2011 Subaru Outback: Swiss Army knife on wheels



If I were told today that I would have to choose only one vehicle that I would drive for the rest of my life, not knowing what the rest of my life would entail, that vehicle might very well be a Subaru. And tempted as I would be to pick something like the WRX, in the end my decision would probably be the Outback.

Billed as the “world’s  first sport utility wagon,” the Subaru Outback offers a range of features that would cover most driving situations I might be faced with in the future. Perhaps my being an Eagle Scout tilts my decision towards one of “being prepared” or maybe my age is telling me to weigh all possibilities and trust instincts based partly on experience.

Either way, I think I would prefer the Subaru Outback, a sort of “Swiss Army knife on wheels.”

I recently spent time with the new fourth-generation model complete with 3.6-liter six-cylinder horizontally opposed “boxer” engine backed by a smooth five-speed automatic gearbox with (unnecessary) steering wheel paddle shifters. And being a Subaru, of course there is the symmetrical all-wheel drive that I love so dearly.

Seems every time I receive a Subaru model from the press fleet squadron I go out of my way to find driving conditions that would trip up most daily drivers but Subies always manage to shine like a new penny.

Getting back to the recent 2011 Outback tester, we enjoyed all the amenities afforded by the Limited package it arrived in. That includes leather seating, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, XM Satellite radio, 17-inch alloy wheels, power moonroof and the outstanding harman/kardon 440-watt nine-speaker audio system.

Outback models still have only two rows of seating but five adults will ride in comfort in this vehicle.  This is the roomiest Outback ever and arrived on an all-new platform with longer wheelbase and increased width.

The 256 horsepower delivered from the boxer six propel the vehicle in modest form. Road manners are always minded and the new Outback provides one of the most comfortable driving experiences of any utility-something on the road today.

The new Subaru Outback builds on a strong tradition of safety from the automaker and is adding to its collection of honors as well. This IIHS 2010 Top Safety Pick also took home the trophy as Motor Trend’s 2010 Sport/Utility of the Year.

Pricing for a base Outback (with 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine) starts at $23,195. Our 3.6R Limited model kicks off at $31,495 with our 2011 tester coming in at a decent $33,724. Fuel economy figures for the six are rated at 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

If the Subaru Outback was the last car I would ever drive I would not be disappointed, not one bit.


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