By KBB.com Editors
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Subaru'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 Holder
Not 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 four
170 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (manual), 22/29 (automatic)
3.6-liter Boxer six
256 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
247 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25
By Janet (CA) on Friday, June 14, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "AWD is all"
Cons: "not enough interior cargo space, blind spots, etc"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I wouldn't recommend this car to anyone. Why? I bought it new: broke down on freeway FIRST day I owned it. It's been in and out of shop since. 1. All transmission problems: speeds up when trying to parallel park. I don't even try to parallel park any more, as it is too risky for cars in front of me. 2. Limited cargo space. Second row seats do not go into floor to make a smooth surface. 3. BAD blind spots on sides of car. I bought small convex mirrors to put on side mirrors. 4. Interior lights in daytime in So Calif make it impossible to safely change any settings. I have to decide on a/c or heat in ADVANCE. FRANKLY I COULD HAVE DESIGNED A BETTER CAR."
By Juskilmeow (CA) on Tuesday, May 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price for what you get, easy to drive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Got a great deal using the Costco buyers program. Eye site system not perfect but works great in stop,go fwy traffic. 440 watt stereo is great and works and sounds better than the Cadillac ATS or Chevy volt. Phone plugged in or using Bluetooth works great, but the hands free system is clunky. but works great once you learn the proper phrasing. The GPS is weak, my Garmin unit is better, but having GPS in dash is cool. Gas mileage a little better than theToyota Fj I traded in, better if I drive it easy. I was able to get 19.8 city. usually get 17.5 city. The Subaru is quiter than many cars or SUVs I have driven and has no blind spots. It sits high enough so you are above the blinding wash of road spray when it rains. The all wheel drive is fantastic on slick roads, I can nail it from a stop and while everyone else is trying to get traction I am gone."
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Dean (IL) on Wednesday, May 22, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfort for all, fun to drive, versatile"
Cons: "none, no regrets"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Delivers everything I require, never falls short. Have driven cross country, around town, and on light off-road trails. Very comfortable and versatile!"
By 2BoysMom (CA) on Thursday, May 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Gas mileage, reliable, fun to drive"
Cons: "Doors don't automatically lock once started"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned several cars in my life and this is by far the best car I have had. It's reliable, comfortable and so much space for taking my kids and all their stuff to sporting events and vacations. I would highly recommend this car. It's gets awesome car mileage and is fun to drive."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By tnNavyMom (TN) on Thursday, May 09, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 19,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "dependable, stylish, comfortable"
Cons: "high blower setting when heat or a/c comes on"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is the 3rd new Outback I have purchased in the past 7 years. Each one has been an excellent vehicle, with no problems. My 2012 is fully loaded and extremely dependable. If the "new car smell" doesn't get me, I could easily drive this car, comfortably, for the next ten years. Subaru makes a high quality, technically superior car, at a reasonable price. The dealership where I have purchased the three Outbacks has been the best car sales facility my husband and I have ever encountered. I don't know what Subaru could do to improve the vehicle that I now own. It will be exciting to see future models, just to see their latest innovations, while they maintain their high degree of quality and safety."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Tweetie (MA) on Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I own this car
Reason: lack of floor heat and Subaru did not care - My approximate mileage is 12,000
Pros: "Loved the car EXCEPT for con below"
Cons: "Heat should not be a luxury"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I bought my car brand new in March, 2012. The first day driving, I noticed my feet were cold. Asked the dealer's service manager who said air vent was open. Summer came, did not notice until heat was needed again. While on Floor Vent only, more heat comes out of dash/defrost than on floor; there is no heat from back seat floor vents so my 93-year old and 84-year old passengers feet were freezing. I have to wrap their legs up to keep them warm. This past winter I drove with quilt on my legs/feet and jacket stuffed into defrost vents as hot air is suffocating with so much heat blowing out of dash/defrost vents even though on floor vent. Again, climate control is on floor vent only and face is windblown from volume of hot air from dash/defrost and feet/legs are freezing from lack of volume on floor vent. Several trips to two different Subaru dealers, I was told this is how car is designed to run. One Service Manager agreed there was more air out of defrost vent than one would expect then said "continue doing what I had been doing to keep warm." Really, the service manager told me to continue to drive with blanket on feet. Other dealer, mechanic told me I was not the first to complain and 2013 cars were same. I had dealer show me other Outbacks and climate control heat setting performed same. While I love, love this car, I need floor heat for myself and my passangers here in New England. This car will be sold in August and I will NOT be freezing or driving hazardly this winter. Strangers who asks me about my car are as disappointed as I am once I show them there really is no heat. Subaru, you blew it!"
12 people out of 16 found this review helpful