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2021 Subaru Outback
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110 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I purchased a 2021 Outback Limited with the 2.5 engine about 8 months ago and love it so far. However, I can't help but feel it's a little underpowered for my weekend ski trips. I ski most weekends during the winter in the Sierras in Northern California and there is a stretch of I-80 between Sacramento and Truckee that the Outback always seems to struggle on. Last season I was able to make it by but I am looking forward to this season and wondering whether I will be comfortable doing that again. I am lucky that I got a good deal on my current Outback so it's worth what I paid for it new except for sales taxes. However, new XT's these days are very hard to come by and I'd probably only get a modest discount. However, I am seriously considering it because I really love the car and want to keep it for a while, but I'm on the fence about whether the power is sufficient for my needs. Hoping to hear input from others in similar situations.

Thanks!
 

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Premium Member
2020 Premium Tungsten metallic w/ option pkg 15 and tow hitch, foot illumination lights, skid plates
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105 Posts
My 2.5 has gone to Tahoe without any problems, but not in snow. The XT or Wilderness will give you the extra power, but your mpg will suffer. Still, skiing every weekend you will probably be happier with it. Test drive one up one of your hills and see.
 

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2021 Subaru Outback
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110 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My 2.5 has gone to Tahoe without any problems, but not in snow. The XT or Wilderness will give you the extra power, but your mpg will suffer. Still, skiing every weekend you will probably be happier with it. Test drive one up one of your hills and see.
Funny enough, snow isn't much of a problem because you're going so much slower. Its when its clear out and you're trying to keep up with traffic at 70 mph uphill that it seems to struggle. That being said, I hadn't really figured out the car's dynamics before the season was over. Now I'm better at using the manual function, etc. I also am accustomed to getting 29 to 30 MPG on the flats - that will be hard to give up. :)
 

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Premium Member
2020 Onyx
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12,644 Posts
For me the extra power of the turbo is a guilty pleasure - it's way more than necessary. But when I bought it, I was going over a mountain every day and the effortlessness of a turbo is a kind of luxury. I'm no longer doing that kind of driving so really my XT is just loafing 90% of the time - only get to use that extra power on on-ramps. :cry:
 

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20 Outback Premium; former 19 Outback Premium, 85 GL Wagon, 87 GL-10 Wagon
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2,578 Posts
@spencertimm since you're questioning I'd say you're a prime candidate to switch to the turbo. I do mountains all the time with the 2.5 and on some occasions wish I had the turbo, but 95% of the time I'm happy with the 2.5's power and the mileage. Even so, what's good for me or anyone else doesn't mean it's best for you. As @David in Norcal suggested, try an XT on your hills if you can to see for yourself. I have no doubt you'll like the power. Look at fuelly.com to see where your mileage with the 2.5 fits in the range of all drivers, then extrapolate that to the range drivers report for the XT to get a good idea of what you can expect.
 

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2018 Outback Touring 2.5
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136 Posts
Depends what's more important to you, mpg or passing power. I live in Tahoe and rive up and down 80 all the time. 80-85 mph up the summit is plenty fast in my 2.5. Sure don't want to give up my port injected motor for DI, guess if I was stuck with a DI Gen 6 I'd consider the XT
 

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2021 Outback XT Onyx in CWP
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1 Posts
Our 2018 2.5 Outback really struggled in the mountains with three adults, a dog and our baggage. When off the highway and having to turn onto an uphill road where the speed limit was 55, I had to have a really large opening in traffic to give me room to get up to speed. It was outright dangerous if I didn't wait. Also, the rpm's stayed higher, which as we all know, made for a noisier ride.

Sold the 2018 and bought a 2021 Onyx XT. Night and day difference. The turbo shines brightest at higher elevations as you know however, until you are actually driving the same route with a turbo, you won't be able to really appreciate it. Easier up the hills, getting up to speed, less noise and when not in the mountains and just doing your daily driving, the smiles per mile is a huge factor.

I get about 2mpg less overall compared to the 2.5. The math works out to about $13 per month extra for fuel. If I'm driving with a heavy foot all month long, it's an extra $26 a month. Is the sheer enjoyment from that extra power worth it?

Oh yeah!!!
 

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2022 Outback Touring XT in Autumn Green Metallic
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7 Posts
More power is always the right choice. Just adequate power isn’t enough in any car, imho. If you’re thinking about it, do it and you’ll be thrilled with it. Best I’d luck finding an XT quickly!
 

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3,061 Posts
I’m happy I went with the XT. The fuel economy is in the 20-22 range over the tank, but even on the 2.5 I was around 25-26 on my Forester which is lighter. So, for 10% economy loss to get about 40% more power seemed like a good trade.

Might have chosen a Limited XT next time and changed out some exterior pieces to Onyx-like.
 

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2020 Outback Limited XT Black on Ivory
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2,387 Posts
Life is to short to make monthly payments on a car that leaves you disappointed. Chances are the cost difference amounts to less than a years worth of those payments. Start fresh and order the car you want.
 

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239 Posts
There's some very solid, common sense, experienced advice about and I can only echo most of it. Years ago I decided there's no such thing as too much power. Even if you rarely use it, it's better to have more than you need available for those times when you do need it. You can still get good fuel econ by just driving like Ms. Daisy, only calling on the power when you really need it.
When I bought my 3.6R there was no question, I drove it, I liked it, there was no need for me to even think about driving the 2.5. For me personally, I consider the 3.6R the minimum amount of performance I'll accept and if somehow Subaru dropped the 3.6R without an equal or more powerful engine to replace it, I was done with Subaru. Since that decision the wife is now on her 3rd 2.5 car, and while the current 182hp 2.5 is a little better than her previous two cars, I find it mundane to the point of tears and barely adequate for even pulling it's own weight down the highway. I'm glad there are no mountainous roads around here, just getting the car to really move on flat land involves nearly matting the go pedal and having to listen to it scream while it reluctantly putzes along.
The best advice above is never paying for a car you are unhappy with. Get happy, trade it if you have the opportunity. I'm giddy to pay a little more for fuel so I can grin if I have to floor the throttle for some reason.
 

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2018 Outback Limited 2.5 w Eyesight
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223 Posts
Funny, I've never had issues with the 2.5 loaded with kids, dogs, gear in a Yakima box, etc. It's a personal preference thing. I also think here in the land of $5 a gallon gas we tend to accept a little less power for less pain at the pump than our American cousins.
 

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2020 Onyx Outback
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454 Posts
Anything N/A in the mountains here and has less than 400hp is a turd. The XT is the ticket if you need that extra consistent power on tap when climbing around at altitude. N/A Subaru's are turds at high altitude. Get the XT and be happy. Once you get it and experience the different in power you'll wonder why you bought that N/A 2.5 in the first place. Just be aware, that a lot of us in XT's are having issues with power surges/transmission issues that make driving it extremely annoying at times.
 

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22 Green Onyx Ordered May 28th. Built 7.21.21. Arrived Aug 4th
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208 Posts
For me the extra power of the turbo is a guilty pleasure - it's way more than necessary. But when I bought it, I was going over a mountain every day and the effortlessness of a turbo is a kind of luxury. I'm no longer doing that kind of driving so really my XT is just loafing 90% of the time - only get to use that extra power on on-ramps. :cry:
Even so, it's nice to know it's there if you need it.
For me it's the need for far less throttle and the anemia is no gone.
Sure I'm not getting the milage of my 2.5, but with low ethanol fuel it close.
 
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