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August 2005,
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Watch a movie of the exterior and interior, then watch the Outback accelerate with moonroof open, then closed, then accelerate using the touch shift buttons.  Click Here

2005 Subaru Outback 2.5 XT Limited Wagon All Wheel Drive

The Good:  Utilitarian all around.  Smooth riding.  Quiet and quick.  Built well inside.  Large clear windows and panaroma moonroof.  250 horsepower.

The Bad:  Suspension is a bit soft with bounce and sway more than we would like. 

Watch a movie of the exterior and interior, then watch the Outback accelerate with moonroof open, then closed, then accelerate using the touch shift buttons.  Click Here   Download Apple QuickTime viewer here

            Subaru's extensive lineup for 2005 features everything from small car to SUV.  Think Subaru and you naturally think of a four wheel drive machine, usually in the form of a wagon.  In this time of high fuel prices, a Subaru may just be the perfect SUV alternative. 

There are many choices just in the Subaru lineup for wagons, from the smallest Impreza to the Legacy, Outback and Forester.  Each model has its sub-models, the Outback can range in price by $11,000.  How do you choose?  Well first you decide on price and engine horsepower.  Going from a base four cylinder making about 170 horsepower to a turbocharged four cylinder making 250 horsepower adds about $6000.  Then take a look at the overall size and height of each car.  The Outback and Legacy models are the same length however the Outback is 5-inches taller in height and just a bit wider.  The Forester is even taller than the Outback by two inches but only as wide as a Legacy and shorter than both in overall length by 8-inches.  The smaller Impreza model is about as high as the Legacy but has a narrower width and less interior room.  If you do not expect to go off-road, but still want four wheel drive, a Legacy will suit you just fine.  For something a bit higher so you can venture onto grass, mud, and dirt roads, the Outback is a better choice.  For a mini SUV, take the Forester.   For a compact wagon just in case you need to take home a tall item get the Impreza.  If you want a very true SUV then go for the new B9.

            Here we test the Outback Limited model, one step up from the base outback model.  At first sight, the exterior of the Outback is designed with a good deal of care.  It is a modern yet powerful looking car.  A large lower valence in darker color surrounds the Outback.  A very large and rounded front bumper with integrated fog lamps gives this Outback a rugged and modern look.  The headlamps are also very nicely styled even though they are halogen bulbs, the projector main beam looks very nice.  The front hood carrying an air inlet for the turbocharger signals the power under the hood.  Large wheels and tires give the outback a commanding stance.  We found the Outback to be a head turner at local hiking trails.  The rear end wraps around smoothly with a defined edge flowing from the front bumper.  The large roof rack with cross bars is a handy feature.

            The interior is just as nicely designed.  It looks as if Subaru engineers have gone to Germany to take a look at ergonomics.  The controls are all within easy reach and feel very good.  All parts inside are of good quality, softer vinyl is used on the doors in a leather look material.  The doors offer grab handles that are easy to hold onto while driving.  Switches on the doors are facing you, not facing up, for better ergonomics.  And everything is where you hand usually lies, not where your elbow would be. 

The cockpit is designed just as nicely, everywhere you touch feels good, things flow nicely, and it all just makes you say 'great'.  The things that the driver touches most are covered in soft perforated leather.  The instrument cluster is illuminated both during day and night for a high end look.  We especially liked how bright it was during night driving.  The center console is smooth and functional.  At the top of the stack is a small screen for the trip computer, which provided a great way to watch your miles per gallon instantly and over time.  Our tests revealed an ok 19.2 miles per gallon.  A six disc changer is standard in the dash with good sound quality from the stereo speakers as well.  We just wished satellite radio was also built in.  The automatic dual zone climate control system is located just below this.  The system works quite well and is not as loud as in other vehicles we have tested.  At the top of the center console is a small storage compartment with a cover.  This would be a nice area for a navigation screen.  Cup holders and dual seat heater controls are also located in between the front two seats.  The small armrest holds more goodies should you desire. 

            Front seats are shaped for performance driving, offering good bolstering and nicely shaped back portions with shoulder supports.  We did find that the front passenger seat was a bit high and could not be adjusted downwards.  The large moonroof up above brings in much more light and makes the cabin seem much larger than it really is.  It is a great feature to have on a car.  It is also not overly loud when opened while driving.  Rear view mirrors are large for a good view out back.  The ventilation ducts have smooth moving controls which are much better than the cheap variety we found in other cars. 

            Rear seating is just as nice as--and perhaps better--than the front.  The seats are deep so your thighs have good support.  Soft leather used throughout feels very good.  Perforated inner portions as used in the front seats add a touch of elegance.  A noticeable item is the shape of the front seats from back, with their performance design showing through nicely.  The view of the moonroof is more spectacular from back as it extends into the rear cabin about half way.  The rear seatbacks can easily be folded down for a large cargo area.  All doors also lack a frame around their windows which adds a nice touch of individuality to this Outback.  Rear ingress and egress is limited by the amount of rear door opening however.  Interior cargo volume is 33.5 cubic feet and with the rear seat lowered climbs to 66.2 cubic feet.

            The powerful engine delivers 250 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft of torque with just a 2.5 liter four cylinder turbocharged boxer engine.  It is very smooth and peppy.  Turbo lag is evident when you press quickly on the pedal or change gears yourself.  Also evident was the delay in shifting when changing gears using the manual buttons on the steering wheel.  Our tests revealed a 7.2 second zero-to-sixty time.  At highway speeds the engine is very quiet and delivers a great amount of power for daily driving.  The Outback feels light and peppy everywhere.

            The full time all wheel drive system is hardly noticeable in daily driving.  There is no awkward noise from anywhere below the passenger cabin.  It is truly a great system coupled to large 17-inch tires and very wide 255 sized tires.  The transmission can be set in regular D (drive) mode or moved to the left for a sport mode.  Moving the lever up and down from here puts you in manual shifting mode where you can and must move to the next gear yourself although the system does downshift for you at stop lights.  Shifting is loads of fun especially using the steering wheel mounted controls.  The transmission is not instantaneous however and the lag felt can be annoying.

            The suspension is a four wheel independent heavy duty raised system offering 8.7 inches of ground clearance.  It makes the Outback look tall like the Forester model for off road use.  The front setup uses struts and a lower L-arm using anti-dive geometry that we can safely say works as it's meant to during hard braking.  A multi-link rear setup with anti-lift and anti-squat geometry is also very good.  Stabilizer bars are used both in front and rear.  We found during our tests that body lean could be reduced a bit more.  The suspension also tends to bounce more than we would like on bumpy roads.  If the steering conveyed more road feel, and the suspension was firmer yet non-jarring, then this would be a much improved vehicle. 

            So many accessories are available for the Outback which make this a truly versatile car.  Roof racks are standard in our model which means adding ski and snowboard attachments are easy.  A cargo basket is also available for holding gear.  Cargo carriers which are fully boxed in are also available for the roof.  You can even have a nifty kayak carrier.  Bike racks can be mounted up top or on the rear of the Outback.  Inside, Momo steering wheel, shift knob and aluminum pedals are available for a sporty look matching that of the Impreza Sti model.  These are just a few of the many available accessories.

            A host of safety features helps make this an even greater buy.  Front dual stage airbags, side curtain airbags for front and rear occupants, and front side impact airbags in the seats keep you very safe.  Four-wheel antilock disc brakes with four channels and four sensors stop you fast.  Stability control is one feature lacking which should also be made standard on this car. 

            The Subaru Outback Limited Wagon model tested here starts off at a base price of $30,795.  This price includes the Limited Package which is worth $2,700.  This package adds the large sliding moonroof, eight way power driver's seat and four way power passenger seat, and perforated leather upholstery.  A five speed automatic transmission with sport shifting available on the steering wheel was an extra $1,200.  The auto dimming mirror and compass with security alarm cost $281, bringing our total to $32,276 before the $575 destination fee for a grand total of $32,851. 

View Measurements and Technical Specs on the Subaru Outback in pdf format. 


Base Pricing 28,454 30,945
Destination 575 575
Automatic, 5-Spd w/Overdrive & SportShift 1,094 1,200


  2005 Subaru Outback
2.5 XT Limited AWD 4dr Wagon (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5A)
2005 Audi A4
New 2.0T Avant quattro AWD 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
2005 BMW 3 Series
325xi AWD 4dr Sport Wagon (2.5L 6cyl 5M)
2005 Volkswagen Passat
GLS 1.8T 4Motion AWD 4dr Wagon (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 5A)
2005 Dodge Magnum
RT AWD 4dr Wagon (5.7L 8cyl 5A)
MSRP $32,145 $31,650 $32,950 $28,205 $32,070
Invoice $29,548 $29,416 $30,165 $26,033 $29,533
Basic 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi.
Base Engine Displacement 2.5 liters 2.0 liters 2.5 liters 1.8 liters 5.7 liters
Valvetrain 16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
20 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
overhead valves (OHV)
Compressor turbocharger turbocharger Not Available turbocharger Not Available
Horsepower 250 hp @ 6000 rpm 200 hp @ 5100 rpm 184 hp @ 6000 rpm 170 hp @ 5900 rpm 340 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque 250 ft-lbs. @ 3600 rpm 207 ft-lbs. @ 1800 rpm 175 ft-lbs. @ 3500 rpm 166 ft-lbs. @ 1950 rpm 390 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm
Tires P225/55VR17
all season
all season
all season
all season
all season
Wheels alloy rims
17 x 7 in.
alloy rims
16 x 7.0 in.
alloy rims
16 x 7.0 in.
alloy rims
16 x 7.0 in.
polished alloy rims
18 x 7.5 in.
Transmission Control on Steering Wheel Standard Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
Front Air Conditioning Zones dual dual single single single
Xenon Headlights Not Available Optional Optional Not Available Not Available
Parking Assist Not Available Not Available rear parking sensors - Optional Not Available Not Available
Navigation System Not Available DVD navigation system w/voice activation - Optional DVD navigation system - Optional Not Available CD navigation system - Optional
Turning Circle 35.4 ft. 36.4 ft. 35.8 ft. 37.4 ft. 38.8 ft.
City 19 mpg. 22 mpg. 19 mpg. 20 mpg. 17 mpg.
Highway 24 mpg. 30 mpg. 26 mpg. 29 mpg. 24 mpg.
Exterior Outback A4 3 Series Passat Magnum
Length 188.7 in. 180.6 in. 176.3 in. 184.3 in. 197.7 in.
Width 69.7 in. 69.8 in. 68.5 in. 68.7 in. 74.1 in.
Height 63.2 in. 57.2 in. 56.3 in. 59 in. 58.4 in.
Weight 3565 lbs. 3715 lbs. 3594 lbs. 3700 lbs. 4393 lbs.
Wheel Base 105.1 in. 104.3 in. 107.3 in. 106.4 in. 120 in.
Ground Clearance 8.7 in. 4.2 in.   5.8 in. 5.6 in.
Interior Outback A4 3 Series Passat Magnum
Front Headroom 38.7 in. 38.4 in. 37 in. 37.8 in. 38.4 in.
Rear Headroom 37.1 in. 37.6 in. 37.6 in. 37.9 in. 38.1 in.
Front Shoulder Room 54.4 in. 55.1 in. 54.4 in. 55.8 in. 58.7 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 53.7 in. 53.4 in. 54.2 in. 54.6 in. 57.6 in.
Front Leg Room 44.1 in. 41.3 in. 41.4 in. 41.5 in. 41.8 in.
Rear Leg Room 33.9 in. 34.2 in. 34.4 in. 35.3 in. 40.2 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 33.5 cu.ft. 27.8 cu.ft. 27.3 cu.ft. 36 cu.ft. 27.2 cu.ft.


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