2001 Subaru Outback Review
Pros & Cons
- The security of all-wheel drive, comfortable on pavement, capable on dirt, well-appointed interior.
- Questionable exterior styling, still not an SUV in terms of pure off-road capability.
Edmunds' Expert Review
A versatile alternative to mainstream wagons and SUVs.
What recipe does an automotive manufacturer use to boost sagging sales? Ask any Subaru executive and she'll tell you to take one part popular Australian movie star and one part advanced all-wheel-drive system. Stir in an undercurrent of SUV backlash with a dash of resurgence in the station wagon market, and behold: the perfect environment for the Subaru Outback. Available in either wagon or sedan form, the Outback is Subaru's answer to the question: Why would anyone want to drive an ill-handling, gas-guzzling, difficult-to-park SUV? With 7.3 inches of ground clearance, standard all-wheel drive and a base price in the low 20s, the Outback offers on-road practicality with off-road capability at a bargain price. While no match for the likes of Jeep's Grand Cherokee or Toyota's Land Cruiser in terms of hill climbing, the Outback can hold its own in light to moderate off-road situations without losing an oil pan or cracking a differential. A Phase II 2.5-liter, 16-valve, 165-horsepower boxer engine, producing 166 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm, powers the Outback Wagon and Outback Limited Wagon and Sedan models. The all-new-for-2001 Outback H6-3.0 L.L.Bean Edition and Outback H6-3.0 VDC are both powered by an all-new 212-horsepower, DOHC, 24-valve, high-output six-cylinder engine mated to Subaru's four-speed electronic automatic transmission. Both H6-3.0-powered Outback models feature specially designed alloy wheels, a mahogany wood and leather steering wheel, automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver's seat and a nifty rear-seat center armrest.
All 2001-model-year Outback models benefit from a viscous limited-slip rear differential and larger front 11.4-inch ventilated disc brakes with twin piston calipers. Standard interior features include an ambient temperature gauge, dual mode digital trip odometer and front seatback net pockets.
Additionally, all Outbacks receive four-wheel disc brakes, ABS, protective lower body cladding, a heavy-duty four-wheel independent suspension, and 24-hour roadside assistance as standard equipment. Opt for the Outback wagon and you'll also get a 60/40-split folding rear seat, keyless entry, a 12-volt cargo area power outlet, a rear wiper/washer, and breakaway power side-view mirrors. Safety is another area where Subaru refuses to skimp. The Outback models feature a "Ring-Shaped Reinforcement" body structure for maximum protection against frontal, offset, side and rear impacts. Side beams in both the front and rear doors further enhance side-impact protection. We like the fact that Subaru offers a viable alternative to the SUV. The Outback proves that safety, style and all-weather traction can be had in a non-truck-based vehicle, and at a reasonable price.