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Outback 4 cylinder capability

thor14thor14 Member Posts: 17
I need a family vehicle that is useful for everyday driving around big city and one that can handle the once a year big vacation across country.

I would really like to get the 4 cylinder Outback because of better gas mileage and cheaper cost, but can it handle the cross county trips being fully loaded with a family of 4, camping equipment, and bike rack? Or will I stall and blow the radiator going over the rocky mountains?

Would love to hear some thoughts, experiences, and feedback on the 4 cylinder. Thanks.


  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Sure, it will be fine.

    Keep in mind its rated to tow a trailer, and you didn't mention one, so you're well below its maximum capacity.

    Make sure it has enough space - the new ones are huge so it should be fine for an average sized family.
  • thor14thor14 Member Posts: 17
    Great. Thats what I was hoping to hear. I often hear lots of reviewers always talk about the need for more power in vehicles. I really don't care about the power as long as I can get from point A to point B in a safe, reliable fashion without killing the engine.

    Since we tent camp, I'm a little worried about space for all of the camping equipment but I would most likely get a car top carrier to help out. I will certainly be fully loaded, but its only for the once a year vacation, so hopefully we could find a way to manage.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    If you REALLY want low ownership cost, apply for a Chase Subaru credit card.

    You get 3% back in Subaru Bucks on the first $17,000 you spend her year, and can earn $500 per year.

    You can buy that roof top cargo carrier out of the Subaru catalog in the very first year.

    You can also pay for maintenance, repairs, or your next Subaru.
  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,775

    We have a Forester after "downsizing" from a minivan. I had much the same concerns regarding cargo capacity, especially since we tend to take long drives across the continent now and again. While the cargo area of the Forester is quite modest, the addition of a roof carrier more than doubles total capacity. I also added a class three (2") receiver to the car, which will allow the towing of a trailer or the inclusion of a hitch-mounted cargo carrier. With both the roof and hitch carriers, capacity is more than tripled.... as long as I am sure to add pressure to the rear tires and not overload the poor beast too much.

    Even heavily loaded, power remains adequate.

    I also had an '08 Outback (2.5L w/ 4EAT) that I loaded heavily with a family of four and had no problems driving it several thousand miles around Oregon, Washington, and back home to Fairbanks, Alaska. Fuel economy was ~22:

    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • thor14thor14 Member Posts: 17
    Great feedback. Yes, I too am downsizing from a minivan. Tired of driving around town with in a big vehicle with poor gas mileage. Great to hear that these 4 bangers can stand a little heavy duty work when necessary.
  • gjksngjksn Member Posts: 35
    I took a cross country trip with my 2003 Legacy wagon which I love. At times, I had 4 very large adults, loads of luggage, a Yakima 16 cu. ft. car-top carrier, and extreme weather. That little 4 banger handled it all with aplomb. Plenty of power, although no excess. A/C was frigid within a minute or two in extreme heat. Yakima car-top carrier did well and kept everything dry even when sitting under a waterfall. We were on the Schuylkill expressway with torrents of water pouring down from an overpass that were strong enough to make the car bounce up & down as we sat in traffic. You will have no trouble with the 4-cyl Outback, and I hope you enjoy your Outback and your trip(s). Load 'er up.
  • avery1avery1 Member Posts: 373
    Just discovered this so I don't know if anyone is following it anymore. I am thinking of downsizing from a 6 cyl. '99 Lexus RX300 and have looked at the new Outbacks and the 4 cyl is tempting but I hear that it has a different AWD system than the other Subarus. Several folks have said it seems fine in the snow but I am interested if any of you know about this. Also how the CVT compares to a traditional transmission. I've heard good and bad.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Some complain about "motor boating" in CVTs, i.e. the constant revs that stay at one pitch.

    Not all CVTs are created equal, though. And not all customers feel the same way about them.

    I like Nissan's, but didn't like Mitsubishi's. To be honest I have not driven Subaru's. The one in my friend's Altima was fine, it certainly wouldn't stop me from buying a car I liked.

    The paddle shifters in the Subaru may resolve the issue above, any way.
  • linas1linas1 Member Posts: 10
    I own a 2010 4-cylinder Outback and have taken 4 hour long trips on the interstate and have found it to be sufficiently powerful.

    I find the paddle shifters useful when going down a slope. I recently drove a Chevy Suburban and found the outback engine to be smoother than it. I have also owned a '05 Altima (CVT) and found the Outback to be smoother than that as well.
  • thor14thor14 Member Posts: 17
    Well, I now have the answer to my post.

    For our family vacation, we spent the past week driving up and down Colorado (Great Sand Dunes and Glenwood Springs) with our fully loaded 4 cylinder 2011 Outback.

    I'm happy to report, the fully loaded Outback handled the workload perfectly. Even with a full load, cruising along at 80 mph was no problem at all. Once the 4 banger gets moving, it does great. Obviously going up steep grades with the full load required a bit more work, but it was kind of fun to put it in manual and work the paddle shifters.

    As others have reported, the only problem is that with such a heavy load, it is difficult to pass anyone if your on a single lane county road. But that was really never an issue. There were only a few vehicles I had to gather up speed to pass. But if you are an aggressive driver you may not be happy with the four in such situations.

    Gas mileage was not great (around 20), but we had a full load going up mountains and a wind advisory coming back across Nebraska. Only problems on the trip were a cracked windshield (grrr) and the Yakima Rocketbox 15 wouldn't stay shut with the speed I was driving and the winds. So I had to stop and buy some rubber bungee cords to hold it down.

    I couldn't be happier with how the Outback 4 cylinder handled the vacation. It did everything I needed it to do with safety and confidence. Its an awesome vehicle. Would highly recommend this vehicle for any family of four.

    Can't wait for the next time I get to load her up and go on the next excursion.
    Would post picture of the loaded Outback, but can't figure out how to attach.

  • 204meca204meca Member Posts: 369
    The 4 cyl capacity is excellent.
    I recently drove 1000 miles in our 2010 OB w 4 banger & CVT towing 2000 lb bass boat. This included crossing two Cascade Mt passes -3,00 & 4,000 feet high. It did fine even on the passes, never felt stained, rarely exceeded 4,2000 rpms on the passes to keep it at 60+ mph.

    Gas mileage wasn't great - 19.2 overall - but considering I drove 60-70 mph & had 10-30 mph cross & head winds with driving rain on about 30% of the miles + the passes, I am satisfied.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    That's not bad, I got 17mpg in a 1998 Forester towing about 1500 lbs.

    19 ain't bad at all - some trucks would yield 12mpg.
  • cincinnati_dancincinnati_dan Member Posts: 12
    Will I be happy with a 4-Cylinder Outback Limited with CVT? I drive mostly on flat terrain, but like to pass people on two lane roads. I have a 4-cyl Toyota Camry that I pass with, but wish it had more power. I will mostly be driving with one passenger, without luggage.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    To be honest, if you wish you had more power now, I doubt that will change. The CVT makes the most of the available output, but the Outback is heavier than that Camry.
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