After driving the Outback over highways, winding roads, and in heavy traffic, I'm torn. I don't know if I could give this vehicle an unqualified recommendation.
The steering is great and the car is a capable off-roader. It also has more cargo space behind the second-row seats than the Honda Crosstour (34.3 versus 25.7 cu. ft.).
Then again, I think the Outback is uglier than the Crosstour. At least our long-term Outback has the decently attractive alloy wheels replacing the steel wheels with wheel covers that don't fill the wheel wells on base models. That budget-minded model is pictured in light blue at left.
Unlike other staffers, I don't mind the car's fake wood trim in this loaded model and think it goes nicely with the textured silver trim on certain parts of the center console. For those who disagree, silver trim is available on models with dark interiors.
Another neat detail: the car will beep more loudly if you press the lock button three times in a row -- perfect for finding the Subaru in a large parking lot. One advantage for getting a 2011 model over a clearance 2010 Outback: all 2011 Outbacks now get folding side mirrors.
Most people could care less about how little power this car has. When this 170-horsepower 2010 Outback first joined our fleet, it accelerated from 0-60 mph in 9.7 seconds and it's true that you don't always need the V-6 around town. At wide open throttle, though, the car sounds as though it were saying, "I'm trying!" without actually moving forward too quickly.
So I suppose if you dig the Outback's styling and don't have a lead foot, the four-cylinder model would be a wise purchase.
Now we turn to you: Which do you think is more attractive, the 2010 Honda Crosstour or the 2010 Subaru Outback?
Total Miles: 26,957