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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2002 Subaru Outback Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2002 Subaru Outback Overview

The Remarkably Versatile Outback Is a One-Size-Fits-All Machine

The Outback name began as a trim option on the all-wheel-drive Legacy wagon and proved so popular with the car buying public that it soon spawned a life of its own. Though it rests on the same platform and uses the same all-wheel-drive layout as the Legacy, the Outback defines itself by its additional protective body cladding, upgraded and elevated suspension and an optional high-output 3.0-liter engine; the Outback also includes a variety of trim levels including a sport sedan and the L.L. Bean wagon. New this year is the VDC Outback which showcases the latest Subaru technology. VDC stands for Vehicle Dynamic Control, a system designed to keep the Outback on track no matter how bad the driving conditions become. VDC models also feature upgraded leather interiors, a Macintosh sound system and a Momo-designed steering wheel.

The Outback is most commonly found in its wagon form. In this configuration, owners find they get all the luxury and ride advantages of a sedan, but with the added room and cargo-hauling convenience of a wagon. The standard Outback is powered by a horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine—a design that places the cylinders on their sides moving in a back and forth direction instead of up and down—that allows the engine to sit lower to the ground, which in turn greatly increases the Outback stability. This engine produces 165 horsepower and feels very comfortable handling the Outbacks weight and extra drive line components. Greater power comes from a high-output horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine that generates 212 horsepower; this engine is standard on Limited, L.L. Bean and VDC Outback wagons. If you prefer the look of a sedan, Subaru offers three versions of the Outback in sedan form, including a high-output sport sedan that features the high-output 3.0-liter engine, leather and mahogany interior trim and an eight way power driver seat.

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.

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