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85 of 92 people found this review helpful
Forget the 2012 model, 2013 is the one to get
By pleximax on
2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium PZEV 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
Forget all you knew or read about the 2012 Subaru Outback, apart from the exterior/interior looks of the car, the 2013 had undergone a major update, new engine, new/updated CVT auto transmission and updated suspension. The new 2013 Outback handles more like a sedan than even the 2010-2012 Legacy. I've had the 2013 Outback for a week now, the pull from the new 2.5 engine is great, fells almost like a diesel engine. The CVT is much more response than earlier, before, the RPM would hit 4k and sound like a motorboat. On the new Outback, the engine RPM goes to 2k and you feel a great push forward, without any extra noise.
Favorite Features
As you can probably read above, I'm all about engine, transmission and handling of a car, I could care less about the looks and the fluffy stuff. This car is "brand" new in my eyes, compared to 2010-2012 Outback and engine/trans/handling more comparable to the great 2009 Subaru Outback and more of a drivers car. Its really fun to drive, you can make sharp turns in the corners and the car stays planted and level. Seats are great and supportive, great for short and long rides, space in the back seat is huge.
Suggested Improvements
Wish the cargo area was bit bigger, the slanted roof eats away a bit space, I like the more Volvo-ish square look for more interior cargo space.
Recommend (85) (7)
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Comments (13) Post a Comment
By pleximax
on 08/15/12 12:37 PM (PDT)

@andrewp2: Thanks for your posting. Glad you got to try out the CX-5 and liked it. Unfortunately, I did not try the CX-5, reason being 1) its an entirely brand new car, 2) its a brand new drive train, 3) its a high compression engine and 4) Mazda?s financials. It may be an exceptional car, but tend to steer clear of first year models as they try to work out the bugs. If only one of the three above were new, I would have considered, but its got too many new things. Don't get me wrong, I like the latest in engine/transmission technology, but after its been phased in and tuned over a few years. As for the new engine in the 2013 Outback, that engine has been used last two year in the Subaru Forrester, so I was comfortable with that. Another thing is the high compression. Its likely great, but at this early stage, I would question how well it will fare after 60k miles. There was an article on that on TTAC. As for Mazda?s financials, I would not typically consider that, but after Saab went the way of the do-do, I?ve been left with a great car (2007 9-3 Turbo), but with potential parts issue if something major arose. Add to that the depreciation (which was already high on Saabs) but even higher as Saab company went bankrupt. Mazda has been struggling for a while and I?m unsure where it will be (in the US at least) in 10 years. We tend to buy a car with 10yr perspective in mind. True, the Subaru AWD is supposedly very good, you can see comparisons if you search for "Subaru Hill Climb" in YouTube. Is AWD the primary/only reason for considering the change? Reason for asking is that I've driven a lot in snow (10 winters in Norway....and 10 short summers too..) and I know I'd rather prefer a 2WD car with dedicated good winter tires than AWD/4WD with mediocre all season tires. Plus the cargo room in your Mazda5 is probably larger than in the Outback. I tried a 2012 Mazda5, and in comparison, the 2013 Outback is quieter during high speeds, felt like I had more control at high speed also. Mazda 5 has low profile tires but I felt uncomfortable changing lanes rapidly the on highway above 70mph?.loaded with wife and 2 kids in car seat in the back. Despite the low profile tires on Mazda 5 I think it has more body lean that the 2013 Outback. Also, my 5 year old daughter found the Outback to be less jittery than the 2012 Mazda5. Cheers, plex :-)

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By andrewp2
on 08/09/12 13:34 PM (PDT)

pleximax: I like what I'm hearing! I'm on the verge of buying a replacement for my 2006 Mazda5 (a very pratical, fun-to-drive car, but I need AWD for those winter holiday trips to the Great Lakes). I tested the 2012 outback and it was pretty bad. The new Mazda CX-5 was fun on the other hand...although the Outback has more cargo space, Subaru's AWD system is supposedly the best, and the reliability is more proven. But the 2012 Outback's lack of driving fun would be a deal-killer; I'm not expecting something spectacular for the family hauler (the other car can be for that purpose), but at least something that's okay and that I could live with. Any new impressions in the last week or so? I haven't had a chance to test-drive a 2013 in the trim I want yet, they're only coming in now around here. And did you crossshop compare with the CX-5?

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By pleximax
on 08/02/12 08:16 AM (PDT)

@guitarman43: I understand your frustration, paying 30k, having issues with your car, then the loaner car (2013 model) just a few weeks later is more to your driving taste. Whether to change to 2013 or not would be a personal preference depending on how much you dislike the 2012 compared to the likes of the 2013, and if the gap in improvement is worth the potential loss in $$$ if you change. I started thinking about family car shopping back in 2009 (btw, I'm very very slow in pulling the trigger on new car purchase, never an impulse car shopper) and drove the 2009 Outback, which dispite its shortcomings, in the handling department was simply outstanding, even better handling than my 2007 Saab 2.0 Turbo (tuned). Possible I may have been biased by that, and I know that many Subie drivers purchase the car for it handling. But when trying the 2010 when it first came out, it was a total letdown. Granted, it was bigger, more room, updates to fabric etc etc, but in the handling department it was a total dog. Engine in 2010 (which was an older design 2.5) combined with a CVT with high "rubberband" feeling was totally inadequate for the car. On the plus side, this gave the car a good milage, which I think Subaru tried to squeeze the juice on.......and as you know, you can rarely have both power and good milage....unless you get a Tesla. Later again, in 2012, I drove both 2012 Outback and 2012 Legacy. I really wanted to like at least one of them (drove the Legacy thinking that as Legacy is closer to the ground, it may be less bouncy that the was as unstable and bouncy as the OB) But I could not get past the engine/tranny/handling of the car. I was almost getting ready for a TSX Wagon for some $$$ more, although the TSX is a bit smaller on the interior. Then I heard about the 2013 Outback, read about the updates, and ordered one from factory without having driven one (with the option not to purchase should it not be of liking). I actually got it for within estimated $300-500 more than a comparable 2012. With this in mind, I'm sure you can fetch a price close to your purchase price of the car, add $500 more and get the 2013. I cannot set a price on the difference as for me, the 2012 was dealbreaker from get to, would not have bought 2012 for even $3000 less, but thats my personal preference. Ok, to answer you question (finally), I would try to see what the dealer could do to get you in a 2013. My experience with Subaru salesfolks is that, although Subaru salesfolks seems to know more about the car they are selling than the average salesman, not all knew about the 2013 updates. And, also if they knew, they tried to downplay the changes....because at the time of this writing (2nd of Aug 2012) they still have many 2012 on the lot, they would not have any incentives to push a 2013 unless you demanded one. So take the salesmans/saleswomans word with a huge grain of salt. A quick 500 mile update. Still happy with our 2013 Outback, had the opportunity to tag behind a Mercedes AMG on a semi-tight 270 degree offramp. Suggested speed was 20mph, AMG drove at approx 45-50 mpg and I tried the same. I had the windows closed and one hand on top of the steerling wheel, the car went through the ramp without any drama, no feel of under- nor oversteer. I pushed the car so much that with windows closed, I could hear the brand new Conti tires screeching, felt like they were about to let go of the grip (but did not) but still the car went through the ramp like a champ. Had I done that with our previous family car (03 Mitsu Galant V6), I would have had two hands on the steerling wheel trying to combat the understeer. Also had the chance to take swift turns, twice the speed or regular in parking garages, and takes turns very confidently. To the 2012 OBs defence, in the 2013 suspension is a bit firmer, so you do notice uneven roads more. If soft suspension (Lincoln Towncar-esque) is your game, you may like the 2012 better. A common test I do in all my test drives, I bring the car up to over 60mph, typically around 70mph, look around to see that there are no cars, then do emergency lane changes to see how well and how swiftly the rear follows the front of the car. Just to compare, the 2013 Outback's rear is faster then the 2012 Accord and much faster than the 2012 Crosstour in getting in line. Feel free to pose any questions or comments etc, I'd be happy to provide you specific feedback and also check for specific things on my 2013 OB if need be. cheers, plex :-)

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By wolfie8
on 08/25/12 19:01 PM (PDT)

Pleximax: I'm trying to decide between a '13 Legacy or Outback. (may also consider the '13 Accord when it arrives) Would you say the '13 Outback is pleasurable or fun to drive or just average? From what you describe it sounds like the cvt transmission does engine braking. Do you find this annoying or something that isn't a big adjustment?

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By guitarman43
on 08/01/12 08:40 AM (PDT)

I recently purchased a 2012 Outback & have owned it for about 3 weeks, it has just under a 1,000 miles. I had read some of the online criticism, about being sluggish, lack of power & noisy. I had mentioned this to the dealership & they down played these comments saying you can't trust consumer reviews or Consumer Reports. Recently I had the privilege of driving a 2013 Outback for about a week while the dealership was repainting the tailgate from scratches they made while cleaning it up! When I picked it up the body shop didn't even bother to put the decals in the correct position setting them to low on the tailgate. I complained to the sales lady that was disatisfied, she said that we want you to be happy & was I serious. Well, after having it back a few days, there is no denying that it hesitates going up my driveway that has a slight incline since it is on a hill side. It bogs down and almost stops a minute like it could die, then picks up steam and reached the top, it seems to be sluggish until you reach over 40 miles per hour, this is so frustrating to me having paid over $30,000 for this car. Would the consensus of reviewers recommend taking this car back while there is still time or just keep it & live with the inadequacies?

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By pleximax
on 08/15/12 12:38 PM (PDT)

New impressions since last time: 1) Engine braking. When going sharp downhill, where you would typically expect your car to pick up speed, in the Outback, if I let go of the accelerator pedal, the car keeps its RPM at the same level when you let go of the gas pedal and keeps your speed the same, at most increasing 1 or 2 mph. My previous car (2003 Galant), in the same hill, if in 3rd gear, if I'd let go of the gas pedal, would promptly start to gain speed and shift to 4th gear, increasing the speed more rapidly and constantly having to apply the brakes. With the Outback, I drove the entire hill (approx 1000-1500 feet) without touching the brake pedal at all and thus, over time reducing brake pad wear. The Outback applies the engine/CVT braking whether I'm going downhill at 10mph or 40mph. Once I press the gas pedal again, it starts increasing speed. 2) Door resistance. The car doors when opened, I wish the had a tad more resistance to it and a few areas where it would partially lock itself. The "lock" area is only there when the door is wide open. If you're in the tight parking spot, you have to keep one hand on the door in order to prevent it from opening further and hitting the other car, especially if you've parked on a hill. 3) Steering wheel slack. There is none, almost. At any given speed, there is a max of 1/8th of an inch play at the center. So the wheels start changing direction almost immediately when turning the wheel. In comparison, our 2003 Galant has amost an inch, our 2007 Saab 9-3 turbo has half an inch. I prefer the immediate feedback from the car and makes the car more responsive during emergency maneuvers. 4) I got to drive via the same off ramp again as earlier at high speed, wheels screeching. Only thing that I would need to enjoy that even more would be bucketed Recaro seats to keep me in I went so fast that my left shoulder was almost touching the door panel....again, without any under- nor over steer, like a car or rails. 5) Stock car stereo is very decent. Base Outback has 4 speakers, my Premium model has 6. May not be good initially but as you know, amplifiers and speakers get better the more you use them. Also when testing the stereo, make sure that you enable the SRS Surround feature in the adjustment menu, it will change the soundstage for the better. 6) To prospective buyers of the Subaru all weather rubber mats, there are better options out there with higher lips that cover the sides better and will keep the dirt/liquids on the mat. The Subaru optional rubber mats don?t have side lips so dirt/water may easily spill on the side. I spent $70 extra (over the Subaru floor mats) and got great all-covering rubber mats from MaxFloorMat, a cheaper option to the pricier WeatherTech and Husky. Cheers, plex :-)

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By jetpilot767
on 08/29/12 11:01 AM (PDT)

wolfie8, you might look at my review of my 3.6 Limited. I do a lot of traveling and typically rent Outbacks and Legacys in the Seattle area. I have had 2.5 premium and limited models (2010-2012) as well as previous 2008 and 2009 models. I agree that the handling and body roll of the 2010-2012 models was disappointing compared to earlier models but thankfully the 2013 has regained the point and shoot characteristics of the previous generation. I can't recommend what body style you want but, as I said in my review, the Outback is the Swiss Army Knife of wagon / suvs. And, the 2013 is FUN to drive! Good luck.

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By jetpilot767
on 09/03/12 08:11 AM (PDT)

pleximax, I surely am having fun and am more and more impressed with the chassis dynamics every day. The Outback won't go everywhere a Jeep Wrangler might go but it will go where almost all of the other crossovers would give up in a heartbeat. We have quite a few ice/snow events here in hilly northern Georgia every year. I was amazed when trying to climb a slippery hill in my BMW X-5 a few years ago that a Subaru Outback nonchalantly drove by me and up the hill as if it was on dry pavement. There is some magic there! Yes the 3.6 makes the Outback into a really good performance car, but the gas mileage suffers a bit. I'm averaging about 25MPG in combined city and country roads. I'm not a heavy footer but passing slower traffic sure happens quickly. Wolfie, I don't think you'll be disappointed with the new 2.5. It is a BIG improvement over the last edition based on my test drive.

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By wolfie8
on 09/01/12 20:08 PM (PDT)

Thnx pleximax & Jetpilot767. I'm new to this Edmund's forum & it learned it doesn't generate emails to threads subsribed to. Good feedback. I'm looking at 2.5 for max. mpg. I like the ground clearance of the OB vs. the Legacy living in Midwest. There's few awd or 4wd vehicles with such clean ground clearance compared to the OB. Glad it is fun to drive. Learning info on this site helps me before I go into the dealer.

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By pleximax
on 08/31/12 13:15 PM (PDT)

@wolfie8: Sorry for the late reply. Well, its subjective what you like, ie sedan vs wagon/Outback. The 2013 is very likely a good car like my 13OB, however, you're a bit limited in the cargo department. Not only the fact that its a sedan vs the hatch that a wagon has, but the trunk loading area, the gap from bottom to top is very narrow, much more narrower then even some compact cars I've seen, so putting in large boxes or suitcases may be an issue. If you're set on getting a sedan and not too big on handling or AWD, then there are other sedans that may be a better pick. Also when it comes to resale, I think the Legacy is very bland looking and will have to compete with Camry/Accords which people will prefer over a Legacy. Outback on the other hands is a one of kind, if you disregard other heightened luxury wagons like Audi All-road and Volvo XC70, but then you?re looking at much more $$$, and they seem to holding their values pretty well, even in my area (Mid-Atlantic/NoVa) where I don?t see that many Subies on the road. So to sum it up, my (biased) take (as I already own a OB)?..2013 Outback > 2013 Accord > 2013 Legacy. Thanks Plex

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By pleximax
on 08/31/12 13:37 PM (PDT)

@jetpilot767: I have the 4-cyl 2.5, I was just thinking the other day that if I had the 3.6 2013 OB (I drove that engine in a 2011 Tribeca), and with the 2013 OBs handling, AWD and VDC, you could drive rings around many of the sub-$30k quasi-sports cars out there, the 3.6 in OB would be a dream come true as very discrete fun car as well (with the option to haul). I just think I may go for the 3.6 OB when my turbo Saab reaches its limit. you're enjoying your OB, based on your review I know you are having loads of fun. Congrats with the purchase. Cheers, Plex.

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By pleximax
on 08/31/12 13:28 PM (PDT)

@wolfie8 again. Sorry, did not answer all your questions. Yes, the OB is definitely fun to drive, reason being that?s it nice and firm (like the 2009 Outback), engine/CVT has some kick to it (for a 4 cyl) and it goes where you point it. The latter may not sound like a big deal, but is achieve with the combination of Subies AWD and VDC (Vehicle Dynamics Control). You may want to look at youtube how Subies with VDC works, it what helps keep the car on the intended track and avoid over/under-steer. You won?t truly know/enjoy the benefit of VDC until you have to perform an emergency maneuver, either on wet or dry. There?s also a video on youtube that compares 4WD/AWD systems of Subie vs Toyota vs Honda vs Ford and Nissan and how they work in emergency handing situations. Because of the above, I think I tend to keep a higher speed than usual in corners (within the speed limit of course) even with family on board. As for the engine/CVT breaking I find it really useful. Generally when you take your foot off the gas pedal, chances are that you don?t want to increase speed anymore when in downhill and that is exactly what the Outback does for you, it mains speed there without having to worry what you end of hill speed will be. Its not intrusive, but the level of intrusiveness depends on how step the downhill is. In a steeper hill, the CVT would have to increase RPM, lets say 600RPMs to maintain speed whilst in a lower gradient hill, and RPM increase of 200 may suffice?..and the engine/cvt works this out on the fly without hunting for the right amount of RPMs. It?s a very welcome adjustment and I don?t have to keep pressing the brakes. Possible that that?s the reason why Subaru gave me 3yrs/36,000 miles warranty on also brake wear/brake pad as they know they will last a long time? Thanks Plex

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By pleximax
on 09/17/12 07:32 AM (PDT)

hi again. Forgot to mentioned, for those of you who decide to get your Outback with the factory (or dealer)-installed hood-protector, please ensure to remove the foam strip beneath the hood protector as soon as possible. Reason is that keeping the foam strip there will gather debris and if it gets underneath the foam strip, you won't be able to wash away and worse, as it vibrates at high speed, it will grind the paint on the hood, defeating the purpose of the hood protector. Remove the foam strip as soon as you get delivery of your car while the glue has not settled in yet, that way you can take away the strip without leaving any residue. Four screws takes of the protector, then peel of the foam, takes just 5 minutes to do. I do not see any purpose of the foam, and I've had my OB up to 90 MPH without noticing any vibration or extra wind noise or anything. Cheers, plex.

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