Against all odds—and quite a bit of bias against repeat winners—Subaru scored its second Motor Trend SUV of the year Golden Calipers for its remarkable new 2010 Outback sport-utility. We went to Joe Rumsey, sales consultant extraordinaire for Fred Beans Subaru in Doylestown, and asked him a few questions about this exciting champion.
Driving Times: Some people are saying the Outback is just a station wagon, not an SUV at all. What’s your response to that?
Joe Rumsey: The Outback is far more then the old fashioned station wagon. It’s all-new, with an amazing 43 inches of leg room up front and 38 in the rear. Customers are thrilled with the more-than-ample head and shoulder room—even for people well over 6 feet tall—and total cargo space of 71 cubic feet. This is enough to handle a child’s Pack ’n Play® or a couple of dog crates. Something you don’t see even from Jeep or Toyota. Other station wagons can typically claim the on/off road use of a Subaru Outback but none can match its all-weather credentials. I quote Motor Trend: “Spacious, tough, toughly modern, exceedingly capable Sport /Utility Vehicle. You are forgiven if all you see is a svelte station wagon.”
DT: What do you think raises it to the top of the heap to be named MT’s Sport/Utility of the Year?
JR: Subaru is the only manufacture to receive the SUV of the year two years in a row. Besides the new style, trim levels and safety features, the Outback SUV incorporates many new or improved features like roof rails that fold away when not in use to give a quieter ride and increase fuel mileage, a push-button parking brake, a hill-holder brake so your car will not drift backward when stopped on an incline, brake assist, roll-over sensor, Vehicle Dynamics Control, engine-speed sensing, variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering—to name a few.
DT: The Outback’s been around for a while. What’s new and different that’s bringing buyers over to the 2010?
JR: Along with our new style being more main-stream, Subaru has taken suggestions from Subaru owners about what they want in a new Outback. Priced well below the high-end cars and SUVs, it provides the ride, stability, good looks, comfort, convenience and reliability most people are looking for in this tighter economy. The Outback is a go-almost-anywhere vehicle, from camping to the opera, and it has a towing capability of up to 3,000 lbs. And it’s available in four- and six-cylinder Boxer motors and two types of automatic transmissions as well as a 6-speed manual. Subaru has also been rated a “Best Buy” by Consumer Reports.
DT: Why might I want to “come over” to Subaru and the Outback?
JR: The Outback , as well as every Subaru model this year received the Top Safety Pick from the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)—the only manufacture to hit that pinnacle. And it was tougher this year then ever to make the list. The total number of vehicles given the top pick dropped by a third this year. The ride is far superior to that of other SUVs, it has improved handling and reduced blind spots, and it’s easier to get into and out of—almost car-like. Plus, the interior has finer appointments for a more relaxing ride.
DT: What’s your favorite feature on the 2010 Outback?
JR: I have three: The push-button parking brake, reclining rear seats and new paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
DT: You’ve been in the business a long time…where do you place the Outback in Subaru’s lineup going back a few years?
JR: The Outback was released in 1996 and is now in its fourth generation. It has seen constant improvement. While the 2005 make-over gave it a great new body style, safety advances, comfort and affordability with too many other improvements to mention, this 2010 reinvention has taken the Subaru Outback to a level far above all of its notable competitors—and Motor Trend recognized that.