Unofficial Long-Term Test Car: 2010 Subaru Outback

As automotive journalists, we sometimes hear from a reader or blog commenter who says, “If you like it so much, why don’t you buy one?” Well, last week my wife and I picked up a new 2010 Subaru Outback, in the exact same color as the one I tested back in the fall.

We didn’t go for the leather, nav and moonroof studded 2.5 Limited trim but instead opted for the 2.5 Premium with All-Weather Package. We need those heated seats, especially when it’s 10 degrees out like today.

I’ll detail more about the purchase and what I like about the new car versus the 2008 Outback we traded in, as the week goes on. If you have specific questions ask them in the comments below.
By David Thomas | January 4, 2010 | Comments (33)



How does the 2010's CVT compare to the 2008's 4-speed automatic? You mentioned in your review of the 2010 that you were comfortable with the CVT after a week of driving...

Well, the four-speed was definitely the main drawback performance wise of the 08, so the CVT is an upgrade to that for sure. I only found problems with accelerating at 40 mph and up speeds when it doesn't have that kick down you expect.

It's funny, this is my wife's car so I've been in the passenger seat a lot, listening to the engine as she drives, I didn't mention the cvt at all to her as being anything special. She seems to be driving it exactly as a CVT should be driven and she hasn't said one word of it being different or weird etc. It kind of proves the point that the auto world might harp on these a lot, but the day to day driver really won't notice them if done well.

Jon Espy

It looks significantly bigger on the street than it does on paper compared to the old one. Does it feel significantly larger when driving and/or parking?


Congrats Dave,

A few questions:

Did you lease the Outback?

Why did you omit the Nav?

If this is your wife's car, what is your personal daily driver?

Jon E,
It definitely feels wider and taller because you sit higher up. It doesn't feel noticeably longer though. Our driveway has some snow on it so I can't tell about the turning radius but I remember from recording the video it was similar to the 08 in practice.

We bought again and without getting into $ details, with the trade in value of the 08 we basically had that car for 2 years with paying LESS than if we had leased.

The Nav system in the Outback is pretty weak overall and we don't travel much. Usually when we need navigation help I'm in the passenger seat with my iPhone which works fine. The USB media hub we got added but isn't working for some reason so we're taking it back in.

Claude Tomassini

Hello Dave,

I've bought one like yours, should be delivered end of january to replace the Torrent 2006 I've leased for 4 years. I hope this is not a step backward du to the fact I gave up a V6 for a H4 with CVT they say you save at the pump but I'm worried It will not be as fast as my Torrent. Do you think the OB 2.5i can cruise at 80 mph easily on highway.

At cruising speeds there is no issue and I think it will be vastly more comfortable than the Torrent. Remember the V-6 in your Torrent puts out 185 hp, the 4 cyl in the Outback puts out 170. It's not a huge difference and the gas savings should be quite good.



What are a few things that you DON'T like about the car? Or is it too early to comment on such things?

Yeah too early. I'll have more on it either this week or after Detroit. Right now I'm just loving the leg room in the front passenger seat. The old one had my knees in my chest with the two baby seats in the back.



Yeah i remember you had trouble with the leg room in your '08. The new one looks like a huge improvement.

One more question (if I may):

Did you test drive/consider the Forester or Tribeca at all?

I've tested both before this but the Forester to me was just too cramped and just not as nice as the Outback IMHO and not a big difference in price.

I've never liked the Tribeca since day 1 plus it is much more money. I like the Outback's step-in height better too.

Dave's wife

I am a champion parallel parker and was worried about getting adjusted to the new length. Did not have the opportunity this morning though. Maybe later in the week.


I don't suppose you test drove the 6-speed manual before buying and could offer up an opinion?

Also, exactly how bad are the non-folding mirrors I keep reading about (which are also absent the side blinkers that are slowly becoming a standard). My '06 has them and is less wide, so I'm a little baffled why they left them off of the US model.

Good color btw.


hey dave, what kind of MPG are you getting on your new outback? is it close to the EPA?

My daily driver is typically a test car. We have a second car an 05 VW Passat wagon which is a relatively new hand me down from a family member.

The mirrors are ok because we're not parking in the city as much anymore. We'll see if that changes.

the new Outback had 1 mile on it when we bought it so mileage is way too soon to say. the average was going up from 0 mpg so right now after 200 miles or so I think it's under 20 mpg.


You are spoiled, aren't you?
Back on topic, you were saying something about the CVT, did you try the sport manual mode? I know it will make it like a 6 speed auto. Let us know how does it feel by flicking the shifter over.
Did you opt for the moonroof?


Hello, please, which color is it? Grey?


I'd also like to know about the 6-speed manual if you tested it. I haven't been able to find out much information on it.


My wife has a 2005 Toyota 4Runner, and it's too big for her to drive into the city every day. She loves it because it's comfortable; would the 2010 Outback be that much of a step down? Could one be had with leather and a sunroof for under $30,000?

Spoiled for sure. Drove a Taurus SHO in to work this a.m.

I didn't test the manual no and its unlikely you'll find many on lots. for a daily driver it really wasn't even a consideration for us. It also gets considerably worse mileage than the CVT.

If you're looking to go smaller (not necessarily step down) the Forester would be significantly smaller in terms of footprint. Outback would still be more nimble than a 4runner I'd guess. And yes a 4 cylinder Limited with moonroof stickers at $29,685 incl destination.


Dave, please write about how well the AWD system performs in inclement weather and poor road conditions.

Also, did you test drive the H-6 model and the model you purchased in snowy/icy weather? What differences are there in how they get around, if any?

Reason I ask is that I understand that the two engines use different AWD systems (or have different components) and I can't find anyone that can explain why one system is 'better' than the other - even my local dealership can't answer that one and they've been selling Subaru for decades.




We just bought a Limited (i.e. leather) with Moonroof for $28,400 Out The Door pricing. So you should be able to do so as well. We reside in Texas.

Joe Elias

I ordered a 2010 outback 3.6 (with the multimedia option) to relace my present 2002 outback
3.0 4-door sedan. It has been an absolute trouble free vehicle since I purchased it new.
The dealer called me and said he han received the VIN# of my vehicle.
Although I took an outback out for a test drive, it never occured to me the outside mirrors are fixed and non folding...On further surfing I discovered the European and Japanese 2010 had electric folding heated side view mirrors.
This cheap move to save $ on a safty and convenience feature at the expense of Canada and US really angered me and I promptly cancelled my order. I told my dealer if they make a change to what Europe and Japan have, I'll buy one, but I won't wait longer than the 2011 model.

YEah I found it odd that they did it too but it seems to be actually more expensive then other features because they are such large parts.

If you live in a city like Chicago I'd say yes it'd be a problem but even with our relatively narrow driveway they're not really a problem.

It might be though if you have a 2 car garage and like to flip them in to move around, which I do with our other wagon.

Megan P

I'm looking at 08,09 still because of the lower cost, styling and moonroof. However, on the 2010, I love higher mpg and larger leg room in back for car seats. On my 2010 test drive, the stock radio/speakers seemed horrible. Do you have the audio upgrade? Necessary? Any comments on the 08/09 vs. 2010? Car seats/kids...leather or cloth? Thanks for the real life details!

Ron Donahue

I have had my 2010 Outback 2.5i Limited since 07/25/2009 coming up on 15,000 miles.
Love the CVT but I am nervous about reliabilty so I bought the 5year/100.000 warranty ($600)

Most people will dislike the roof rack as your Yakima and Thule racks will not fit on it with a few exceptions

This is my 4th Subaru 1978, 1999, 2005, 2010 I drive about 25,000 miles a year and replace them between 100,000 and 120,000
for no good reason

Comfort, quiet, handing and ride all exceed the ealier models acceleration is about the same.

About 75% of my driving is highway so far 27.5 mpg combined

This car fits me perfectly it's great on unpaved roads and in snow and ice but it is not an off road vehicle.

I did not get the NAV system I have a Garmin 760 which works great and I can take it with me when I travel and rent a car.

Malcolm F

No adverse reaction re steering vibrating @60mph?

We're about to take delivery of 2010 OB Limited and suddenly found many complaints on NHTSA site about awful vibration that won't go away :(

All of you happy owners have thus far not had this problem? Weird that the complaints show on NHTSA but very few elsewhere...


Dale R

Got the 2.5 premium with CVT (and 5 year warranty) and all weather package and moon roof and leather for 28.6K. the stock radio is fine for me but I'm coming from a 98 CRV. No shimmy at all, got 21.9 mpg all city on 1st 2 tanks, my thule box fits the rack but I'm not thrilled with it(not very tie down friendly). I love the ride and so far it feels like it sticks pretty good when you throw it around (still break-in driving though)

Ron Donahue

Update to 2/10/10 post

Now at just over 21,000 miles no problems, no complaints, no vibration

Not thrilled with the elecrtic parking/emergency brake works great but I miss the handle in the middle to pull on and wonder about releasing procedure in case of failure. Maybe I will try it using thr release tool just to see how hard it is.

Combined mileage now at 28.2 75% highway 25% city

2010 Subaru Outback not bad SUV again from them, can't bealive tht they offer 5 years warranty, is it available in US market too, ?


What are your thoughts on the 2010 Outback several years on? Any major maintenance issues or surprises? Are you still enjoying your purchase?



Hi Dave-
I am having trouble with my 2010 Outback on wet snow and mud uphill on dirt roads. I am trying to assess if this is a problem with the model or my car. My previous subarus have been better (2008, 1998, etc.). The guy at Big O said he thought it was the model because it's a same size engine but bigger tire? What do you know? I'm in colorado.


Have a 2010 OB limited with 50,000 miles. Does Subaru have a fix for the steering wheel vibration and shimmy. Bushings? What's the fix?

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