I traded in my 04 Highlander for the Outback, primarily because I needed a small SUV type vehicle that would get better gas mileage, and be comfortable on trips etc.
This Outback met all my expectations.
The seats are very comfortable, gas mileage is better now that the engine is broken in and the Chicago weather is warming.
I get about 27MPG in mixed suburban/highway driving with the 2.5 engine.
I noticed that the mileage suffers when the engine is cold (runs richer) and can take some time to warm up on real cold days.
Constant short trips will kill gas mileage, fyi.
Engine has plenty of pep which was an initial concern and I was impressed on how quiet and refined it is.
I love the CVT for it's smooth acceleration.
I have the Navi + eyesight which I use constantly on the highway.
The eyesight cruise control keeps you at a safe distance from the car in front and breaks as needed when the car you are following slows down. It also alerts you to stationary objects in front and alerts you when veering out of your lane.
Pretty cool technology.
I also love the bluetooth technology.
Connects to my iphone automatically and takes control of my stored music allowing me to play, search, ff, etc with all the controls on steering wheel or dash display.
It also handles very well, turns on a dime and the all wheel drive is wonderful in the snow.
I think they could significantly improve gas mileage by adding direct fuel injection to the existing 4 cyl. or add a diesel / hybrid approach.
Steering is a little vague on the highway and the aerodynamics at high speed could be improved.
I believe the 2015 model addresses that.
I also noticed that wind sheers buffets the car around at high speeds, more so than previously owned cars.
I would like to see a radar warning system in both the front, back and sides in place of the Eyesight.
The Eyesight has limitations as it turns itself off in direct frontal/low sunlight and I've had mixed effectiveness with night time usage.
I have had the car for 3 mths now with 1600 miles on it.
Update at 6300 miles: I noticed that driving the car cold really decreases the mileage and I discovered why, at least partially (besides the fact that its running very rich): the car's transmission is programmed to keep the transmission gear ratio in the lower gears while running cold, probably to give more acceleration. You can verify this by moving the transmission lever into the manual position once your speed is constant. You will notice that driving at 50 mph for example, your gear is only in 5th when it could be the top gear ratio (6). Once the car warms up however, moving it to the manual position again at the same speed will show that the transmission is in the high gear ratio (6 on the dash display).
So what I have started doing (if I can remember) while the engine is cold, after I reach my cruising speed, I move the lever to manual and up-shift the transmission to the highest gear that it will allow (the dash display will show an up arrow if more gears are available to go in that direction). Watch your MPG display go immediately to higher number in the process.
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