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Review: 2011 Subaru Outback - DrivingScene

Categorized | Reviews

Review: 2011 Subaru Outback

Posted on 01 November 2011 by Adam Kaslikowski


DrivingScene would like to welcome our newest writer Brad Robertson.

It is Saturday afternoon and it is one of the last sunny dry days in the Pacific Northwest as we begin to enter the rainy, cold, miserable, depressed weather we are known for.  So what would be better than driving sports cars with 500 hp, trucks with the towing capacity to pull a train, exotic imports you could only drive when the conditions are perfect and with the tops down and wind blowing through my hair.  That was what I wanted to drive; apparently most of those cars don’t exist for test driving and need to be special ordered.  So plan B kicked into effect and I asked myself what manufacture do I see everywhere in the Pacific Northwest, the answer finally came to me……Subaru.

So I found the closest Subaru dealership and had my sights set on driving the prize possession of Subaru the WRX STI.  Turbocharged at 305hp with all-wheel drive, how can I not want to drive this car and have some fun.  So I arrive at the dealership and my head starts swiveling back and forth looking for that sporty looking hatch back.  And just as I set my sights on it the dreaded salesman walks up and introduces himself.

We start talking back and forth about the STI and WRX and how great the cars are and I ask him what are the chances I can test drive a 2012 STI, and he laughs like I told him the funniest joke he has heard.  “Well let’s run a credit report first before we go get in the seat of one. And we don’t have any 2012 models right now, you are looking at the 2011 models” He goes on to let me know that the only 2012 cars they have are the Outback and the Forester.  CRAP! I think to myself, that’s 2 strikes I can’t catch a break.  Ok well guess I will settle for the soccer mom station wagon and see what all of the hoopla is about.

At first glance it’s not a bad looking station wagon; it has a sporty feel to it, looks like it sits just as low as the Impreza but with better storage space available.  I notice some of the features on the outside that stand out like the fog lights, bike rack on the roof, and the sleek lines in the hood.

Once we finish walking around the car, we jump in and right way I think; huh this isn’t too bad for being a baby mover.  The seats have a sporty feel to them while still being comfortable.  As we are going through the dash and the salesman is pointing out all of the features I notice this dash is very simple compared to most cars and how intricate they are with the electronics and on board computers.  As we pulled out of the dealership the first thing I noticed was how at home I felt.   I thought I was driving my Nissan Altima, for 2012 the Outback will come standard with the CVT transmission, which explains the very smooth shiftless ride.  I did finally answer one question I have always wondered.  What would it be like to put a 4 inch lift on a car, well now I know that’s just stupid, the Outback does not sit nearly as low to the ground as it appears to be.  If I want to sit higher up I will go buy a truck, or a full size SUV.

As I continued driving and felt the rough ride of the Outback, or at least rougher than I was expecting, I started chuckling to myself.  I have heard of people being sold on absolutely minuscule features in a car and have never understood how on earth someone could buy a car just for 1 tiny feature.  Then I realized, that’s what this car is filled with, a bunch of tiny features that aren’t special but just done differently from anyone else that makes it unique.  For instance all of the cars now with on board computers have a feature where it shows your current MPG’s.  This is a great feature, especially if you travel a lot for work.  However Subaru went as far as making it into a gauge on the dash right next to the tachometer.  Also we have all seen either an emergency brake that you can either pull up on, or push down with your foot.  But now the Outback has a push button emergency brake, yup that’s right it’s a push button, one push to engage the park brake and a second push to release it.  The first thought that ran through my head was well that sucks, now you can’t drift and slide in the snow with this, stupid engineers taking all the fun out of the car.

Well we finished with the test drive and once we got back I turned and ran as quickly as I could.  For a soccer mom this is definitely a reasonably priced family car.  But if you are a single person looking to have fun in a car this is definitely not for you. However if you are always going camping, hiking, or hugging trees like most of the people in the Pacific Northwest then I can see why the Subaru would be a good choice.

– Brad Robertson