For such a heavy car, it is underpowered. However, for such a large vehicle, it drives wonderfully, handling like a sports car around turns with minimal understeer. At 76K miles, my head gaskets began to leak despite the fact that the car was always well cared for. Other than that, no mechanical problems. For 6'+, however, the car is cramped and overall interior design isn't as good as it could be. The stance is great for getting around in the snow or driving over small obstacles. For the price, the car has been great, but look into the H6 engine.
AWD, heated seats
Performance, legroom, longevity of essential parts
This is a totally honest car, anything essential is generously equipped in the base modal. Those not found, they are bells and whistles. The roof rail has 4 bars (most others just have 2 bars, you will know the difference when you carry a bag or mattress on top). My wife feels fully confident and safe in it. Very stable on all kinds of road, no matter in snow, sleet, icy or wet. We enjoyed engine's humming sound on the high way when passing big trucks with speed well over 70mph. Thoughtful console design,leaving ample space for all the odds and ends. Downside is battery leak in the 3rd year. In its 5th year there is some wind noise developing at driver side.
Unblocked rear view with large side mirrors and rear window (I believe getting a clear back view is crucial to safety). Spacious trunk, easily hold 2 bicycles. Heated mirror, heated seat. Windshield wiper deicer. Nice wood-like interior trim. Even the base model's stereo is decent.
No side/head airbag. Slow acceleration, especially when climbing slopes. Make the button for heating mirror auto reset to non-heat mode after engine stops. So is the fog light button. The button for real window heater works this way.
2003 Subaru Outback Limited AWD 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
My wife is a nurse who has to drive 35 miles each way to and from work in all kinds of weather. Before she used a Nissan 4WD pick-up, which worked well, but it seemed a bit top heavy to her in the snow and was severely under-powered. She absolutely loves this Subaru as she says it powers through everything Mother Nature throws our way here in Maine. In fact she says it's a lot like driving a tank as it goes through anything with no issues. We've had no problems and honestly feel the 4-cylinders provide plenty of giddy-up and go for us.
One word: reliability. OK, maybe three more words: All Wheel Drive. If you need to get from "here to there" and don't want to be left beside the road or finance your mechanic's boat payment this is a great car. Handles well. I also like the heated seats.
It's not perfect. Road noise is notable but not obnoxiously loud. Interior and exterior design doesn't overly impress me.
I am generally happy with this car. It gives me the cargo capacity that I need and is also useful as a passenger car. My car is a 4-cylinder and it seems a little weak on acceleration and going up hills. This can be particularly annoying when trying to merge onto the highway. Probably the 6-cylinder engine is best on this vehicle.
One thing that I liked about this car was that it came with so many standard features. I didn't feel the need to add accessories. Cruise control, a/c, moonroof (2 of them) were standard.
The electrical system does not generate enough power to power a bunch of accessories at the same time. When I have the heater, headlights and defroster on, the wipers start to slow down if I am idling. This was a problem in 2 other Subarus I had too.
My wife was talked into this car when she bought it. We wanted a safe and affordable wagon, but that doesn't mean subaru is a great car either!!! The exterior is disgusting, and wind noise is terrible. I can barely hear people talking! It accelerates like a donkey. Don't buy this car.