By Ric Green & Joe Castello
When I heard they had redesigned the Subaru Outback for 2010, I was like “WHY?” I was happy with the 2009 and its predecessor. It was comfortable, all-weather and beach or everglades ready, able to haul all the fishing gear or golf clubs four South Floridians could pack for an afternoon of sunshine.
But changes were made for 2010 and the Outback just keeps getting better. In fact, Motor Trend has named it Sport Utility of the Year and Popular Mechanics has named it their Most Versatile Car for 2010.
First off there is more room in the back. The previous model’s smaller doors had put a strain on the comfort of anybody that didn’t call “shotgun.” By extending the wheelbase 2.8 inches, the rear doors got longer adding an extra 3.9 inches of leg room.
Although the new Outback is 0.8 inch shorter in overall length, a height gain of 4.1 inches contributes to the increase in interior space of several cubic feet, most of it in the rear seat. Cargo space with the rear seats in place is up only 0.8 cubic foot, but when you fold the 60/40 split rear seat backs, nearly six more cubic feet are realized. The change from a multilink rear suspension to a control-arm system allows for a better layout of the cargo hold.
Subaru’s 2010 All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) crossover also got an extra dose of the stuff made its predecessor popular with the active-lifestyle market.
Visually, the 2010 Outback got a makeover that included redesigned sheet metal and lights. Its shorter length and taller profile coupled with a 2.0-inch bump in width and its segment-leading 8.7 inches of ground clearance, gives it a more aggressive stance.
Under the hood the Outback has two choices of engines and three types of transmission, trim level, and AWD. The base engine is the 2.5i, an SOHC four-cylinder powerplant with 170 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. It can be mated to a six-speed manual or the Lineartronic CVT which comes with paddle shifters that create a virtual six-speed transmission, with shifts taking a tenth of a second.
The 3.6-liter DOHC is a boxer special that benefits from being expanded by six-tenths of a liter over the current Outback engine. The numbers jump to 256 hp and 247 lb-ft – with 225 lb-ft available from 2,000 rpm. It comes fitted to a five-speed automatic transmission.
The 2.5i can be mated to the six-speed manual and the Lineartronic CVT, while the 3.6 makes do with the five-speed auto. The CVT also comes with paddle shifters that create a virtual six-speed transmission, with shifts taking a tenth of a second.
The 2.5i manual comes in at $22,995, $23,995 if you go for the CVT, plus $694 destination. That’s thousands less than most of the competition Subaru has identified. Step up to the base 3.6 and you’re in for $27,995. The tip top 3.6 Limited starts at $30,995, a $1,000 drop from the current, smaller-engined Outback 3.0 Limited, to $33,995 fully dressed.
Subaru has built its reputation on doing things differently and yet it works out as the right way to do things. The Outback has already established itself as the wagon of choice in the Northeast, Northwest and Rockies, and I think the folks in Florida will follow this lead thanks to the redesign. It is easy to see why the 2010 Subaru Outback is an excellent vehicle.