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2016 Subaru Outback Review–First 90 Days

This topic contains 10 replies, has 0 voices, and was last updated by  wildoates 3 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #177127

    LC
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    I haven’t taken the Subie offroad yet, nor have I driven far on the freeway, just to Vacaville, but I did want to give a quick report and review after 2500 miles for anyone looking at a vehicle in this class.

    Driving
    Most everything about the Outback has been a pleasant surprise, and driveablity is near the top of the list. I love driving it. The seating position is very close to our old 3 Series BMW–it’s an upright, eyes ahead position that is always comfortable. Entering and existing is very easy as the car sits high and the roofline is high as well. Both city and freeway driving are comfortable with great visibility, no blind spots, and a feel of control all the time. Handling is surprisingly good, especially on winding roads. I’ve been in some pretty bad weather, and have experienced no wind buffeting. Interior noise is almost non-existent except for tire hum.

    Seating for four large adults is not only easy, it’s pleasant for those in the back seat. We have the kids with us at times, and my son in law is 6’3″ and says he has a ton of leg, head, and shoulder room. Front seating is very nice for two, you don’t feel cramped or close at all.

    Drive Train
    I have the larger 3.6L 6 cyl. engine, which is ordered on less than 10% of the Outbacks. Most people opt for the 2.5L 4 cylinder motor as it’s cheaper and will get 2-3 more mph. It’s also noisier, a LOT noisier, and lacks power, especially when you want to accelerate quickly onto a freeway to beat a vehicle on a merge. The 4 is capable, but you’re really pushing it IMO. Under no circumstance would I want any less than what I have, plus it’s pretty quick and fun to drive.

    The transmission is a variable speed box, where there are no shift points. These trannies are not well liked by some, particularly Honda owners, but Subaru has done a great job with the CRV setup; I really don’t notice the difference except at total stop and go driving when it can get a little confused at times. When you need passing power, it kicks in quickly and smoothly. No complaints there.

    Like all Outbacks and most Subarus, this is a full time AWD setup. This is my first AWD and I was skeptical; I’ve always had 4WD and would not want a vehicle without either for my needs. But, in the rain, the AWD really shines. I feel safer and more relaxed in this than in my large Toyota Sequoia, which has been mothballed for a tow and utility vehicle. Now I literally hate driving it, and I loved it before.

    Infotainment
    I didn’t realize how important the nav/info/audio center would be, as I’ve never had one. Subie does a very good job with all, except for sound. I have the best stereo they offer and it’s pretty good, but nothing mind blowing at all. The Subie Starlink system is pretty good, but slow to react. I can get texts while driving, and they are read to me. I can respond with Starlink, but it’s iffy so I just use my iPhone audio which integrates beautifully. My speakerphone system is very good–people sometimes don’t know I’m driving

    Backup camera is the best I’ve ever seen. Crystal clear, plenty of sensors for cars you cannot see coming towards you from behind and the side if you’re backing out of a space.

    Quality
    This was my biggest surprise. Mine is a loaded vehicle with every option, and I think you need that if you’re used to driving at least a decently nice car. Honestly, I’ll put the quality right next to my wife’s Lexus for fit and finish and overall workmanship. It is light years better than any Toyota I’ve seen, driven, or owned. Honda is now better in the quality department, but it’s not up to the Subie specs. Everything fits, the interior has very little hard plastic, and it all feels firm and heavy duty.

    Economy
    It’s close to EPA so far. EPA lists 20/27/22. 22 is right where I am IF I don’t drive on the freeway much, but if I do it runs between 23 and 24 combined. On one test from Hazel down to the 16th Street exit on 50 I was able to get 30 mpg, trying. I don’t know a true highway mpg because I haven’t driven enough for distance to tell; I got 26.5 to Vacaville and back with some local driving while there. For the last few days I’ve been in town, very short hops (2-3 miles) with one quick trip to Cameron Park, and I’m at 21.1 It’s not a Prius, but my Sequoia gets just over 15 so it’s a big improvement and the trade off for power, towing capability (3000# rated, haven’t tried it yet) and driving experience is totally worth having the 6 over the 4, which improves the overall mpg by about 2.

    Cargo
    Ton of space with the seats folded, hasn’t been a challenge for anything yet, and it’s long enough I can sleep in it. It’s fairly high, but not as high as the Forester. It’s about the same capacity as a Toyota 4Runner, though slightly less.

    Value
    Subarus are cheap. Period. Mine is about as much as you can spend on an Outback, stickered at $38,666. I paid $34K. Still a lot for a Subie, but I have every imaginable safety feature, leather, protected seat backs with industrial grade rubber for cargo, nav, a good sound system (not a Subie high point), towing, big sunroof, xenon lights, the whole package, far more than I’ve ever had in anything remotely similar. To get those features in anything else comparable you’d be at least $5K more, apples to apples. I know, because my wife wants to replace her car, and she may end up with one like mine. The closest thing to it is a Lexus RX350 which will be around $50K without all the safety features or cargo space. A Honda Pilot is at least $40K, comparably equipped.

    Forester?

    The Forester is a little smaller, almost the same cargo capacity as it’s taller but shorter. It’s a little cheaper, and you can get a strippie for under $20K. My daughter has one now, her company car, so I’ve driven it a bit. To me the biggest difference is the seating. It is truly like sitting in a chair. So upright it didn’t seem all that comfortable to me, but she’s had hers for two weeks and already has 3,000 miles on it, and she says its great on longer trips. The Forester is a little more plastic-y, but I haven’t seen a loaded model so it might be the same as mine. She has the 2.5L motor, and thinks it’s FAST! She came from an Equinox though, which IMO is the worst vehicle in most aspects I’ve ever seen. You can get a 2.0L turbo though, which is 1.5 seconds faster than mine 0-60. It’s a screamer and my friend who has one loves driving his and he could buy any car he wanted to. He paid about $8K less than I did, but he didn’t get many upgrades. Again, the 2.5L motor is noisy, and her sound system SUCKS, at least her cellphone speakerphone connection.

    Still, the Forester is better offroad. Smaller wheelbase, same 8.7″ ground clearance, little better approach/departure angle, and plenty of cargo space, so it’s definitely worth a look. I would own one–I just prefer the Outback.

    Pros
    –#1 in resale. 2015 was the big style change and they are much better looking than previous models and have tons of upgrades. Don’t even bother to look at used. They are stupidly expensive still.
    –#1 in safety. All 5 star, every test. VERY few vehicles have this
    –Tops in reliability
    –Great for light offroad, snow, mud, rain.
    –Lots of storage
    –the 3.6 is fun to drive
    –Roof rack is actually usable and accessible, has folding crossbars to cut back on wind noise.
    –Incredible value

    Cons
    –Limited seating. It’s for four adults, maybe 2 adults and three smaller children. No third row.
    –It’s a Subaru. Actually I love that part, as these are supposed to be for liberals, lesbians, and hipsters. I’m none of those and think its funny.
    –Economy certainly isn’t the greatest, at least for the 6 cyl. engine. (personally I think the new Prius’ look good and for pure economy they are hard to beat, and they have some room.)

  • #292569

    EGL Admin
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    Interesting. Just out of principle I have to say there is as much of a chance of me buying a subaru as I would a minivan. Zero. The Infiniti QX is as close as I would come to that. I am either SUV, Truck or a nicer car.

  • #292575

    norules
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    Ha ha, I remember when you first started looking at new cars and I suggested looking at a subaru and you laughed. We have had one for five years now, an outback 4 cylinder. When we go uphill we have to switch to manual and use the flippers on the steering wheel to get more power up hill. We fit four of us very comfortably. We have a four bike rack that we have attached to the back at times and have no problems.

    We also don’t fit the criteria as you stated “It’s a Subaru. Actually I love that part, as these are supposed to be for liberals, lesbians, and hipsters. I’m none of those and think its funny.” I think more and more practical people are buying it. It is just a stigma attached to the vehicle.

    It is functional and with the all wheel drive a very nice feature in wet and icy conditions.

  • #292571

    LC
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    @EGL Admin 124310 wrote:

    Interesting. Just out of principle I have to say there is as much of a chance of me buying a subaru as I would a minivan. Zero. The Infiniti QX is as close as I would come to that. I am either SUV, Truck or a nicer car.

    Understandable. For me, having this plus the beater Sequoia is a good combination. One for a daily driver and road trips with cargo space and decent mileage, one for towing and hauling and more serious off road. I have no use or interest in a nicer car, never liked them much except for the BMW.

    Ha ha, I remember when you first started looking at new cars and I suggested looking at a subaru and you laughed.

    I don’t think I laughed, it just didn’t seem to make any sense at the time. That was before me and my ‘tard brain figured out that having both would be a near perfect combination and would cost less than a new Sequoia which seemed really big for a daily and a gas pig. I would not want the Subie without a truck or big SUV.

  • #292576

    norules
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    no, I was more or less picturing you laughing at the suggestion. If we ever see each other again, I’ll be sure to put a “Vote for Hillary” and “Peace and Love” stickers on your bumper. Don’t even think about it on my car. ha ha.

  • #292572

    LC
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    Norules, do you ever wonder why car builders other than Subaru and Porsche don’t use boxer engines? I just don’t see the disadvantage, but the advantage for handling is clear. It does, I suppose, dictate a fairly wide body stance, which can be more expensive for smaller vehicles, however I think the general ergonomics are far superior to the conventional dimensions and proportions.

  • #292577

    norules
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    @lc 124322 wrote:

    Norules, do you ever wonder why car builders other than Subaru and Porsche don’t use boxer engines? I just don’t see the disadvantage, but the advantage for handling is clear. It does, I suppose, dictate a fairly wide body stance, which can be more expensive for smaller vehicles, however I think the general ergonomics are far superior to the conventional dimensions and proportions.

    Change is hard. Once you do a thing a certain way, you do it that way all the time. Do you think that the manufactures will admit that their designs on the V-shape engines all these years was not the best? I was really surprised at the handling on the Outback. We test drove an Outback in 2004 and did not like the handling. Fast forward to 2011 and when we test drove the Outback, it was much nicer on the turns. They definitely widen the body over the years.

  • #292578

    wildoates
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    I’m pretty happy with my Forester…although I don’t even have 2500 miles on mine after 5 months. 🙂 I wish I could have afforded some of the extras, but overall I’m happy with it. I do wish it had the bigger engine.

    It will probably get more miles on it when my son’s family visits from Norway next week. They’ll be borrowing it to travel about on their holiday and I expect it to get quite a bit closer to the 6 months/6K miles first oil change than it would get with my daily 10 mile round trip commute. 🙂

  • #292573

    LC
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    WO–yours looks good, too. You have the stick, right? There’s another nice advantage for the Forester for the few of us remaining that love driving with a manual. You can’t get that in the Outback. I would think the manual with the 2.0 turbo would be a screamer. EDIT: Whoops, no 6 speed with the turbo, just the 2.5L.

  • #292570

    EGL Admin
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    I am not a fan of the stick shift and I don’t see what the benefit of it is. I drove stick on the farm all the time and had 3 personal vehicles that were stick. I would never buy another one. It’s fine for the freeway, but if you’re in town and in traffic, it’s a pain.

  • #292574

    LC
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    You can use the paddle shifters on the automatic if you really want to set your own shift points. I love driving a stick, and the new 6 speed boxes are a lot easier to drive in any condition than the old wide throw American 4 speeds. With a small engine you can get some extra revs when you need them, with a sportier setup it’s just fun. Had one on my last BMW and loved it.

  • #292579

    wildoates
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    @lc 124406 wrote:

    WO–yours looks good, too. You have the stick, right? There’s another nice advantage for the Forester for the few of us remaining that love driving with a manual. You can’t get that in the Outback. I would think the manual with the 2.0 turbo would be a screamer. EDIT: Whoops, no 6 speed with the turbo, just the 2.5L.

    Yes, it’s a stick. I love driving it, and it’s only a pain in the Bay Area or similar heavy traffic, which I try to avoid whenever possible.

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