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Stylish design; roomy, comfortable interior; powerful engine lineup; great gas mileage
The Outback received significant updates for 2013. New front end styling is the most immediately noticeable change, but the improvements are more than skin deep, with the Outback 2.5i receiving a new engine. The CVT transmission has also been improved, and Subaru has implemented its optional EyeSight driver-assist system to enhance the safety of the vehicle. The Subaru 3.6R Premium is no longer offered for 2013, though the 3.6R and 3.6R Limited are still available.
The base-level 2.5i Outback with the CVT is made for outdoorsy drivers, with a starting price under $24,000 and great gas mileage. The top-of-the-line 3.6R Limited, with its larger engine, leather seats and standard harman/hardon stereo system, starts at right around $32,000. All Outbacks, regardless of trim level include standard all-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, traction control and air bags, as well as such niceties as power mirrors and cruise control.
Five different Outback models and two separate powerplants are available for 2013: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 3.6R and 3.6R Limited.
The 2.5L 4-cylinder "boxer" engine is new for 2013 and makes 173 horsepower and 174 foot-pounds of torque. This new engine, when optioned with the Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) transmission, allows the Outback to achieve 30 mpg on the highway, outstanding for a vehicle with full-time all-wheel-drive. The optional 3.6L 6-cylinder boxer engine makes 256 hp and 247 ft-lb of torque, and a standard 5-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and Rev-Matching Downshift Blipping Control, helps manage seamless downshifts.
The 2.5i is the base model for the Outback, but like all Subaru models, it has Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, electronic brake force distribution, tire pressure monitoring, daytime running lights and airbags as standard equipment. A choice of 6-speed manual transmission and the Lineartronic CVT is available. Air conditioning, auxiliary audio jack, power locks, mirrors and windows, cruise control and eight cupholders are standard.
The 2.5i Premium adds a 10-way power driver's seat, 17-inch alloy wheels rather than the 16-inch steel wheels of the base model, halogen fog lights and a leather-wrapped steering wheel as standard equipment. Options include an all-weather package with heated seats, mirrors, and a windshield wiper de-icer, the harman/kardon audio system and a power moonroof. The 2.5i Limited takes it all a step further with standard CVT, 4-way power passenger seat, dual-zone climate control and leather-trimmed upholstery. Options at this level include a navigation system with rear vision camera.
The 3.6R base level has the immediate advantage of 85 more horsepower, thanks to its larger, more powerful horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine. It comes with a 5-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels and larger brake rotors. The top-end 3.6R Limited adds the power passenger seat, premium audio system, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, dual-zone climate control and leather-trimmed upholstery, with optional power moonroof and navigation system with backup camera.
Subaru's new EyeSight System is new for 2013, and uses a stereo camera design to detect obstacles, including other cars and pedestrians. It functions as an additional safety net, even applying the vehicles brakes if it detects an impending collision. At higher speeds, the system can be used to provide adaptive cruise control, with the vehicle adjusting its own speed to maintain a set distance between itself and the car in front.
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