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Long-Term Test: 2011 Subaru Outback

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On: Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 12:02PM | By: Chris Salamone

Long-Term Test: 2011 Subaru Outback

A common hallmark of most car reviews is the invisible hand which gently guides the reviewer into a state of fluffy feedback-inducing euphoria: aka the manufacturer. All too often vehicles are lent to reviewers who receive inexplicable perks in exchange for a positive review. So what makes this long-term test any different? My tester Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium didn’t come from the manufacturer and, much to my chagrin, no perks were sent in my direction. Even without an exciting array of hidden incentives, I attempted to put this slightly-used beaut through its paces.

At 22,000 miles it’s fair to say that we have a pretty good picture of this vehicle’s stats.

Over a weekend, I averaged 26.6 miles per gallon on mixed roads and drove about 200 miles. The CVT, after a year of use, still runs smoothly. Handling remains precise, even on slippery terrain. I’ve always been something of a Subaru fanatic, but this Subie is surprisingly refined—without the oddball sacrifices drivers had to make with previous models. Road noise is low, fuel economy is especially nice on the highway (sometimes breaking 30mpg), the turning radius is tight, and driver lumbar support is quite impressive. Subaru’s integrated roof rail system blends day-to-day stowaway functionality with an easy unlocking mechanism for occasional rooftop storage use.

Generally, this Outback was a blast to drive. It fit two single-seat kayaks in the trunk with both rear seats folded flat and absolutely demolished the soft road track to our river launching point.

Some points of contention: the leather-wrapped steering wheel definitely shows signs of use, with a few small scrapes. When the A/C was cranked to maximum cold, with internal air engaged, for some bizarre reason one of the front vents could not sustain the pressure and continuously closed itself. At least we ‘assumed’ pressure was the cause; a dealership visit would probably provide a more accurate explanation. And finally, the vehicle comes with a sporty 6-speed paddle shifter mode which serves only to pointlessly clog up the steering wheel and frustrate the cabin’s feng shui. Ok, perhaps the paddle shifters aren’t really an issue, just something I’m less thrilled about.

In over 20,000 miles the car has had zero mechanical issues. The owner claims to have followed Subaru’s suggested maintenance schedule with no exceptions.

Overall the 2011 Subaru Outback is a really great car. It’s practical, fun to drive, and easy on the eyes. In December I’ll get the chance to drive it again, but on the snow-laden, gravel mountain roads of the Blue Ridge. Am I excited? Oh yes.



dwalter | 12:30PM (Mon, Oct 24, 2011)

My Subie probably has some characteristics (i.e. road noise) that would bother most drivers, but after owning a 93 Wrangler, I don't even notice them.

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