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Average User Score
4.4 ⁄ 5 stars
Based on 5 reviews
2009 Subaru Outback Overview
Overall User Score
Based on 5 reviews
Touted as the original crossover, the 2009 Subaru Outback truly offers the cargo versatility of an SUV combined with the easy maneuverability of a family car. Its full-time automatic all-wheel-drive system can tackle slippery weather conditions as well as low-grade off-road trails, while a variety of engine choices matched to a car-like body and suspension make it a solid performer for both city and highway driving.
For 2009, the Outback replaces the L.L. Bean Edition with the 3.0R Limited, and the old 2.5i Premium gets renamed the Special Edition. Subaru upgrades all trims but the 2.5i with tinted privacy glass, wheel-mounted audio controls, and a new Harmon Kardon sound system, featuring speed-sensitive volume control. On the safety front, stability control has been made standard on all trims, joining the already 5-star-winning ABS brakes, traction control, tire monitor, and dual front-side and side curtain airbags for both rows.
Three engine choices spread across five trims in the 2009 Outback lineup. A 175-hp boxer-four engine, paired with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic, powers the base 2.5i, 2.5i Special Edition, and 2.5i Limited. The more performance-oriented 2.5XT Limited features a turbo version of this engine, delivering 243 hp and 241 lb-ft of torque. It comes with the manual or a 5-speed automatic. For a smoother ride, the less torque-y, more refined 3.0R Limited houses a boxer-six engine, with 245 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. It comes only with the 5-speed automatic.
Both the XT and 3.0R feature SI-Drive, which adapts throttle response to different types of driving. Drivers can choose from three modes: the economy Intelligent mode, the quicker-accelerating Sport mode, and the most responsive Sport Sharp mode. Variable valve timing and Active Valve Control on all engines determine the best use of power and gear position for maximum fuel efficiency. Fuel economy averages 20/26 mpg city/highway with the four-banger and 17/24 mpg with the six-cylinder, similar to other crossovers.
In a market in which a growing number of competitors offer three rows of seating, the 2009 Outback's lack of a third row disappoints some owners and reviewers, who also complain about the cramped back seat. However, with a longer overall length than the Volvo V50, it offers a lot more cargo room – 33.5 cubic feet with the 60/40 split-folding seats up and 66 with them down. A rubberized cargo tray and cargo cover come standard, along with roof rails. Tilt and telescopic steering and easy-to-reach dials add to driver comfort, and all but the base 2.5i offer a heated power driver's seat. Base models start with power windows, locks, and mirrors, cruise control, and a CD player, with the Special Edition boosting wheel size from 16 to 17 inches and adding a 12-volt power outlet. Moving through the Limited trims gradually adds a dual-panel sunroof, leather seats, a 6-CD changer, and wood trim. A navigation system is available.
With a low center of gravity, thanks to its horizontally-opposed boxer engines, the 2009 Outback actually does ride like a car, a claim many crossovers make but don't actually meet. Tight cornering and good AWD traction contribute to its reputation as a safe and reliable wagon, making it an attractive choice for families. Other highlights include quiet engines, smooth transmissions, and high-quality interior materials. Its high ride height offers good visibility and 8.5 inches of ground clearance for light offroad duty. Complaints focus on the rear legroom and lack of a third row, along with the unenthusiastic boxer-four engine in comparison to the much quicker and more satisfying turbo version.
by Ann Jackman
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