My enthusiasm for the 2010 Outback has been stoked by the nearly unanimous outstanding test drives and reviews of the automotive press and automotive industry analysts. See review links, below.
However, the reporting of members of SubaruOutback.org has alerted me to some common problems with the new 2010 Outback, and of Subaru's response in addressing these problems, i.e.; the rolling start hesitation, the steering wheel shimmy and problems with high altitude cold weather starting. Consequently, prior to taking delivery of the 3.6R Ltd (ordered 2/1/2010), I will be prepared to conduct a thorough test drive, fully alert to the problems reported here by a number of SubaruOutback.org members.
In all fairness to Subaru, while these problems are common to a good number of members here and at other Subaru sites, many other members report no problems and a high degree of satisfaction. Furthermore, as indicated by members' reports, Subaru is addressing/fixing these problems both on a case-by-case basis; in fleet-wide (TSB) approach, and by incorporating fixes/upgrades being applied on the factory line.
For example, in the case of the hesitation, a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) and software upgrade flash was issued and available to all owners, which members’ state has fixed the problem. Moreover, in lieu of recent reports from new owners of hesitation, it appears that the upgraded software is being installed in new vehicles coming off of the factory line.
A problem reported by significant number of owners is known as the "wheel shake" problem that causes steering wheel shale, shimmy and vibratioin at speeds of 60 mph and above. The "fix" for this problem had proven to be elusive as described, below:
Most members with the wheel shake problem report that dealers first try to isolate the problem through a process of elimination - checking tire/wheel balance, tire pressure and alignment, replacemnt of steering rack and dampening spring, but with very limited success. Most report the shake is deadened but still discernable only to return full strength. Others have reported that these measures have even increased their wheel shake problem.
Both Subaru of America and Canada have acknowledged the problem and have commenced replacing or buying back vehicles that have been unsuccessfully undergone the measures, above, and were verified to be irrepairable. This process requires repeated visits to the dealer who has to verify to Subaru District Reps that the process has beeen done.
Despite Subaru of America's acknowledgement of this probelm, including Subaru engineering involvement, owners report inconsistent dealer support; Some dealers continue to flatly deny that a problem exists, or, that it is statistically insignificant.
However, this "statistically insignificant" claim is belied by owners who have undergone the whole process and have reported that even their replacement Outbacks also have the shake problem!!!!!
To be fair, most owners with the problem report strong dealer support in seeking a resolution.
For example, a couple of owners report that their dealers have taken their Outbacks for 8 days or more if intensive work closely with Subaru District Service Representatives on-site working and testing in consultation with Subaru engineers. One owner reported that his Outback was returned with 100 test miles on the odometer.
Owners report that the work involves replacing body/frame mounting bushings, engine mount modification, steering shafts, in addition to rerplacing the dampening springs and steering racks.
Owners report that following these long term, highly involved efforts described by one as rebuilding the suspension, their preliminary road testing show elimination of the problem.
Some of the latest owner reports state that 2010 Outbacks that were originally shake/shimmy-free upon delivery are manifesting the wheel shake shimmy at higher mileage.
However, others report thousands of miles of trouble/shake free service who are very satisified with their 2010 Subaru Outback.
Please see the wheel shake thread and poll, below.
Poll: Does your 2010+ Outback have a slight steering wheel shake at highway speeds.
Slight steering wheel shake
Also see the Subaru Legacy forum reports. The Outback and Legacy share the same chassis.
On the cold/high elevation sputtering start issue, Subaru issued a TSB (Technical Service Bulletin) that provides for a computer software flash update of the 2.5 models. Owners of the 3.6R engine have reported similar problems and are still awaiting a fix for the 3.6R.
Consequently, in view Subaru's actions addressing these problems, and in light of the fact that there are thousands of satisfied owners who have no such problems - combined with the nearly unanimous outstanding results of professional road testing in the links below - I did not defer my purchase order. And I live in CO at 7,200 feet which may include me in the cold start/high elevation problem group.
But thanks to SubaruOutback.org, I will be as alert as a hawk on that test drive of my factory-fresh Outback prior to taking delivery!
Many, many reviews, below, contradict the statements of Subaru “purist/loyalist” stating, in effect, that the 2010 Outback is a sellout to mainstream popular design.
To the contrary, notwithstanding complaints of non-folding side view mirrors and of the new roof rack's incompatibility with some older roof rack attachment configurations, the lion’s share of reviews state that the redesign of the 2010 Outback Subaru has adhered to Subaru's long practiced philosophy of “form follows function.”
In sum it was not the new looks of the 2010 Outback that inspired these many, many accolades from the world's automotive press. In fact many call it as ugly as ever but still rate it above its competition.
To the contrary, the 2010 won it’s many awards for Best of the Year and Most Reliable based on its strong, improved/strengthened frame and mechanicals: it’s on and off-road performance and increased space and utility of the 2010. In short, it's a superior machine.
One Subaru loyalist/purist who is also an automotive journalist test driver traded in his 2009 Subaru for a 2010.
I am most impressed by the Automotive Journalist of Canada Best SUV award, and the Australian Drive magazine Best SUV award, plus, the high scores awarded by the test drivers from Colorado. These folks know about performance in snow and dirt road/track driving.
Most impressive is the Automotive Lease Guide Awards in which the 2010 Subaru Legacy, Outback and Forester beat Honda for best resale value. This is the Kelley Blue Book leasing guide to which the automotive industry refers to determine residual values of vehicles after being turned in after being leased.
In sum, on balance, the strengths of the 2010 far outweigh some possible problems that have occurred on some units that have already been addressed, or, are well in the process of being addressed.
Based on Reliability Records and Road Tests of the 2010 Outback and Legacy, Consumer Reports Gives Subaru Ties Honda:
ALG (Automotive Lease Guide) 2010 Residual Value Awards: 2010 Beats Honda for Best Resale Value Mainstream, Utility Compact Vehicles
AJAC (Automobile Journalist Association of Canada) Votes 2010 Subaru Outback Canada's Best New Utility Vehicle
2010 Subaru Outback Wins Best Wagon of 2010 in Cars.com Platinum Awards
Road and Track: 2010 Subaru Outback - Driving Impressions
The turbo is gone, but the Outback's rugged personality carries on in a larger, more refined statement.
TFL Car. Com: Review 2010 Subaru Outback 3.6: Smart, strong, eminently capable & the companion of choice for bad weather locations
Weekly Drive: 2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R still rocks the Rockies
Subaru of America, Inc. Continues to Break Sales Records
2010 Subaru at Top of Safety Tests, including rollover test
Australia Drive Magazine: 2010 Outback Best SUV Under $40,000
Popular Mechanics Most Versatile Car
U.S. News and World Report Ranking and Review: 2010 Outback #1 in Affordable and Performance in Full Size Wagons
Left Lane News Review
NY Times Review
kbb.com Data Reveals Three Brands 'Bucking The Trend' in Down Economy
Drive Time Review’
MOTOR TREND Names Subaru Outback 2010 Sport/Utility of the Year(R)
FOX News Test Drive
Truck Trend First Look: 2010 Subaru Outback
Mountain High Altitude Driving: 2.5 or 3.6R Engine?
Mountains & 2.5i?
2,5 Driving Television Review(Canada)
SubaruOutback.org members have also helped inform me of aftermarket accessories and sources for tech instructions to install Subaru brand accessories:
Yakima & Thule Roof Cargo Box Thread