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Car Review | 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited By John Heilig

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By John Heilig
Middle Altantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

Reviewed Model: 2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
Engine: 3.6-liter H6
Horsepower/Torque: 256 hp @ 6,000 rpm/247 lb.-ft. @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: CVT with 6-speed manual mode
Wheelbase: 108.1 in.
Length x Width x Height: 189.6 x 72.4 x 66.1
Tires: P225/60R18
Cargo: 35.5/73.3 cu. ft. (rear seat up/down)
Economy: 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway/20.6 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gal.
Curb Weight: 3,633 lbs.
Sticker: $36,040 (includes $850 destination, $2,195 options)

The Bottom Line: The Subaru Outback has nice, if unspectacular lines. It offers a good ride and hand ling. It did a great job on my long hillclimb test. The 3.6-liter Boxer 6 offered good power.

Subarus are ubiquitous in the Northeast. They’re also like appliances; you rarely notice them, but they are there for you every day doing the job they were intended to do. But since they are all over the place, they are pretty easy to find. Usually, the Subaru of choice is the Forester, or its big brother the Outback, which is classified as a mid-size SUV.

My wife really liked the Outback. Normally, she even has trouble remembering the color of my test cars, but she really got into the Outback. Chief among her likes was the fact that it is so comfortable. Also, it isn’t showy, despite a redesign.

I enjoyed then power and the handling. The 3.6-liter Boxer engine delivers 256 horsepower, which is more than enough for the Outback. Power reaches all four wheels through a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that also has a six-speed manual mode if you want to use the paddles behind the steering wheel. For most of our test, we kept the Outback in CVT mode, but one one winding road test we used the paddles to great fun.

I took the Outback over my tight handling hillclimb and played with the paddles. They added to the fun of the drive, but since the Outback has “grown” to be a mid-size, the CVT seemed more appropriate.

Handling is very good, but not with a rock-hard suspension. This is a very good family car, especially with all the cargo capacity available to carry luggage.

Being a Subaru, it is equipped with Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. Fortunately, we didn’t encounter bad weather, but if we had, we know the Outback would have pulled us through. We have several friends who MUST get to work early in the morning and their vehicle of choice is a Subaru, especially for its All-Wheel Drive capability.

The heated front seats are comfortable. Both my wife and I appreciate the wide arm rest between the seats that reduced fighting for territory. The rear seat headrests do not impede rearward vision for the driver.

The rear seats are also heated and offer very good legroom. They are comfortable, but a tall center hump would make it uncomfortable for a center passenger. There‘s good head room in the back. Two cup holders are in the fold-down arm rest,

There are two cupholders in the center console with a small cubby just ahead of them. There’s a larger cubby at the base of the center stack with two USB outlets, and AUX and a 12-volt outlet as well. The door pulls have bottoms, which I find convenient to hold cell phones, keys, etc. There’s only room for the manuals in the glove box.

The instrument panel is clear with two large dials ad an information panel in between. Among the options for the information panel are fuel economy or a digital speedometer. The navigation system is easy to program and the map is clear.

The cargo area is commodious. You can raise the hatch with a button on the key fob. I liked the fact that our tester had a bedliner in the cargo area, so that if you get it dirty (and we did), all you have to do is remove the liner and sweep it clean. You can drop the rear seat backs from the cargo area. Hooks on the side of the cargo area are great for holding plastic grocery bags.

Speaking of the fob, I often find it difficult to remember which button is the “lock” and “unlock.” With the Outback, you can just feel for the raised Subaru logo on the fob and push it to unlock.

I like the redesign of the Subaru Outback, not so much for improved beauty, but for the improved practicality of this mid-size SUV.

2014 The Auto Page