2005 Subaru Outback 2.5 XT Limited Wagon All Wheel
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.
a movie of the exterior and interior, then watch the Outback accelerate with
moonroof open, then closed, then accelerate using the touch shift buttons.
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
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
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.
Measurements and Technical Specs on the Subaru Outback in pdf format.