Long popular for its solid build quality and functional versatility, the 2012 Subaru Outback once again has loads of appeal, including a pleasant ride, respectable off-road capabilities for a wagon, a spacious cabin with generous storage possibilities and good crash test scores. Of particular uniqueness is its 8.7 inches of ground clearance that's paired with a very competent all-wheel-drive system.
That's not to say the Outback is intended for challenging off-roading, but it's certainly capable when it comes to traversing narrow wood trails when camping and handling slippery, snow-covered streets. And it does so while also offering a comfortable and quiet driving experience in everyday life around town and on the highway. Then toss in its large storage capacity and the Outback is certainly an extremely versatile family vehicle that's available with either a full-efficient four-cylinder engine or a more robust V6 for those who prefer more power.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2012 Subaru Outback is available in six trims, designiated by engine displacement and feature level: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 3.6R, 3.6R Premium and 3.6R Limited.
Standard features on the already well-equipped base 2.5i include power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, automatic headlights, air-conditioning, cruise control, keyless entry, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 16-inch steel wheels, a full array of safety features (see below), roof rack rails, a height-adjustable driver seat, an anti-theft system and engine immobilizer, 60/40-split-folding rear seats which also recline, a power liftgate, halogen headlights, a trip computer, a tire pressure monitor, steering wheel mounted audio controls and a 4-speaker audio system with a CD player, an MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack. Available options for this model include an Alloy Wheel package that adds 16-inch alloys and foglights, as well as an All Weather package that includes heated mirrors, heated front seats and a windshield wiper de-icer.
Moving up to the 2.5i Premium adds an 8-way power driver seat, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming capability, 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a cargo cover, body-color mirrors, foglights, a tinted rear window and a 6-speaker stereo system with an iPod/USB audio interface. The All-Weather package is also available on the 2.5i Premium as well as the Power Moonroof package that obviously includes a moonroof, plus a rearview camera. CVT (continuously variable transmission) models also have access to a 9-speaker Harman Kardon premium sound system with satellite radio, a 4.3-inch LCD screen display and HD radio.
On the 2.5i Limited, additional standard features include leather upholstery, a 4-way power passenger seat, wood trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, the premium Harman Kardon audio system, the All-Weather package and the CVT . Available options for the Limited include navigation (with an 8-inch display, voice controls and a rearview camera) as well as the Power Moonroof package.
Features on the 3.6R models are similar to the corresponding 2.5i's in terms of both standard and optional, with a few differences. All 3.6R models come with a V6 engine, a 5-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and bigger brakes. The base 3.6R also comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, a cargo cover and rear tinted glass.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
There are two engine choices when it comes to powering the all-wheel-drive-only Subaru Outback. The 2.5i models are outfitted with a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed ("boxer") four-cylinder engine that outputs 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. This engine is paired with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a CVT.
In performance tests, a manual 2.5i was timed from a standstill to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds ... about average for a four-cylinder crossover. In terms of gas mileage performance, models with this engine have an EPA-estimate of 22 mpg city and 29 mpg on the highway with the CVT and 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway with the manual.
Under the hood of Outback 3.6R models is a 3.6-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine that pumps out 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. This engine is paired only with a 5-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles and its fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 18 city and 25 highway. It's also been timed in the 0 - 60 mph sprint in a quick 7.3 seconds ... an impressive time for a V6-powered wagon or crossover.
Standard safety features for all 2012 Subaru Outbacks include stability control, traction control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes (ABS), front side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags that extend over both rows.
In the new and more rigoress government government crash tests, the Outback earned a solid overall score of four stars (out of five), with a rating of four stars for both frontal-impact occupant protection and side-impact occupant protection.
The 2012 Outback's cabin is attractive, roomy and user-friendly. The downside, however, is a bit too much use of hard plastics. That said, the seating is comfortable and supportive, both front and rear, while the number of features and their level of quality compares very positively.
The Outback has also grown larger in recent years making for comfortable accommodations with plenty of legroom and headroom. And those long trips are made more pleasant for passengers with seatbacks that conveniently recline. Cargo capacity comes in at a very useful 34.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats. For larger loads, storage can be expanded to a generous 71.3 cubic feet by folding down the rear seats.
While the 2012 Outback offers a comfortable ride, satisfactory handling and a quiet cabin, as it grew larger than its previous generation it sacrificed some of it's agile road manners, putting it about on par with the crossover SUVs it competes with. It's most significant plus on the road is its very good all-wheel-drive system which makes it particularly well-suited for snowy and icy locales.
It's 8.7 inches of ground clearance also enable it to handle light off-roading duties. No, it's not intended as a rock climber such as the Jeep Wrangler, but it does a fine job handling narrow, rutted trails off the beaten path when on that camping trip in the back woods.
Most drivers will likely be satisfied with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine as it offers an acceptable level of performance as well as respectable fuel economy. Of course, the stronger 3.6-liter V6 would be the better choice for those who value brisk acceleration or anticipate frequent hilly driving conditions or full passenger/cargo loads.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
Best Negotiating Tactic: Well, there's definitely a 'best way' when it comes to new car buying. If you want to get the best bottomline, out-the-door price you need to know exactly who to talk to at the dealership, how to make the contact and how to make this person eager to quickly drop prices as low as possible to get your sale.