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Subaru Outback VDC



  • Well the deed is done. I wimped out and got the LLB. Picking it up tomorrow afternoon from Bud Clary Subaru in Longview, Wa. This is my wifes car and she won't even drive when there is snow on the ground so I decided to save a few grand. The LLB is nice and maybe a little more tried and proven engineering. (looking to justify my decision I guess).

    We are leaving on a 4 day trip down the Oregon coast on Monday so should have a good chance for familiarization. Anyway finally paid $27,600 to stay with Bud Clary. I know I could have done a couple hundred better in Portland but I feel better about staying with a local dealer. Now if this rig is as good as the 10 year old Accord wagon i'm replacing life will be good.......
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    I've driven both: A WRX 5-speed wagon and numerous Outbacks (H-4s & H6s).

    The Outback is larger and more comfort oriented. You will find more "amenities" on the Outbacks.

    The WRX is a high-performance vehicle, pure and simple. It's easy to drive, and is an absolute hoot—if you like performance. However, it requires premium gas, is smaller/less roomy, and doesn't offer many of the nice features that can be found on Outbacks (heated seats, leather, moonroof, etc.). It is very comfortable—in a basic sort of way. You get only what you need, nothing more.

  • I just dumped my Volvo S80 2001 6 months old, I took a bit of a hit but got money back and my new Subaru Bean. Florida does not see many of these wonderful vehicles, it's a SUV and BMW, mercedes, lexus state, little Values and less brains. The Volvo brakes, ride and old man look are history now and my desire for eternal youth is reinforced with my LL Bean Subie. Seriously, for the money after looking at Audi, Volvo cross country, the ugly Volvo wagons, and Passat, it was a no brainer for the Subie. The dealer was stubbron on the VDC price but was able to give me 1500 back complete with my OLD man Volvo.
  • gotenks243gotenks243 Posts: 116

    Aftermarket leather seats would be perfectly fine. I know a couple of people at our dealer who are getting it done (some guy's getting black with red inserts for his red WRX. I saw something similar on an RS coupe last year and it turned out great). But those cloth seats are so damn comfortable, I wouldn't want to risk changing that feel.

    As for the stereo, I haven't listened to the WRX one yet, but nothing can even hold a candle to the McIntosh in the VDC. It makes nearly every stereo on earth, short of Nakamichi's, etc., sound like mush. Still, if you've never heard a McIntosh before, I'm sure the WRX's would sound fine. Standard 6-disc indash CD changer. Can't go wrong with that.

    The VDC and WRX are two totally different cars with two totally different aims. They're both great too. It's all going to depend on your opinion.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Melissa: the Legacy GT would be perfect except it does not have leather. Try the VDC and the Bean. Even the Outback Ltd has leather, if you don't need all the extra power.

    GAM: 212hp, yes, but 20/27 epa ratings. It's geared conservatively. You can always get smaller diameter tires.

    Congrats, craw daddy!

  • gam2gam2 Posts: 316
    Juice: From Road and Track; Lexus IS300, 215 HP,
    3550 Lbs, 0-60 in 7.3 seconds. Mercedes 320, 215 HP, 3650 Lbs, 0-60 in 6.8 seconds. The VDC should be faster. Taller gearing, 100 lbs of extra weight, and the added friction of all wheel drive
    should not account for a 2 second difference in 0-60 times. I am guessing the VDC makes more like 190-195 HP. The car really needs a 5-speed automatic (better yet, a 5-speed manual).
    By the way, I fixed most of the creaking suspension noises by spraying WD-40 in all the suspension and sway bar bushings.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    WD40 can cause rubber to corrode. I'd use lithium grease instead. You can get spray stuff in a can.

    Look at EPA mileage figures, though. Volvo XC is 18/22, the 4Motion gets 17/24, and the IS gets 18/23 without even AWD. I couldn't find the figure for the Benz 4Matic, but I'm sure it's not even close to the VDC.

    Gearing would explain both the slower 0-60 and the better mileage.

  • WMartonWMarton Posts: 58
    I know that the EPA estimated gas mileage for the VDC is 20/27(city/highway). However, actual mileage typically is lower than EPA's estimates. What type of mileage are VDC owners getting in the city?...highway?...combined?

  • theobtheob Posts: 148
    Over the course of about 2048 miles of mixed, we've had an average of about 21.5 MPG. The trend seems to be improving. My wife got almost 24 on the last tank.
  • I'm getting around 25mpg highway.

    I'm having a weird problem with the car...maybe it's connected to the faulty ECM. When I'm backing out of the garage or backing into a parking space, foot on the brake, the car lunges backward, as if I took my foot off the brake and tapped the gas. I've read about the car doing a similar thing at highway speeds, but I've not encountered that problem.

  • The reason I picked up the VDC is because it has yaw control. For more spirited driving, it'll help your Outback corner. The LL Bean just felt soft. That to me is worth the extra $$$.

    As far as comparing the Audi, BMW, Passat and VDC.
    I sold my Passat because it couldn't tow anything, much less drag a boat out of the water. That goes for the BMW as well. The Audi supposedly can tow 2,000 lbs but it doesn't have the added clearance. Lo and behold, the VDC costs less although it is the best equipped. The only function lacking on the VDC is seat position memory. With two drivers and one car in the household, it would have been nice to have that programmable function. Actually, I also wish the VDC had five speed manual/auto transmission.
  • gam2gam2 Posts: 316
    A 5 speed (auto or manual) would go a LONG way
    towards helping the performance of the 3.0. They
    could shorten the gearing in 1st and 2nd and still
    keep overdrive the same. I drove a Bean because my wife can't drive a stick, but I just was not impressed with the performance especially for the $6000-$8000 price jump over my 5-sp Outback. I don't care about leather and the sunroofs. I think that is why Beans and VDC's are being dicounted so much, they just don't deliver the performance 212 HP promises. Yeah, the gas mileage
    is good, but I think people who can afford this car would give up a mpg or two if the car felt more athletic. But what do I know though....
  • nematodenematode Posts: 448
    My wife wanted the auto and leather and dual moon roof and CD changer and power seat and stereo upgrade so we got the Outback Limited ($27k). After driving the Bean and the VDC I would not have shelled out the $3000-6000 more money for the H6. I agree with you that it does not feel like 212hp. Its probably making about 30hp more than the H4 or in the low-mid 190s. According to C&D its about 1.5sec faster to 60mph. Thats a good improvement but really not worth at least $3000 in a wagon with no 5spd. However, both the VDC and the Bean are DEEPLY discounted around here so perhaps if the difference was $500 (which it is now) we may have opted for the Bean. Then again I'm not sure because a little more power does not really interest me. A lot more power would have and I (she) would have paid more. Still Subaru still represents the best value in the segment....why we are driving one.

    I think that someone here mentioned here that Subaru should have gone with 3.5L H6 and a real 250hp and 5spd auto or (manual) in either the GT or OB. BANG!!! Dead on. That would have been worth $32k and people would have paid it. We may have even traded in our 2k model just to get it. It would have made it a nice alternative to other things in the range (MDX, ML, RX300, XC, Audi A4/A6 and others). Right now I dont think most are even paying $30k for the VDC. Its very similar to the super cheap limited and still has middling performance. I guess some people want/need the VDC system so they may want it. Probably a small fraction of the Subaru buying population.

    So they way I see it there were two ways they could have gone:
    1) Offer then 3.0 H6 as an option in ALL Legacy based vehicles with a 5spd or 5spd auto for $1000-2000. I would have prefered this.
    2) Make an engine that can compete with the others in the $30-40k range. This means a real 250hp and then keep it exclusive to the Bean and VDC.

    While their first attempt was a decent effort as far as what I (me personally) was expecting it was a failure. I hope they learned something. Dont step into the $30-40 range with the weakest looks bad when you are trying to go upscale.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    Yep, that was me; many, many posts ago. Glad to see someone remembered. :)

    Yeah, I think the Outback needs a larger engine. It's a pretty heavy vehicle for just a 3.0 engine.

    Actually, in a "Perfect World According to Bob," the Legacy and Forester would get the 3.0 H-6 as options. The Legacy GT would get a 3.5 H-6 standard. The Legacy-based Outbacks would get the 3.0 H-6 standard, and up-market versions of the Outback would get the 3.5 H-6 standard.

  • nematodenematode Posts: 448
    I like your idea even better. So that makes 3 ways they could have gone:

    1) Offer then 3.0 H6 as an option in ALL Legacy based vehicles with a 5spd or 5spd auto for $1000-2000. I would have prefered this.
    2) Make an engine that can compete with the others in the $30-40k range. This means a real 250hp and then keep it exclusive to the Bean and VDC.
    3) Futher separate the LL Bean/VDC from the Legacy (which they want to do anyway) by offering a bored/stroked version (3.5L) of the H6 + a 5spd auto in the Bean/VDC. Keep the 3.0 H6 in the Legacy and offer it with a 5/6spd in the GT/wagon.

    Off the deep end: Offer a twin turbo 300hp variant in the GT and GT wagon for crazy people. Oooooohhh yea!!

    Soooo many good ideas!!! They should pay us.
  • WMartonWMarton Posts: 58
    I want an H6 for two reasons vis-a-vis an H4: power/acceleration and refinement, i.e. smoothness. But I care little for 0-60 acceleration; I'm more interested in conquering real world passing and merging situations. I think that the 3.0 H6 certainly gives you the latter. I also want the extra two cylinders for towing ability (not capacity since both the H4 and H6 have the same 2k load limit).

    Where the engine could easily be improved to give it a peppier feel is in the gearing...add that 5-sp manual or 5EAT Subaru! (By the way, does Subaru have a proven 5EAT? They certainly don't have a production 5-sp manual for the H6 since this engine is new and was designed for the US market.) Even with its shortcomings, however, it is important to note that the 3.0 H6 is definitely on par performance-wise with the VW 4-mo's 2.8 liter engine. The problem is that VW is debuting the W8 later this year and has a 225 HP or so VR6 engine waiting in the wings for the redesign in 2004/05. The Audi A4 Variant with the all new alum. 220HP V6 with CVT will also be out in 2003. I think that it would behoove Subaru to go back to basics and NOT compete with the Acuras, Audis, BMWs, Lexi, etc. in the $30k-40k range.

  • nematodenematode Posts: 448
    You wrote:
    "Subaru to go back to basics and NOT compete with the Acuras, Audis, BMWs, Lexi, etc. in the $30k-40k range."

    Its too late. They want to go upscale and I think its a good idea because they cannot stay where they are.
    1) Offerings from bigger car makers like WV, Hyundai, Ford, Mazda, and Toyota are already cutting into their small/alternative SUV niche.
    2) Soon the same big boys are going to start into the small wagon terriorty too. Things like the Matrix, Jetta wagon, and what ever Mazda is calls theirs are all slated to eventually have AWD options.
    3) This is where they had to partner with GM. This allows them rebadge some of their older/current stuff and get to more dealers AND get more development time/money for their current line.

    I really like their idea to move upscale. I just did not like their execution. Basically, it just did not need my expectations. They did the same thing when they tried to go mass market in the mid 80s early 90s. They put out cars that did not compete well and ended up paying the price until they hit automotive gold with the Outback. Now that other companies have had time to develop stuff to take that niche....Subaru needs a new one or had to try mass market again. With help from GM I think they are planning to taking another crack at the mass market but not anytime soon.
  • WMartonWMarton Posts: 58

    There seems to be two proven ways to go upscale: (1) spin off a luxury line (e.g., Toyota's Lexus, Honda's Acura, Nissan's Infiniti, etc., or (2) build it from within by offering something that the consumer is willing to pay more for, e.g., luxury, performance, or (preferably) both. The best example of the latter strategy is VW. Before the 1990s, the Passat was a second thought for VW and not much of player in the mid-size sedan market. It's chief competitors were the Taurus, Camry and Accord. Before 1998 the Passat was a niche player in the market--a decent performer, but with questionable reliability, i.e, nothing special. However, the B5 Passat (built on an Audi A4/A6 platform, using an Audi engine, and with many of the amenities of the Audi line) developed a reputation as a very good performer and at the same time VW improved its reliability. It's priced higher than the camcord, but people are willing to pay the exrta price because of the perceived value--better handling, reliability, Audi bloodline. The new facelift of the Passat has reinforced this upscale approach. The W8 version will push the envelope even further, as I'm sure the redesign in 2004 will as well.

    Now to Subaru: I think the H6 is a winner, just not in the VDC. Compared to the Auto Limited, for 2k more you can move up to the LL Bean and get a larger engine and a few more bells and whistles. It's also a very good value compared to the competition. (Yes, the engine performance between the H4 manual and H6 auto is not that great; however, I think that the LL Bean is a no brainer if you are going the AT route, especially if you are moving alot of bodies or seriously interested in towing.) The problem child is the VDC. It's cheaper than the "competition" (VW 4mo, Audi A4 Avant, Volvo), but falls off in terms of performance and luxury items (add those HIDs Subaru!). However, I don't think that these vehicles are the true competitors since you are comparing performance vehicles to a vehicle more geared towards utility. The big problem is that the VDC competes against the LL Bean, and to a much lesser extent, the Forester. If Subaru is truly serious about moving upscale, then they should merge the VDC/LL Bean (and add content) and beef up the Legacy GT (add a 6-sp manual H6+, leather, automatic climate control, HIDs, etc.) to better compete performance wise with the big boys. This strategy would allow Subaru to confront its competitors in the "utility" and "performance" markets head-on.

  • nematodenematode Posts: 448
    The spin off brand is not as cool as people think. I used to think thats what Subaru should have done but people here set me straight. They are a huge gamble and cost tons of capital which Fuji is not going to float Subaru. Lexus has been very successful but Acura less and Infiniti even less. The flagship Q45 can frequently had for invoice and does not hold resale. Avanti (Mazda) failed before it even got a car out (except the Millenia). They cost lots of money. So we have 1 great, 1 good, 1 fair, and 1 fail.

    You said it better than I could: "something that the consumer is willing to pay more for." To this point based on all the LL Beans on our dealers lot that have been there a while I dont think people are willing to pay the premium. This is where Subaru miscalculated. At the rate prices a are falling for the Bean and VDC they are going to be selling south of invoice pretty soon (if not already). Our dealer sold his last VDC for under $30k and I think thats pretty common around here. Not that this is a bad thing!!! BUT it does look bad when one is trying to move upscale. Honda/Acura, Audi, BMW, Toyota/Lexus, and other "preimum" brands sell at MSRP or over in come cases (like the MDX and the 330i sedans). The demand has to be there. Again I like what you said: "people are willing to pay the exrta price because of the perceived value."
    In the case of the VDC and Bean I'm just not seeing the demand.
    I believe most people will not pay:
    more than $700 for the H6
    more than $300 for the stereo upgrade
    more than $500 for the VDC system

    I guess what it comes down to is I dont really have a problem with the H4 auto. 2-3 times a year we put about 800lbs of people, animals, and gear in (including roof cargo box) the car and drive 2k+miles round trip. We racked up 24k+ miles in one year doing stuff like that. It does not seem to have much trouble pulling the mountains of PA on I76. Ofcourse if you are driving around 70-75mph you may see 5000rpm every once in a while but its never had any trouble pulling hills even at the load limit (which is either 800 or 900lbs but I cant rememer). I can always maintian my speed and even accelerate up steep grades. The caveat is that you do have to push it hard sometimes which one would not have to do with the H6 I'm sure. I think that some people are afraid to push the H4 and lose the real pep of the motor which seems to come in after 4000rpm.
    Highway acceleration is not the problem with the H4. From 65-85mph you can tear around all you want even in 4th. The H4 seems to have a weak spot from 35-55mph when combined with the auto. The 5spd fixes this and so does leaving it in 3rd with the auto when you need to merge or something. I hated the index shifter at first but its pretty good for dropping to 3rd.
    I dont know how the H4 would do at the load limit + a trailer. If I was towing and carrying a full load I think in that case the H4 would choke. If you are towing and loaded then its worth the $2k. Then again I live in the mid-west. Its pretty darn flat and very easy to cruise at 85mph with the H4 without any trouble at all.

    Totally off topic, if you load the OB about to the limit it looks lowered and kinda cool.

    Subaru does know what they are doing most of the time (WRX, Outback, GM merger, and so on). I'm sure they did all kinds of market research and stuff....but they did not ask me!!! How rude!! I have opnions on everything and I dont charge anything. The best recent example of good thinking is the WRX. In that case I think they rated the engine correctly at 227hp. Several mags have put the WRX to 60 in under 6sec at over 3100lbs. Its also running 14s.
    Its a new niche here but the new era muscle car has been around in Asia for quite a while. In this case it was a no brainer....boy racers will eat Ramen noodles for 2 years to spend money on cars.....then they spend more money in aftermarket stuff. Like drug addicts. Its what I did with my old Mustang GT 5.0L. Its a horrible habit.
    Soon (I hope) Mistu will bring over their Lancer Evo. so the games can begin. In US specs that car should have 250hp and 3200lbs from a 2L. I'm sure more of the genus will show up as the import racing scene grows. The question becomes what are Honda/Acura and Toyota going to do about it? Even their type Rs and GT-S versions are going to get torched by a SUBARU. Subaru KNOWS how to set the bar (WRX). They just did not set the bar with the VDC or Bean versions. They could have like with the WRX but they did not. They just put out cars that are fine...but does not make me want to run out and get one. They are not Honda/Toyota yet. I think the execution was a mistake but not the idea.

    I guess I'm really not knocking the VDC or the Bean as they are fine cars. I'm knocking the effort because I know Subaru could have done better. Keep in mind if the VDC was around at $29k or under when we were getting our Ltd. we may have picked it over what we have now.
  • theobtheob Posts: 148
    Found a nugget in the owners manual:
    7.9in (200mm) of ground clearance in H6 models!
    That's almost as much as the Audi allroad at maximum height! Yet the overall height is no greater than the H4 OBs.

    Power: Our VDC seems to really start pulling at 3500-4000 RPM.

    We looked seriously at a 2k OB LTD and were underwhelmed. It was a hot day at 5kft. (We virtually never drive below 4500ft.) We also looked at an A4 Avant 1.8T w/ sport package. For less money we got:
    more room, better stereo, comparable performance, better fuel mileage, better reliability, more dealers to choose from, ...

  • r22549r22549 Posts: 42
    I am seriously considering buying a VDC...I go with my wife tomorrow to test drive... have read this board and the problem boards... Just have a couple of questions, bear with me here...
    There was some talk of some problems with cold starts awhile back... think it was related to an em problem.. Was this truth or fiction..?.... Also there were some questions as to how the DC handled in snow, where the vdc could actually work against you...Anybody know what I'm referring to, or is this 52 year old man lost it,,One last question relating to the ground clearance..The previous poster indicated 7.9 in VDC model, any material on the subject I see says 7.3...Any and all help would really be appreciated..THanx..Rod
  • lgtltdlgtltd Posts: 8
    I too experienced the lunging affect during a 12 mile test drive of the VDC. Happened once at stop sign and twice when backing into the parking space at dealership. Drove the Bean 20 miles and it never happened. Dealer admitted sales are off and offered to sell a little over cost.
  • theobtheob Posts: 148
    There is a confirmed problem with the programming of the ECU for cold weather. They are working on a fix and will be issuing a recall sometime in the near future. The workaround is to run on regular unleaded during cold weather instead of premium.

    The ground clearance number is from the specifications section of owners manual. There is a separate sub heading for 3.0 H6 models in the ground clearance heading. However, Subaru reports 7.3 in the specs section of their current web site for the VDC. May be a misprint in the manual.

    I took our VDC out on an iced-over ski area parking lot and pushed it to see what it would do. I was able to get it to drift by really stepping on the gas and yanking the wheel. I don't think you'll find the VDC getting in the way unless you really do want to spin donuts.
  • r22549r22549 Posts: 42
    Me and my better half took the VDC out for a spin today... We both liked it. We are currently driving a 98 Bravada and wanted to get little more civilized and protected... We still both like the AWD idea and the BB seemed like a real nice compromise... But the best my dealer would do ( in the great state of CT) was take 1k off msrp and offer me around 12.3k on a trade in ( Bravada good shape 22k)... For a 36/12mile lease they had me into it for 504 a month!!!!!.... can get into a 01 AL I type with Acura for about 450, and a seville for 549...Now I realize we got 2 different auto idea's here, but still...Assuming this ecu thing gets cleared up I'm still willing to consider the OB, but got to get a better deal then the one I was offered....If there are any CT dealers out there who are willing to talk to me, I'll again Theo,...Rod
  • gotenks243gotenks243 Posts: 116
    "Where the engine could easily be improved to give it a peppier feel is in the gearing...add that 5-sp manual or 5EAT Subaru! (By the way, does Subaru have a proven 5EAT?"

    Unfortunately no, but on 4EAT Japanese WRXs, they have a tiptronic-like auto-stick, plus the F1-style shift buttons on the steering wheel. It's weird that if Subaru has that sitting around, they didn't bring it over to the US, for either the VDC or WRX. That'd be nice to have.

    On the other hand, the current gated shifter makes it a lot easier to control what gear you're in vs. the old straight shifter like I have on my '97 4EAT OB Ltd. If you use it right, it'd be almost as good.

    Speaking of stuff that didn't get brought over for the US WRX's so annoying. All the Japanese-spec sedans have rear windshield wipers, while the US ones don't. There's a neat pop-up DVD GPS Navigation system available. MD stereo systems available (too bad MD never got big in America). The aforementioned auto-stick stuff. The 6MT from the stock STi's... All missing!

  • gam2gam2 Posts: 316
    Boy, I hope Subaru reps read these postings! Obviously, while many people are satisfied with their H6's, many people were expecting more. Subaru does not make many mistakes but pricing/performance with the H6 may be one of them. Another one is the lack of variable intermittent front wipers on my '00 Outback (non-limited). Hell, my wife's Cavalier has them. Why do you have to get a Limited to get them. At least they finally brought over the WRX!
  • subearusubearu Posts: 3,613
    I know this for a fact: only the 2000 Outback Limited got the variable intermittent front wipers. (I have a non-limited Outback and it too lacks this feature.) This was brought up a while back in the Subaru Crew topics. Our Edmunds Subaru rep. said it had to do with just the fact that this feature didn't make it in the changeover to the 2000 line for the base Outbacks. (that's not an exact quote)

    All 2001 Outbacks get the variable intermittent front wipers.

  • nygregnygreg Posts: 1,936
    Try going through Costco for a price. Currently looking for an OB, as everyone knows by now :), and was quoted $500 over invoice at Danbury Sub. For the base OB I can do better, but it was a good start. Not sure what the availability Beans are to this program, but worth a try. Also, try e-mailing all dealers in your area with the details and start from there.

  • barresa62barresa62 Posts: 1,379
    Ground clearance on LL Bean, VDC, & OB's is 7.3" not 7.9" There is no difference between the models either. If you are reading something that says otherwise than it is a misprint.

    From a 00'OB Ltd owner, soon to be WRX wagon owner.

  • normie1normie1 Posts: 2
    A previous post referred to a maintenance package. I wish to purchase a Subaru Outback VDC.
    Does anyone have information on that?
This discussion has been closed.