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Old 08-09-2014, 10:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default A few Outback ownership questions...

Hi there,

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.
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Old 08-09-2014, 10:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default A few Outback ownership questions...

Briefly-

Either the HVAC wasn't working right or you had inadvertently taken it out of automatic mode. The fan will auto regulate under normal circumstances. It is smart enough not to run when the car is cold and you have the heat on. Once the car warms up it runs.

Trying to pass in 5th will be slow. Drop it to 3rd, get the tach over 3500 and it will really fly.

ECU tunes are relatively cheap and highly effective. West_minist is our resident tuner, he does it all by remote. Record a log, email it to him and he sends you a tweaked rom to upload to the car. Repeat that a few times and you're looking at a solid improvement.

I'd say they have average rust resistance. Little paint care will get you 7-8 years before rust appears, frequent washing and waxing stretch that to 20 years assuming you live in the salt belt. If you live someplace where they aren't poisoning the groundwater all winter long, it could last much longer.

Paint isn't very tough on subarus. Some outbacks have aluminum hoods and rear hatches, so a paint nick won't rust.

Subarus don't have a very strong brake booster, relative to other makes. The brakes work fine, they just don't have a great pedal feel and require a little more effort than others. Emergency boost on the brakes wasn't offered in USA models until 2010, as part of the eyesight package.

2008 has an improved stereo, smarter brains in the transmission control unit and a telescopic steering column. Can't think of any other difference beyond the styling changes.
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Old 08-09-2014, 10:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Wow! That's great news about the ECU tunes. I thought the H6 would be harder than the XT but sounds like you guys have cracked the code.

The thin paint is a bit worrisome though. My Volvo has it's share of rock chips but absolutely zero rust anywhere. Very impressive. I do live in the snow belt, norther Utah to be precise, and UDOT spares no expense in spreading salt over the roads to melt the ice. I try to wax my cars quarterly and will wash them once a week during the winter to get the salt off but that is it really.
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Old 08-10-2014, 02:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I had my car tuned this past winter. Before and after numbers are in my sig.
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This is my fourth Subaru:
2005 Outback 3.0R 5EAT - 165,000km/102,530mi
Tuned by Ed @ Xtreme Racing Tuning
Before = 183WHP @ 6849RPM/170ft-lbs @ 4238RPM
After Ed = 195WHP @ 5756RPM/197ft-lbs @ 4861RPM, +7% HP, +16% torque, fully stock

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Old 08-10-2014, 03:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have had two Tribecas. When I moved between the B9 and the 95 Legacy I had no issues with the seats. Moving from the Beca to the H6 OB was tough for a week as the OB seats seemed uncomfortable. Now it is the other way round.

So, you should not judge the Tribeca seats so quickly. My dad does the same all the time--but it takes a bit for the body to adjust to a seat. It does not mean that the seat won't feel great afterwards.

The good thing about the Tribeca is that while it used to hold value just as well as H6 OBs and FXTs, this is no longer true and good ones can be found at a good price. Of course, it is slower and burns more fuel than the H6 OB, but it is also more capable cargo-wise.

The paint of my 95 Legacy held up very well until 2013, that with mostly Midwestern winters. The paint of my other three has been great except for trail scratches on the B9 and the OB.

The III generation H6 OB is a terrific vehicle that drives better than the Tribeca. But you might get a better value on a Beca. However, though I much prefer the looks of the 2006-7, if you do go for a Beca, those to get are 2008+ models due to the new powertrain (and regular fuel, too). All Tribecas are VDC, I am not sure if all III gen H6 have VDC.
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Old 08-11-2014, 12:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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With the HVAC, assuming you push "auto" and engage automatic mode, it does a decent job at regulating temperature. The one exception is if you set the temp to 65. 65 is it's lowest setting and tends to keep the fan on much higher than at 66 degrees. I have a 2005 3.0 LL Bean and swapped in a 2008 radio/HVAC unit to get the upgraded functionality/compatibility. Pretty simple upgrade once you source a used radio. I've also found the passing power in 5th to... well there really isn't any. That's why for right now I drive mostly in Sport mode, seems to kick down a little earlier and 3rd gearing passing power is plentiful. I will be hopefully getting my 3.0 tuned in the next month or so from Ed (west_minist). The tune has the potential to increase torque and HP as well as improving shifting speed, more intelligent gear selection, and possibly better MPG (assuming you don't get too lead-footed with the new tune )
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Old 08-14-2014, 12:56 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Well I'm waiting to find out what the hp and torque numbers would be with the tune on the H6. In the meantime, I drove another H6 and a V6 Toyota 4Runner back-to-back tonight. I was amazed at how peppy the V6 in the 4Runner was. It did not seem like the engine was working hard at all and yet it got the car up to speed quickly. I like driving the Outback much more, but I want it to have the 4Runner's pep.
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Old 08-14-2014, 05:58 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Engine stats would be a best guess until you actually forked over the money to get the tune done. I know of one guy who upgraded to a 2-1/2" catback and improved on a couple other items over my car and with his tune ended up with numbers approximately the same as mine, within a couple HP and I think his was less, and I did nothing but tune. Once he added new headers he went well beyond what my car will output, somewhere over 200-210HP at the wheels.

As for pep, any car can be tuned for pep. Adjust the throttle plate position to be open wider at lower RPM and at a lesser accelerator pedal angle and the car will fly from a stop. Normally aspirated Gen.3 Legacy/Outbacks (and previous ones) in my opinion are tuned for a more umm..mature lot that aren't as interested in pep as they are functionality and reliability. The Gen.2 Forester had pep. Touch the gas and it wanted to go, right now. I'll also give that the Forester was a smaller and lighter car than the Gen.2 Legacy that replaced it with the identical engine.

If I went back to the stock ECU it would take a couple of days to get used to the pedal again. Last time I did I'd slowly push on the gas trying to figure out when the car was going to move. Felt like I needed 50% pedal as opposed to about 4% after the tune I got.

My car has pep.
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This is my fourth Subaru:
2005 Outback 3.0R 5EAT - 165,000km/102,530mi
Tuned by Ed @ Xtreme Racing Tuning
Before = 183WHP @ 6849RPM/170ft-lbs @ 4238RPM
After Ed = 195WHP @ 5756RPM/197ft-lbs @ 4861RPM, +7% HP, +16% torque, fully stock

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