Designed for the everyday
The 2013 Subaru Outback is quite possibly exactly what you’re looking for -- but you don’t know it. The Outback is roomy, capacious, well built and oh-so smart.
As a family car or a tool for work, the 2013 Subaru Outback can do it all, including tow up to 1,224 kg (2,700 lb). By the looks of it, one would not guess that a lowly station wagon could conquer the outback and mall parking lots, but the fact is that it does and with uncanny ease.
The revised 2013 Subaru Outback continues to bring capabilities and all-weather excellence together in one convenient and well thought out package. I simply wish that the Lineatronic CVT would be sent over to Honda’s transmission engineers for some much needed tweaking.
The era of the CVT
I’m torn (OK, I’m not) about the CVT (continuously variable transmission). I understand that it has fewer moving parts and can have a positive impact on fuel consumption, but why must it kill driving pleasure?
Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT is not the worst ‘box of its kind, but I still don’t like it. My feelings are clearly summed up in my 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek review. And I really mean it when I say that Subaru, Nissan and a few other manufacturers should sit down with Honda engineers for a few pointers on how to tune a CVT to make it interesting. Miranda talks about it in her 2013 Honda Accord review.
Despite the presence of wheel mounted paddles for some type of driver implication, the CVT simply clings to engine rpm to know what to do. It’s highly unpleasant, especially when negotiating urban streets where engine speed never seems to settle. It’s unsettling.
Thankfully, I’ve driven many a Subaru with the company’s signature 2.5L boxer 4-cylinder engine. I say thankfully as I’ve experienced Imprezas and others with this engine matched to a 5-speed manual gearbox. At 173 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, the big-4 isn’t the powerhouse it could be, but is well regulated to the Outback’s raison-d’être.
Once the CVT’s done what it does, the 2013 Subaru Outback eagerly gets into the swing of things. The meat of the powerband is located in the high 3,000-rpm range and proves to be more than adequate for passing and acceleration. Mind you, the big wagon is no race car, but will generally get the job done. All the while, I managed 9.0L per 100 km which is not as good as I expected.
AWD is king
Subaru needs not remind everyone that their symmetrical full-time all-wheel drive system with electronically controlled multi-plate transfer clutch (viscous-coupling limited-slip centre differential with the 6MT) is excellent, so I will: Subaru’s symmetrical AWD system is excellent.
To put it simply: the 2013 Subaru Outback’s drivability is exceptional. It begins with AWD, but in clement weather where its presence is not so obvious, the car’s solid chassis and independent suspension demonstrate how well sorted the car is.
The 2013 Subaru Outback’s ride is composed and confident. Whether the car is jumping curbs (not that I did such a thing), navigating country roads or burning up a highway, the Outback’s composure is at odds with its looks.
The 2013 Subaru Outback’s love-or-hate styling is more utility vehicle than wagon -- this according to Subaru. I don’t buy it ‘cause I think the Outback is a gorgeous and rare station wagon that I love.
Don’t be thinking that the high ground clearance and beefy bumpers are all for show. The Outback can take you there and traverse some pretty serious terrain. The tight turning radius further displays the 2013 Subaru Outback’s vocation, but I digress. Everything you see is highly functional, including the roof-rack system with swing-in-place crossbars.
Tall crossovers have nothing on it
The cabin is far more sedate, but ever a decent place to spend time. It is comfortable and well appointed. The front seats are equally cozy and generate a fair amount of support for both short and long distances.
The rear bench is also accommodating as three could take place, however, it’s always better when there are only two.
The 2013 Subaru Outback’s trunk is the kicker. With the second row in place, the voluminous boot swallows up to 857 liters in one large gulp. Need more? With the rear bench out of the way, the Outback will take on 2,019 liters of cargo. This is equal or better than many crossovers, including a number of midsize ones.
The 2013 Subaru Outback is an impressively smart package, but it’s a shame about the CVT transmission.
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