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2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited (photos)

Subaru has made some strides forward in cabin tech, giving the new Outback an iPod connection and Bluetooth cell phone support, but the car really stands out for its all-wheel-drive and general practicality.

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Wayne Cunningham
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The Subaru Outback has evolved through the years from a wagon to the current crossover-sized vehicle. Comfortable for five passengers, the Outback sits up high, allowing clearance for offroad situations.
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Subaru's styling language has evolved gradually. Currently, it shows itself in the tight grille, high fenders, and pronounced wheel arches of the Outback.
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This Outback came with a 3.6-liter flat six-cylinder engine. Subaru and Porsche are the main proponents of the flat, or boxer style, engine configuration. The Outback is also available with a 2.5-liter flat four-cylinder engine.
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The Outback has retained some of its station wagon looks, with a low, carlike hood. But the suspension and cabin height give the car its utility credentials.
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We found the suspension very soft in the Outback, with a lot of travel. This tuning leads to body roll in the corners but allows extension at the wheels for negotiating rocks and other obstacles.
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The Outback offers a reasonable amount of cargo space, but as it does not have its origins in a truck, don't expect room for 4-foot-by-8-foot plywood sheets.
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This Limited trim Outback gets leather seats and wood trim, some nice touches, but the cabin never quite feels luxurious.
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Paddle shifters are mounted behind the steering wheel spokes to manually shift the five-speed automatic transmission.
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A fuel consumption gauge on the instrument cluster shows when the car is getting good and bad mileage.
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The five-speed automatic has a manual mode, useful for hill descents.
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The navigation system is only available on the highest trim vehicle.
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Because the navigation system is DVD-based, you have to make sure the correct region of the country is chosen before entering a destination.
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The Bluetooth phone system includes a recent calls list and a phonebook.
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Subaru has modernized its cabin tech a bit, now including iPod integration and Bluetooth streaming as audio sources.
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The iPod interface is easy to use, but the car does not let you make music selections when it is moving.
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The car includes an excellent set of surround presets, but these are not all that useful, as there is not a rear-seat DVD system.
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The Harman Kardon optional audio system includes nine speakers and a 440-watt amp.

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