We test drive around 60 automobiles each year in writing an automotive column, everything from trucks, sport utility vehicles and family sedans to high performance luxury and luxury sport model automobiles. The first question that always arises when talking cars is “What’s your favorite car?”
That’s kind of a difficult question to give a simple answer since there is such a huge range of intended uses and an extreme range of performance design and pricing.
However, if there is one car that manages to stand above the choices, it would have to be the Subaru Outback. I’ve given several recommendations and suggestions that prospective buyers at least take a look at the Subaru.
I had this very conversation almost a year ago with Modesto businessman Richard Mulholland. Mulholland was tired of higher gas prices and his Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 wasn't exactly the most economical vehicle to be driving.
“I ran the gamut of crossovers and was considering all crossovers from the low end [Hyundai] Sante Fe to the high end Lexus and Volvo crossovers,” he said. In the end he purchased the Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited.
“I liked the high rating that Subaru had for safety, best (all-wheel drive) performance and the best gas mileage overall,” Mulholland said. “After viewing all the other models and test driving several, it became apparent that the Outback had the most cargo capacity behind the second seat, a little less capacity than my former Tahoe. Also, great cabin head room and this vehicle with my driver’s seat in rear position for leg room – I’m 6 feet-2 – definitely had more room than the competition in the rear seat directly behind the driver’s seat in full rear position.
“I liked the lines and body shape before I bought it,” he added, “but really do like the lines and feel it is more visually pleasing than all other models on the road of crossovers. I definitely feel this vehicle was the best dollar-per-dollar value of the crossovers. I also have since realized that the maintenance costs at the dealership arevery reasonable compared to other brand dealership's follow up costs.”
New for 2013, the Subaru Outback has many new features, a power train, and styling innovations. The 2013 Outback 2.5i models debut a new double-overhead-cam (DOHC) 2.5-liter FB series Boxer engine for increased performance and fuel efficiency. The new engine produces 173 horsepower and 174 lb.-ft. of torque, compared to 170 horsepower and 170 lb.-ft. with the previous engine. More significant is that the new engine produces greater low-end torque across a broad speed range, making the 2013 Outback 2.5i models feel more responsive in everyday driving. Chassis enhancements improve both ride quality and agility in the 2013 Outback, which also offers new amenities and audio/infotainment capabilities.
The 2013 Outback models debut Subaru’s new EyeSight driver-assist system, which integrates adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and vehicle lane departure warning. Projected to be one of the most affordable of such technologies available in the U.S. market, EyeSight uses a stereo camera design developed by the carmaker to provide a detection angle wider than that of radar-based systems.
The EyeSight system processes stereo images to identify the vehicles traveling in front, as well as obstacles, traffic lanes and other items. Below relative speeds of approximately 19 mph, EyeSight is capable of detecting pedestrians or objects in the vehicle’s path and can activate in order to mitigate or even avoid the collision. Under certain circumstances, Eyesight is able to bring the car to a complete stop.
The lane departure and sway warning feature can detect if the car begins to wander outside the intended lane without a turn signal being used or if the car begins to sway within the travel lane. Intended for freeway use, Eyesight’s adaptive cruise control system can maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front, braking and/or accelerating the car as needed to maintain the driver-selected target speed and traveling distance.
The 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i models are available in three trim levels – base, premium and limited. Outback 3.6R models will be offered in base and limited. The base 2.5i features a long roster of standard features, among them steering-wheel cruise control and audio switches; Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming capability; a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat with recline feature; electronic parking brake with Hill Holder System and an automatic headlight function.
The only bad part of test driving the new Subaru Outback with all these new safety features is getting out of the car and into another vehicle without all the safety engineering. If there is anything that will spoil you faster, it’s the restyling, comfort, performance and unbelievable safety enhancements on the 2013 Subaru Outback.
Our Subaru test vehicle EPA fuel economy was listed as 24 city, 30 highway, and 26 mpg combined. The MSRP which included optional navigation system, moon roof, and all the safety systems mentioned above was $34,202.
The base 2.5i features a long roster of standard features including steering-wheel cruise control and audio switches, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming capability, a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat with recline feature, electronic parking brake with Hill Holder System, and an automatic headlight function.