Date Driven: 3/22/2011 (2011 Outback 3.6R)
Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds feels strong thanks to its quick-shifting 5-speed automatic, which also matches revs on downshifts. The 3,650-pound 3.6R completed the quarter-mile in 15.5 seconds @ 90.4 mph. It has plenty of power.
Through transitions the Outback feels well balanced and its steering communicative. It?s a capable highway cruiser. Off-road the 3.6R manages moderate low-traction situations nicely. It's fun.
Front seats were comfortable over long distances while maintaining reasonable level of support. Rear seats received praise for their ability to recline. A tilt and telescopic steering wheel affords the driver a personalized fit.
Wind and road noise are evident but not intrusive. Tall sidewalls of Continental ContiProContact all-season tires contribute to the melody, but also nonintrusive. Exterior noise is nothing the radio can't drown out at low volumes.
Climate controls are easily dialed knobs. Radio controls are a less-friendly button and knob combination. All primary and secondary controls are easily located and labeled, however. Steering wheel-mounted buttons are a plus.
Lots of glass. There are no significant blindspots from the driver seat of the Outback. Rear hatch design limits some visibility, though the optional rearview camera ($2,995 as package 08) in our test car remedied the problem.
Seat Access & Space
This is a tall, wide wagon. It offers plenty of space for passengers in all directions. Most body types will be able to access the Outback without struggle. There is ample room for 4 passengers with one carry-on size item apiece.
Cargo & Storage
Wagon versatility and increased dimensions characterize the updated Outback. Storage behind the second row of seats is significant and protected by an available waterproof mat. Fold the 60/40 seats flat to increase the cargo area further.
We did not encounter any build quality issues with our test car. Good fit and finish.
All-wheel drive and reasonable ground clearance make the Outback off-road ready. Just don't get too crazy, there is no locking diff. Snow and semi-maintained gravel roads are its forte.