The 2010 Subaru Outback gets the model’s first redesign in five years, adding height, decreasing length, increasing room in the back seat, and, according to Subaru, reducing the mileage of the outgoing model. But this is still the same vehicle that can serve as a fantastic accessory for owners who are active and need a vehicle that can haul equipment, but don’t want the size or cost of an SUV.
The Outback comes in 2.5i and 3.6R lines, with Base, Premium, and Limited trims available for both. The 2.5i is powered by a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder (I4) engine with 170 hp and 170 lb-ft of available torque that’s mated to either a six-speed manual (standard) or Subaru’s new continuously variable automatic transmission, which includes a manual mode and shift paddles on the steering wheel and gets 21 city/27 highway mpg. The 3.6R is powered by a 3.6-liter, inline six-cylinder engine with 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque that’s paired only with a five-speed automatic and gets 17/23 mpg.
All-wheel drive is standard on both lines, though the AWD technology gets more complex with the 3.6R. Stability and traction control systems are also standard on all models, as is an all-new suspension with double wishbone control arms in the rear. Subaru claims the improved suspension and higher-profile tires have enhanced the Outback’s ride.
The 2010 Outback’s 105.4 cubic feet of passenger volume is about 7% more than the previous model had, which translates into 3.5 inches more hiproom in the front and 4 inches of extra legroom in the rear. Plus, the doors are 11 inches wider than the 2009 model's, which greatly eases entry and exit.
The built-in roof rack is a major selling point for most Outback owners, and this feature gets an upgrade for 2010 as well. The crossbars can be stored in the side rails when not needed, which improves aerodynamics and therefore reduces wind noise and fuel consumption.
The interior gets a makeover for 2010 and has a much higher-quality feel than the outgoing model's. The instruments are stylish, and materials like metallic trim, leather accents, and either cloth or leather upholstery add to the cabin's refined quality. Cruise control, air conditioning, keyless entry, and a CD player with audio input jack are standard on all models. An impressive Harman Kardon stereo is available, as are Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, a navigation system, rearview camera, a moonroof, and an all-weather package that includes heated front seats and side mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer.
The Outback’s safety features include frontal, front-seat side-impact and side curtain air bags, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, brake assist, and an electronic stability control system.