Subaru joins BMW and Mercedes-Benz in using Harman/Kardon-branded audio systems. Subaru initially offers the audio system in its 2009 Legacy model, making it optional in the 2.5i base model, and standard at every trim level above that.
The head unit remains the same in the Subaru Legacy--Harman/Kardon only supplies the amp and speakers. The Legacy's head unit uses an in-dash six disc changer that can read MP3 CDs. A spokesman for Subaru at the New York show suggested the company is also looking into improving this head unit.
The Legacy gets 25 millimeter tweeters and 160 millimeters in each front door, 25 millimeter tweeters and 100 millimeter woofers in each rear door, and a 170 millimeter subwoofer on the rear deck. These speakers are powered by a 7 channel 385 watt amplifier.
We came away very impressed from our brief listen to the quality of the new Harman/Kardon audio system. The bass is very palpable, while the highs come through with clarity. The system seems well-balanced, not too bright or dull, and represents a huge leap in audio quality not only over previous Subaru systems, but over many other automakers.
The Outback gets the same Harman/Kardon speaker arrangement in its doors as the Legacy, but, because of the larger cabin space, the subwoofer goes up to 200 millimeters, while it gets a bigger 8 channel 440 watt amplifier. The result is clear, strong sound across the spectrum.