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Discussion Starter #1
I think they've done quite a good job with this new model, in so far as looks and overall content is concerned (the last one was too ugly to get the wife interested), but I can't replace my old allroad or my wife's 535xi wagon with one of these if it doesn't have a self-leveling rear suspension.

Load it up with camping gear, a big full cooler, roof box, four people and bikes on a hitch rack and it's going to be riding on its bump stops... In other words, it can't be used as advertised.

I looked into ordering the self-leveling shocks for the rear from the UK for the Gen 4 car, and it was nearly $3k to 'fix' this problem. I really hope they'll make them available as a US option this time around...

PS - I'd like a manual transmission and a turbo motor, too (I always buy manuals when possible). But I know that's kind of a lost dream these days...
 

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I have loaded up mine with 2 adults, 2 kids, 2 siberian huskies, a tandem bike, the bike trailer for the kids and everything needed for 2 weeks of camping and never had a levelling problem. Either your bikes or your people are too heavy.
 

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I would have zero interest in the air ride self leveling suspension due to the cost and as mentioned by the other poster all the heavy packed trips the OB has been fine. The prior generations seemed to get far more rear end sag over the current generations at least thats what I have noticed with our prior car and the new one.
 

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I've got a few Subaru's with self leveling rear shocks.

It wouldn't be that hard to mitigate with stiffer springs/struts, which I've done to one of mine I tow with.

I can't replace my old allroad or my wife's 535xi wagon with one of these
That's for the better, you'd probably dislike it. The trim, feel, attention to detail, and novelty of those cars will never be matched by Subaru no matter how good they look on ads or the showroom floor.
 

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I've got a few Subaru's with self leveling rear shocks.

It wouldn't be that hard to mitigate with stiffer springs/struts, which I've done to one of mine I tow with.

That's for the better, you'd probably dislike it. The trim, feel, attention to detail, and novelty of those cars will never be matched by Subaru no matter how good they look on ads or the showroom floor.
Very true. Subie ain't there. But, when the others fail they fail big $$$. But I wanted both of those vehicles, but was afraid of that day.

Little did I know I would have to re-build my Gen3 suspension and chassis to make it a good handler. $$$ anyway.

BTW, my '87 in '89 Turbo Loyal XT 4dr Sedan, had the self-leveling...adjustable air suspension...so cool in '89...till it all went to h+ll. But I think it was great.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I've got a few Subaru's with self leveling rear shocks.

It wouldn't be that hard to mitigate with stiffer springs/struts, which I've done to one of mine I tow with.

That's for the better, you'd probably dislike it. The trim, feel, attention to detail, and novelty of those cars will never be matched by Subaru no matter how good they look on ads or the showroom floor.
My issue is reliability and dealer service. My BMW and Audi dealers are 100 miles away (so 400 miles of driving, 600 vehicle miles, to drop off, go home, go there, pick up repaired). I'm kind of over it, considering the BMW rarely goes a month without some kind of warning light on, not to mention the Audi.

Buying new ones and continuing to deal with that distance is no longer of interest (I was more in the mood before I had a toddler raking the sides of my cars with matchbox cars and, well... rakes).

The Subie dealer is 5 miles away. Given all the improvements to the new car, it would be 'good enough'. But, living here in Jackson Hole, WY, we do a lot of camping, and have a lot of gear, and I've never owned a car without self-leveling that really worked well for my driving style.

You may be fine driving on paved roads with the stock USA setup, but head up fire roads with a full load, drive winding mountain passes with undulations and dips and constant curves... you WANT some extra support. I've added air springs to my Xterra and it transformed it from useless tow vehicle to very useful.

It might be fine for other people, but I'm also a more aggressive driver, and when not on dirt roads, we're driving at high speeds across long expanses, up and down mountain passes on two lane roads, etc. and when fully loaded, you still need a suspension that can perform appropriately for the load. No smaller, lighter vehicle will perform properly without some sort of aid (i.e. not a full size truck/SUV). I suspect the self-leveling shocks the EU gets would suffice (vs air springs, which are ultimately superior, but more complex/problematic in the long run).

As to your bikes or people being too fat, my wife and I and our four year old are about 380 lbs, and both our road bikes and mountain bikes are full carbon fiber. Our large Yeti cooler weighs a good deal loaded up, and our large 'condo' tent, mattress, chairs, and other car camping paraphernalia are heavy, but the BMW and Audi both handle the weight fine. The H6 Subie would deal with it all well enough, but for the lack of load leveling.

I used to track my cars when I was younger, I live out west and drive more quickly than some of you probably do, and I loathe a wallowy ride whether weighted down or not. That's why I hope Subaru will offer a load-bearing option for those who want it.

Maybe I'll break down and buy a full EU suspension setup this go around (if the Gen 5 EU car has it). The last time we considered an Outback, my wife couldn't swallow the derpy looks of it (Gen 4). This one may work out, but it sure would help make the deal happen if the car could swallow a load with a smile.

You can't see it through the tint, but in this photo the car was loaded to the gills for a 6 week, 3,500 mile road trip, and handled Beartooth pass with amazing prowess, and 130 mph runs across barren North Dakota equally well.



If the Subie could do 8/10 as well, I'd be happy, though. It's just not possible with a standard spring/shock setup. I put about 3,000 miles on a Gen 4 Outback rental once from WY to Los Angeles and back. It was a wallowy pig without any weight in it... I'm not trying to pick fights with Subie fan boys, I'm just commenting from my own experiences and expectations.
 

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Discussion Starter #9

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If the Subie could do 8/10 as well, I'd be happy, though. It's just not possible with a standard spring/shock setup. I put about 3,000 miles on a Gen 4 Outback rental once from WY to Los Angeles and back. It was a wallowy pig without any weight in it... I'm not trying to pick fights with Subie fan boys, I'm just commenting from my own experiences and expectations.
Your first mistake is comparing an Outback to a vehicle that costs nearly double. Don't get my wrong, I'm a BMW (M3) owner myself, but you're being unreasonable.
 

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wow that distance is a killer. i'm sure you've already thought about this, but what's the down side to finding a local to work on them instead?

a similar forum to this for those cars might help aid them for any specifics. even Subaru dealers aren't nearly as adept as a forum like this at best practices/maintenances/repairs.

LOL on the kids marking it up. "helping" wash means banging the car with the hose or dry wiping it with whatever material they find lying around. okay, let's not do that.

the more you describe, the more i think you'll dislike Subaru's. they're excellent daily driver, semi-utilitarian, and inexpensive 200,000 mile vehicles which is why I like them and dislike german cars. but your vehicles drive awesome, those are excellent performing and feeling machines. but when it comes to performance, details, trim, suspension, driving feel a Subaru is going to be nowhere near that caliber.

i consistently drive multiple thousands of miles road trips all over the US - Maine, Florida, New Orleans, Colorado, nearly all of those trips I've done multiple times loaded with thousands of pounds and up 10,000 foot fire roads in Colorado with a trailer, or towing a boat that's way over the tow limit and weighs the rear down (for which I installed stiffer springs last year). i've never really noticed a problem with the variety of Subaru's i've done all that in, in terms of suspension. but again, i don't tune into suspension like you at all.

when loaded with weight it's fine. with gear, people and the large boat - the rear does sag. at 170,000 miles and 200,000 miles they may have been the original struts for all i know, i had never replaced them until last summer. after installing stiffer springs it rides level, i just reviewed pictures to check my memory. $150 springs and i'm back to level even towing the boat.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Your first mistake is comparing an Outback to a vehicle that costs nearly double. Don't get my wrong, I'm a BMW (M3) owner myself, but you're being unreasonable.
I don't expect it to be equal in all areas, but given the way the car is advertised, it's annoying that it can't be equipped with the same suspension they get in Europe, because that was the weakest aspect of the Gen 4 US car. These days I look at vehicles like a high end backcountry pack more than I used to (I've been a 'car guy' for decades, but since moving to Wyoming from California and moved from bachelor to 'Family Guy' I've slowly lost my grip on caring about the frivolities of German cars. That said, things like suspension tuning still matters a lot. I'll never be a 'loaf along' type of driver, but I also don't mind having to pay a little extra to swap out springs and shocks, etc. The problem with wagons and SUV's is you really don't want stiff rear springs meant for a heavy load for the other 75% of the time when you have little or no load at all. It ruins the dynamics and often makes the car look silly (raked).

So that's why I really hope they at least offer some form of load leveling on this car. They should be offering it on the Forester as well. Load leveling shocks would suffice - air springs are ideal from a performance perspective, but costly and less reliable, so I can live without them.

As I understand it, the Gen 4 EU Outback rode about 1" lower overall, which means you'd have to replace all four springs and shocks. It would be nice if they could either offer that setup as a kit (at a better price), or simply engineer some optional shocks as a 'towing package' option to work with the rest of the USA setup.

I don't care if the fit and finish is a bit lower end. I don't care about that even a little bit. The H6 is a nice motor, and it sounds nice with some of the aftermarket exhausts (reminds me a bit of my old 997). I just need a suspension that remains stable and responsive when loaded up.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
wow that distance is a killer. i'm sure you've already thought about this, but what's the down side to finding a local to work on them instead?

a similar forum to this for those cars might help aid them for any specifics. even Subaru dealers aren't nearly as adept as a forum like this at best practices/maintenances/repairs.

LOL on the kids marking it up. "helping" wash means banging the car with the hose or dry wiping it with whatever material they find lying around. okay, let's not do that.

the more you describe, the more i think you'll dislike Subaru's. they're excellent daily driver, semi-utilitarian, and inexpensive 200,000 mile vehicles which is why I like them and dislike german cars. but your vehicles drive awesome, those are excellent performing and feeling machines. but when it comes to performance, details, trim, suspension, driving feel a Subaru is going to be nowhere near that caliber.

i consistently drive multiple thousands of miles road trips all over the US - Maine, Florida, New Orleans, Colorado, nearly all of those trips I've done multiple times loaded with thousands of pounds and up 10,000 foot fire roads in Colorado with a trailer, or towing a boat that's way over the tow limit and weighs the rear down (for which I installed stiffer springs last year). i've never really noticed a problem with the variety of Subaru's i've done all that in, in terms of suspension. but again, i don't tune into suspension like you at all.

when loaded with weight it's fine. with gear, people and the large boat - the rear does sag. at 170,000 miles and 200,000 miles they may have been the original struts for all i know, i had never replaced them until last summer. after installing stiffer springs it rides level, i just reviewed pictures to check my memory. $150 springs and i'm back to level even towing the boat.
Until my four year old is... I don't know... fifteen years old... I don't want to bother with any more expensive cars. I used to be a 'car guy', but since moving to Wyoming I regard my cars like backcountry backpacks. Cars take a beating here no matter what, so having a nice 'froofy' German car is kind of stupid. I still need a car that performs well, but it needs to take a beating in every regard too.

That said, I'd probably rather have a Subaru than a BMW even if the BMW were 10 miles away. The independent shops in this town don't like to work on my allroad (it's got about 800 hp on race gas, it's... ridiculous, highly modified) and I generally do my own work on the BMW too (brakes, suspension, etc). Life changes, though, and cars are not a focal point any more in so far as keeping them pretty, taking them to the track, etc goes.

That said, while I wish the Gen 5 was offered with a manual and a turbo motor, I could live with the H6 and the CVT (and I hated the CVT in the Gen 4 with the 4 cylinder). It would be for my wife (I also have a manual-trans Xterra) and would be used for road trips and around town.

I had to add air springs (helper springs, retaining the stock springs) because Nissan tuned it to drive nice on empty test drives, and it bottomed out on speed humps with four adults in it at slow speeds. After adding the air springs, it's been fine. I've towed four-place snowmobile trailers with heavy tongue loads, four adults and gear, and it does very well, you just pump up the springs when you need the extra capacity. It does great towing our 19' Boston Whaler and our 20' sailboat all summer, too. Then, when it's empty, you let the air out and there's no compromise (they wouldn't work for rock climbing, but they're great for everything else).

I looked for air spring setups for the Gen 4 car, and nothing was ever available. The only acceptable option seemed to be the EU setup. I mentioned it here because I hope that someone at Subaru is monitoring this thread with the release of the new car. I've also submitted a request to Subaru directly, so we'll see if they have anything to say in return...

Ideally, if I could get a suspension 'fix' for this Outback, it could tow the boats and I could get rid of the Xterra and switch back to an older Jeep Wrangler (I miss my old '06 LJ every day, but it was just not quite capable enough as a tow vehicle, both for space and power).
 

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you're making me want to put together an add on kit for Subaru wagons. lol

have you compared rear seat room? my friends BMW's are very spacious width wise, people who have three kids buy BMW's just for the wider back seats. Subaru's are relatively narrow compared to those, though i haven't checked the newest gen stuff and i know they expanded that a bit. i'll have to sit in my parents, they have a 2014.

older generation H6's don't have enough cooling capacity for heavy towing, they have a significant weak spot there. make sure it's up to the task. i can't tow my boat through the mountains above about 85 degrees. at 85 i've gotta have the windows down and heat blasting to dissipate additional heat.

older generations have an easy upgrade option with no noticeable performance change and little to no rake, people have posted pictures as it's very common. but that was a lucky availability, can't plan on that, and not enough for you anyway.

good luck finding a good fit.
 

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It would be an easy option for SOA to offer nivomat load leveling shocks. But SOA has always put bottom rung shocks on the OB for some reason.
 

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Subaru went crazy with air suspension back in the 80's/early 90's.

Didn't do so well. The added complexity and cost of replacement parts turned off quite a few owners to the brand once things like struts and compressors started failing. Struts were something like $400 each. . . compressor was $800 or so. Many didn't last beyond 5 years. Those prices are from the late 90's when gas was $1/gal and batteries were $45 for the premium ones.

Many self-leveling cars become conventional spring cars once they get some age on them. Navigators, Town Cars, Escalades, etc., etc. Why? Because for 99% of us, plain old metal springs are fine. . . and we'd rather not total a car out for a couple of blown out shocks/struts.

The only thing air suspension works well on is trucks with solid axles where there's room for separate springs/shocks, and the two are serviced as independent systems.

So I say "no thanks" to self-leveling Subarus.
 

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Subaru went crazy with air suspension back in the 80's/early 90's.

Didn't do so well. The added complexity and cost of replacement parts turned off quite a few owners to the brand once things like struts and compressors started failing. Struts were something like $400 each. . . compressor was $800 or so. Many didn't last beyond 5 years. Those prices are from the late 90's when gas was $1/gal and batteries were $45 for the premium ones.

Many self-leveling cars become conventional spring cars once they get some age on them. Navigators, Town Cars, Escalades, etc., etc. Why? Because for 99% of us, plain old metal springs are fine. . . and we'd rather not total a car out for a couple of blown out shocks/struts.

The only thing air suspension works well on is trucks with solid axles where there's room for separate springs/shocks, and the two are serviced as independent systems.

So I say "no thanks" to self-leveling Subarus.
^ I'm with him. No thanks $1000 for new air system and shocks at 100K + other 100K maint items would turn the Subaru into a VW on cost which case why get a Subaru then?
 

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That is why many OEMs are switching to nivomat load leveling shocks. The load leveling system is built into the shock.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
^ I'm with him. No thanks $1000 for new air system and shocks at 100K + other 100K maint items would turn the Subaru into a VW on cost which case why get a Subaru then?
I own a 2003 allroad still on its original air system (air bags front and rear), but it only has 45k miles on it. I see tons of them around here riding on their bumpstops. Many people opt for coil-overs when that happens (cheaper). My BMW 535xi has rear air springs, and had the pump replaced just before 100k under warranty. The bags are still OK at 110k. My previous E39 528iT also had air springs, and it never had an issue up to 130k miles when I sold it. So, I understand the concerns and the costs. That's why I stated that I'd be perfectly happy if they'd just offer the nivomat-style load-leveling shocks like they do in Europe. They're not as cheap to replace as regular shocks, and not as effective as air springs, but if they'd offer them in the US-specific ride height, they could be replaced with the standard non-leveling shocks if they went out and the owner didn't care about having them, and there would be nothing to complain about by anyone, ever.

I don't think they should force buyers to purchase them (ie standard equipment on all cars), but instead offer them as part of a tow package, or as accessories. If you don't want them, no one should force you to have them. But if you need them, they should be offered as an option without having to buy front and rear springs and shocks (the EU setup is 1" lower... which is kind of appealing, but spendy given exchange rates).

I think there would be a lot of takers if they'd make the option available. There's no downside.
 

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Subaru is a small player in the automotive sector. BMW produces many times as many vehicles as Subaru with probably an even higher revenue discrepancy, i would expect them to have more offerings and wider availability.

I imagine the european market has some favorable conditions for it and the american market does not. Sounds like you've been keeping an eye on it, how long has it been available there - maybe Subaru will come around to test it some day here?

I would guess most Subaru owners are not going to buy it if it became an option and Subaru thinks the same thing. Americans that want carrying, vacation, and family capacity buy Ford Expeditions, not Subarus.

I like the idea, I'll play with all things Subaru and have thoroughly preferred and enjoyed their past air ride systems. I have generally owned one (or a few) at any given time with air suspension for 20 years. The ride great but they have a lot of parts to them and are testing when it comes to maintenance and reliability. Few people have the experience and familiarity for that. But i'm not surprised if it never happens in the US.
 
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