Review 2010 Subaru Outback 3.6: Smart, strong, eminently capable & the companion of choice for bad weather locations

Subaru3 “Yea, but she has a hell of a good personality!” “Did it eat the old Outback?”– Or – “If that car was a cartoon character, it would be ‘Velma’ from Scooby-Doo.” – – as quoted by a few critics of the 2010 Subaru Outback.

What can I say? I liked Velma.

I admit my bias for Subaru products. Not only am I a Coloradoan, a (less-than-successful)
fisherman and former owner of Subaru products – I love the independent
nature of the company. Recently, they embarked on a program to redesign
their midsized car to become more competitive (read: larger) in the
segment, the results for the Legacy were mixed and I expected the same
for the Outback.

Much to my surprise, the Outback is something else.

Okay, I don’t like the looks much. Although, it is a much better design
in lifted wagon form than its sedan brethren. The plastic cladding is
not very convincing as the front skid-plate looks like a silver painted
plastic piece which serves no true protection for the undercarriage –
which it is.

My tester was green and it looked better than some of the other colors;
even a bit smaller. That’s the key here; the physical presence of the
new Subaru Outback is massive compared to its svelte brother from last
year. In fact, place the new Outback next to a midsized SUV like a Ford
Explorer or Lexus RX350 (as I did) and you may be stunned at the shear
size of the thing.

I could go on about the appearance; however, the photos speak for themselves.

Once you get past its appearance, things change – for the better. This is where the size of the Subaru comes in handy. There is TONS
of room inside and every seat is extremely comfortable. The trim is
well made and at Toyota levels for fit and finish. Most of the interior
follows suit with excellent build quality and a generally handsome
place to be. Sure, there is fake metal and very plastic-looking wood
trim, but it is no worse than many other top end Japanese automakers’

Did I mention that I thought Velma was kind-a hot?

The space for family and cargo is what has truly been renovated. I was
able to place a complete 5-piece drum set, 3 guitars, 2 small
amplifiers, and a keyboard with plenty of room left over for one of my
kids and an adult passenger. Another neat trick is the rolling cargo
concealing cover. Subaru was smart enough to add a separate storage
space for this thing which gets it out of the way under the floor when
you need all of the cargo room. It’s simple and ingenious.

The roof can easily accommodate cargo thanks to its clever swing-out
roof rails that stow length-wise when not used for aerodynamic benefits.

Other than better space, Subaru kept its outstanding all-wheel-drive
(AWD) system and reengineered the H6 3.6R to happily suck on regular
gas. The output is competitive at 256 horsepower and 247 lbs feet of
torque. Good for what is an approximately 3,400 lbs vehicle. This is
coupled with a smooth shifting 5-speed automatic with steering-wheel
mounted paddle shifters. MPG is not too bad for a permanent AWD car
with a 6-cylinder at 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway. Using the poor Subaru
Outback as a cargo-hauler and driving through post Thanksgiving snow
like a hyperactive plow, I averaged about 19 mpg – which is damn good.

Prices start at about $23,000 and can easily top the $32,000 mark.

Cornering on dry roads is just about the same as a Toyota Venza
(review: HERE
) or Honda Accord Crosstour (review: HERE).
Feel is reasonable being that this is no performance machine and the
ride is never unpleasant. On-center feel is light at best.

Acceleration was slower than the older turbo Outback I tested a few
years back. It’s this damn high altitude that made the Subaru clock 0
to 60 mph times a few ticks under 10 seconds. Keep in mind, that’s
about the same times as its AWD competitors – except for the screaming
fast (by comparison) Toyota RAV4 (review: HERE

Freeway ride has drastically improved. I dare say that the rather large
Outback derriere looses its grip sooner than the older one when pushing
(way) too hard around corners. I slammed my right foot down on a tight
right hander and felt the rear cut loose. Simply letting up on the
accelerator allowed the AWD system and traction control to rein in my
stupidity. I did the exact same thing with the older model and it took
more power to break the rear end free.

“So, it’s not quite as toss-able as the older one.” I noted.

Sub1 Then it dawned on me, “This is NOT a replacement
for the old Outback – it’s a completely different vehicle!” Indeed,
take the 2010 Subaru Outback at its face value and you will be pleased
at how pleasant this new SUV is. ‘Cause that’s what it is… a new
crossover SUV and NOT a new station wagon.

What rightfully shows through is this big wagon’s overall competence,
safety and accommodating nature. The 2010 Subaru Outback is smart,
strong, eminently capable and the companion of choice for bad weather
locations. In many ways it reminds me of sweet Velma.

Yes, that was a compliment.

Click HERE to watch a video review of the new Outback

Click HERE to view a slideshow of the newest Subaru.

Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car
sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out
of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to
enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his
page HERE.