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Test drove a 2013 Outback Premium 6mt

8610 Views 20 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  foxrider68
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:

-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.

-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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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.
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.
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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