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2005 Mazda 6 && 2007 Outback 3.0 LLBean, WGO
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402 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
(I'm mainly comparing the Legacy, myself, but y'all are my go-to community here :) Also, this is entirely a subjective thread/question, so I don't expect "final answers!)


I keep on-and-off browsing for a newer, H-6 Subaru, and the e 2005-09 Outback/Legacy is almost always what I like best. Now I'm starting a new job (yay!) and getting more serious, but that generation of cars are all getting up there in mileage, and weirdly hard to find in colors I like. So, I'm looking at 2010-14 as well. Yay for 87 gas with the H6!
But... I am really having a hard time getting over the appearance. The new ones look ... bloated, and vaguely defined to me. The interiors, too, look kinda plain and expansive, not as many nice curves. Headlights seem to big, and really weird shapes. And I will avoid the "bull horns" grill at all costs.

Did anyone else get turned off by first impressions of the outside/inside, moving between these generations? If so, how did you learn to stop worrying and love the car // any particular realizations or perspectives that made you say "Hey, it's actually pretty nice!"?

Thanks for your time and thoughts! I'm looking forward to a new Subaru... just deciding which one!

note - When I say "3rd gen" here, I include Outback and Legacy BL/BP (US 2005-2009).
"4th gen" is BM/BR, 2010-2014)
 

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06 3.0R JDM facelift SI Drive-shift paddles. 87 Brumby EA81 (Brat) 4MT D/R
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613 Posts
Agree Gen 4 / 5 bloated, slabby looking compared to Gen 3 BL/BP , and similar looking to other similar SUV CUVs - a current fashion trend.

At least with Gen5 the headlights have been toned down a bit and got rid of that hideous plastic grille from gen 4.

Also agree Gen 3 BP / BL is a much better sleeker looking car - have one. :D
 

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2013 3.6R Limited
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901 Posts
I researched for many months back in 2015 looking for the best bang-for-the-buck SUV that fit our particular needs. My conclusions all pointed to the 3.6R engine with the 5EAT transmission. SUVs are typically unattractive regardless of the marque, so physical appearance never played a part in my equation.

Our 2013 Outback 3.6R continues to do everything we ask it to do and more with nothing required except routine maintenance. That is exactly what I wanted (and expected).
 

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2016 2.5i Ltd Outback (Tungsten)
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835 Posts
We moved from a Gen 2 to a (2011) Gen 4 (green). Our first impression was similar to yours ("does not look like an Outback, too big, too muscular"), but it really grew on us after we got over that initial impression. I have a 2016 now, which looks a bit more refined than the 2011, but we liked that car a lot. I thought it was a bit behind in technology, though, and that was one reason for the move to the 2016.
 

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Onyx, 2008 LL Bean 3.0R and 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring
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4,112 Posts
Having driven both, I preferred the Gen 3. I bought a 2008 LL Bean. It seemed more sporty and stable on the road. It was just more fun to drive and I liked the look much more.

The 4 was kinda like driving a 3 on stilts. Having said that, I do not like paying for hi octane gas and hear that the 4 has more leg room in the back, so if you are planning on more than one adult or car seats riding with you, the 4 might be your need. I feel like it puts the "Utility" in SUV.
 

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On the Super Mod Squad
02 Pair: 3.0 VDC Wag & 2.5 Limited Sedan
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26,212 Posts
Having driven both, I preferred the Gen 3. I bought a 2008 LL Bean. It seemed more sporty and stable on the road. It was just more fun to drive and I liked the look much more.

The 4 was kinda like driving a 3 on stilts. Having said that, I do not like paying for hi octane gas and hear that the 4 has more leg room in the back, so if you are planning on more than one adult or car seats riding with you, the 4 might be your need. I feel like it puts the "Utility" in SUV.
more torque on the 3.6 then the 3.0 also.

I wonder if the front seats crank back farther in the gen 4,... although I guess tall people could put longer seat track rails in any car though.
 

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Personally I prefer the look of the 4 to the 3 by a mile. The 4 has a ridiculous amount of leg room.

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2008 OB Limited 2.5i, Portland OR USA
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6,156 Posts
My preference is Gen 3, because of the clean lines, sleekness, lighter weight, and better handling. It's really a station wagon (Gen 3) vs. SUV (Gen 4) thing.
 

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2013 3.6R Limited
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901 Posts
I am 6-foot-7 with size 15 feet. While our 2013 Outback 3.6R does not provide quite the legroom, footroom, and headroom that my full-size 1999 Dodge Ram pickup does, if I move the drivers seat fully rearward and tilt it back about 30 degrees, I can get comfortable enough in it to drive several hundred miles at one stretch. Works for me.
 

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2013 3.6R Limited
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7 Posts
I'm an original owner of a 2005 2.5i with 230K and a 2nd owner of a 2013 3.6r with 25K. (5K is from me)
Here's my assessment on 2005 versus 2013

Item: (2005) / (2013)
How it feels: Like a car / A small SUV
Freeway Ride: Smoother / Rougher
Dirt road: Not bad / Lots of fun
Climate & Radio Controls: Easy to adjust while driving / Too **** complicated for an old man like me
Towing: Bottomed out the tongue many times when heavy loaded / Tongue much higher on factory hitch
Sleeping in the back on an inflatable mattress: Ok / Much easier getting in and out of the back doors
Cabin air filter: Haven't replaced it cause to **** hard(2005 thing) / Replaced in 5 minutes
 

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2012 Outback - 2005 Outback XT
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370 Posts
They are very different animals. I own one of each. My 05 is an XT vs the 12 being a 2.5 Limited. Not an apple to apple comparison, but close.
I definitely prefer the driving dynamics of the 05 over the 12. It's just much more nimble, likely due to the weight difference.
The 12 probably gets the nod for cruising the highway. It's unbelievably efficient, getting nearly 30 MPG, heavily loaded in rolling country.
And it's just more modern in terms of driver interface.
Styling in the 05 is clean. No denying that. Really, it's an anomaly for Subaru given their traditional quirky styling.

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06 3.0R JDM facelift SI Drive-shift paddles. 87 Brumby EA81 (Brat) 4MT D/R
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613 Posts

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2012 2.5i Premium CVT
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921 Posts
When the Gen 4 came out, I thought it was the ugliest thing in the world. With the long wagon body and lifted suspension, they looked like rolling cockroaches to me. I ended up buying one in 2012 despite that, after getting used to seeing them for a couple of years. It's been a good car that never left me stranded, but it has given me more problems than any of my previous Japanese cars (new torque converter, new exhaust manifold, a few recalls...) I thought the Gen 3s were slick at the time, but too small for my preferences. It's a nice looking design though. It wouldn't fly in today's market.

Lots of people do tend to call the Gen 4 an SUV. That means Subaru got it right for its biggest market. It's still a wagon by definition, but it *identifies* as an SUV - Ha! The lines are blurred now with hatchbacks being called crossovers, sedans being called coupes, etc. It's all marketing BS anyway.
 

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Lawn ornament XT
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Most Subarus are ugly. They always have been. Occasionally some flashes of brilliance for the 2-door models, but the rest is a fleet of eyesores. I do appreciate that they have had the guts to try some fairly bold style approaches in the past, and I like that they have retained certain lines and features across decades. That's good visual character.

The first Outbacks weren't particularly bad looking, but you'd never mistake them for anything other than Subarus either.

The BL/BP "3rd generation" Outback changed that. It wasn't a particularly revolutionary design, but it had deep roots in Subaru styling while being fully evolved. The result was well-balanced.

The "floating island roof" look (flush, glassed-over B, C & D pillars) hit its ultimate visual evolution once they started offering tinted glass from the factory on the '08. That's a style element Subaru started playing with in the mid 1980s. It took a while, but they really did it right on the BP. When combined with the panoramic sunroof, the effect is fairly dramatic for a station wagon.

I view the BM/BR Outback as a car built from the inside out. They wanted a significantly bigger cabin and stretched an Outback around it. Lots of dimensions changed. I just don't think they had time to finesse the looks before committing to the design. Subaru being Subaru, they put more value on getting other things perfect instead.

The current model Outback is of very similar dimension to the BM/BR, yet it is considerably easier on the eyes. Appearance detail quality is now catching up to the new scale of the car.
 

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06 3.0R JDM facelift SI Drive-shift paddles. 87 Brumby EA81 (Brat) 4MT D/R
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613 Posts
Gen 4+ looks like an SUV more than a station wagon.

Great pic.
Totally agree, gen 3 was the last of (2009) the more preferable car/wagon platform ( based on the legacy wagon platform since 1989, spanning 20 years)
Over the move to follow fashion / new consumer demand for a more SUV type vehicle with Gen 4 now 5.
Gen 3 by far the most popular generation in NZ - many more were imported 2nd hand ex JDM Japan.
Gen 4/5 is just another SUV, similar to its competitors in style / looks but retaining its previous DNA / Subaru attributes ie SAWD etc .
 
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2013 3.6R Limited
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901 Posts
I did not purchase our 2013 3.6R for its appearance. I purchased it because my research back in the second half of 2015 pointed to it as the best bang-for-the-buck SUV/crossover/wagon/bobsled to do what we need it to do while requiring little more than routine DIY maintenance from me. After 26 months of ownership, that has indeed been my experience so I remain pleased with it.

We received between 6 and 7 inches of snow yesterday, and it is unlikely that we will see any snowplows in our neck of the woods for days. Our 3.6R is currently very happy in its native environment and will easily and safely allow me to get my wife to the airport this afternoon so she can catch her flight to Tampa. That is, if the planes are indeed flying on time today.

And that is one of the many reasons we own this 3.6R.
 

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'13 OBW SAP 3.6R
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416 Posts
I purchased the 2013 particularly because they firmed up the suspension and added saddle brown interior and memory seats which I think all vehicles should have. I prefer this gen over the previous because of interior volume. I cannot stand tight back seats and I think it is unfair on your passengers plus we knew we were going to have a kid and wanted something that made sense for that application.

No regrets although my wife has taken over as the primary driver of the Subie as I have moved on to my midlife crisis V8 for now :D
 

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'14 Subi OBW, '18 Subi Forester
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You'll note that I still retain the avatar photo of my '02 (Gen-II) OBW! I bought it new in Sept 2001, and we ran it concurrently with the '14 (Gen-IV) bought new in Sept 2013 until January 2016.

In the mean time, I drove or rode in a number of Gen-III wagons. Although they were a nice improvement over the Gen-II, they retained a lot of what I liked about my old ride. A certain rough-&-tumble off-road capable daily driver family hauler, but with some refinement.

The Gen-IV is a marked departure from those roots. We initially went shopping for a CPO (2010-2012), but came away very unimpressed. By 2013 they got it closer to right. Better suspension, new engine, improved performing second generation CVT. I bought it, but had some buyer's remorse with our 2014 for quite a while. Poor engine / tranny calibrations (finally fixed with an ECU reflash), heavy steering that still doesn't zero well on it's own after a turn despite dealership front end work, and iffy OEM tires that flat spotted on a cold night. Little things that can damage your appreciation of an overall good vehicle.

Over time I've come to appreciate the newer design. The larger interior accommodated growing teenagers, it rides better and is a nicer long distance traveler. It's a bit harder to drive off-road as the visibility is worse, but the suspension improvements and higher ground clearance handles things better. Both have been reliable.

Love? I put the old car up on a pedestal. After 4 years of ownership, the newer car is getting there...
 

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I simply cannot abide useless people.
2006 2.5i and 2002 3.0 wagons.
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12,306 Posts
We've had a Gen 1, two Gen 2's, and just bought a Gen 3.

I think the pre-facelift (2005-07) Gen 3 is the best looking wagon Subaru has made. If I could get the 3.6 into a 2006-07 wagon with the 5EAT...I don't think I'd ever let it go.

The Gen 4+ crossed over into SUV/SUV territory for me and have no real visual or driving appeal to me. Might I have one eventually? Maybe. I think I'd rather trade the cargo space and power for a Crosstrek, which I at least like the looks and feel of.
 
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