Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book
KBB.com 2004 Subaru Outback Overview
Why Stay In When You Can Go Outback?
The Subaru Outback wagon is one of the best arguments against the need for owning an SUV. It can carry copious amounts of cargo, blaze through the deepest snowdrifts and still return car-like handling, ride comfort and fuel efficiency. Though it shares the same basic platform as the Legacy wagon, the Outback's design takes its owners to the next level of the Legacy's capability. Subaru visually distinguishes the Outback from the Legacy by adding thick plastic side armor and an elevated suspension; the look is rugged without appearing overly macho.
The Outback is offered in no less than five trim levels this year, including a 35th anniversary model that replaces last year's Outback H6-3.0. Choices include the Outback, Limited, H6-35th anniversary, H6-L.L. Bean and H6-VDC. The VDC was introduced last year and showcases Subaru latest technologies. VDC stands for Vehicle Dynamic Control, a system designed to keep the Outback on track no matter how bad the driving conditions. VDC models also feature upgraded leather interiors, a Macintosh sound system and a Momo-designed steering wheel.
Having had years of experience in the all-wheel drive field, Subaru's system remains one of the best designs on the market today. Subaru's all-wheel drive is a permanently engaged system that does not require the driver to flip a switch or work a transfer case. The system is self-monitoring and automatically sends power to whichever wheels need it; so seamless is this process that it is practically undetectable to the driver who is alerted to the system's operation by a small, lighted icon in the instrument cluster. There are two versions of the all-wheel-drive system, one for those cars equipped with the 5-speed manual and one for those with the four-speed automatic. The Automatic transmission allows for a more sophisticated electronic computer program that is actually quicker at detecting wheel slippage, while the 5-speed manual relies on a purely mechanical viscous coupling system to re-route the power. Of the two, the automatic has a leg-up on the manual system, but is probably not as much fun to drive on paved roads.
We took our Outback into the desert sands of Southern California and then directly up 7500 feet to the snow covered mountains above. In all conditions we encountered-deep sand, boulder-ridden dry creek beds, deep snow and slush-the Outback never faltered, never bogged down, never left us with the feeling that we were getting in over our heads. If you experience similar types of terrain, you will understand why there is such a loyal Subaru following in this country. Our Outback performed better than some SUVs, handled and drove like a dream on the highway and returned a fuel consumption figure of almost 25 miles per gallon on the highway.
Step inside the Outback and you'll find a comfortable, almost luxurious interior. There is a good amount of passenger room both front and rear with large, comfortable seats and adjustable headrests at all positions. Outback wagons have the added advantage of a cavernous cargo hold when the second-row seat is folded. Base models feature such standard amenities as a six-way power driver seat with lumbar support, power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, air conditioning, outside thermometer, AM/FM stereo with cassette and four speakers and 16-inch alloy wheels. Limited and L.L. Bean, VDC and H6 3.0 models feature even more luxurious interiors that include leather seats, upgraded audio systems, cruise control and all-weather packages and a cool dual-retracting glass moonroof.
The Outback also has an impressive list of standard safety equipment including two-stage front airbags, seatbelt pretensioners and force limiter, ABS brakes and on Limited, L.L. Bean and VDC models, front side-impact airbags.