2011 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited new car reviews

Raised suspension indeed. That's a wheel-to-fender gap worthy of any 4x4 trail stomper.

Better than: Buick Enclave
But not as good as: An STI hatch
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 85.22

The Legacy wagon doesn't exist by name, but it does exist: Just look for the Subaru with the Australian theme. The Outback's marketing campaign introduced Americans to Subaru's rugged four-wheel drive non-utes, and the big wagon is the most practical SUV-alternative of the bunch.

This comes properly equipped for the $35,000 price. The opposed six-cylinder engine runs through a manually shiftable five-speed automatic. Power-adjustable heated front seats, navigation with integrated DVD player, and a roof rack are most notable. In a nod to its SUV competition, the options list notes its "Fully Independent Raised Suspension."

It's a shame we saw this car so late; after 15,000 miles in an abusive press fleet, it's making disconcerting noises. The front right wheel growls when loaded up—probably a bad bearing—and the naturally aspirated engine sometimes whines like a supercharger.

Other staff views

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Maybe not the most thrilling new car, but quite possibly the nicest, quietest Legacy I have ever driven. Subaru doors now close with a solid thud, and the wind noise of past models has finally been banished. The interior has a nice, upscale feeling. The engines have gotten a lot smoother.

Subaru has come a long way in the past 10 years. My 2000 Impreza, while still a fine car, has a definite tinny feel to it. I'd say it's a notch below our 2000 Civic Si.

We took this one on a small road trip, too, and it definitely gobbles up the highway miles: comfortable seats, roomy cockpit and all of the modern conveniences expected today. I'd say it's a fair alternative to the modern SUV. Am I going to autocross this? No, but I'd rather log the miles in this than an SUV.

One small gripe, though: I still can't figure out how to fully browse through my iPod while at speed. I can only access all of the menus once the car comes to a stop. On a highway trip, that means either one disc for a few hours or the occasional stop just to select a different artist.

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