2005 Subaru Outback 3.0 R VDC Limited review:

2005 Subaru Outback 3.0 R VDC Limited

Starting at $22,445
  • Engine 4 Cylinder Engine
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • MPG 26 MPG
  • Passenger Capacity 5
  • Body Type Wagons

Roadshow Editors' Rating

6.0 Overall
  • Cabin tech 5
  • Performance tech 6
  • Design 7

The Good Large sunroof; quality sound system; all-wheel drive; well-designed interior space.

The Bad Shifty transmission; minimal dashboard electronics; overreactive climate control.

The Bottom Line The Subaru Outback is well designed for camping trips and grocery runs, but its transmission could use some refinement.

Subaru Outback 3.0 R VDC

The 2005 Subaru Outback 3.0 R VDC Limited maintains and enhances Subaru's reputation among weekend nature lovers, all while adding a level of luxury that ensures its constituency won't outgrow it economically. It's still the perfectly designed small wagon, easily seating four while transporting bikes or skis via the roof rack, as well as backpacks in the cargo area. Passengers can also sink back into the leather seats, which are eight-way power-adjustable in the front, and enjoy excellent sky views through the long, double-pane sunroof. All-wheel drive, a vehicle-stability system, and a torquey 250-horsepower, six-cylinder engine make it confident in light off-road or heavy weather conditions. Plus, dual-zone climate control and heated front seats make trips through the desert or in snowy mountains more than bearable. The six-disc, in-dash CD MP3 player delivers excellent sound, aided by seven speakers and a subwoofer. But Subaru doesn't offer much more in the way of electronics in this car, where a navigation system isn't even an option. In fact, there isn't much that does come optional, as all the equipment listed above is standard at an MSRP of $33,495. Our test car had an autodimming mirror with an integrated compass and a security system ($281), which pushed the total price up to $34,351, also taking into account the $575 destination charge. The interior appointments of the 2005 Subaru Outback 3.0 might spoil any outdoor cred you previously earned and might even dissuade you from getting in with muddy hiking boots. The leather is nice, though not quite as good as the Hummer H3's, and the eight-way power-adjustable seats are convenient but don't include a memory option. Mahogany accents the dash and the top half of the Momo steering wheel, further pushing the idea of luxury in the unlikely container of an Outback. Despite these appointments, the Outback is a practical car for everyday errands and weekend jaunts; the cargo area is as functional as ever and includes a retractable cover for keeping luggage out of view and stowed securely.

Enjoy the view through the Outback's large, double-pane sunroof.

The dual-zone, automatic climate-control system is set via large, easy-to-access knobs at the bottom of the center dash console. We found one oddity with this system: With sun streaming in through the large sunroof, the air conditioning worked overtime, blowing chilly air even when the cabin didn't feel all that warm. We had to close the interior sunroof cover, blocking out the sky view, to get the climate control operating in a reasonable manner. The power sunroof is one of the high points of the 2005 Subaru Outback 3.0. It includes three settings: The front vent can be flipped up (for minimal air), halfway back, and fully open. The latter position isn't really recommended for highway driving but provides nature lovers with a huge dose of the great outdoors while being transported around.

You can enjoy hours and hours of tunes with the Outback's six-CD, MP3-capable stereo, but satellite radio fans are out of luck.

The stereo system doesn't have a satellite radio option, but other than that, it's very good. It takes six CDs, either standard audio or MP3, potentially offering enough hours of music for a cross-country trip. Integrated steering-wheel controls offer volume adjustment, track navigation, and mode shifting. The quality of the sound really stands out, thanks to the six well-placed speakers and a subwoofer. The only other noteworthy tech feature is the autodimming mirror with integrated compass. The top of the center dash includes a display strip for trip information, with an odd hole on top of it covered by a flip-up cover. Although convenient for storing sunglasses, it looks like Subaru planned on offering a navigation-system option, which we would have preferred, but didn't follow through.

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