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2006 Subaru Outback 2.5 i Limited Wagon

The Good :)  High quality interior parts.  Good use of leather, wood and colors.  Roomy with lots of luggage space.  Fresh and clean exterior.  Four wheel drive.  Large panorama roof. 

The Bad :(  Engine is loud at highway speeds.  Transmission is notchy, changing gears is rough.  Cabin is not quiet enough.

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Watch a video of the Outback interior and exterior as well as it going through some dirt roads. Click Here

Right click and 'save link target as' to Download a full version of this review for iTunes. Click Here

            Subaru, known for all wheel drive vehicles and a rallying prowess, has been revamping its lineup.  While high gas prices may not make us go out and buy a gas guzzling SUV, the Outback has been a great seller from the get go.  Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan is the parent of Subaru and with its 600 dealers across the US, Subaru makes the best selling all wheel drive car sold in America.

Subaru has refined the Outback lineup for 2006 adding four new models.  Power, performance and feature content have all been increased.  The 2.5i wagon tested here features the Limited Package which adds leather trimmed seats, a upgraded audio package, dual zone climate control, body colored door handles and mirrors, a large panoramic moonroof, and a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift handle.  A special edition is available with navigation system. 

            Exterior styling is taught and modern.  The Outback model is designed to compete with the growing crossover market.  The melding of passenger car and SUV offers such design cues as a higher driving position, more ground clearance, and a bolder exterior appearance. 

The wedge shape of the exterior conveys a strong and stable presence.  Larger body cladding around the fenders and lower door panels flows into the rear bumper.  A rugged truck like liner on the rear bumper looks quite nice.  Taillights arc into the side of the body for a modern appearance.  The front end is equally bold with large truck like fog lamps and stylish clear headlamps featuring projector beams.  We liked the styling of the lower bumper with groves to enhance the Outback's rugged look.  Overall the Outback looked stunning in our Satin White Pearl color.  The 2.5i Limited model now features 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/55R17 tires replacing the 16-inch wheels on the previous model.

            Step inside and you find a luxurious and clean layout.  High quality materials with superb fit and finish were not expected from a Subaru.  Door panels and the upper dash are covered with a soft leather look material as found in costlier German vehicles.  A two tone color scheme flows all around the interior.  Doors are trimmed with aluminum pulls, wood, soft cushions, and high quality grab handles in an ergonomic position for all passengers.  The sporty four-dial instrument panel is crisp and easy to read.  It glows white at night for a clean appearance.  All knobs and levers feel very good as well. A small digital display on top of the dash shows trip computer, time, and outside temperature.   On the main center console in a grey aluminum look with satin wood accents is the stereo and climate control system with automatic dual temperature settings.  The stereo system is easy to use and offers good sound.  The climate system works well in automatic setting however can get a bit loud when working hard.  Interior air filtration is now standard on the Outback.  All controls inside were easy to use and simple for our testers. 

Dual heated seats are also offered up front.  The driver's seat is an 8-way power seat, something we missed in the passenger side, which was manually adjustable and lacked height adjustment.  The Outback also features a panorama sunroof that slides open for a open-top airy feeling.  A navigation system is offered as an option on the Outback 2.5i with automatic transmission. 

Rear seat passengers have comfortable seats with large thigh cushions.  There is ample legroom and the width of the Outback is adequate as well.  Small things like rugged woven carpets, a strong feeling to the doors opening and closing, and soft closing storage compartments all should not be overlooked.  Doors have a frameless design for a simple yet stylish look.  Loads of stuff can fit in the rear trunk, and its generous use of liners and storage compartments, as well as nets makes it very useful.  Rear seats fold down very easily making for a flat storage compartment.

            New for 2006, the naturally aspirated 2.5 liter 4-cylinder Boxer engine features a new i-Active Valve Lift system which boosts horsepower to 175 from the 168 on the previous model.  Torque is increased to 169 lbs.-ft. 

            All Subaru models are equipped as standard with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, which powers all four wheels all the time and automatically transfers more power to the wheels with the best traction. 

            Generous ground clearance means you can truly take this Outback out back into country roads and dirt fields.  There is 8.4 inches of ground clearance on the 2.5i model.  This coupled with the Symmetrical All Wheel Drive makes for a great combination.  In our five speed manual transmission, a viscous-coupling locking center differential is used to distribute power 50:50 front and rear.  Power is moved forward or to the rear wheels as needed but not to any one wheel. 

            Driving behind the wheel of the Subaru outback in our manual transmission was fun but tiresome.  The Outback needs more power in this model, as the engine is quite loud going through its gears, especially on the highway.  We found that the shift gate was also a bit choppy and difficult to engage at times.  Perhaps an automatic would do more to keep noise levels down on the engine.  We suggest opting for the six-cylinder engine if buying this car.  Steering feel is quite good and the turning circle is excellent as well.  The ride is quite normal with the higher ride height being a benefit when you are surrounded by SUV's.  In turns, the body does lean a bit too much for our tastes.  The Outback feels light and quick even though it is a large wagon.  The Outback achieved 24 miles to the gallon, which is a benefit of having a four-cylinder engine, however the noise was just not worth it for us.

            Subaru has placed a limited slip rear differential on this all wheel drive Outback as well as antilock brakes for safety.  A frontal airbag system and side curtain air bags as well as front side door airbags are standard.  Active front seat head restraints and a ring shape reinforcement frame design help give this car good ratings in crash tests.  The 2005 model Outback received the highest 5-star ratings in frontal and side impact crash tests.  It's sister car, the Impreza recently earned a 'good' rating in frontal, side, and rear impact crash tests and received the Top Safety Pick Gold award. This is the second IIHS “Top Safety Pick Gold” award for Subaru. The 2006 Impreza joins the Subaru Legacy, also honored with this distinction in its class for superior overall crash protection.  The IIHS also recently rated the Subaru Forester the best vehicle in its class for protection against whiplash injury in a rear collision. The B9 Tribeca and Outback continue the Subaru tradition for outstanding safety as evidenced by the NHTSA double 5-Star rating for frontal and side impact protection, as well as 4-star ratings for rollover resistance.

            The basic warranty is for three years and 36,000 miles.  A 5 year 60,000 mile powertrain warranty and a 5 year rust warranty is standard.  For 3 years you also have Subaru roadside assistance for any emergency needs. 

            Our test car has a base price of $27,595.  Options were the Cargo Area Convenience Group for $220 which is basically a lot of cargo nets.  Auto dimming rearview mirrors and a Security System upgrade cost $304.  Adding $625 for destination brings our total to  $28,744.  Window sticker mileage is rated at 23 city and 28 highway. 

            You cannot beat the Subaru interior with all its high quality parts and luxury car feeling.  Out of all standard Japanese makes, Subaru may just be the best.  We would opt for a V6 engine to cut the noise and get an automatic to relieve ourselves of a shift gate that was very stiff.  Minus these points the car is a true winner with a great deal of usefulness and unique style. 



Base Pricing 25,690 27,595
Destination 625 625
Automatic, 4-Spd w/SportShift • 2.5i Wagons 912 1000
Cargo area nets 180 220


  2006 Subaru Outback
2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)
2006 Audi A3
3.2 quattro 4dr Wagon AWD (3.2L 6cyl 6A)
2006 Mazda MAZDA6
s Sport 4dr Wagon (3.0L 6cyl 5M)
2006 Dodge Magnum
SXT 4dr Wagon AWD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
2007 Volkswagen Passat
2.0T 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
MSRP $27,595 $33,980 $24,610 $29,100 $26,175
Invoice $25,690 $31,561 $22,719 $26,860 $24,063
Basic 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi.
Drivetrain 5 yr. / 60000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 5 yr. / 60000 mi.
Roadside 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / Unlimited mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi. 4 yr. / Unlimited mi.
Rust 5 yr. / Unlimited mi. 12 yr. / Unlimited mi. 5 yr. / Unlimited mi. 5 yr. / 100000 mi. 12 yr. / Unlimited mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders flat 4 inline 6 V6 V6 inline 4
Base Engine Displacement 2.5 liters 3.2 liters 3.0 liters 3.5 liters 2.0 liters
Valvetrain 16 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
Variable Valve Timing Standard Standard Standard Standard Standard
Compressor         turbocharger
Horsepower 175 hp @ 6000 rpm 250 hp @ 6300 rpm 215 hp @ 6000 rpm 250 hp @ 6400 rpm 200 hp @ 5100 rpm
Torque 169 ft-lbs. @ 4400 rpm 236 ft-lbs. @ 2800 rpm 199 ft-lbs. @ 5000 rpm 250 ft-lbs. @ 3800 rpm 207 ft-lbs. @ 1800 rpm
Driven Wheels all wheel drive all wheel drive front wheel drive all wheel drive front wheel drive
Wheels alloy rims
17 x 7.0 in.
alloy rims
17 x 7.5 in.
alloy rims
17 x 7.0 in.
alloy rims
18 x 7.5 in.
alloy rims
16 x 7.0 in.
Sunroof power glass power glass - Optional   power glass - Optional power glass - Optional
Rear Sunroof power glass fixed glass - Optional      
Upholstery Type leather leather cloth cloth leatherette
Power Steering speed-proportional power steering speed-proportional power steering speed-proportional power steering power steering electric power steering
Steering Adjustment tilt-adjustable tilt and telescopic tilt and telescopic tilt and telescopic tilt and telescopic
Audio Control on Steering Wheel   Standard Standard   Optional
Front Air Conditioning Zones dual dual single single single
Air Filtration interior air filtration interior air filtration interior air filtration interior air filtration - Optional interior air filtration
Anti - Lock Brakes 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS 4-wheel ABS
Stability Control   Standard   Standard Standard
Head Air Bag front and rear front and rear front and rear front and rear - Optional front and rear
Side Air Bag dual front dual front dual front dual front - Optional dual front
Navigation System   DVD navigation system - Optional     DVD navigation system - Optional
Turning Circle 35.4 ft. 35.1 ft. 38.7 ft. 38.8 ft. 35.8 ft.
Max. Cargo Capacity 62 cu. ft.     72 cu. ft.  
City 23 mpg.   19 mpg. 17 mpg.  
Highway 28 mpg.   27 mpg. 24 mpg.  
Length 188.7 in. 168.7 in. 187.8 in. 197.7 in. 188 in.
Width 69.7 in. 69.5 in. 70.1 in. 74.1 in. 71.7 in.
Height 61.6 in. 56 in. 57.3 in. 59.3 in. 59.7 in.
Weight 3365 lbs. 3660 lbs. 3404 lbs. 4164 lbs. 3512 lbs.
Wheel Base 105.1 in. 101.5 in. 105.3 in. 120 in. 106.7 in.
Ground Clearance 8.4 in. 4.4 in. 5.1 in. 6.6 in. 5.2 in.
Interior Outback A3 MAZDA6 Magnum Passat
Front Headroom 38.7 in. 38.1 in. 38.7 in. 38.4 in. 38.3 in.
Rear Headroom 37.1 in.   38.6 in. 38.1 in. 38.6 in.
Front Shoulder Room 54.4 in. 54.3 in. 56.1 in. 58.7 in. 55.7 in.
Rear Shoulder Room 53.7 in.   54.9 in. 57.6 in. 54.6 in.
Front Hip Room 51 in.   54.7 in. 56.2 in.  
Rear Hip Room 52.6 in.   54.1 in. 55.5 in.  
Front Leg Room 44.1 in. 41.2 in. 42.3 in. 41.8 in. 41.4 in.
Rear Leg Room 33.9 in.   36.5 in. 40.2 in. 37.7 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 32.1 cu.ft. 12.4 cu.ft. 33.7 cu.ft. 27.2 cu.ft. 35.8 cu.ft.


2006 Subaru Outback® 2.5 i and 2.5 i Limited


Vehicle type 5-passenger sedan and wagons


Configuration 4-cylinder, horizontally opposed (Boxer), aluminum block and heads

Bore x Stroke 99.5 mm x 79.0 mm (3.92 in. x 3.11 in.)

Displacement 2,457 cc (150 cu. in.)

Valvetrain Single overhead-cam (SOHC), 4 valves per cylinder, belt-driven camshafts,

i-Active Valve Lift System variable valve lift technology



Sequential multi-port fuel injection (MFI) with multi-spray injectors

and Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) system

Ignition Distributorless electronic

Compression ratio 10.0:1

Horsepower 175 @ 6,000 rpm (PZEV: same)

Torque 169 lb-ft. @ 4,400 rpm (PZEV: same)

Fuel requirement Regular, 87 octane minimum

Drivetrain Standard: Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive

Transmission types 5-speed manual (std. for 2.5 i)

4-speed electronic direct control automatic with lockup torque converter (opt. 2.5 i and

std. 2.5 i Limited)

M/T AWD System Viscous-coupling locking center differential

A/T AWD System Electronically managed continuously variable hydraulic transfer clutch

Transmission ratios 5-speed manual 4-speed automatic

1 3.454 2.785

2 2.062 1.545

3 1.448 1.000

4 1.088 0.694

5 0.871

Reverse 3.333 2.272

Final drive ratio 4.11 with viscous limited-slip

rear differential

4.44 with viscous limited-slip

rear differential

Chassis Unitized body construction

Suspension 4-wheel independent, heavy duty raised

Front MacPherson-type struts with internal rebound springs, lower L-arms, liquid filled L-arm

rear bushings, stabilizer bar and negative scrub geometry

Rear Multilink: one upper link, two lower links and one radius arm per side; coil springs, shock

absorbers and stabilizer bar, liquid-filled rear differential mounts

Brakes Power-assisted 4-wheel discs with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and

4-channel / 4-sensor ABS

Front 11.5 x 0.94 in. ventilated discs, dual-piston floating calipers

Rear 10.6 x 0.39 in. solid discs, single-piston floating calipers

Steering Rack-and-pinion with engine-speed-sensing variable power assist

Ratio 16.5:1

Turns, lock-to-lock 3.2

Turning circle 35.4 ft. curb-to-curb

Wheels 17 x 7 JJ aluminum-alloy, 7-spoke

Tires 225/55 R17 95V Bridgestone Potenza RE 92A raised black letter M+S all-season

Exterior Dimensions

Coefficient of drag (Cd) 0.32

Wheelbase 105.1 in.

Length 188.7 in. (186.2 in. Sedan)

Width 69.7 in. (76.6 in. including mirrors)

Height 61.6 in. (including roof rails)

63.2 in. (including roof rails and cross bars)

Sedan: 59.1 in.

Track (front/rear) 58.9 in. / 58.7 in.

Minimum ground clearance 8.4 in.

Location of minimum ground clearance: exhaust pipe

Angle of approach 18.7 deg. (18.3 deg. Sedan)

Angle of departure 22.0 deg. (20.0 deg. Sedan)

Ramp breakover angle 19.7 deg.

Curb weight (lb)

5-speed manual 2.5 i: 3,320 2.5 i Limited: 3,375

4-speed automatic 2.5 i: 3,365 2.5 i Limited Wagon: 3,420 2.5 i Limited Sedan: 3,350

Interior Dimensions

Headroom (f/r) 2.5 i: 40.5 in. / 39.1 in. 2.5 i Limited: 38.7 in. / 37.1 in.

2.5 i Limited Sedan: 37.6 in. / 36.5 in.

Legroom (f/r) 44.1 in. / 33.9 in.

Hip room (f/r) 51.0 in. / 52.6 in.

Shoulder room (f/r) 54.4 in. (54.2 in. Sedan) / 53.7 in.

EPA interior volume Wagons: 97.4 cu. ft.

2.5 i Limited Sedan: 93.1 cu. ft.

Max. load floor length,


Seats up: 42.4 in.

Seats down: 73.0 in.

Cargo lift over height, wagons 25.2 in.

Cargo area height, wagons 2.5 i: 32.5 in.

2.5 i Limited: 30.3 in.

Width between wheelhouses,


42.2 in.

Cargo volume, wagons

(rear seats up)

2.5 i: 33.5 cu. ft. 2.5 i Limited: 32.1 cu. ft.

Cargo volume, wagons

(rear seats down)

2.5 i: 66.2 cu. ft. 2.5 i Limited: 61.7 cu. ft.

Trunk capacity, sedan 11.4 cu. ft.

Trunk lift over height, sedan 30.5 in.


Fuel 16.9 gal.

Engine oil 5.3 qt.

Engine coolant 5-speed manual: 6.8 qt. 4-speed automatic: 6.7 qt.

Trans oil 5-speed manual: 3.7 qt. 4-speed automatic: 9.8 qt.

Towing 2,700 lb (200 lb tongue weight)

Fuel Efficiency

5-speed manual 4-speed automatic

EPA city mpg 23 22

EPA highway mpg 28 28

Note: Outback 2.5 i Limited features a standard dual-panel power glass moonroof, which results in different figures

for some interior dimensions, as shown.



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