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.
-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.