Last post on Sep 30, 2013 at 4:14 PM
You are in the Subaru Legacy & Outback
What is this discussion about?
Subaru, Subaru Legacy, Subaru Outback, Sedan, Wagon
Your Community Leaders are ateixeira and rsholland.
#1863 of 10838 informal comparo
May 30, 2004 (2:37 pm)
Hey all. In the past week I've test driven a 2004 Forrester XT, a 2004 WRX, a 2005 legacy 2.5i and (today) a 2005 GT (the last 3 all wagons). Thought I would share my impressions.
The XT, while it has great gearing and feels fast from a stop, leaned and rolled and basically wallowed like a pig as far as I'm concerned. I don't like SUV-lite handling, I learned. And as much as I liked the grunt, I did not like the shifter - very vague - or steering much either. OTOH, interior materials were pretty good and (for my purposes) it is a good size - big enough rear seats and storage, etc. Also, forresters are pretty boring to look at. Definitely passing on this.
The WRX - felt the cheapest of the 4 cars. Louder, not terribly refined. Also felt slower than I thought it would, and I would get tired of having to thrash the motor up above 5,000 rpm to get to power. On the other hand, it sort of felt like you could thrash it and not have to worry about anything. Fairly tossable, predictable, decent shifter, brakes and steering. Very nice seats. The rattle to the hood scoop would get pretty annoying. I'm torn about the size - very practical for the city and (with the wagon) decent space for cargo. But I think with kids (maybe coming in the next year or two), the back would start to seem to crowded. The WRX held a certain allure to me from its press, but I think I'm getting too old for it or something. Coming from two Audis, it feels like a step down in quality (if not reliability, although, contrary to many other posters here, I have had excellent reliability with the audis I've owned).
The 2.5i - in the lighter of the two blues I frankly did not think it looked very good. The interior quality is bounds ahead of a WRX, and similar to, but more "car"-like than the Forrester. The cloth seats are very nice and comfortable, but I did not sit in them for more than about a half hour. It is a dark interior, but it gets a fair amount of light with all that glass area and did not feel at all confining to me). I had absolutely no problems with the lack of a telescoping wheel. I also had ample headroom both with sunroof and without (and I'm 5'11"). Interior quality is not on par with audi, sorry, but it's pretty nice nonetheless, and I would be very happy with it. Otherwise I thought the car was a bit of a snooze. Decent pickup, quiet, etc. Not a contender for me, but I place a premium on performance, so that wasn't surprising.
The GT ltd (silver): love those gauges. Shifter feel is decent - a little less notchy and rubbery than my 99 A4. I thought the steering weighting was a little light, but it feels pretty direct. Road feel was pretty good, though the car felt, again, a little more numb than I was hoping for, but better than average. The perforated leather and sunroof are very, very nice, I must say - even though I would not personally get a limited model. Cloth is fine for me. The brakes had good pedal feel, though obviously I wasn't able to give them a work out. The engine feels good - maybe not quite as much snap off the line as the F XT - result of gearing I would suspect, but there was definitely still power off boost - say in 4th gear around 2 - 2 1/2 thousand rpm (salesman did want me taking it much past 4k, which I obliged). pushing it while keeping the revs down it is not at all hard to believe it will meet or exceed subaru's claims. On the other hand, when I pushed the engine felt lumpy and still less refined than most other engines I've driven (but more than the WRX's 2.0) - I don't think it was the way boost was coming on, seemed more like the nature of the boxer engine...? And I'm sure it would be hella fun with a chip and exhaust. Having said that, I was disappointed by the body roll - I was expecting the car to stay pretty flat, but even at lower speeds I could easily feel the body lean. That slight disappointment could be easily remedied tho, and it was balanced with excellent ride quality - I'm sure this would be a very nice highway cruiser. Plus it seemed pretty quiet. Rear seat space is very nice, in my book, but I have to admit larger passengers would get pretty annoyed by the lack of foot space under the front seats. For kids and shorter people I don't think it would be too much a frustration though.
So all in all, I like the GT a lot. I haven't totally ruled out a WRX, but the premium for the GT isn't too bad, and it just a much nicer car in almost every way. If I get one I'll get the darker blue for sure.
#1864 of 10838 VDC Test Drive
May 30, 2004 (10:50 pm)
Test drove a Gold/Taupe Leather VDC and sat in a Silver/Charcoal XT Ltd. today at Fitzgerald Subaru in Rockville, MD.
The VDC interior is nice (although the taupe trim/leather seats is too clean and not my choice), ride is comfortable (although somewhat muted), and power is good (noticeably stronger than my 2000 Outback 2.5). The increased ground clearance and lower hoodline combines for a great front view. SPORTSHIFT in Sport mode actually works pretty well. The turning radius seems shorter. The left-hand steering wheel audio controls control the mode (AM/FM/CD) and presets/tracks, while the right-hand controls control the volume (including a handy mute button!). Homelink controls are on the driver-side visor. The front floor vents channel air over the top of the feet instead of from the console side--now my left foot won't be cold in winter. The rear seats fold easily and without that clumsy two-step process. The front seats are firmer and comfortable (and I can lean my head on the headrest comfortably). The center armrest extension is a must. There is no OnStar (hooray!), but there is no coin tray above the driver's left knee (boooo!).
The XT with the charcoal (really dark charcoal) perforated leather interior is sweet and I'm sold on it. It goes very nicely with the brushed aluminum trim (no woodgrain for me). I'm definitely going with the black/charcoal XT Ltd.
BUT, Subaru blows it with the following misses:
The CD player is not MP3 compatible (only on the VDC), not is there an AUX input. This is sad because MP3 compatibility should be standard by now. Homelink also is not available. These are minor gripes, but I'm disappointed that these features are not included--they should be standard for ALL models (non-VDC drivers have MP3s and garages, too). I don't think I can rip out the CD player because it's not a DIN mount. Putting these features in the VDC as an "upgrade" at $35K is a really cheap move because other cars at that price have Bluetooth and navigation (but I don't want to start that debate again).
I REALLY REALLY REALLY don't understand the shifter buttons on the steering wheel. THEY SHOULD BE FOR AUDIO (and temp) CONTROL ONLY! While I appreciate the shifter buttons, it's a strange feature that's almost useless. No Subaru owner will pretend like he/she's in an F1 race. Plus, if Subaru REALLY wanted this feature to make any sense, it should have included paddle shifters behind the wheel. (I will hope and pray for an aftermarket fix for this.)
Subaru has put together a great package in these cars, but it leaves me scratching my head with the above issues as it did in 2000 (when it did not offer the all-weather package with cloth seats nor auto-power-up/down windows). I understand that features evolve, but putting these seemingly-standard features in the VDC to distinguish it from the rest does not do that (nor does it justify $35K for the VDC). The XT would be perfect with these features.
Nonetheless, as a Subaru sucker (or loyalist) I will be putting money down for the XT Ltd. What's the alternative? A4 or Passat? Not a good value, plus there are too many of those. 325xi? Who is BMW kidding with an expensive, underpowered wagon? Volvo? Zzzzz. Oh, and if I were considering a sedan, I wouldn't even think about a Camry or Accord over the Legacy GT--that car really is a home run.
If anyone can suggest realistic expectations with Fitzgerald in terms of MSRP discounts, please reply. Thanks for reading.
#1865 of 10838 Re: VDC Test Drive [moutback #1864]
May 30, 2004 (11:43 pm)
Thanks for the review on the stereo... I was looking for that. Did you by any chance ask the dealer if there is a panel you can purchase to allow aftermarket stereo or other stereo option available from Subaru that would allow MP3 player(internally or externally)?
May 31, 2004 (4:23 am)
And it ain't just MP3 and NAV where they slipped up audio-wise. Satellite radio. A GM partner, they could at LEAST offer XM, or better yet a choice of XM OR Sirius. No go.
Is there at least an AUX IN on the factory radio?
#1867 of 10838 Re: VDC Test Drive [moutback #1864]
May 31, 2004 (5:12 am)
I REALLY REALLY REALLY don't understand the shifter buttons on the steering wheel. THEY SHOULD BE FOR AUDIO (and temp) CONTROL ONLY!
??? The VDC doesn't have shifter buttons on the steering wheel. They are audio controls. Only the turbo Legacy GT and turbo Outback XT have shift buttons on the steering wheel.
#1868 of 10838 Re: VDC Test Drive [moutback #1864] - gripes
May 31, 2004 (5:53 am)
i agree, i cant imagine why todays audio systems are not mp3 aware.
also agree on paddle shifters.
really really agree on homelink. i can not think of a reason this isnt on every car. i had garage remotes.
other concern i have read is the foot space under the front row seat.
on VDC, i am willing to pay extra for any subie model, just dont make it part of a $3000 bundle.
May 31, 2004 (6:04 am)
Good comments, I agree with you. I believe the shifter buttons (which you were referring to in the context of the XT) are mostly there as a gimmick. I would also prefer to have audio controls on the wheel and leave the shifter gadgetry to the shift lever/gate where it is perfectly suited.
Some of those VDC extras are certainly low-dollar features that should be on the whole model lineup. If past history is any guidance, they may trickle down in the next model year or two. A lot of times, the manufacturer actually saves money by deploying features across the board. As you noted, the 2000 base Outback were missing a few things -- LSD, cold weather package, illuminated visors, etc... which all became standard equipment for 2001.
I don't care too much about MP3 compatibility in the stereo (but agree it should be there), but the lack of aux-in in this day and age puzzles me, especially with a stereo that is integrated into the dash.
There will be double-din mounting plates available for Japan to allow you to go with an aftermarket radio, but I'm wondering how good that will look. The integrated stereo looks pretty good.
May 31, 2004 (6:09 am)
Must be geezing here...
Yeah, I've heard of MP3, but don't know what it is -- and therefore don't miss it one bit...
#1871 of 10838 Re: MP3 [rsholland #1870]
May 31, 2004 (6:29 am)
Think of it this way Bob: a normal audio CD can hold about 80 minutes of music. An MP3 cd (using that same 80 minute/700mb cd) can fit *well* over 100 songs in cd quality.
IPod uses an internal HD to store the MP3 files.
May 31, 2004 (6:58 am)