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2013 Outback 2.5 Premium 6mt
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife and I stopped at a Subaru dealer to check out the 2013 Premium Outbacks. We were planning on test driving the 6mt version and a CVT version. Here are my mental notes but keep in mind, I have never driven a newer Subaru before so I can't compare the 2013 to a 2012:

Exterior:
-The grill looks better in person but I'm still not a huge fan of it.
-I like the larger fog lights on the '13 models.
-The indigo blue is very dark and would be our top pick if the interior wasn't the ivory color (we are worried about the ivory staining too easy).
-The graphite gray looks very nice. It was our second pick.
-I liked the front looks of the '13 Legacy better than the '13 Outback.

Interior:
-The legroom for the driver is very good. The legroom on the front passenger side is amazing. I'm 6'3" and was very pleased.
-The seats themselves are very comfortable.
-The head rests are too far forward and have a sharp angle that doesn't feel right on our heads (this is our main complaint of the interior and the whole car in general).
-While I didn't adjust the sound settings on the radio, it was a bit dull sounding. I would consider it "meh" but acceptable.
-The backseats are the most comfortable I've sat in for newer midsize cars in the price range, especially if you recline them a little.
-While I know this is the case for most newer cars, I didn't like the width of the center stack of the dash (where the radio and HVAC controls are). It limits side to side knee room space for taller people (my brother is 6'10" and would probably fit in this car well for legroom except there wouldn't be the knee space for him to be comfortable).
-I liked the look of the top of the dash from the driver's seat but not the passenger seat (the dash over the gauges seems too long and angled from the passenger seat).
-I was impressed by the storage compartment spaces from the glove box size to the size of the compartment below the radio. Everywhere you look seems to have a storage space of some kind.

Driving impressions:
-First off, I was expecting a very sloppy shifter and an overly tall first gear by the complaints here.
-Coming from my current econo-car, the shifter felt very nice. Every gear except sixth was very intuitive and easy to find. Sixth seemed to have just a little longer throw, but then again, I drive a five speed right now so it could just be me not being used to having a sixth gear.
-The first gear isn't as tall as I expected. I think it would be fine for anything but serious off road. I would call it good enough for my uses (I have a pickup for serious off road stuff).
-The clutch and throttle were smooth enough that my wife and I never stalled it, not even once. My wife complained that the clutch pedal was heavy but I didn't notice it.
-Overall, my wife and I both liked the 6mt enough that we didn't even ask to drive the CVT as originally planned. She hasn't even ask once for us to consider a CVT since the test drive which says a lot for the 6mt.
-I was very impressed by how the suspension handled pot holes and road imperfections. The ride is firm yet smooth (if that makes sense).
-The car is very quiet except for tire noise that creeps up at interstate speeds. The only time you hear the engine is on moderate to heavy acceleration and that is with the radio off.
-I would rather have an engine temp gauge than the eco gauge. With that being said, I could see using the eco gauge while driving.
-The gear position display is a very nice touch. My only complaint is that it didn't display the gear position until the clutch was let out.
-The steering is very tight. I was wandering a tiny bit at interstate speeds but my wife drove perfectly straight. I know that it was just me being used to my very sloppy steering work truck.
-The outside temperature was 95 degrees. I would describe the a/c as cool but it never got super cold. It should be noted that I didn't have the re-circ mode on so it had the potential of getting colder. We didn't try the re-circ because it was still comfortable with how the a/c was set.
-The engine power was "meh". It had more power than our current econo-box but it was nothing impressive. I would say the engine has adequate power but IMHO, I think it should have at least a 200 hp engine. The chassis definitely has the ability to handle a few more hp. Edited to add: I'm suspecting Subaru has plans to change the new FB25 to direct injection in the 2014 or 2015 model year and get closer to the 200 hp mark to stay halfway competitive.


In summary, we both decided that we liked the Outback very much and that one will be our next car. Again, we both liked the 6mt. I'm still surprised that she even liked the 6mt since she is one that would prefer an automatic transmission and was not looking forward to testing a 6mt. The main disappointment we have is with the head rests. You didn't notice it while driving so much but we both agreed that the passenger would have more problems with it, especially if the passenger wanted to nap on a long road trip. There are a lot of positives in this car that we loved.

I'm a perfectionist so overall my notes may sound negative but don't get the wrong impression. We both loved the car. I think I would still lean towards a '13 Legacy if they still had the option of a 6mt in the Premium package but they don't. Saving a couple thousand would be nice and the Legacy does look better from the front (again, just my opinion). I know I will appreciate the extra space of the Outback once I have one but my tightwad-ness has difficulties justifying it if the Legacy was an option (I want a 6mt and heated seats).

Now it is just coming down to selling our current car and finding a dealer that isn't so greedy. It makes it a challenge when my closest dealer is 250 miles away.
 

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Boss nice post - good review!

The 2.5 you drove is well known for being a bit flat and not all that sharp on power till you log a few miles on it. By 15,000 miles it runs with more grunt and is sharper regarding the power etc. My dad drove ours with about 100 miles on it hated it. Then borrowed it again at 15,000 miles and called me to ask if I had done something to the engine because it was running very strong and quite different than what he recalled when he drove it 100 miles the first time. My 2001 2.5 engine which is in the same family of designs was the same way also. Just wanted to share that with you. You don't see huge gains in power but the engine seems to loosen up and give you a sharper performance and power delivery which does seem to make a difference.

The new 2013 OB has a all new ground up engine which is tuned differently and also puts down more torque earlier which should also make a pretty decent difference especially with the 6spd MT. The throttle response between the two engines could be quite different with the new engine also which could give you a very different MT experience. I would suggest checking out the 13 also when you get a chance. There may be enough slight changes to various things including the temp gauge added to the 13 that you find you really like the newer car far better.
 

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2013 Legacy Lim CVT Car: 2011 OB Prem 6MT Car: 2006 Miata GT 6MT mc: 2003 Honda GL1800A * Reunite Gondwanaland *
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I would suggest checking out the 13 also when you get a chance.
I would suggest reading the subject line...

...when you get a chance.

Looby
 

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Looby if the car he drove lacked the temp guage he didn't drive a 13. And yes he may have looked at the 13's but it sounds like the car he drove was a 12
 

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2012 2.5i Limited with Wheel Arch Moldings, Interior illumination kit, rear bumper underguard, rear bumper cover, side molding kit, splash guards, moon roof + Nav system, 110V outlet.
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Base and I think premium model in the '13 still has the eco gauge. The Limited's have the temp gauge because they have the electroluminecent display that has it.
 

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2019 2.5i Touring (Wilderness Green)
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Looby if the car he drove lacked the temp guage he didn't drive a 13. And yes he may have looked at the 13's but it sounds like the car he drove was a 12
Temp gauge is only on the Limited 13s which have the better display in the middle (where the MPG gauge is displayed). In the Base/Premium models, there is no shiny center display, and no temp gauge.
 

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2010 outback. base 2.5
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Boss nice post - good review!

The 2.5 you drove is well known for being a bit flat and not all that sharp on power till you log a few miles on it. By 15,000 miles it runs with more grunt and is sharper regarding the power etc. My dad drove ours with about 100 miles on it hated it. Then borrowed it again at 15,000 miles and called me to ask if I had done something to the engine because it was running very strong and quite different than what he recalled when he drove it 100 miles the first time. My 2001 2.5 engine which is in the same family of designs was the same way also. Just wanted to share that with you. You don't see huge gains in power but the engine seems to loosen up and give you a sharper performance and power delivery which does seem to make a difference.

The new 2013 OB has a all new ground up engine which is tuned differently and also puts down more torque earlier which should also make a pretty decent difference especially with the 6spd MT. The throttle response between the two engines could be quite different with the new engine also which could give you a very different MT experience. I would suggest checking out the 13 also when you get a chance. There may be enough slight changes to various things including the temp gauge added to the 13 that you find you really like the newer car far better.
My OB with 21k runs like a bandit on good oil and fuel. From my understanding that last revision Subaru did to the EJ series (2010) really perfected a great engine.
 

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2013 Legacy Lim CVT Car: 2011 OB Prem 6MT Car: 2006 Miata GT 6MT mc: 2003 Honda GL1800A * Reunite Gondwanaland *
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My OB with 21k runs like a bandit on good oil and fuel. From my understanding that last revision Subaru did to the EJ series (2010) really perfected a great engine.
I agree paired with the better cooling system the old 2.5 in the 2010 through 2012's is a solid engine with a pretty decent history and lots of little tweaks and improvements.

I'm sure the new engine in the 13's is even better especially with throttle response given with the older 2.5 I think the drive by wire system and emissions mapping no doubt had an impact on the throttle response. Vs the new engine subaru was able to build it ground up to get the best of the electronic systems and the physical make up of the engine for good performance.
 

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2012 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited
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I'm sure the new engine in the 13's is even better especially with throttle response given with the older 2.5 I think the drive by wire system and emissions mapping no doubt had an impact on the throttle response. Vs the new engine subaru was able to build it ground up to get the best of the electronic systems and the physical make up of the engine for good performance.
Huh??! Oh well, my battle with Subiesailor is done.

From my understanding that last revision Subaru did to the EJ series (2010) really perfected a great engine.
Yup, the 2010-2012 EJs were definitely modified for better torque down low. No more head gasket issue.
 

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2013 Outback 2.5 Premium 6mt
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The Outback I drove was definitely a 2013 Premium model. It lacked a coolant temp gauge but had an eco gauge. I didn't even look at a Limited model because they are out of our price range. Plus, I want a manual transmission and that is not an option on the limiteds.

I could see the power getting better after the engine has a few miles on it. On the plus side, while my wife was driving, we went up a moderate hill on a side street and she didn't have to downshift and didn't lose any speed either. I could be wrong but I think she was in fourth and going about 35 mph so the RPM's were pretty low (relatively speaking for a 4 cylinder). It pleasantly surprised me. My feeling is that it takes effort for the engine to get the car moving but once moving, the engine can maintain the speed pretty well.

I really didn't notice any drive by wire throttle lag in the Subaru. I would've checked for it if I would've thought about it but I was too focused on all the other characteristics, features of the car, and focusing on trying not to stall it. I may have noticed if there was any lag if it was my first time driving a throttle by wire system but all of my current vehicles (except my motorcycle) is throttle by wire. If you're curious at all, my Dodge 1500 pickup has the quickest drive by wire throttle I have in terms of throttle response and my 2010 Chevy 2500 work truck has the worst. There is a night and day difference between the Dodge and Chevy throttles and the Chevy's lack of low RPM torque makes the condition even worse (the Chevy is always having to downshift to make power and it is not a quick shifting transmission by any means).

Like I said before, I haven't driven a newer Subaru before so I can't make any comparisons to the previous model years or the previous engine. I wish I could but I can't. The last Subaru I drove before this one was an early to mid 2000 Impreza sedan which left me very unimpressed (mainly due to the small and very basic interior space). Subaru has definitely come a long way in the past 10 years.

Edited to Add: I could see the eco gauge being useful with the manual transmission. It would help with going up hills to know if you are better off letting the engine rev a little or going to the next gear but with more throttle. With that being said, I would still rather have an engine temp gauge. I would rather know my engine is starting to run hot so I can take measures to prevent over heating versus having a light come on once the engine is already over heated. Given the concern with max fuel mileage in the past few years, I can see why Subaru put in a eco gauge. I just wish the temp gauge wasn't sacrificed for the eco gauge.
 

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The old Impreza with the side glass about an inch from your head ;-) - they were fun to drive but interior was the pits for sure.

There was one other poster who said that the new engine did seem to have better response and more grunt than the older gen engine which has seen updates but is still an older less techie engine compared to the new one. The numbers would also suggest that the new engine will give you a better sense of power given the torque is better at the lower RPM's a big plus for the MT.
 

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2014 2.5 Outback Premium CVT 72,000 mi (previous: 2012 OB 2.5 base 6-MT, totaled at 73,532mi)
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Thanks for the review, interesting. I've had this nagging thought that I wish I could've waited for the 2013, because I still don't like the launch and low end (lack of) torque in our 1/2012 build '12, even after almost 10k miles. I'll still stall on takeoff occasionally, if I happen to try to go in the middle of an RPM dip (that Subaru won't admit exists on this rev of the ECU software--yet).

After reading this, I still wish the launch was smoother, but you all got me thinking about how I typically like to buy cars built late in their development cycle, after the first year or two, to let the bugs get worked out; I'm happy now with what I have, as I balance it with the new engine in the 2013 being almost like a new model year, at least for the engine.

I know this is all really minor stuff, and really any year from 2010 to 2013 is an excellent choice, but I don't go around buying brand new cars all the time, so I tried to be careful about it, and I'm looking at owning this for 10 to 15 years or so. I think anyone can use the same set of observations to justify owning any MY, just shift the importance of any factor slightly toward the year you already have or want to buy.

Thanks again, very interesting.
 

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2011 OB 2.5i Prem CVT HK/AWP, Ruby Red Pearl
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Yes. I pointed that out to the salesman on Saturday while I was test driving the car.
:D :D :D
Std/Prem demographics have no clue what a temp gauge is for.<O:p</O:p
Knowing engine temp is important running the auto-ac.<O:p</O:p
Only Ltd buyers get the tow bar, and check engine temp when hauling.<O:p</O:p
The Eco gauge is Std/Prem cheapskate feature.<O:p</O:p
You want (engine status) temp gauge, spend more.<O:p</O:p
 

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2013 Outback 2.5 Premium 6mt
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
:D :D :D
Std/Prem demographics have no clue what a temp gauge is for.<o:p</o
Knowing engine temp is important running the auto-ac.<o:p</o
Only Ltd buyers get the tow bar, and check engine temp when hauling.<o:p</o
The Eco gauge is Std/Prem cheapskate feature.<o:p</o
You want (engine status) temp gauge, spend more.<o:p</o
I'm guessing there would be no significant cost difference for the manufacturer between the two gauges. With modern cars and the electronics in them, the car's ECU already knows the engine temp. It would just probably be a matter of programming the software to display the temperature on the gauge.

You are right about demographics. Most buyers don't care about things like engine temperature, oil pressure, volts, etc. Most drivers would actually only do something once an idiot light comes on, and even then, a lot of drivers would keep on driving until the car dies.

I'm trying to stay positive about the eco gauge since it will be a good indicator of which gear to run in on hills. Granted, a vacuum gauge would work just as good or better for that function. I would be more bothered by the eco gauge in the CVT version. With that being said, I would trade the eco gauge for engine temp and voltage gauges in a heartbeat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for the review, interesting. I've had this nagging thought that I wish I could've waited for the 2013, because I still don't like the launch and low end (lack of) torque in our 1/2012 build '12, even after almost 10k miles. I'll still stall on takeoff occasionally, if I happen to try to go in the middle of an RPM dip (that Subaru won't admit exists on this rev of the ECU software--yet).
..............
Thanks again, very interesting.
That's the way it is on all vehicles once the new model years come out. I try to focus on things that I like about the model year I own. An example is my 2005 Dodge pickup. While a newer model would've been nicer, the '06-'08 had worse seats for comfort and I didn't like the headlight shapes. You will just have to find downsides to the 2013's and convince yourself the 2012 was a better model year.

I'm like you, I hardly ever buy a new vehicle. If I get a new Subaru, it will have to last me long enough for the loan period plus another 4-5 years or so to pay off a replacement pickup. My wife and I try to alternate between replacing the pickup and car so we only have one payment at a time, plus, it gets more value out of the vehicles since the major depreciation happens in the first 5 years. The way it is looking for me, I will get a Subaru in late 2012 or early 2013, replace the pickup in 2018 or 2019 (unless it keeps running like a champ), and replace the Subaru between 2023 to 2025. I will have a lot of model years to ignore and dislike in the future :D
 

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2013 Outback Test Drive

I too went to see the 2013 today. The head rest angle is probably going to be a deal killer. I'm going to swap them with a set from a 2012 to see if the angle is less drastic, other wise I'm not sure what I'll do. Maybe just turn them backwards like all the Chrysler 300's I see with the same problem (its actually a gov't mandated problem, stupid NHTSA).:28:

As for the radio on the base model, it has a feature called Circle Surround (CS). If you hit the Menu button, you'll get a message that says CS off. Switch it to CS1 or CS2 and the sound gets MUCH better.
 

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I didn't notice the headrest issue with the 2013. I did, however, drive a new MDX that felt like it tipped my head at such an angle that my chin was pushing into my throat.
 
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