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2011 Outback Limited. White, Sunroof, 2.5, CVT. Bought 2/15/11. Love it! Broke 109K, 2/20.
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452 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm entertaining the possibility of replacing our '11 OB with a '17 or '18. At almost 90K and just into retirement I'm dancing around different scenarios. I have been VERY happy with the 2.5 and would get another one in a heartbeat, but since there is also the 3.6 to consider as an option, especially if I'm looking at leftovers, what is the real world experience of one over the other? I know the limitations of the 2.5 but I've learned to live with them and have no complaints. I don't know the real world fuel economy of the 3.6 vs the 2.5 nor could I honestly tell you what I've averaged in 88K miles of driving all sorts of roads and conditions. The economy numbers on the stickers are somewhat far apart, (25/32 vs 20/27) but what are the real world numbers people are getting? I'm not the lead foot I was when I was 25. I recently got a '14 RAM with the Hemi and in about 3K miles of driving so far I've been averaging 18-19MPG, something I would NEVER have managed when I was younger!

I may yet change my mind and keep the '11 for many many good reasons, but I'm trying to keep my options open.
 

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Fresh Out of Outbacks!
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14,475 Posts
Look at your average trip distance.

The mileage penalty of the bigger engine shows up most sharply on short trips, particularly in cold conditions.

If you're always driving more than 15 miles you won't notice that much of a hit.

If you only use the car to commute 3 miles, you'll feel like it's a gas guzzler- and you won't be wrong.
 

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2013 3.6R Limited
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1,061 Posts
I did months of research back in 2015 looking for the best bang-for-the-buck crossover SUV before pulling the trigger on our 2013 3.6R in early November of that year. The long-proven combination of the 3.6R engine mated with the 5EAT transmission was the determining factor for me and I have never regretted it. Our driving needs are spread amongst four very different vehicles (2 V8s, a V6, and the Boxer 6) so I am rarely concerned about gas mileage. But our Outback typically delivers 25 to 26 mpg on the highway and that is certainly good enough for our purposes. We have put approximately 12,000 miles on our Outback since acquiring it and other than a new set of General Altimax RT43 tires last December, I have done nothing but DIY routine maintenance to it (including a Subaru HP ATF drain-and-fill at 30,000 miles just for added transmission longevity insurance). The odometer now shows 37,350 miles. I hope to keep this vehicle for many years to come. Time will tell.

The Outback 2.5 engines I test-drove during 2015 were simply too underpowered for us. The 3.6R turns the Outback into a completely different vehicle: fast, quick, much more capable, and fun.
 

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Registered
2011 Outback Limited. White, Sunroof, 2.5, CVT. Bought 2/15/11. Love it! Broke 109K, 2/20.
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452 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the inputs. I'm thinking the 3.6 isn't going to make me happy from what I see here. Much of our use will be in the under 5 mile area and very local at that. And since I've become accustomed to the 2.5 and its shortcomings I've learned to plan ahead for passing or other "need for speed" situations.

Looks like another happy 2.5 owner who will remain that way with any future purchases.
 
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2011 Outback 3.6 Limited
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24 Posts
Our 2011 3.6 Limited gets 22 mpg in combined, mostly around-town driving and 26 on the road, based on pretty detailed gas/mileage records. I drove both engines before we purchased (new), and I agree with Mr. Jon89 in his statement that the 3.6 makes a Outback a different car. According to the specs I got when I bought the car, the 2011 Outback has a base curb weight of about 3,600 pounds; add people and fuel and that's a lot of weight for 170 hp to accelerate. Factory mileage specs for the 2.5 were 19 town/22 overall/27 highway and for the 3.6 were 18 town/20 combined/25 highway. As Mr Rasterman points out, once the car is up to speed on the highway, the differences in gas mileage are pretty small. In my mind, the extra 86 hp is well worth the small hit on gas mileage. From my admittedly unscientific personal observation, I'd say that about half of the Gen 4 Outbacks around here are 2.5s and half are 3.6s. In Mass where you live at 1,150 ft, it may not be as much of an issue as it is in my 4900 ft altitude town with all of our hills. So, as they say, your mileage may vary. :)
 

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2015 3.6 Premium
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1,326 Posts
Just buy the 2.5 and be happy with your choice. Us 3.6 owners will be just that slightly happier. Don't fret just move on. If you find it difficult to move on just self medicate with the finest single malt one can afford.
 

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2018 2.5i Limited w/EyeSight
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207 Posts
If you're used to the 2.5i, I would just stick to the 2.5i.

It all depends on what you're used to... my other car is a 98hp hybrid, so the outback feels MORE than powerful enough with its 170 hp. I have absolutely no idea what I would be doing with more.
 

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2005 Outback 3.0R VDC/VTD/LSD 5eat , 2.8'' lift
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1,863 Posts
more power makes car go easier at slow speeds or specially towing something. if i would choose now other OBW i would go just for 3.0 older or 3.6 newer models. it doesnt mean that you must become street racer and drive faster, well if you stupid maybe you would, but those extra horses will be always there if you just need them. at least for my model 2.5 engine with something in trunk and 4 people is just feels that you lack of power when you need it . so you must adapt for that driving , and of course later its fine , but more power would be so much better for me at least.
 

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2012 Legacy 2.5GT-L
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314 Posts
I'd say drive both and see what you think. If fuel economy is something you are concerned with, go with the 2.5 - it will be better - likely substantially so. If you feel the car is lacking for power with the 2.5, then go with the 3.6. I'm guessing the 3.6 is going to go away in the not too distant future - likely be replaced with whatever they put in the upcoming Ascent, so if you want a 6, now's the time to get one.
 

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Premium Member
'03 outback limited, '01 Outback Limited, '01 Legacy L wagon, '96 Legacy Brighton wagon
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2,549 Posts
With only 90k on your car, why are you considering getting rid of it? It has plenty of life left in it!
 
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