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2013 Outback 3.6R Limited
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185 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

My wife and I have a 2011 OB 2.5i Limited (CVT). 60k miles on the clock. Still runs great. Mobil 1 synthetic and a new filter every 5k miles, only top-tier gas, follow the book for all other maintenance.

I'm not a fan of the "feel" of the CVT. Would much prefer a stick. Also, we live in the country... lots of hills, and need to go from stopped to 55-60 on a regular basis. I test drove a 3.6R back in late 2010, but we ended up with the 2.5i because it was significantly cheaper. We also skipped the moonroof, which is something I want this time 'round.

Now due to various upgrades on the 2013 cars, we're looking to trade up. Better suspenders and an actual temp gauge in the cluster (instead of that pointless relativistic MPG meter) are motivating factors.

I really want the 3.6R Limited. But, I want to know if there are any troubles with the 3.6L flat-6 and 5-speed auto? I'd buy a stick if one was available, but as you all know that doesn't exist.

Would like 3.6 owners to chime in with any engine or transmission trouble they may have had and whether Subaru took care of them. Anecdotally, if you have fuel economy info that would be appreciated as well. Seems the CVT gets about or a little under as-advertised, but I've seen several reviews of the 6 saying it gets better than EPA rating.

Ideally, I want to spend the money this time around to get one optioned out exactly as I want it. Then the plan is to drive it for 200k miles or more.

Thanks in advance!
 

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2019 Forester Sport. Love the Orange.
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4,018 Posts
You will get hammered if you try and use the Subaru trade in policy. I believe the mileage allowance for 2011's is 30k. And at .15-.20c a mile penalty you're going to take a hit. Private sale might be the way to go.

Both my OB's have been 2.5's so I got nothing for you on the 3.6.
 

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Premium Member
2018 Outback Limited 2.5i Dark Blue Pearl/Ivory w'Eyesight
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703 Posts
Not had a single problem with either the 3.6 or the 5EAT. I really love the way it accelerates onto and once on the freeway. Mileage was not a factor 18 town (17 possible stops on my 4 mile drive to work) and 25+ on highway (Sacramento to Southern Oregon-up and over the Siskiyous), nor was initial price (to a point of course, I did get the Premiun rather than the Limited, however this is no longer a 3.6 option). I would gladly get a 3.6/5EAT again. Of course, I only have 15,200 miles at this point.
 

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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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3,565 Posts
... Would much prefer a stick. .... also skipped the moonroof,
which is something I want this time 'round.
Sorry to say, the manual transmission + moonroof combination is
not available on 2013 Outbacks in the USA. Unless SOA changes
that brain-dead decision, our 2011 will be our first and last OB.

Looby
 

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2013 Outback 3.6R Limited
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185 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Looby: Yeah, I'm not super-impressed with the available option packages. However... at least in 2013, the moonroof is available w/o nav. In 2011, they were only available together (or so I was told). I know the moonroof+stickshift is not available. I'm just whinging about the stick... it's not an option on any 3.6Rs, regardless of trim level.

Subyblue: thanks for the info!

OBnube: thanks for the heads-up. NADA and KBB give me reasonable values, even after deducting for the car's mileage. If they try to hose me, I am more than happy to walk. I will, however, have to do the math on sales tax. If I trade, then I only owe sales tax on the cash difference. If I sell mine first then purchase separately, I owe sales tax on the full price of the new car.

The local dealers are putting out wanted ads for used Outbacks, and while they don't appraise over the phone, they're all telling me they'll pay above-average-market prices because of the local demand for used OBs. The dealer we originally bought from sent us a flier about demand for trade-ins. I live in the Pacific Northwest, near Hood River and The Dalles, Oregon. Outbacks are one of if not the single most popular model out here. So yeah... I'm hoping they'll be reasonable. If they try to hose me, and it's better for me to sell privately then eat the additional sales tax, I have no compunction about walking. All of my prior vehicle sales have been private sales, and if it weren't for the sales tax issue, I'd be maximizing my resale value by selling privately anyway. We'll see how it goes.
 

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2018 Outback Limited 2.5i Dark Blue Pearl/Ivory w'Eyesight
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703 Posts
My 2011 3.6 Premium has a moonroof without navigation. In fact, if it had had the nav system, I would not have picked it out.
 

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2011 SSM Outback 2.5i Premium
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2,103 Posts
My 2011 2.5i Premium has moonroof and no NAV, whoever told you that was smoking something. Now, what you MUST get with the moonroof (it's part of the package) is the backup camera, which displays in the mirror on non-NAV vehicles.
 

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'11 Outback 2.5i CVT - '06 Forester X 5MT
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1,765 Posts
I'm right with Looby on the poor decision by Subaru regarding moonroofs and a MT. I'm gonna hold onto my Forester for as long as I can and hope that sometime in the next decade Subaru wises up.

I too have a 2011 w/ a moonroof w/o Nav. The backup camera was "part of the package", but now that I have it, I would pay extra for one in the future.

IMO the 2.5 is plenty for what the OB is, but there are plenty of threads on here about that.

Lots of good reviews about the 3.6 and Subaru has a good reliability on their EAT in general. The 5EAT has been used on the GT and H6 for some time. It can handle the power just fine.

It sounds like you already made up your mind though. If you've had the car for 60k miles and still feel it doesn't have enough power, then get the H6 or you'll kick yourself for the next 60k miles.

IMO the H6 is more of a want than a need item for the OB. The 2.5 CVT can do everything the OB needs and accelerates plenty fast enough to be safe, towing differences are minimal, and even there it's the uni-body that limits it more than anything.

It sounds like you WANT it and have the means, so GO FOR IT :)
 

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Somebody Else's XT
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14,443 Posts
The 5EAT is a great trans. No trouble at all with the power from the 3.6. Nissan/Infiniti used a variant of it in their armada, Titan & G37. If it can support an armada with its tow rating the Subaru should be fine.

The only bad thing I have to say about it is that it is picky about ATF. Use Subaru HP.
 

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2013 Outback 3.6R Limited
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185 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the input!

After having owned the 2.5i/CVT for 60k miles, yes, I would say it has adequate power. It's not unsafely slow, but I prefer the grunt of the 6. In years past, I did not care so much, because this was my wife's car and I drove other vehicles to work. Now she's not driving as much and the Scooby-doo is a lot more economical than the 3/4-ton Silverado diesel, the Sky is a sunny-Sunday car, and my GTI project is... a work in progress. So I end up commuting in the Subaru most days. The 3.6 is only slightly less economical than the 4 in real-world use, and I tend to get on the high side of EPA ratings, so a small ding in economy for a motor that makes me happier is a worthwhile tradeoff.

Now we get into the personal taste issue... We live in the country, in a mountainous area. While the 2.5i/CVT is capable of scooting up and down the hills, it seems to wring the snot out of the motor when I go to accelerate on a hill. Adequate, yes. But not comfortable.

I'm really not a fan of the CVT. It runs at 1200-2500 RPM, then a little more throttle application causes it to jump to 5000+... I have never been able to get it to settle at 3500-4000 rpm. I really don't like wringing the piss out of engines, and 500 rpm shy of redline is not where I want to be when climbing or passing. The manual mode is a joke. I only use it for holding a gear ratio while descending hills. Tried using it for passing, and it's so slippy between "shifts" that I often don't bother. So... I think the motor is adequate, but I am seriously hating the CVT. I'd get a 2.5 with a stick A) if my wife knew how to drive one, and B) if I could get leather (Limited) and moonroof and stick. But, the latter combo does not exist, so teaching my wife to drive stick doesn't solve that problem.

The 3.6+5EAT, while it's still not nearly as good as a stick, behaves much more to my liking. Yes, the manual mode is also more of a joke than a useful tool, just like on the CVT. But the normal auto-mode behaviour is more tolerable, and it doesn't wring the snot out of the engine every time I need to pass someone. It has a comforting amount of "thrust". As a pilot and aerospace engineer: "In thrust we trust." To get more thrust, there's no replacement for displacement. (turbos could be argued as a "replacement", but they're more complicated and less reliable... bulletproof thrust requires displacement)

The only redeeming quality of the CVT, in my opinion: it is absolutely fantastic in the snow. The lack of gear changes means no herky-jerk torque or wheel speed changes, so it's really easy to drive, even on icy roads. Combined with the AWD and ESC, I never needed chains or studs... actually, didn't even need full winter tires. I have used Yokohama Geolandars for the last two winters and never had a problem. I do believe with the 3.6 and traditional auto, I will have to be a little more careful around gear changes that may upset the car while driving on icy roads. Not impossible or even particularly difficult, but will just require a little more care.

Anyway... I do not intend to be insulting toward the 2.5i/CVT crowd. This really is a personal preference thing. If you want the most value for your dollar, get the 2.5i. If you can't or won't drive stick, the CVT will work (and it's fantastic in the snow). If you're like me and want a big, powerful motor that loafs along on the highway and takes on hills or loads with aplomb, get the 3.6R. I like overkill. In my business we call it safety margin. Having huge margins just makes me more comfortable.

Rasterman, thanks for the input. I always follow manufacturer recommendations with ATF. I use the Allison-factory-spec synthetic in the big Allison transmission in my truck, and the factory GM ATF in my wife's Saturn Sky. Being an engineer myself, I understand these newer autos are all engineered around specific fluid properties... I believe mucking with that usually causes more problems than it solves.
 

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2012 3.6R Limited
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4 Posts
I have a 2012 3.6 Limited. My last car was a 2004 Forester 2.5X manual, so I wanted the 3.6 as a little upgrade to the motor (she has an Infiniti M37 Sport, so I take that when I really want to have some fun). My wife has to have built-in navigation and an automatic, so the Limited was the obvious choice. We live in Chicago, so much of my driving is in the city (stop signs every other block, lots of congestion) and fuel economy is pretty atrocious. Thankfully it takes 87 octane and I can go a couple weeks between most stops at gas stations. I'm currently averaging just under 17 MPG.

I've never driven in mountains per se (and Illinois is pretty darn flat), but my experience on large hills has taught me that NA 4-cylinders are almost inadequate. I remember years ago driving my grandfather's 4-cylinder around big hills in New York. I felt like I had to put the throttle to the floor to get up them. The 3.6 will definitely meet your needs, just be aware that you will likely pay a premium for fuel.

I had no problems this winter on my stock tires (Continentals) but I also feel they didn't get put through the wringer like some Chicago winters will do. I had Geolanders on my Forester and they just laughed at two feet of snow. I put Blizzaks on the wife's car and she has never had problems, either (RWD).

Believe me, when it comes to satisfying the wife, many compromises must be made. Were it not for her, I'd be running around in a 5-door STi. BIG difference from a 3.6 OB.
 

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2013 Outback 3.6R Limited
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185 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
<snip>
Believe me, when it comes to satisfying the wife, many compromises must be made. Were it not for her, I'd be running around in a 5-door STi. BIG difference from a 3.6 OB.
I feel you on this one. I almost had my wife's okay on trading from the OB to a 5-door STI. I'd have been thrilled! Then we saw the "trunk space"... or lack thereof. With kiddos in the immediate-future plan, the car has have both an accessible backseat and a reasonable trunk volume. Crap.

The best solution for me would be an Audi Allroad. But, the new ones are out of our price range. Equally important, there is not a reputable Audi shop within an hour of where we live... gotta make a 2-hour drive to Portland. While I normally do all my own work, sometimes work gets busy and I don't have the immediate time needed, and in those cases you gotta have a good shop nearby.
 
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