Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Somerset County, NJ
Car: 2011 Outback 3.6R Limited--Sky Blue Metallic
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
If you can afford the initial extra cost of the 6-cylinder engine, as well as the lower mpg rating of the 6, I think that it is a better choice for several reasons:
>First and foremost, the 6-cylinder engine utilizes a timing chain, rather than the timing belt used by the 4-cylinder engine. This means less maintenance over the life of the engine and it eliminates the possibility (admittedly a remote possibility) of a snapped timing belt causing massive internal engine damage.
>Secondly, CVTs are not currently repairable in the US. A mechanical malfunction of a CVT means replacing the transmission. While under warranty, this is not a problem. After the warranty runs out, if there is still no way to overhaul a CVT in the US, you would be looking at...probably about $4k for CVT replacement. This transmission may actually prove to be extremely durable. My problem is that this is brand new technology for Subaru (other than the old Justy), and nobody really knows how long these transmissions will last in real-world conditions.
>The 6-cylinder engine never has to work as hard as the 4-cylinder engine does in order to accelerate. Thus, you have a quieter car with the larger, more powerful engine, simply because it is turning over at lower RPMs in order to produce similar acceleration.
>When you need more powerful acceleration--such as on expressway entrance ramps--you have it with the 6-cylinder engine. This can actually be a safety factor if it helps you to avoid an 18-wheeler that is bearing down on you and refusing to yield.
>There have not been any head gasket issues with the 6-cylinder engine. While the head gasket issue was supposedly conquered on the 4-cylinder by '03 or '04, every once in awhile there are still cases of 4-cylinder Subies made after '03/'04 with a bad head gasket.
When I bought my '02 Outback, I purposely opted for the 6-cylinder--due to all of the above reasons except for the CVT issue (no CVT in '02). I have never regretted my decision. On my '97 Outback with the 4-cylinder, I averaged 23-24 mpg in "mixed" driving. On my '02 with the 6-cylinder, I average 22-23 mpg under the same conditions, but the car is luxuriously quiet and awesomely powerful when I need the power.
IMHO--it all depends on your wallet. If you can afford the initial extra cost of the 6, as well as the slight mpg penalty, I think that it is worthwhile to opt for the 6-cylinder engine.