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.You'll Like This Car 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 This Car If... What's New for 2010
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 It 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.Favorite Features
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.