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You'll Like The 2010 Subaru Outback If...

If you’re looking for an economical wagon with an emphasis on safety, features, fuel-economy and true off-road capability, the Outback is pretty much your best bet.

You May Not Like The 2010 Subaru Outback If...

If you need a third-row seat, tow heavy loads or prefer the car-like styling of the Volvo XC70 or Toyota Venza, the new Outback probably won’t be a good fit.

What's New

Not only does the 2010 Outback sport a rugged new look, it offers a host of improvements. Among the most notable is a new continuously-variable transmission (CVT) on four-cylinder models, a new 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine, an additional four-inches of rear-seat legroom, a clever roof rack with pivoting cross rails and an available DVD navigation system allowing music streaming via Bluetooth connectivity.

Interior Features

One of the biggest complaints heard by previous Outback owners involved the car’s tiny back seat. The new model addresses this concern by adding an additional four inches of legroom and nearly three inches of headroom. During our test drive, we comfortably fit three six-foot-tall adults in the back seat and still had space between their knees and the front seat backs. Wider front seats and a reclining rear seat further improve occupant comfort, while upscale models offer power driver’s-side lumbar support and leather seating surfaces. The addition of a dash-mounted electronic parking brake allows Subaru engineers to remove the center-console handbrake handle, creating more space for water bottles and latte cups. Models equipped with automatic transmissions also feature steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Exterior Features

The all-new 2010 Outback is a radical departure from the model it replaces. Gone are the sleek lines, car-like styling and handsome two-tone wheel arches. What’s in is a more SUV-like appearance, with thick plastic cladding on the doors, rocker panels and front bumper, as well as larger headlamps and pronounced fender arches. The 2010 Outback is nearly three inches taller and two inches wider than the 2009 model, yet overall length actually shrinks by one inch. Last year’s frameless windows are replaced by fully-framed glass, a design that improves body rigidity and reduces wind noise. The rear door openings are much larger, allowing easier entry and exit. Up top is a clever new roof rack with folding cross rails that can be tucked away to reduce wind noise and drag, while down below 8.7-inches of ground clearance assures the new Outback can tackle just about any off-road condition.

Driving Impressions

If maximum fuel economy takes precedence over quick acceleration, the 2.5-liter four with the CVT is your best bet. With 170 horsepower on tap the engine has to work a bit to move the Outback. Once up to speed the CVT finds and holds the engine’s maximum torque and horsepower, providing the best acceleration and fuel economy mix. The CVT does take some getting used to as there are no discernable gear shifts such as are common to a traditional automatic. The standard steering wheel-mounted shift paddles, however, allow the driver to select and hold "gears" as with a manual transmission, thus making passing and merging maneuvers a bit quicker. With a projected 29 miles per gallon highway and a new 18-gallon fuel tank, the Outback can cruise over 500 miles before refueling. As for the Outback’s driving characteristics, it demonstrates an impressive sedan-like feel, especially surprising considering the car’s high center of gravity. The steering is precise and predictable and interior sound levels are much improved over the 2009 Outback.

Pricing Notes

The 2010 Subaru Outback as Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $24,000 for the base 2.5i, jumping to around $25,000 for the 2.5i Premium and edging close to $29,000 for the Limited trim. Six-cylinder models range from just under $29,000 for the base 3.6R to nearly $38,000 for a fully-loaded 3.6 Limited. That’s a pretty hefty price cut compared to the 2009 models, especially on the higher-end trims. To make your best deal, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area might be paying for the Outback. When looking at the Outback’s competition, it easily undercuts the Volvo XC70 and a comparably equipped Toyota Venza, is on par with the Honda CR-V, but is a bit more expensive than its own kin, the Subaru Forester. As for resale, we expect the Outback to hold rather high five-year values, a bit below the Honda CR-V, on par with the Toyota Venza and better than the Volvo XC70, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer.

Notable Equipment

The base Outback 2.5i features a six-speed manual transmission, anti-lock brakes (ABS), stability and traction control, six airbags – including front side-impact and front and rear side-curtain airbags – and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. Comfort and convenience features include air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with single CD player, steering wheel controls for the audio and cruise control, rear wiper/washer, remote keyless entry, electronic parking brake with hill-holder feature and the swing-away cross-rail roof rack. The Premium model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and rear privacy glass. To this the Limited trim adds leather seating, four-way power passenger’s seat, the All Weather Package (heated seats, side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icers), the Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission, dual-zone automatic temperature control, a 440-watt harman/kardon stereo with six-disc CD/WMA/MP3 changer and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity. Six-cylinder models feature the same equipment, but replace the CVT with a traditional five-speed automatic.

Notable Options

Most options are offered according to trim. Base models offer a few dealer-installed items including Bluetooth phone connectivity, exterior puddle lights, cargo organizing systems and fog lights. The Premium models offer a power sunroof, the All-Weather Package (heated seats, mirrors and wiper de-icers) and the 440-watt harman/kardon audio system, while the Limited trims offer a power sunroof and a voice-activated navigation system featuring music streaming (streams music to the car’s stereo from a compatible Bluetooth-enabled device), an eight-inch view screen and a rear backup camera. Other stand-alone options include Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, iPod integration system, Media Hub Kit that adds a USB connector, remote start (automatic transmission only), a trailer hitch and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with built-in compass.

Favorite Features

CVT AutomaticSubaru’s take on this fuel-saving transmission uses a metal band as opposed to a rubber belt, which it claims will improve durability and longevity. The Subaru CVT includes a manual shift mode that mimics the shift points of a manual transmission without the need for a clutch pedal. Best of all, the CVT is expected to return an estimated 22 city and 29 highway, which is better than the six-speed manual.Electronic Parking Brake with Hill HolderNot only does this feature free up more space on the center console, it incorporates an electronic hill holder that, on inclines of more the five percent, holds the vehicle in place until the driver steps on the accelerator.

Under the Hood

Subaru offers two horizontally-opposed boxer engines in the Outback. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder delivers 170 horsepower, which may not be best in class but does generate enough muscle to provide satisfactory performance. Equipping this engine with the CVT automatic will produce the best fuel economy, but the six-speed manual is a better choice from a performance standpoint. If fuel economy is not a top priority, the best choice for the Legacy is the six-cylinder, which provides much better acceleration and passing power than the four while delivering slightly worse fuel economy (18/25 vs. 22/29). 2.5-liter Boxer four170 horsepower @ 5600 rpm170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (manual), 22/29 (automatic)3.6-liter Boxer six256 horsepower @ 6000 rpm247 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25

Editors' Notes

The 2010 Subaru Outback is the perfect anti-SUV. No larger than most mid-size cars, the all-wheel-drive Outback has become one of the best selling wagons in America; it is also a favorite of those needing the off-road capabilities of a large SUV, but not the accompanying lofty fuel bills and hard-to-park mass. New from the ground up, the fifth-generation Outback remains true to the original concept yet achieves major improvements in the areas of interior room, fuel economy and flexibility. As with all Subarus, the Outback comes standard with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, a proven system that allows this rugged wagon to conquer the toughest terrain and deepest snow.

Road Test Video Reviews

2010 Subaru Outback Owner Reviews

4.42
150 Reviews
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Not reliable enough

2010 Subaru Outback Base

When I talk about reliability it means driving a vehicle for 10 years or more with 200,000 klm and no "catastrophic" failures Subaru does not fit the bill. We purchased the car new with the extended warranty and had regular service up to 120000 klm in that time we replaced many wheel bearings under warranty. After the warranty expired I started servicing the car myself something I have done for over 30 years. At 175000klm we started having driveline problems and the car was binding on corners, this I discovered was the differential for the AWD cost of the part $800.00 and before I could replace it the head gaskets blew at 184000 klm. I now have the engine out and will be making necessary repairs. These issues a both what I wouldconsider "catastrophic failures" and very expensive. Some other minor things are rusted out heater by-pass pipe, rusted fittings and hardware. (I rust proof my car) seized cable for fuel door. I love to drive the car but have always bought used Toyota's, nissan's, mazda's and honda's without major engine and driveline problems. Will I buy another Subaru?? Maybe buy a used one that some poor guy is getting rid of because of problems that are to expensive to have repaired at the dealer

- Noel Bennett

My next car may not be a Subaru unless they start treating me right.

2010 Subaru Outback

Redesigned in 2010, the outback has two major problems: the 2. 5 Liter engine fails repeatedly at about 150k, I have got a minimum of 300k from my last two Subaru's. The headlights, tail lights, brake lights, marker lights all fail constantly, causing adding time and money to either replace myself or pay someone, sometimes over $50 to replace a light. Past Subaru's were reliable to a fault; for instance I could install a high/low beam headlight in less than five minutes, now it is too difficult to do myself and too expensive to do once or twice a year. The cut gearing is a dog on the road, whining when if I need to speed up to merge with freeway traffic. The paddles on the steering wheel are a joke, because if I wanted the touch and feel of a manual transmission, I would get a performance car instead of a grocery getter.

- Benjamin C

Subaru outback: a reliable hatchback worth owning.

2010 Subaru Outback

I have had this car for about a year now. I bought it used. It had around 81, 000 miles on it. So far it drives great. Handles very smoothly. Has a lot of space on the inside of the car for storage/tall people. The seat warmers are the best feature since I live in the north. The car has an excellent speaker system built in. I haven't ran into very many problems with it, but a couple wires in my driver side door went bad and caused the windows and door locks to stop working, and it is been a nagging problem for 2 months with my mechanic ordering in parts to fix it and it needing another part, a lot of having to find the time to get my car in for a couple hours, but other than this issue it is a car that I would recommend due to its reliability.

- Colin M

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