drive legend, introducing its first 4-wheel-drive in 1972. By 1987 Subaru was touting a new full-time AWD, and then 10 years later announced it would drop two wheel drives from its offerings to concentrate 100-percent on AWD expertise.
They sure made the right choice.
Likes: Pricing, value, reliability ratings, AWD, fuel economy.
Dislikes: Confusing navigation controls, electric parking brake.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist).