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Seven Days: Vermont Car Blog

September 12, 2008

Video Test Drive: 2009 Subaru Outback

I couldn’t have picked a nicer summer day to take the trek across the state from Burlington to St. Johnsbury. The temp was perfect, not too hot, not too humid. The kind of day that if you have to work, you just wish for a good excuse like I had to get out there and enjoy it.

As I drove down Interstate 89 I had to laugh at the number of Subarus I was seeing. It seemed like every other car was a Subaru and many of them had the Saint J Subaru sticker on the back. That’s actually where I was headed to test drive the newest 2009 Subaru Outback, Vermont’s “unofficial state car.”

Subaru started selling vehicles in the US in the late ‘60s and in the mid-‘70s the company pioneered the use of 4WD in vehicles that were not intentionally built for off-road use. Subarus became very popular in regions with hills and severe winters like we have here in Vermont. The Subaru wagon became the world’s top-selling 4WD vehicle. The Outback is the latest model of Subaru wagon.

A wagon is a nice option if you’ve got kids or dogs, or if you like to go camping or play sports. If that’s all you’re after, any wagon might do, but up here in Vermont, with our tough winters, the Outback’s extra inches of clearance and all wheel drive are nice options.

The Outback competes favorably against other wagons and at the time of my test drive was rated #1 in Affordable Full Size Wagons by U.S. News & World Report. The Dodge Magnum has since snagged the #1 spot, primarily thank to its V8 engine availability and retro styling. Car guys love to go fast, but your family might appreciate the Outback’s significantly better safety ratings.

The model I took out was the 2.5i Special Edition. Besides standard features like Symetrical All Wheel Drive, Vehicle Dynamics Control, 4-wheel independent heavy-duty raised suspension and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System the Special Edition adds an 8-way power heated driver seat, heated side mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer and a 440-watt, 9-speaker Harman/Kardon premium audio system. There was even a plug for my i-pod in the center console.

Road and Track says “The Outback combines the virtues of a small SUV with carlike ride and handling,” and I couldn’t agree more. I found the wagon rode very well on pavement and felt steady on bumpy dirt roads.

My Advice
The Outback is a quality ride, suited to our extreme weather. It’s safe and the added cargo space is a must if you’ve got an active lifestyle. But you don’t have to take my word for it. There are 1000s thousands of other Vermonters out there who — by their loyalty to Subaru — provide an even stronger recommendation. It’s Vermont’s “unofficial state car” for a reason.

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