"A do everything vehicle with little sacrifice."4.5 starson by budindica
Pros: The design, reliability, safety and functionality are by far the best things about this car. The controls are simple and few. Has a luxury feel to it. Great gas mileage for an AWD car.Faux wood looks good with the tan interior - looks fake w/black .
Cons: Rear seating is too small - not enough legroom. Front seats don't go back far enough for my tall friends. Rear wiper speed should be related to the speed of the front wipers and not the speed of the vehicle. Needs a memory function for drivers seat.
Summary: I have never been into following the herd so I have stayed away from American or Japanese cars. I have been a VW fan. I have owned 5 VW's. I even sold VW's at a VW/Subaru dealership when I discovered the Subaru. I always liked them because they were different and the flat 4 was great. Just like Porsches older VW's.
I bought my first Outback Limited in 1997. 12 years and 200K problem free miles later I thought it was time to buy another. I kept my 1997 and bought a 2008 Outback Limited. Very happy with my purchase. The OEM tires were horrible but bought a different set. Very good car. Does everything well. Lots of safety features. I plan on putting at least 200K on this one too.
There is a lot to like about this car but some people don't get it. That's fine with me. I like being different. But for those who do get it, they will be happy with this car.
On the downside. Although the 2008 is a larger car overall than the 1997, the 2008 is more cramped inside than the 1997. Maybe the size difference is due to safety enhancements. The 1997 had great legroom but the 2008 does not. I'm 5'9" and could get comfortable in both the front and rear seats of the '97 but I can only get comfortable in either the front or the back but not both in the '08. Friends of mine who are over 6' tall don't have enough legroom even with the seat set as far back as it goes.
As far as the cargo area goes, I once loaded a full size clothes dryer in the back of the '97 with the rear seats down and tailgate closed. With the load floor of the '08 being higher, this would be impossible. I hear for the 2010 models these issues have been addressed.
There are a few other things that could be improved on also. The rear wiper's delay isn't nearly long enough. It's also tied in to the speed of the vehicle - the delay is shortened the faster you travel. It should be tied in with the speed of the front wipers. As it is now, you may need to have the front wipers set to very slow but the rears just keep running high wiping a dry window. You have to manually turn it on and off to make it work the way you want them to.
The defrosters - both front wiper de-icer and the rear window - are weak on heat. The same was true on my '97 but figured after two model changes this would have been fixed. It takes too long to remove ice and the front de-icer doesn't quite live up to its name.
Also due to the front seat side bolsters the seats are too narrow. If I was larger, it would be very uncomfortable. It is possible but difficult to get the seats adjusted to the perfect setting. Having a memory function since every time I hand my keys over to the dealer, auto shop or valet it comes back to me in a different position. I can find a good seating position but it takes a lot of fiddling with the adjustments. Again, my 1997 Outback didn't have electric seats but was perfectly comfortable with little adjustment needed. And the seats had less aggressive side bolstering as well. Sometimes you shouldn't mess with a good thing.
The last thing that could be changed is the location of the hand brake or e-brake. It looks nice but is too far forward so it rubs against your leg and partially blocks the view of the console. Again, like the 1997 Outback, it should be set further back and set into the console - not rising above it.
But that is all I have to complain about. I like the dash layout and its simplicity. It doesn't have the million or so buttons you see on a Honda product. Very classy and modern without being trendy. It has a clean elegant design. Good quality materials (which I can't say about the '97). Handles nicely. Amazing in the snow. Very sure footed (new tires helped). The gas mileage was better than I expected, even 4 mpg better than the '97 with the same engine.
Even with its faults, this won't be my last Subaru.