I am in the market for a car with a lot more utility and reliability than my current
Volvo sedan. I've been pretty happy with my Volvo except for the small size and sometimes temperamental electrical components. So far I've looked at the BMW X3, Infiniti FX35, Lexus RX400h, Subaru Tribeca, and Subaru Outback H6. The Tribeca was just okay. I didn't like that the interior was filled with hard plastic everywhere and the seats were extremely uncomfortable after 20 minutes of driving. The Infiniti just guzzles fuel...no thanks.
I love driving the BMW but I will have a mortgage payment on my first house soon and I don't want to worry about $1000 repairs every other month. The RX400h is an absolute dream! I love everything about except that they are still $20k with 120,000 miles on them.
So that brings us to the Outback. I took a 2006 LL Bean on an extended test drive (1 hour) today to see if the seats were the same as in the Tribeca. The lower back area is rather stiff compared to the thrones in my Volvo but I wasn't uncomfortable after a solid hour behind the wheel. I loved how quiet it was inside and how well the chassis went over bumps. Tight as a drum. The interior materials were very nice. The hard plastics are all below knee lever which is where they should be; and all the buttons and switches have a nice, firm resistance to them. Very German feeling which is a good thing. Sound system was acceptable too. As far as the negatives go, the automatic climate control does't reduce the fan speed once the set temperature has been reached so you freeze until and adjustment is made MANUALLY! The doors do not stay open when your are on the slightest incline which is really annoying to me. While taking the Outback up the steep Parleys Canyon pass, I conducted my passing power test. Engaged manual mode, put it in 5th and tried to keep a 75 mph pace all the way up. Evidently torque is not what this engine's strong suit.
Once I got tired of being passed my semi trucks, I put it back in D and it kicked down to third and off we went. Not a deal breaker but disappointing. The brakes seemed a little weak in emergency braking but I think that is because the Outback does not have a brake assist function like most newer cars do, which I find odd from a company who touts the safety of their vehicles. Back at the dealer, I was looking over the body for any signs of paintwork and I noticed a silver dollar sized rust spot right behind the glass panel of the sunroof.
So I came away from my time with the Outback with a few questions I hope you all will help me with.
Is rust a big problem on these cars?
Does the paint hold up well and resist pitting?
Is there a way to get more torque out of the engine? An easy ECU tune perhaps?
Is it possible to put the exposed exhaust pipe from the 3.0 Legacy on the Outback so the smooth hum of the H6 is more audible?
Is the difference between the 2007 and 2008 models that much of an improvement and if so, in what ways?
Is the behavior of the climate control as described above, normal or is there a software update?
Thank you for your help.