TEST DRIVE: The Subaru Outback Is A Capable Family Hauler

Subaru Outback

Photo: Chris Tracy / Every Man’s Auto

The Subaru Outback first debuted in 1994. As a teenager I mocked it, but secretly would have been cool with one for a first car. For years I’ve smugly looked at the Outback with an “I’m so much cooler than that car” smirk. Turns out, I’m not…With a base price of $23,295, the Outback is sitting right in VW GTI territory. But the Outback comes standard with the cargo capacity of a small freight train and the assuredness of all-wheel drive while the GTI can’t really fit all that much.

The Outback has always been the funny little station wagon that wanted to be an SUV. Now that I have kids, strollers, diaper bags, and all the other stuff that comes with offspring, I totally get the Outback.

Specs:
Base Price: $23,295
As Driven: $31,730
Engine: 2.5L flat 4-cylinder, 170 horsepower
Transmission: Continuously Variable-Speed Automatic
Curb Weight: 3,538 lbs.
Wheelbase: 107.9 inches
MPG Rating: 22 city/ 29 hwy

Driving

Interior

The Outback has a spacious interior with great visibility. You don't have to pull the rear headrests to see out the back. There are really nice leather seats, not whale skin, but nice. The best thing about the leather is how easy it is to clean mud, formula, fast food, and kid puke off of the seats.

The driver's seat has the most room that I've ever experienced in a car. The steering wheel tilts and telescopes allowing the driver to stretch his/her legs to a comfortable position. The driver's seat will get so far away from the instrument panel that it feels like the hood is in the future and you struggling to keep up.

The rear seat legroom is listed by Subaru at 37.8 inches. This is definitely a spacious back seat. This is the kind of legroom that allows a giant me to sit comfortably behind even the tallest drivers. Shaq would be more comfortable in an Outback, but I don't know if his ego could take it. Plus Buick is already paying him…

The Outback has 34.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity with all of the seats in place. When you drop the rear 60/40 split seat and really maximise your cargo space the numbers jump to 71.3 cubic feet. That's almost half a baby elephant… And yes, I Googled 'how many cubic feet is a baby elephant.'

Exterior

Tech

The Outback comes with Bluetooth and an auxiliary jack for mp3 devices. There is an upgrade to include a USB port as well. I love the USB ports since they can also be used to charge devices: cameras, iPods, and phones.

My test vehicle came with the 440 watt 9 speaker Harman Kardon stereo. This stereo produced a gorgeous sound. It was full and sounded better than a live concert. If I actually owned annoying music, then everyone around me would have suffered in crystal clear clarity.

The infotainment system is controlled by a smallish touch screen. The Dodge Charger's is close to nine inches diagonal and the Subaru's is only six-ish… I like that it is a touch screen, but feel that the size could be upgraded drastically. Go figure, a guy complaining about the size of something…

SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

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