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2009 Outback - AWD systems



  • leo2633leo2633 Posts: 589
    I have a 2001 Forester and my wife has a 2003 Outback. Both have the 5 speed manual trans and the limited slip rear differential. I have a set of Blizzak WS50s on steel wheels for both cars, and usually mount them around mid-end December and run them until around mid-late March. We've gone through some pretty good snow storms with both cars with the Blizzaks. I am extremely impressed with them.

    Along with Subaru's AWD, the Blizzaks have made the cars feel pretty much unstoppable in snow. Virtually no wheel spin when starting out from a stop, no sliding around turns and no problems braking or steering. As a matter of fact, I can't recall the ABS ever kicking in while driving in snow. I've owned conventional 4 wheel drive trucks, and the Subarus have worked better in snow, for me, than any of them.

    My wife and I have been driving for many years, and we both drive pretty conservatively, especially in inclement weather. We live in south-central New Jersey, and we usually get at least one good storm per winter, and several lesser storms (though last year we got almost nothing).

    If you're looking for a dedicated winter tire, I highly recommend the Blizzak WS50.

  • As good as the Blizzak's worked on my Probe I knew they had to be awesome on a Subaru.
    I remember when I used to run into California over Donner pass, when the Chain laws where in effect they would only allow Vehicles with Blizzak and very few other Tires to proceed without Chaining up.
    They call Tires like that Chain rated or something like that.

    I'd say a Subaru with Blizzacks would be in stoppable in the Snow.
    Thanks for the reply.
  • jim2345jim2345 Posts: 40
    Hi Noey,

    I found some more info you may be interested in. It appears neither you nor I were exactly right about the torque split on the 4-speed automatics with VDC. There is another forum - "4WD & AWD systems explained" that goes on and on and on and on, but post #1134 appears to be the definitive answer from Subaru of America.

    It basically says there is no default split on these transmissions as there is on the others. It's continuously variable from 90/10 to 50/50 depending on sensor input.

    - Jim
  • noey8noey8 Posts: 16
    Hey Jim,

    Thanks for the heads up. Just wondering, will you get the manual or the auto tranny? I don't currently drive nor have ever owned a Subaru but I'll be in the market for an Outback down the road. I test drove a used Legacy wagon (4EAT) and 1st generation Forester (manual) sometime back during the winter season to see what these Subies were all about. I was truly impressed with both units. From what I've heard with the latest Subies is that the AWD in the manual is very good while the AWD in the auto is better.
  • jim2345jim2345 Posts: 40
    Hi Noey,

    I'm really no expert. All I know is what I have read and you should know that I have been driving Jeeps for 20 years. But on paper, the Outback looks like the perfect replacement for me so I've been doing my homework and I really want one because I'm ready to "downsize". In part it's for the fuel economy but also I no longer have a trailer to pull so I don't need the big engine. I never go off road (on purpose) and really just need something that will keep me on the roads in winter, when I do most of my driving. I'm up in the mountains skiing every chance I get - at least twice a week. And my driveway is long and steep, so anytime I'm out and it snows, I run the risk of not making it back up. This happens to my wife all the time and about every other winter, she gets her FWD Sable stuck sideways on our driveway when she loses traction halfway up and slips back toward the street. I've solved these problems for 20 years by keeping the driveway cleared for my wife and buying Jeeps for me, but it's really overkill.

    I'm ready for something more car-like but I hate bending my knees and back at the same time to "crumple" myself into my wife's Sable. My jeep fits me just right - I can stand up straight along side it and slide my butt sideways onto the seat - don't have to bend anything to get in! I'm expecting the Outback, with the same ground clearance as my Jeep to be pretty much the same - maybe just duck my head a little.

    But to answer your question about transmissions, I'm leaning towards the automatic so my wife can also use it once in a while - maybe it will even become hers one day. So when I go to the dealer this month for a test drive I plan to drive both. I'm not expecting the test drives will show any big difference in traction so it's going to come down to one thing - is the automatic powerful enough? I read somewhere (Edmunds?) that the 4-cylinder auto is a real snooze - but's that's OK with me as long as it's not dangerously underpowered. I plan to give the sportshift feature a workout to be sure of this.

    The other big deal for me (and if you've read my other posts in this forum you must know) is the tires. I just don't want to leave the dealership with those Potenzas still on. I hope I can work something out with them on tires.

    - Jim
  • Hey Jim.
    As to the 09 Outback's ease at getting in and out I'm 6'0'' and it's very easy to get in and out of.
    I injured my Back in 06 and this was a very important thing for me.
    It's very easy and in fact I find I'm stepping down just a little, not too much, to get out.
    I had an 06 Kia Spectra5 and it was really hard for me to have to lift myself up out of the Car and getting in was a chore as well with my Back and Leg pain.
    The 09 Outback is perfect for me.

    As to the 2.5i Engine not having any performance I thing the reviewers are trying to compare this 4 Cylinder with a V 6 or something.
    For a 4 Cylinder Engine it's very responsive and has plenty of power.
    Granted, you're not going to burn the Tires off the Rims or beat a Honda S 2000 in the 1/4 Mile, but that's not what this Car was made for.
    Yes, the AWD takes some of the Power away but it's not that bad.
    In fact, I have a very secure sense of control with this Car when taking off from a standing stop.
    So far merging onto the Interstate, passing etc isn't a problem at all.
    Now if you want pep and bragging rights, go for the Turbo Charged version.
    It costs allot more and you can only get it with the standard Tranny but hey, it's a sports version. :shades:

    Like I had said before, the Potenzas seem to have allot better traction than the miserable Set I had purchased Years ago for my Ford Escort GT so I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt and I'll see if they've changed for the better.
    The owners Manual packet came with a Good Year and Yokohama Warranty Brochure inside, as well as Bridgestone so I'm sure some dealers spec them with these Tires or they wouldn't have been in there.

    If you want your Wife to climb up your Driveway like a Tank then look into getting a set of Firestone Blizzak Tires.
    I guarantee she won't slip and slide anymore.
  • jim2345jim2345 Posts: 40
    Thanks Ranger.

    The Blizzaks are near the top of my list - not too expensive, either. By the way,
    I checked out your website. Good job!

    - Jim
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The real problem is that at first Subaru used "VDC" to descrive a model. When it came out, 2002 IIRC, they called the H6 Outback the "Outback VDC".

    Today VDC means traction + stability control, but a while back it was synonymous with that model.
  • jim2345jim2345 Posts: 40
    I just want to thank everyone who replied to my posts about AWD systems and the OEM tires on Outbacks. I have heard from a lot of people who say these tires are terrible and that they have either switched over to a decent set of all-season tires or are using dedicated snow tires in winter and switch over twice a year.

    I've been to the dealer and drove both an automatic and a manual. The manual was a blast but the automatic I thought was underpowered. As for the tires, they claim to have never heard a bad word about them and (of course) there is nothing they can do about upgrading/replacing them. I asked about the pictures in the brochure and the TV advertising and they said all of this is possible with the Potenzas - they think they're really good all-season tires.

    I would probably buy the manual because of the fun factor and because I thought the automatic was too lame, but I didn't because I was very troubled that my wife will never drive it and then there's the tire issue. I will need to replace them right away or I won't be getting back up my driveway this winter. So I left without even asking for a trade-in appraisal.

    Across the street from the Subaru dealer is a Jeep dealer. I stopped in and got a great trade. I just bought a new (2008) Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 (MSRP over $32,000) for under $20,000. I'm only going to get 17mpg, but my monthly payment is at least $100 less than a Subaru comparably equipped. Bottom line is that I'll spend more on gas, but far less overall each month. The big plus is that I have the vehicle that will get me where I need to go in winter - no question, no worries. So what it handles like a brick - I've already been driving them for 20 years.

    I won't be posting here anymore and I'll bet a lot of you will be glad I won't be ranting about the Potenzas any more. Thanks again for your interest.

    - Jim
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They really are giving those away. Wow. That was a $26 grand vehicle a couple of years ago.

    Just beware of resale value. Or even finding a buyer, at any price, for it used.
  • It boggles my Mind that someone would let Tires sway their decision to buy a Vehicle.
    I admit that I said I had bought a set of Potenzas a long time ago and didn't like them but man, that was a long Time ago and they weren't even the same Model, not to mention they went on a Ford Escort...

    Like I stated in my Blog and on here, my new Outback with the Potenza's really performs very well.
    I was in a slick, wet Parking Lot and never spun a Wheel.
    It rained here Yesterday hard, and I did everything I could to get the Tires to spin out but they never did.
    I think allot has to do with the AWD system but I have to also give the Potenza credit because they really feel solid on wet Roads, even in hard rain and standing Water I never lost or felt like I lost traction once.

    I like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, back when it was Jeep.
    Even though you saved allot of Money on that purchase, being a Chrysler product, you're going to have allot of mechanical problems that will end up eating all you saved, I hope I'm wrong.
    I'd love a Grand Cherokee or Liberty, I just can't swallow the Chrysler Bottom Line.

    Another BIG problem with Jeep, re-sale and depreciation.
    I made that mistake back in 06 when I purchased the Kia Spectra5.
    It was a great deal, awesome in fact, until I saw its value drop faster than a Sky Diver in a Rubber Suit.

    I also made a big mistake back in 99 when I purchased a Dodge Caravan.
    With only 60k Miles on it, the Transmission blew up and the Dealer refused to do anything about it.
    I've also witnessed 3 Friends at work 1 owns a Wrangler and the other 2 own Grand Cherokee's, have chronic problems with CV Joints and Steering Linkage.

    I don't mean to spook you, just be aware.
    With the Auto industry and our economy in the shape it's in and the on going news of Chrysler's woes, any Chrysler purchase right now is a big risk as to Factory support and build quality.

    (Grimacing, waiting for the Flames) :surprise:
  • jim2345jim2345 Posts: 40
    Hi Ranger,

    This is supposed to be a Subaru forum so I’ll post just this one reply about my new Jeep.

    Thanks for your concern but believe me, I know what I’m getting into because I’ve been driving Jeeps for 20 years. This is my third Grand Cherokee and it's the best equipped and least expensive (by far!) of the lot. The build quality probably isn’t up to Subaru standards, but I’ve had only a couple of minor problems with my last two (brake rotors and oxygen sensors) and those were covered under warranty. Speaking of which, the new Jeeps have a LIFETIME warranty on power train components.

    And some of their bad reputation is undeserved. I think Jeeps have always gotten a bad rap in consumer reports categories like frequency of repair because so many people take them off road. If it weren’t for this, the ratings would likely be better.

    And you’re right about depreciation - it’s a real concern, but only for the first 5 years or so. In my part of the world there seems to be a floor price of $5000 to $6000 for any Jeep of almost any age. I think the real off-road enthusiasts here create this market because they’re looking for older ones in decent mechanical shape they can use to crash through the boonies - something Jeeps are really good at. Although new ones are just as capable, not too many people want to abuse their new $35000 - $40000 purchase in this way.

    I’m sorry if you’re disappointed, but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend $5000 more for an Outback only to have to put a new set of tires on it besides! Like I said, I’ve been driving Jeeps for 20 years and I’m comfortable with their quirks and general lack of drivability. I also know a good deal when I see it.

    - Jim
  • clarkkentclarkkent Posts: 154
    I have been driving Jeeps and Subarus for over 20 years.

    Both are great cars. In todays world it easier to get a Good use Jeep and they sell fast and for a fair price.

    Today, everyone wants to screw anyone who want to buy a used Subaru.

    I have seem some beat up 1993 going for up to 6K.

    So for those who buy a new Jeep, If it ever does wear out, you will have no problem selling it for a fair price.

    I have always gotten over 200K on my Subarus and over 200K on my Jeeps. Neither have ever given me any trouble. And I'm talking Grand Cherokees, Cherokees, and Wrangler,. Outbacks and Legacys. All are great cars..

    Oh, and my Jeep Grand Cherokee rides better than anything Subaru have ever made.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Okay, so I am a fan of Jeeps (in general) as well, so please do not take this post to be a "bash" on any make or model.

    The Cherokee definitely has a "softer" ride than any Subaru, but I am not convinced that is a good thing. To me, it feels squishy (very GM-like) and serves to isolate the driver from the road. That is not something I would want in such a vehicle, but the vast majority of them will never see off-road situations, at least not in their initial (or even secondary) ownerships. I think the recent iterations of the Wrangler, as well as the Nissan Frontier (as an aside!), offer a comparable ride to Subaru vehicles, and I very much like it. ;)

    As for the warranty, Jim, be wary. I expect that parts will always be plentiful for the Jeep brand, regardless of who owns it, but right now Chrysler is owned by an investment company, and anyone who thinks they purchased it with the plan of long-term ownership is deluding themselves. I expect that company will be sold off in pieces to the highest bidders within two years and I know not how that will affect that "lifetime" warranty. The owners had good cause to offer that deal: First, encourage first-time and repeat buyers to jump on the new model year, which affects their short-term bottom line, in order to boost the company stock, then sell off the company while it is a hot consumer attraction to make off with loads of cash before warranty liabilities mount. In the first 2-3 years of ownership, most vehicles are not going to see an increased incidence of warranty claims, but for those who actually do keep the car longer than a normal warranty period? Well, for some models (the Caravan/T&C come to mind), that could be a huge expense for the company.

    I wish you the best with your new Jeep. I'm sure you will like it. When the time is right, consider another Subaru. Aside from the tires, I very much doubt you will be disappointed. ;)
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Ranger, several posts back, I think you mentioned that the '09 Limited had a rear LSD, while the "lower" models did not.... is that accurate?

    If so, what a loss. The '07 and '08s, at least, did have the LSD on all trims, and it is a very effective tool for increasing driver control of the car's rear end. I appreciated that feature more than any other in comparison to my '96 Ouback, which did not have the rear LSD.

    I very much hope that Subaru does not abandon the LSD in favor of VDC. I do not see them as incompatible features, and I am not sure why the company would (other than a little cost saving).
  • Oh no Wes, I didn't mean LSD was becoming an option.
    I meant that VDC was an option on the 08's and standard on the 09's.

    I never meant to bash Jeeps in earlier posts, I love Jeeps, always have.
    I was just stating that many of the People I know as well as me with past ownership of a Chrysler product, I was just showing some concern for People buying them because I know how under handed Chrysler is and how volatile the Company is right now.

    Anyone can tell when a Company is desperate because they throw everything at you to get you to buy, knowing in the long run they'll never have to Pony up.

    Just take Chrysler's Minivan line.
    I had a 2000 Grand Caravan and loved the design. At 57,000 Miles the Transmission blew up and after many heated debates on the Phone and in person they only offered to pay $500.00 of a $3,800.00 fix.
    This problem is inherent on the V-6 Engine with the Auto Transmission and one they have never bothered to fix.
    It's such a stupid thing but Chrysler refuses to acknowledge the problem.
    Instead of using a Spline in the Driveshaft to connect the Engine to the Transmission, they use a Hole in the Driveshaft and a Pushpin to connect the 2 together.
    When the Pushpin becomes loose over Time it's ejected and causes all kinds of problems.

    Do you honestly think Chrysler is going to be fixing these Transmissions in the future? I doubt it...

    I didn't mean to turn this into a Chrysler post but I'm just trying to let everyone know that I'm in no way bashing Jeeps, I just really feel bad for the fact Chrysler took them over and is ruining their reputation as a rugged off Road vehicle and duping Millions into thinking if they buy one, they'll never have to worry about the mechanics.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    I didn't mean LSD was becoming an option.

    Ah, good to hear. I have not really looked at the mechanics of the '09s, but I know that the Forester does not have the LSD and does have VDC, so it certainly is a plausible route for the company to go.
  • That's one of the reasons I didn't chose the Forester.
    That and the fact it doesn't get quite the Gas Millage the Outback does.

    Also, since my last posting, I found out that LSD doesn't come standard on lower end 09 Outback models and that is a shame.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    We have the 175hp PZEV 2009 Forester, and even with an automatic we've seen 30-33mpg. It's hard to imagine an Outback would do much better.

    We're averaging over 27mpg on the current tank. Even around town we get 24 or so.

    That's not bad, IMHO. Forester is lighter than the Outback.
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 8,391
    Yeah, I would expect at least even-odds fuel economy on the Forester versus the Outback, at least in real-world driving. I never did better than about 27-28 in my Outbacks unless I really nursed them.

    Manual or auto, I found them (Outbacks) peppy and responsive, though, with the auto, familiarity with the gas pedal makes a big difference on how it responds. "Stomping it" at intersections, for example, does not illicit an optimum response from the car.

    Ranger - I am disappointed to hear that the LSD is not standard throughout the lineup any longer, it will definitely be something I check before I purchase my next Subaru.
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