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2013 Outback Limited, 2.5i, nav
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Discussion Starter #1
I purchased a 2013 back in August and had the chance to drive a 2012 for a week while my '13 was in the body shop (just cosmetic damage as a neighbor backed into my car). I want to preface my comments by stating that I do not in any way consider myself an expert on Subaru's or cars in general.

1. The transmission/engine on the '12 feels smoother than the '13. This is especially noticeable during warm up which takes significantly longer in the '13. The transmission on the '13 seems to "lurch" more than the '12.

2. The suspension on the '13 is significantly more harsh on bumpy/uneven roads. On smooth roads it feels a little better than the '12, but I seem to spend a lot more time on bumpy roads than on smooth roads.

When I first got the '13, I thought maybe I was being overly sensitive, but after driving the '12, the '12 definitely drives more "smoothly" around town. I like the overall feel of the '12 better than the '13, although I must admit that I am getting old and soft which is a factor. One of the things that I always liked about Outbacks was the compliant ride. I do not consider the ride on the '13 to be very compliant. Please also be aware that this is not my first Outback and that I did take a '13 for a test drive (obviously not long enough, should have insisted on a longer drive). My '13 has about 2100 miles on it and the '12 had about 11,000. Not sure if that matters in terms of how the engine/transmission feels. Sorry if I rambled on, but I wanted to try to explain my thoughts in some amount of detail. I would be interested in other people's experiences.
 

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2012 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited
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961 Posts
Good to hear (from a '12 owner perspective). But, maybe your '13 will relax over time. Or maybe the '12 tires are under-inflated. Like you, my ass is old...and like soft quiet rides.
 

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2012 Outback 2.5 Premium - Former: Golf TDI
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454 Posts
As stated above, I'd make sure both have their tire pressure within spec as it seems to make a large difference in ride quality in my 2012.

With that said, you're not the first one to comment that the 13 is a bit harsher than the 12 (myself included after a test drive of a 2013 Limited with SAP), which should be expected with increased spring/damper rates along with other "stiffening" tid-bits which allow it to handle slightly better. Personally, the 12 with a 19mm sway bar is the perfect combo for me yielding a smooth, compliant ride on the highway with less lean in turns all the while allowing me to go off-road without chattering my teeth out. I bought this thing for its relaxing ride given the amount of straight miles I cover each year.
 

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2007 Chrysler 300C built 5.7
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396 Posts
Suspension on the 13 may still be settling. Tire pressure could be a factor as well I suppose.
I'm still young though so I find the ride very pleasant. If I wanna float, I'll take the 73 Lincoln out.
 

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2004 Toyota Sienna, miss my eyesight. Life moves on.
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982 Posts
I think the OP was pretty accurate in his assetment and fair in his opinions. The 13 tramission is lurchy cold, and programmed to behave more aggressively. My former 11 Legacy and my sisters 11 OB are smoother in throttle response and tranmission behaviors, however they're also slower. Subuar achieved their goal but an inbetween would have worked as well.

The 13 is definately more bumpy and while lower tire pressure to 32/30 would help I like the ride a lot more than my sisters 11 OB. However I'm only 32 and still miss my 83 POS Camaro from High School sometimes! That thing road like a brick and had so many rattles you coudln't tell them apart.
 

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I drove a Peugeot 504 wagon in the '70's that handled better and had a rated payload of 1320 pounds.

My 2012 Outback is rated for only 800 pounds and bottoms out in the front where that 40 year old design from France never came close despite similar wheel travel. Certain series of undulations will induce a rocking/flailing motion in the body on its springs. Neither compression nor rebound are sufficient.

I do not understand how Subaru engineers could have signed-off on these settings.
 

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I drove a Peugeot 504 wagon in the '70's that handled better and had a rated payload of 1320 pounds.

My 2012 Outback is rated for only 800 pounds and bottoms out in the front where that 40 year old design from France never came close despite similar wheel travel. Certain series of undulations will induce a rocking/flailing motion in the body on its springs. Neither compression nor rebound are sufficient.

I do not understand how Subaru engineers could have signed-off on these settings.
I had a 505 for over 7yrs no way in **** that car handled better than the OB. It was rear wheel drive and would swap ends in a blink of an eye the second you found slick pavement and was like driving a 5 passenger Backhoe.

The OB suspension is tuned to far to the offroad ability vs on road. Something I hated about the OB even back in 2001 when I bought a Legacy GT instead of the OB for this exact reason! Our 2010 Legacy again has the proper on road suspension and performance I think would really surprise most OB owners. Not to mention 11yrs of using my legacy like a Truck we never got it stuck in the feet of snow we drove through in Tahoe - or the offroading madness I did with the guys. OB ground clearance might be good for the two stream crossings where the old Legacy had to take a cautious line across but the ultimate loss is the exceptional on road handling the Legacy has compared to the OB.
 

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2013 Outback Limited, 2.5i, nav
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Discussion Starter #8
I did check the tire pressures soon after purchase. They were a little above spec (don't remember exactly). If I remember correctly, I lowered the pressure about 2 lbs at each wheel to be exactly as Subaru recommends.
 

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2012 OUTBACK 2.5 LIMITED SILVER ICE Metallic, moon and nav free
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I am glad we went 2012. I loved the ride and suspension on our 2011. I have said the 12 drives much better than the 11. I worried about the chassis tightening and suspension changes and did not like that idea.
 

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2012 Ouback 2.5 CVT
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Same feeling I got OP I drove the 2013 twice one had 22 miles on the ODO the other I just recently drove that had 68 miles on it while waiting for my first 3k service. Both felt very firm compared to my 12'. I gotta say when I purchased my 2012 I was already convinced that the ride was much more planted compared to the competition like Toyota, Kia, Hyundai, Mitsubishi that I test drove before the Outback. To me the 13' is less forgiving going over bumps on the road feels very similar to my wife's IS250. Kinda like the front is bouncing, yea it may get softer over time but that was my first impression. @ 3k miles I love the ride of my 12' it rides super smooth and quite.
 

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2011 Outback Premium 6MT
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546 Posts
Good to hear (from a '12 owner perspective). But, maybe your '13 will relax over time. Or maybe the '12 tires are under-inflated. Like you, my ass is old...and like soft quiet rides.
I have 1/2 mile of rippled, potholed gravel drive to negotiate coming and going to my house. The 2011 Outback soaks it up like no other. Works quite well on speed bumps too. If I want a firm ride, I get in my BMW.
 
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