Saturday, 2nd of September, 2011
Good For: The best Crossover, 2.0. Subaru launched the "Crossover" trend in the 90s, way before the term was even coined, with the all-wheel-drive Outback. In 2005, Subaru played the lifted-wagon move again, using the BL/BP Legacy platform to create the next generation 7-seat crossover. The higher-end Subaru performance technology is all here - a 3.6L flat-6 motor, VTD with a 45/55 split, VDC, etc. Handling is really good - it's a performance sedan platform underneath and the beefy 255/55 tires handle 4000 pounds well. It's even assembled in the same Indiana plant that builds the Legacy.
Compromises: There is no manual transmission option, but I don't mind the 5-speed automatic with the performance-oriented VTD system found in high-end Legacies. It's really the only Subaru automatic that I will actually buy. The emergency brake is a foot pedal, but at least it's not electronic like the new Legacy/Outback, which I don't know if I can live with. The 3rd row of seats is just a bonus - it's not as roomy as a minivan. But for being a tricked out Legacy wagon, 7 seats is a wonderful upgrade, plus the 2nd row slides and reclines all the way back for maximum comfort when you're not using the 3rd.
Overall reaction - Two thumbs Up: Subaru is no longer bringing us the Legacy wagon, but this 7-seater may offer something more. They paid attention to details, with everything standard - dual zone climate control, rear A/C controls, wiper deicers, big heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, power outlets everywhere, and a friendly trip computer that even says "Welcome to Subaru" on startup. At $30,495, that is a lot of value. The Limited trim is the one to get - another $2000 provides essentials such as leather, garage door opener, bluetooth, and the Harman Kardon stereo. The Touring model I drove even had adjustments for the HID headlights.