2000 Outback New Car Test Drive
Subaru's Outback Wagon has been redesigned and re-engineered for 2000. The new one is a bit longer and wider than the previous model. A fresh interior is sportier and more conveniently laid out for the driver.
Yet the Outback retains its versatility: part sport-utility, part car. Subaru's Outback is a hybrid that handles both on-road and off-road situations with style.
It's arguably the best of its type. The Outback provides more power and better handling than the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. It is smoother and more pleasant on the highway than truck-based sport-utility vehicles. A brilliant all-wheel-drive system offers sure-footed traction in all conditions. A generous ground clearance makes it a good vehicle for venturing off paved roads. And there's plenty of cargo space for long treks into the backcountry.
The market is flooded with four-wheel-drive sport-utility vehicles. But most are based on trucks and trucks do not make good cars. Compared with cars, they are slow, don't handle as well and are harder to stop. Because of this, industry observers predict future SUVs will be based on cars. Subaru is a forward-thinking company. Several years ago it decided to fit all cars sold in the U.S. with permanent all-wheel drive. The gamble paid off. Subarus have become increasingly popular, even in warmer parts of the country. Not just for snow, Subaru's all-wheel-drive system provides stable handling on wet and dry pavement.
Although it is still based on the Legacy, the Outback is now being sold as a separate model line. The Outback lineup consists of one sedan and two wagons, the $22,695 Outback and the $26,095 Outback Limited. (Add $495 destination charge to all prices.)
All Outbacks are powered by Subaru's 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine, which produces 165 horsepower. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard, while a 4-speed automatic is optional for $800.
Trim, seating materials and accessories, such as the moonroof and stereo are what distinguish the models. All come with power windows, remote keyless entry, and anti-lock brakes.
In addition to the Wagons, there's also a $25,895 Outback Limited Sedan that comes equipped just one way -- loaded. For another $500, the All-Weather Package adds heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, windshield wiper de-icer and a viscous limited-slip rear differential. An integrated child safety seat is available for $200.