2006 Subaru Outback Wagon Review | Edmunds.com

2006 Subaru Outback Wagon

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Subaru Outback Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Flat 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 175 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/26 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2006 Subaru Outback

  • Solid all-terrain capability, nimble handling, a varied engine lineup and a luxurious interior make the 2006 Subaru Outback an excellent all-weather family vehicle. If you're thinking of buying a traditional SUV, you may find this Subaru car a better fit.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Standard all-wheel drive, generous standard equipment list, exemplary build and materials quality, strong power from turbo and H6 engines, balanced ride and handling dynamics, capable performance off-road.

  • Cons

    Automatic transmission upshifts too early, desirable features restricted to top-line VDC model, smaller backseat than most competitors.

  • What's New for 2006

    A navigation system has been added to the options list for 2006, and trim levels have been realigned. Non-turbo four-cylinder models get a bump in horsepower (now up to 175) thanks to a new variable valve-lift system.

Full 2006 Subaru Outback Review

What's New for 2006

A navigation system has been added to the options list for 2006, and trim levels have been realigned. Non-turbo four-cylinder models get a bump in horsepower (now up to 175) thanks to a new variable valve-lift system.

Introduction

We've been fans of the Outback since its inception. Little did Subaru know that back in 1995, when the Japanese automaker introduced a gussied-up Legacy Wagon called the Outback, that it was about to revolutionize the way Americans thought of sport-utility vehicles. Essentially a trim package that included gray trim, white-lettered tires and a catchy name, the Subaru Outback became a phenomenon in 1996 after it was billed "The World's First Sport-Utility Wagon." That's the year Subaru raised the suspension, added large headlight-size foglights and boosted power.

Although an excellent alternative to SUV ownership, the Outback began to lose its edge as more and more manufacturers added kinder, gentler crossover SUVs to their lineups. By the early years of the 21st century, Subaru's heavy-duty wagon was surrounded by a population of car-based SUVs that could do most of what it did, while offering more room for growing families. So for 2005, the Outback underwent a full redesign during which it slimmed down, powered up and slipped into some more stylish digs.

Like the Legacy, the Subaru Outback takes on a sleeker, more angular look this year, but it has a more aggressive grille, raised hood strakes and, on the wagon, dark tinted rear glass. Additionally, Subaru decided that buyers were no longer so enthusiastic about the "just in from the woods" aesthetic of the original Outbacks, so all models wear black-letter tires instead of the expected white-letter sidewalls. In spite of its more upscale look, the Subaru Outback is actually more rugged than ever before. Ground clearance ranges from 8.4 to 8.7 inches depending on the model you choose -- previously, the tallest Outback stood just 7.9 inches off the ground.

Inside, the cockpit has a much more cohesive look along with a classy two-tone ensemble. Meanwhile, there's some big news under the hood. A modified version of the WRX STi's 2.5-liter turbocharged engine with 250 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque has joined the lineup. Models with this engine are an intriguing alternative to the pricey H6. It has torque and an available manual transmission, and it's the faster of the two and an obvious choice for weekend enthusiasts. For those who prefer the smoothness of six cylinders, the H6 motor picks up variable valve timing and lift this year so that it, too, is up to 250 hp. For those on a budget, Subaru will continue to offer a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine as well.

The 2006 Subaru Outback is a wagon with no equal when it comes to off-road capability and, with a powerful engine lineup and sharp reflexes on pavement, you'll find it fun to drive even when the weather isn't terrible. A small backseat will keep it from competing with larger-capacity SUVs, but for the family of four looking for stylish transportation for all seasons, it could be a perfect fit.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The Subaru Outback is available as a wagon or sedan. Wagons come in 2.5i, 2.5 XT, 3.0 R, 3.0 R L.L. Bean and 3.0 R VDC Limited. Limited Packages are available on 2.5i and 2.5 XT models. The sedan comes in a single L.L. Bean trim. The 2.5i models include 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, a CD player, a power driver seat, cruise control, trip computer and a rear limited-slip differential. Opt for the Limited package and you'll get heated leather seats, a wiper de-icer, a CD changer, dual-zone automatic climate control and dual moonroofs. Upgrade to the 2.5 XT and you get 17-inch wheels, bigger brakes, sport seats and a Momo steering wheel; order the Limited Package to get leather upholstery and the moonroofs. The base 3.0 R model is equipped much like the XT, while other 3.0s come with a full load of luxury amenities, plus a tire-pressure monitor, steering wheel audio controls and mahogany trim. The L.L. Bean model offers perforated leather upholstery, while the VDC wagon is your ticket to stability control and an upgraded stereo. A navigation system is also standard on the VDC; it's optional on the XT and L.L. Bean.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2.5i model is powered by a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that makes 175 horsepower. The 2.5 XT upgrades to a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine with 250 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. The 3.0 models come with a 3.0-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder (H6) good for 250 hp and 219 lb-ft of torque. Either 2.5-liter engine can be equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic is available on 2.5i models while 2.5 XT models get a five-speed auto. The H6 is only available with the five-speed automatic.

Safety

All Outback models have four-wheel antilock disc brakes with EBD, front-seat side-impact airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active head restraints. Stability control is reserved for the top-line 3.0 R VDC Limited wagon.

Interior Design and Special Features

Inside, the Subaru Outback has a clean design with high-quality materials. Turbo models have darker interiors with metallic trim and electroluminescent gauges, while 3.0 models get matte-finish wood grain trim on the console that matches the real mahogany trim on the steering wheel. The seats are supportive, but the backseat is a bit tight for adults. Wagons provide 33.5 cubic feet of capacity behind their rear seats; 66 cubes with the seats folded.

Driving Impressions

Out on the road, the 2006 Subaru Outback rides smoothly and feels surefooted in the corners. Taken off-road, it can scamper up a rutted hillside with more gusto than just about any crossover SUV. Although the base engine provides only adequate power, acceleration is quick with either the turbo four or the H6. Unfortunately, the Outback's automatic transmissions still leave much to be desired, as they sap power by upshifting too early.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews



Sure-footed, but incredibly unreliable

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)

My '06 2.5i Ltd. (118,000 mi.) blew its head gaskets for the second time in less than 3 yrs. today. Replaced all 4 sets of wheel bearings at least once, broken front axle, wiring harness on back hatch, door handle, console cover broke off completely years ago, rear defrost never did work properly, etc. Never had a car in the shop as much as this one. Loved the traction - absolutely hated the total lack of quality in this vehicle. Not feeling the love... If you insist on a Subaru, but a model from '08 or newer - they are supposedly much more reliable.



3 of 3 people found this review helpful

It's like a cockroach -

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)

My 2006 Outback Wagon has over 132,000 miles on it, and has been completely trouble free for 7 years. It drives no differently than it did when it was new. I'd actually kind of like a new car, but it's hard to justify the expense when this one is paid for and is so reliable.



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Check engine light horrors

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Vehicle: 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5 XT 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M)

I loved my Roo until the Check Engine Light came on. First it was the O-2 sensors code that came up. After a $400 cost to replace those, then came a code indicating Random Misfire and I replaced the plugs, then came a P20296 code showing eventually that it needed a new computer which will cost over $600 for a 2nd hand one - almost $900 for a new one. You have to get it re-keyed with a new Electronic Control Module. Nickel and dime to death isn't the word for it! When those codes come up, you have no cruise either! All of this has happened within a few weeks.



10 of 10 people found this review helpful

Worry free vehicle

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Vehicle: 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5 XT Ltd 4dr Wagon AWD w/Black Int (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M)

I bought my 5spd OBXT Limited new back in '06. Have not had a single problem after 6 years and 53K miles. The car is bullet proof, both mechanically and cosmetically. Paint has held up extemely well, very chip resistant. As for traction, the car is unstoppable in snow. Two foot drifts barely register with the Subie's tenacious AWD and ample road clearance. If you live in or near a snow belt, these cars are at the very top of the food chain. Best part is performance. The XT has some STi DNA. It eats Audi A4's for lunch in the stoplight wars. Reliability, unflappable AWD, lightening quick w/turbo, sharp looking. Love it, love it, love it! I plan to hopefully ride it another 6 years.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Can't believe this is a

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)

I bought my 2006 Outback used with 78K miles. After 800 miles of driving, the weather turned cold and the tranny started slamming from 3rd into 4th. I took it to the dealer and they recommended I replace the tranny for $3400. There's also a rubber/oil burning smell when driven long distances. The radio and drivers window randomly stop working and the entire lighter assembly pulled completely out when I tried to unplug my car charger. This car must have been built the Monday after Superbowl Sunday before coffee. I'm so disappointed in this car. Subaru is supposed to be so reliable but I can't wait to trade it. The good is it does great in the snow. I had a 2003 Impreza and loved it!




Dependable workhorse

by on
Vehicle: 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)

Our family has been running this Outback for almost four years. We put a little over 50K miles on it, with probably 30K of daily commute and 10K of annual ski trips. Subarus are usually praised for their AWD, but in the first couple of winters I had some skidding incidents (shouldn't have pressed the gas pedal so carelessly on tight turns! This is a manual transmission car, so not all of the fancy electronic stabilization systems are available). Once that has been figured out, we found ourselves working as a snow taxi for our friends in a small Midwestern town. I was disappointed with the fuel economy at first (it was clearly below the nominal rating), but then it somehow got better.



Talk About The 2006 Outback

2006 Subaru Outback Discussions See all Started By

zenproductions
zenproductions
07-29-2008
Hey all, I own a 2006 Subaru Outback with 60,986 miles about 250 miles ago my pass CV boot ruptured spilling it's guts all over my engine. This isn't so bad, fluke right? Wrong, my car is back in th...


club619
club619
03-17-2010
I'm pricing a few SUV's/Crossovers, and I just got a quote back from my insurance company (has a small green spokesperson). I currently drive a 2006 4Runner, and the 2010 SRX and the 2010 MDX premium...


seattleoutback
seattleoutback
04-19-2014
Looking for some advice - not sure if this is the right board to post this on. I recently lost my beloved 99 Outback with 195K miles on it during a bad accident. Now trying to replace it with another ...



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