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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2003 Subaru Outback Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2003 Subaru Outback Overview

Foul Weather Friend

One step down from the mighty Legacy Outback is the Outback Sport. Based on the Impreza platform, the Outback Sport offers the same all-wheel-drive tenacity of its big brother, but at a cost that fits more comfortably within the budgets of college students and first-time buyers. If you are at all familiar with Subaru cars, you know that these vehicles have reached near cult-like status in states that see the white stuff for more than 6 months of the year. Subaru has been manufacturing all-wheel drive cars for decades now, and they have mastered the art of building sophisticated, capable and most importantly reliable all-wheel-drive systems that rival some of the best 4x4 SUVs on the market.

In the Outback Sport, you'll find a roomy and versatile little wagon that you can rely on to get you wherever it is you need to go. The Outback Sport is offered only in wagon form, which makes sense when you think about the extra cargo carring capabilities the design permits. Though the basic platform and sheet metal is the same as that of the Impreza 2.5 TS wagon, Subaru has given the Sport the full Outback treatment including protective side and front body cladding, large grille-mounted fog lights and special paint and wheel treatments. The Outback Sport also gets a raised suspension that gives it greater ground clearance, a set of all-season 16-inch tires and a set of crossbars that attach to the standard roof rack. Inside, Subaru has placed an additional 12-volt outlet in the rear cargo area for use when camping or tailgating.

At the heart of the Outback Sport is a strong four-cylinder boxer engine with a permanently engaged all-wheel-drive system; the two work so harmoniously you'll think you're driving in an ordinary two-wheel drive car. The boxer engine is so named because its cylinders are horizontal from each other, as opposed to being in a V formation. When in motion, the cylinders resemble two boxers throwing punches at one another. This design has allowed Subaru to lower the engine's center of gravity, thus improving the way the Outback Sport handles by keeping its weight close to the road. With a very healthy 165 horsepower at its disposal, the Outback Sport can move along with surprising quickness and the added road grip makes for quite a bit of fun when it comes time to tackle the twisties.

The Outback Sport's all-wheel-drive system is a bit more complex than most. There are actually two different systems that vary depending on your transmission choice. Both systems employ a viscous coupling center differential that continually sends power to all four wheels. Unlike many other so- called AWD systems, the Subaru system is permanently engaged; when wheel slippage occurs, the system routes power to whatever wheels need it most. On manual transmission models, this system is activated mechanically when one or more of the wheels begin to slip; automatic models feature a more advanced electronic system that can detect wheel slippage before it actually begins.

A quick trip into snow country is all you need to understand why so many people own Subarus. The minute the road conditions get slick, the all-wheel-drive system comes immediately to life and you can feel the extra traction as the little Outback Sport muscles its way through the ever-deepening drifts. All this occurs without any input from the driver. It seems that to conquer Mother Nature, all the Outback Sport requires is to be given some gas and told where to go.

Making the trip all the more pleasant is Subaru's tasteful choice of interior materials and equipment. The Outback Sport features a height-adjustable driver's seat, air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with CD, power windows, power locks, remote keyless entry and a tilt wheel. Subaru also offers a long list of optional equipment and accessories that allow you to customize your Outback Sport to fit your needs. If you like loud music, there is an audio upgrade that includes a subwoofer and tweeter package. If you have an active lifestyle, Subaru offers every imaginable kind of rack system to carry everything from bikes to kayaks. You can even equip your Outback Sport with a cargo-mounted spotlight.

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