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Discussion Starter #1
Bought a 2013 OB Limited back in August and now have 7,500 miles on it. This is my first Subaru. Background - this is a family car used mostly for short trips like getting groceries and taking kids to school. 21 years driving experience in many different cars.

The good:

1. Utility. Big enough for a 4 person family but not too big like an SUV. The backseat has enough legroom to put a rear-facing infant car seat behind the driver's seat. In most cars this is impossible. Lots of space in the rear cargo area, enough to put a stroller in lengthwise (two wheels touching the back of the rear seat and two wheels touching the rear hatch).

2. Navigation / back up camera. I'm in the minority in thinking that a hardwired nav system is better than a portable unit. No wires, modern maps, and a large screen make this MUCH better than a portable unit. Because of the large screen the back up camera screen is wonderful. This is something you never knew you needed until you use it.

3. EyeSight. The adaptive cruise control is awesome. I bought it for the pre-collision braking system. But since you never hope to need it, you never (hopefully) use it. But the ACC is beautiful. Never knew I needed it. The lane change warning is useful on long trips where you need an audible warning upon going over the lane lines when you get sleepy.

Neutral:
1. Dual zone climate control. The AC kept the car plenty cold in the summer. The controls are confusing. To change which vents the air blows out of you have to keep pressing a single button. Old fashioned levers and switches work better.

2. Leather seats. Leather is the minority here. It's mostly vinyl. OK by me since this is a family car where I think I actually prefer vinyl to cloth. But the rampant use of vinyl does make the car stink when new (still does).

The bad:
1. Stereo. I was looking forward to the upgraded Harmon Kardon stereo. It's not good. I like bass but this stereo is extremely bass heavy. I have it set to its lowest setting and it's still too much. Otherwise the sound is too cold and sterile. My portable single speaker radio I use inside the house is better.

2. General audio. When scanning through radio stations and changing from one menu item to another, there is a horrible "BEEEEEEEEP!" My old VW had a pleasant "poooooong." This is an easy fix. My suspicion here is that Subaru is targeting an older demographic (40-60?) that it suspects is hard of hearing (I'm serious).

3. Steering. I've never had to pay so much attention to steering. Many inputs to go in a straight line. Dealer says alignment is "in spec." Maybe, but I doubt it's ideal.

4. Inadequate engine on the highway. With cruise control at 70 mph, the slightest incline would prompt the CVT to jump from 1,8000 rpm to 2,500. Often it would require 3,000 rpm to maintain speed. Occasionally it would hit 4,000 to maintain 70 mph. How I miss my VW GTI where, in 6th gear, it could handle ANY incline and never slow down.

The ugly:
1. Stiff, busy ride. I get that this helps cornering and some aspects of stability, but this is too much. Fine for around town but it gets tiring on long trips.

2. Fuel economy. At 6,500 miles, I took this on a 800 mile trip for Thanksgiving. Got 25.5 mpg and 27 mpg on 100% highway w/ cruise control set to 70 mph. I suspect that the CVT constantly going into 2,000+ (and even 3,000+) rpm had a lot to do with this. But still, the EPA numbers should reflect real world driving conditions, not 60 mph on completely flat ground (who drives 60 mph on the interstate?)

I bought this car to a safe, family-friendly grocery getter for the wife and for long trips to grandma's. And also for its traction in the snow (haven't tested the AWD yet). So many of these things in the bad and ugly column don't concern me too much. In this sense I'm satisfied. BUT, if you're not buying this to be a safe family hauler I'd have my reservations about this 2013 Outback.
 

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We bought ours for the utility, ground clearance, and an excellent AWD. If one doesn't need those items then I think there are a lot of better choices out there.
 

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Can't compare to a VW GTI or any other sedan. Outback is like having a truck. The busy ride is from the CVT. I did not like that either so the 3.6 automatic is much smoother. Re: lack of power, again this is a much heavier , larger vehicle and of course when you picked that 2.5, you get the better MPG at the expense of less power.

You should trade-in later for Subaru Legacy or other sedan. The bigger, heavier Outback is not the right fit based on your needs. I do use my Outback frequently like a truck, so it is perfect for my needs.
 

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13K so far. Multiple trips if 1000 miles each. 27mpg at 70-85mph. Like the suspension as it is stiff and no roll in tight corners. Steering is quick but a bit sensitive.
Perfect compromise, not an undependable Audi nor a stiff expensive to run Nissan xterra. A compromise.
 

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OB like a truck? Really well this isn't anything like my Super Duty. It is more like a sedan actually. I am happy about everything the OB with very few exceptions. Climate control overshoot is very much like the Toyota we had should be since it is most likely used by both companies.
Wander has been discussed and I have not been able to get back to my OB up north but once I do I will tweak it to take out any toe at all and use a very slight toe in (called negative toe).
Mileage has dropped now that it is colder out and the driving has been much more city driving but still not bad for the 3.6L.

Plan to order a 14 next year to replace my M3 BMW so pretty happy with the OB...
 

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2. Fuel economy. At 6,500 miles, I took this on a 800 mile trip for Thanksgiving. Got 25.5 mpg and 27 mpg on 100% highway w/ cruise control set to 70 mph. I suspect that the CVT constantly going into 2,000+ (and even 3,000+) rpm had a lot to do with this. But still, the EPA numbers should reflect real world driving conditions, not 60 mph on completely flat ground (who drives 60 mph on the interstate?)
This could be because of the EyeSight system too. The system applies brake to decelerate and has no concept of coasting (i.e slow down cutting off the gas).
 

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13K so far. Multiple trips if 1000 miles each. 27mpg at 70-85mph. Like the suspension as it is stiff and no roll in tight corners. Steering is quick but a bit sensitive.
Perfect compromise, not an undependable Audi nor a stiff expensive to run Nissan xterra. A compromise.

sounds like a pretty **** good compromise too me. the suspension has obviously been tightened in Gen 4.2 compared to Gen 4.1.


I thought that the toe in on the fronts was called positive toe Fun2? Guess not, I better brush up on my alignment terms.
 

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The Outback is a raised vehicle and and suffers a larger aero drag hit than your GTI. It's also heaver and the combination uses more engine power and more fuel especially when climbing hills.
You can reduce the drag a bunch by doing 55 or 60 MPH as aero forces square (4X) with just a doubling of velocity. Really noticeable on a high cd vehicle like the Outback. The rise in engine RPM's is just the CVT keeping the engine in the proper torque/HP band for the load it's under. Assuming your GTI was a TDI, it's torque peak is something like 230ft/lbs @2600RPM, the Outback is 174 @ 4100 RPM, less low RPM torque means more engine revs for the same power

Check your tire pressure. 34PSI front and 32PSI rear will stabilise the steering and soften the ride and won't impact fuel mileage much.
 

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Good report Woozle... My guess is design engineers for auto makers have nightmares about finding the perfect "Goldilocks" balance of handling and ride quality to appeal to the largest target market for their vehicles...

With 2700 miles on the odo, after a 600 mile road trip this past week, my 2.5i handled nicely on mountain overpasses and long hills both going up and handling curves on the way down. Straight line steering is fine, but indeed there's not much "play" in the wheel (which i like). The cruise did indeed want to spike up the RPMs to 4K going uphill, but just used my foot to keep speed pretty close with less RPMs and had plenty of passing power uphill (just me in the OB this trip). Plus trucks and other traffic kept me from constant speed anyway. With cruise set at 72 both ways (to pass trucks but not much else on the interstate) and tires at 38 psi front/36 rear, MPG on the computer was 30.3 outbound and netted out to 29.7 on the whole trip (had a day of city driving and hit rush hour on the way back all on a 460 mile tank). (I just smile as I pass speed traps at 72) ;)

On the recent Thanksgiving 500 mile trip with 4 of us, 80 lbs of dogs and all totally loaded to go to Grandma's on relatively flat land at 75MPG average (needed to get out of the car), computer average was right at 27 round trip. I find the passing power at speed to be perfectly fine but notice that the CVT is not very responsive at jack rabbit starts though. Seems tuned for cruising. Still just breaking her in and am looking forward to seeing what the first full synthetic oil change does for the MPG numbers based on other posts.
 

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Hopefully, the OP's gas mileage will improve a bit more as the engine continues to loosen-up.

With my 2011 3.6R Limited, I consistently get 22-23 mpg in local driving, and 26-27 on highway drives. In fact, last year I managed to eke-out 29 mpg on a highway trip consisting of approximately equal parts 70 mph interstate and 50 mph state highway driving. If I can do that with the 3.6 engine, surely the 2.5 is capable of better mileage than the OP reports.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks all for the comments. My comparison to my old 2007 VW GTI is simply one man's perspective. But with Subaru specifically targeting a broader market (and being successful at it) I'd say that they're pursuing those that never owned a Subaru before, like me.

I accept that the OB won't drive exactly like a lower-sprung sedan. I'd call the compromise in ride quality well worth it if prevents me from getting stuck in the snow in the winter. But I am disappointed in real-work mpg not living up to sticker. GM plays the EPA numbers game by generating hwy numbers at the lowest possible speed (it used to be 48 mph!). But Subaru has a reputation for being more up-front and having a better relationship with its customers. I scoffed at the 32 mpg hwy number for the Chevy Equinox, but I feel a little taken now in the new OB. 6,000 miles should be plenty of time for the engine to break in.

But there a few things that Subaru did that have nothing to do with AWD capability, weight, and ground clearance that are chintzy and cheap. Like forcing the customer to get an overpriced and under performing radio (and sunroof and leather and NAV) to get the EyeSight safety feature.

I'm being critical here for the purpose of being critical (this is a review after all). I would have liked knowing this information before I bought my OB and suspect others would too. The OB is a fine car, though it has its shortcomings.
 

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Assuming your GTI was a TDI, it's torque peak is something like 230ft/lbs @2600RPM, the Outback is 174 @ 4100 RPM, less low RPM torque means more engine revs for the same power
There's no such thing as a diesel GTI, unless you're referring to the GTD, which isn't sold in NA.
 

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The bad:
1. Stereo. I was looking forward to the upgraded Harmon Kardon stereo. It's not good.
I agree.

3. Steering. I've never had to pay so much attention to steering. Many inputs to go in a straight line. Dealer says alignment is "in spec." Maybe, but I doubt it's ideal.
I've posted this comment elsewhere, but I'm going to repeat it: the first OB I test drove on a highway, an '11 3.6r, moved all over the place on the highway. I thought to myself that upgrading the RSB to 19mm would make it better, but from what I've read, I'm not so sure it completely corrects the steering issues. The steering/wandering actually might be a deal breaker for my wife and me.

4. Inadequate engine on the highway. With cruise control at 70 mph, the slightest incline would prompt the CVT to jump from 1,8000 rpm to 2,500. Often it would require 3,000 rpm to maintain speed. Occasionally it would hit 4,000 to maintain 70 mph. How I miss my VW GTI where, in 6th gear, it could handle ANY incline and never slow down.
I couldn't agree more (I have an '11 GTI with DSG). I drove my wife's '12 Passat on the Merritt Pkwy last weekend and hated that it had to rev to get up the hills without slowing down. Sure, it was able to maintain speed like you said, but who wants to listen to an engine at 3k+ RPMs just to maintain speed? I hate driving a car that sounds like it's struggling to do what you want it to do. I wouldn't drive the OB like a GTI, but acceleration on the highway should be effortless... just how my friend describes highway acceleration with his '13 RDX.
 

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I agree.

I've posted this comment elsewhere, but I'm going to repeat it: the first OB I test drove on a highway, an '11 3.6r, moved all over the place on the highway. I thought to myself that upgrading the RSB to 19mm would make it better, but from what I've read, I'm not so sure it completely corrects the steering issues. The steering/wandering actually might be a deal breaker for my wife and me.

I couldn't agree more (I have an '11 GTI with DSG). I drove my wife's '12 Passat on the Merritt Pkwy last weekend and hated that it had to rev to get up the hills without slowing down. Sure, it was able to maintain speed like you said, but who wants to listen to an engine at 3k+ RPMs just to maintain speed? I hate driving a car that sounds like it's struggling to do what you want it to do. I wouldn't drive the OB like a GTI, but acceleration on the highway should be effortless... just how my friend describes highway acceleration with his '13 RDX.
Then purchase a comparable 3.6R Outback if you want seamless acceleration given that the RDX's are only available with a 3.5L V6; no sense in entertaining the 2.5 if this is what you're after. I preferred how my old TDI would just attack hills without issue, but it's simply not the case with the 2.5. On the flipside I'm able to churn out 30mpg every tank in an AWD wagon utilizing "old" (read: no DI, no turbos, etc) technology so I'm not complaining.

Regarding steering, it is deffinently a "let down" after having come from a 2011 Golf and previously a 2007 WRX, both of which boasted much heavier, firm steering. I actually don't care for the GTI's steering, it was a bit twitchy for me (to be expected in a hot hatch no doubt), but still had great TDC feeling especially compared to the OB. However, I knew this getting into the OB; I knew I was getting a VERY soft ride, less- than-stellar steering feel, etc. as that is what I was after with it.

I was between the OB and the 2012 Passat as well; still love the Passats, excellent interior materials, HUGE back seat, etc. but I couldn't get over the misplaced steering wheel (it's off-centered by a decent amount) which lead to an "odd" feeling when I did an extended 2 day test drive with it. If I could've gotten 100% comfortable in the Passat, no doubt it would've been in my driveway with that coarse but reliable 2.5 (my Golf was a TDI which lived through an imploded HPFP, needless to say no CR TDI's for me for a while haha)
 

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interesting , the other day while driving I thought to myself that a cop may pull me over for drunk driving. My 10' outback was all over the road.
 

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Fwiw...

Any 2010 onward OB that wanders has alignment and/or uneven tire wear. My pop-in-law's 2010 has been perfect but had some damage from hitting a curb and "wandered" right after the repair. An hour in the shop to re-adjust the alignment and it was straight again. With 70K miles, it's still straight.

My 2013 has been straight for almost 3K miles, but I darn sure will rotate tires religiously given the reports on this site.

My 2006 Honda Pilot "wandered" with nearly new Michelins on it of about 25K miles or so. Turned out my wife didn't rotate tires as I'd asked nicely 3 times and the fronts were to the wear bars while the rears were cupped unevenly and causing "wander".

I'd bet $ that folks who complain of wander either have alignment or tires or damage (e.g., curb hit) issues that someone in the family never fessed up to. With all 4 wheels turning, things have to be "asymetrical" or there will be wandering.
 
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