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2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Subaru, Test Drives

The new Subaru Outback, continuing a tradition of a trail-going crossover wagon, is freshened up for the 2013 model year. The new 2013 Subaru Outback receives new available safety features, a restyled front fascia, a more efficient 2.5-liter flat-4 cylinder engine and an updated Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

With a name inspired from the rugged and vast Australian lands, the new 2013 Subaru Outback still satisfies those with an adventurous outdoor aptitude. The Subaru Outback does a great job at balancing its off-road character while still giving drivers and passengers a balanced road-going vehicle.

The new 2013 Subaru Outback builds upon its heritage with more efficiency from its boxer 4-cylinder engine. The 2.5-liter flat-4 is now good for 173 horsepower and 174 ft-lbs of torque. Fuel efficiency for the 2013 Outback increases to 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, improved slightly from last year’s 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway figures. Power is slightly up too, about 3 more ponies and 4 more ft. lbs. of torque. Power is still directed though a CVT unit but now with somewhat improved programming.

During my time driving the new 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited, I tended to notice an improvement in the CVT’s management geared towards efficiency rather than performance. The CVT continues to mull the Outback’s true potential in being an eager trail-seeker. Although the CVT proves to work well on unpaved roads, gear ratio management is seriously lagging behind CVT units from other manufacturers. Acceleration tends to be a delayed reaction, while deceleration is followed through with the engine’s RPMs hanging high, well after the fact of letting off of the throttle. In a nutshell, the new 2013 Outback’s CVT unit is the vehicles weakest link.

Driving the new 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited proved to be somewhat of a mixed bag on normal roads but rather satisfying when hitting off-road trails. The engine’s sound would enter into the cabin a bit more than I would have liked. However, taking the Outback on off-road trails, which I was able to do for a full 2 miles, takes your mind off of the drivetrain’s deficiency and reassures you with the long-touted symmetrical all-wheel-drive system.

The new 2013 Outback 2.5i’s 17-inch alloy wheels take on an eccentric style. The 225/60/17 Continental tires are relatively tall and narrower than I remember possibly to add to the efficiency of the new Outback. Nevertheless, they provide just enough grip to propel the Outback through loose dirt roads.

The 6-cylinder Outback 3.6R, which we reviewed last year, adds the wanted power and acceleration that the 2.5i versions lack. Expect to pay just $3,000 to $4,000 for a similarly equipped 3.6-liter 6-cylinder Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited. Having over 8-inches of ground clearance, the new Outback has a bit more body lean than you may be comfortable with when pushed hard through turns. However, the Outback is surprisingly manageable on the roads if you keep it at a respectable speed when entering turns and corners. The suspension is well-dampened and never gets too upset on uneven surfaces. In all, Subaru engineers make a good impression when the tuning of the Outback’s suspension system. The new Outback’s road manners and off-road capacity are well-balanced to basically serve double duty for the hard-core outdoor trailing enthusiasts.

The new 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited makes up for its transmission’s shortcomings with its excellent ride quality, proven all-wheel-drive system, 8.6-inches of ground clearance, spacious interior and ample cargo space. The interior of my new Outback 2.5i Limited included an All-Whether package, which adds heated front seats, heated mirrors and a windshield wiper defroster. My Outback 2.5i Limited adds to the base and Premium trims to include dual automatic climate zones, wood trim, eight-way power driver’s seat, 4-way power passenger’s seat and the availability of Subaru’s new EyeSight safety system. The Limited trim, one of three available trims (2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited), also included perforated leather seats that proved to be quite comfortable.

The dahsboard of the new 2013 Outback does not sway too far away from its abundant amount of plastics. The center stack’s LCD touch-screen interface, part of an option package, has slightly improved functions and menus over previous years. Although, the stereo and voice-activated navigation system still have a few awkward menus. The decent-sounding Harman Kardon sound system, also part of an option package, still utilizes a primitive equalizer tone setting.

Subaru’s new EyeSight system, now available on the 2013 Outback, incorporates two windshield-mounted cameras for adjustment/monitoring of adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and a system to apply the brakes to help prevent collision.

The new Subaru Outback continues to manage its own space in a scarce segment of all-wheel-drive wagons. By far, the Outback has the best off-road characteristics when slated against vehicles such as the Toyota Venza. The closest competition for the Outback for hitting off-road trails, such as the new Audi Allroad and Volvo XC70, still costs thousands more than a fully-loaded Outback.

The new 2013 Subaru Outback, is an attractive buy for those who want to explore trails, have some extra cash in the wallet and travel in comfort on the highway.

My 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited has a base price of $29,890 including a $795 destination charge. With the option package, featuring power sunroof, voice-nav, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming connectivity, rearview camera, leather seats, auto dimming review mirror, pushbutton start, power drivers and passengers seat and matte-finished woodgrain trim, pricing comes to $33,535 as tested.

Copyright: 2012


  • Price: Base Outback 2.5i $23,295 / As-Tested Outback 2.5i Limited $33,535
  • Engine: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder boxer (horizontally opposed) 173 horsepower @ 5600 rpm / 174 ft-lbs. torque @ 4100 rpm
  • Total length: 189in.
  • Total width: 71.7in.
  • Total height: 65.8in.
  • Turning circle: 36.8ft.
  • Curb weight: 3,538lbs. FWD
  • Legroom: f/r-43.0/37.8in.
  • Headroom: f/r-40.8/39.3in.
  • EPA cargo: 71.3cu.ft.
  • EPA interior volume: 139.7 cu.ft
  • Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons
  • 0-60 mph: 9.3 seconds

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