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Subaru Outback

A Legacy wagon.

The Subaru Outback is a great alternative to a sport-utility vehicle. Offering much better ride and handling than an average SUV plus standard all-wheel drive — usually an expensive option on utility vehicles — the Outback will do most of what a crossover can do on a lot less gas. The continuously variable transmission is maintenance-free for the life of the vehicle and uses a chain for greater durability instead of the industry-standard Kevlar belt. We recommend the 3.6-liter engine, because the Outback is a little on the heavy side and merging into traffic with the four-cylinder can be tense as the vehicle takes its time getting up to speed. Subaru is known for its safety features. Stability and traction control are standard across the Outback line. A backup camera is included with the power moonroof option group and displays the image in the rearview mirror, so the camera is available even if you decide to forgo the navigation system. If you do opt for the navigation package, an auto-dimming rearview mirror is one of the benefits. A revised four-cylinder engine and CVT allow the Outback to return up to 30 mpg. As the Outback matures, it should appeal to many more potential buyers.

COMPETITORS

Ford Escape

GMC Terrain

Jeep Liberty

Toyota Highlander

new for 2013

The Outback receives the same upgrades as the Legacy sedan does for 2013. The biggest changes are a slightly more powerful and efficient 2.5-liter flat-four engine and a revised CVT. Safety-conscious shoppers will want to add the EyeSight system that includes adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, and precollision braking.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Front, side, and side curtain air bags; traction and stability control; ABS; and tire-pressure monitoring are standard. A rearview camera is optional, as well as EyeSight, which includes adaptive cruise control, pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, and precollision braking.

High Mileage

MPG

CITY 18–24

HWY 25–30

PRO

Handles like a car

Hauls like an SUV

CON

Slightly behind the tech curve

Flat-six engine is thirsty

Base Price Range: $24,290–$32,890

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: 4-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 3.6R, 3.6R Premium, 3.6R Limited

BODY STYLE: Wagon, 5-passenger

ENGINES: 2.5L flat-4, 173 hp, 174 lb-ft

3.6L flat-6, 256 hp, 247 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 5-speed automatic, continuously variable

PASSENGER VOLUME: 102.4–105.4 cu ft

CARGO SPACE: (rear seats up/down) 34.3/71.3 cu ft

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