Is 2.5i Outback Under Powered?

hoo320hoo320 Member Posts: 46
edited March 2014 in Subaru
Hi, everyone,
I live in NYC and I like to go to Vermont skiing almost every other week. Unfortunately, this year the snow condition is very bad.

I am looking into buying a 2.5i limited wagon. I've surfing for quite a while. I see that this baby has everything I need and I have full confidence of its AWD performance.

However, last point of my concern would be whether the 175 hp engine is powerful enough to drive this 3500 pounds vehicle, such passing on interstate or state highway (normally two lanes)?

I just don't want to buy a H6 or XT, more expensive and require premium gas.

I really appreciate any input from owners.

Thanks for reading


  • rshollandrsholland Member Posts: 19,788
    I guess it all depends on what you're used to driving. If you currently have a powerful car, yeah, maybe the 2.5 might seem a bit underpowered. Most people who own them don't complain, however.

    I drive a 2.5 WRX and my wife has a 165 hp 2.5 Forester—and it does feel like a slug after driving the WRX. ;)

    On the H6, premium is "recommended," not required.

  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,573
    Indeed. I think the new 2.5L feels very powerful, but then I have a 1996 2.5L with 220,000 miles on it, so it is all a matter of perspective. Regardless, it is not going to short-change you on merges or passing even if it is not as quick as a turbo.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I have a 165hp Forester and it's been fine even when towing a small trailer.

    Now I wasn't passing anyone when I had the trailer attached, but when it's not I have no problems.

    My Forester weighs about 3120 lbs, so power/weight ratio is similar to yours.

  • hoo320hoo320 Member Posts: 46
    thanks Bob
    I am driving a Mazda tribute, which has only 200 hp, but it feels pretty quick. And it has pretty good MPG. I got around 19 MPG with 100% new york city driving. I also like the Mazda handling very much

    But, this car is extremely LOUD. I have to yell to my wife while on a highway.

    That is the main reason I want an Outback.

  • rshollandrsholland Member Posts: 19,788
    The best advice I can give is go drive one. Take it out on an extended test drive. I suspect you will be more than happy with it.

    Will it be as quick as you V6 Tribute? Hard to say. The power-to-weight ratio is probably pretty close to to one another.

  • hoo320hoo320 Member Posts: 46
    thanks for the advice.
    I really hate to go to dealer in NYC.
    I just can not get out the dealership without the hassle of the salesman.
  • bobdeebobdee Member Posts: 9
    My suggestion - Rent an Outback from a Hertz neighborhood location for a week. I felt more confident with my choice after the extended real-life experience on the roads I'm used to driving.
  • ebony5ebony5 Member Posts: 142
    A number of years ago I test drove an Outback on the Teconic at a dealership in Yorktown Heights. It is not too far from NYC. I just dropped in. I also understand your concern, because like xwesx I too have a '96 OBW which I think is underpowered for Thruway driving. But it only has 155hp. My advice is to head out of town and take a test drive on a road that will allow you to address your concerns.
  • satire2satire2 Member Posts: 22
    We have a 2006 turbo GT Legacy sedan and a standard 2.5 2006 Legacy wagon. The standard engine has adequate power for your needs, and gets surpisingly good gas mileage - 29 mpg in mostly empty backroad highway driving, using regular gas. The GT gets about 22 using premium.
  • jfljfl Member Posts: 1,396
    I second bobdee's suggestion of renting one. You might try for a weekend rate which is usually much cheaper. It typically runs from Thursday evening to Sunday or Monday.

  • terry92270terry92270 Member Posts: 1,247
    Yes, and AAA and AARP discounts are given! :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Yeah, the engine was boosted to 165hp for MY1997. Then they boosted torque from 162 to 166 lb-ft for MY2000. Power then crept up to 168, and now sits at 175hp.

    That's not bad, though models have gotten heavier.

    I drive a Miata with a whopping 116 hp (just 99 horses at the wheels on a good day!) and you just gotta anticipate passing situations.

  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Member Posts: 464
    I owned a 2001 Outback with a 4cyl/5sp trans for 60,000 miles and almost never found myself wanting for more power. I realize the new models are different than mine, but the power to weight ratio on the newer models are even better than they were in 2001. Even with a full load of gear on the roof and in the cargo area, the Outback would cruise happily all day long at 80mph. In the mountains, I would have to use 4th gear to pass slower moving vehicles, but overall the car was the most relaxed cruiser I ever owned. I traded it for a WRX wagon in 2003 and regretted that decision nearly every day...I'd buy another 4cyl Outback in a heartbeat!

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Really? You miss the OB?

    Funny, Hutch got a WRX and at the time he told me he missed his Forester.

    There's something about the utility of a basic Subaru.

  • subearusubearu Member Posts: 3,613
    Yeah, my '00 Outback was fine as well, and I stepped down from a Chevy full size pickup at that time. Sure, I missed the V8 engine note, but the 2.5 in the '00 was adequate. In fact, it revs well and was fairly well matched with the 4sp AT.

    However, I don't miss it and continue to love driving my '04 F-XT everyday. And sure, I may will miss its utility when I upgrade to a Legacy GT sedan at some point in '07/'08.

  • hoo320hoo320 Member Posts: 46
    I will go to yorktown and try it out. At the same time, more input from owners are appreciated.

    I think 4 cyl OBW will be a great car, well balanced in every aspect
  • satire2satire2 Member Posts: 22

    Yes, do try out the 4 cyl OBW.

    "Well balanced" is a very good way of putting it.

  • ebony5ebony5 Member Posts: 142
    Let us know what you think.
  • outbackboyoutbackboy Member Posts: 5
    I am the original owner of a 2003 outback 2.5L 4cyl 165hp. I think the engine is underpowered a bit especially when it comes to acceleration - I have to really rev the engine 4K to 6K rpms to keep up with traffic at times. I am glad I have a 5 speed manual trans so I can wind her up when I need to. I think the 0-60mph time is something like 12 secs, which is really poking along considering a turbo will do 0-60 in about 6 secs. However I tow a boat with it, and it does the job although on some steep ramps I will smell the clutch burning (an auto tranny may be better for towing). I have driven it on the beaches at Hatteras surf fishing (tire pressure must be dropped to 15psi) and have never stuck it in the sand, although the ground clearance is really not enough for the rutted and deep soft sand (but I've managed to always plow through). But I must say the AWD is quite tough and it has great traction in the sand. I know the AWD system is different for the auto vs manual so I think the manual tranny is better for offroad conditions. I also use the car for vacations 4 people, big dog, roof cargo box (packed), boat and trailer loaded and the little thing rides nice (don't win any drag races). All in all I am happy with the car - roomy, nice ride, 2000 lb towing cap, and good mileage 21-23 in town. I would have liked a 6cyl but they do not come with the manual trans, the turbos didn't come out until 05. I test drove a turbo outback/auto and man that thing flies! I think a turbo 5 speed would be a blast however I don't care for the idea of premium fuel either. Good luck with your purchase if I were you I would try all the engine tranny combo's before you decide.
  • larryaklarryak Member Posts: 18
    I have a 2000 Outback 2.5i with slush box. I would say that it's underpowered. 5 spd stick is probably a better choice. I recently had my car in the shop for repairs, had opportunity to dry 2 different '07 Outback 2.5i's (automatic) loaner cars. The first one had 400miles on it, felt very peppy compared to my car. The second car had 1800 miles, for some reason seemed slower.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Weird. Perhaps the 1800 mile one was driven more passively? The ECU is supposed to adjust to your driving style, but it takes a few tank fulls of gas.
  • larryaklarryak Member Posts: 18
    Yea, it was weird. But there was a definite difference between the two, primarily in how the transmission shifted. Perhaps it was the driving style.
  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,573
    I find this car quite peppy - definitely hits the <8.0 0-60 times if I want it to get up to speed that fast. With this car, I have had no "I need to get my truck out for a drive" urges. I never had any problems with the power of my '96 had, but were I to drive it today, it would definitely feel sluggish. All a matter of perspective, I suppose!

    Sometimes the gears will not sync, though, especially seems to happen shifting from 1st to 2nd. I usually shift as the revs are hitting 4000, and every so often the car acts like I forgot to press the clutch! With a release of the clutch and back to the floor, it slips right in. This is maybe a once every-other-week occurance, and, with about 400 miles per week, that is not overly frequent but will probably build up the wear as the car ages if it continues.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • shrinermonkeyshrinermonkey Member Posts: 58
    I have a 2006 2.5i SE Wagon with the 4 speed auto and I don't feel it is under powered (In 2006+ they made some modifications to the engine and boosted the HP to 175 vs 165 for previous years.) I would call it adequate, and certainly good enough for around town driving. I have never had a problem merging onto fast moving freeways, etc...and the excellent gas mileage for a somewhat heavy AWD cars is worth the trade off in power IMO.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Didn't Edmunds have a top 10 list of fuel efficient cars, and the 2.5i was one of the quickest in that group?
  • shrinermonkeyshrinermonkey Member Posts: 58
    The only lists that have Subarus are the top 10 most fuel efficient SUVs and Pickups (Subaru Baja and the Forester made it one year). Calling the Baja a pickup is a bit of a stretch.
    When compared to an SUV or most other wagons, my 2.5i Wagon gets very competitive mileage. I have been getting 24.3 in mixed driving (mostly city), better than my old unreliable 2001 VW Passat 1.8T Wagon.
  • mike205mike205 Member Posts: 3
    Have a '06 Legacy Wagon 2.5iSE with Automatic Transmission. Took it up to Quebec Eastern Townships shortly after having purchased it last summer. The acceleration was adequate but you will not be drag-racing with the car; had no trouble keeping up with the traffic on the interstate at all. I felt very secure with the AWD in a thunderstorm.

    A quibble and an observation. The quibble: The windshield wipers could not keep up with the thunderstorm cited above - I have had other cars where the wipers could keep up with the bad weather. The observation: My experience with city mpg (17 mpg) has not been as satisfactory as that of other respondents although highway (26 - 29) is perfectly satisfactory.
  • krzysskrzyss Member Posts: 849
    During thunderstorm it was tires not AWD that made you feel very secure.

    My experience with heavy downpour on interstate in 05 Legacy GT was "slow down I am hydroplanning". There was standing water and I noticed some people not being able to control their cars (car in the median).

    I do not even blame OE RE92s. I just slightly overrode their capabilities this day.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Try Rain X.

    I was just driving in a downpour in my new minivan and the wipers also could not keep up.

    Rain X should help, the water runs off all by itself. I still use the wipers, they just work better in unison.
  • hoo320hoo320 Member Posts: 46
    I did testdrive the 2.5i limited and 3.0R.
    I think it is underpowered. I really had to floor the pedal and heard the whinning of the engine when I was trying to merge.

    3.0R feels ok, but too expensive.

    I like the brake of 2.5i, but the engine is not as responsive as my tribute, which is a surprise for me. Because tribute only has 25 more horses and it is very peppy. I never had to floor the gas pedal. In a tribute, once you touch the pedal, you get acceleration within 0.1 seconds.

    However, the outback is much quieter than tribute.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Well, that is a V6. The OB would use a lot less gas.
  • hoo320hoo320 Member Posts: 46
    My tribute is not that bad.
    I can get about 18~19 mpg in 100% NYC city driving.
    On my longer HWY trip, i consistantly get 24~25 mpg.

    OB of course will do better especially in the city. I heard the average is 21/29
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    With my turbo legacy in NYC driving I am averaging about 20mpg and 28mpg on the highway. :)

  • jaffeejaffee Member Posts: 10
    Can someone clear up my confusion about the hp in this car? In some magazines, I have seen it listed as having 175hp but in the Subaru brochure, it lists 170hp. I would think that the brochure is accurate, but I keep reading about the car having 175hp. Thanks.
  • shrinermonkeyshrinermonkey Member Posts: 58
    The horsepower was 175 in 2006-2007, it dropped for 2008 either because of the new calculation method or probably because of some new emmissions modifications. It doesn't matter anyway because you would not notice it.
  • jaffeejaffee Member Posts: 10
    Ok. Thanks.
  • gsemikegsemike Member Posts: 2,238
    My wife wants an Outback so I'll be looking at pre-owned models, probably 2002/3. My friend has had a Legacy and a Forrester with the 4 cyl and he swears by them and says that they last forever.

    I know that the H6 will give me more power, but how does it stack up otherwise? How economical is it and can I expect the same reliability? Is there any trouble spots with the engine or car that I need to watch out for?

    How many HP is the H6 rated for? Does it require premium fuel.

    My wife doesn't expect much power but I want to be able to merge onto the highway without sweaty palms.

    Thanks in advance for your help.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    From my observations here on Edmunds the H6 has actually been better than the H4.

    Premium fuel is recommended, but not required. With the 2002 models, Subaru actually published output figure of 212hp with premium fuel and 208hp with regular fuel.

    So you should be fine.
  • jaffeejaffee Member Posts: 10
    The trade off with an H6 is that fuel economy isn't as good as an H4.

    Does anyone know if the PZEV models vary in fuel economy or power from the models that aren't PZEV?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Yes, for those model years I think they gave up something like 3hp. Almost negligable, in fact I doubt you would feel any difference.
  • shrinermonkeyshrinermonkey Member Posts: 58
    If the manual recommends a certain octane then use it. You will not only get less power but you will get less mpg so it ends up being a $$ wash. I have never understood people that put cheap gas in a car that needs premium just to save a few bucks a tankful and then end up paying for it latter in worse gas mileage and possibly even gunked up valves.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Here in Potomac premium costs about 10% more. I seriously doubt your mileage would drop by 10%. 3%? Sure. 10% no way.
  • gsemikegsemike Member Posts: 2,238
    If the 4 cyl requires regular and the 6 cyl requires premium, that will sway me towards the 4.
  • gearhead4gearhead4 Member Posts: 122
    The H6 was designed foer maximum output with high octane fuel, but is very drivable with lower octane fuel. If you need maximum output such as with towing or mountain driving, the extra power is necessary. But, for normal, conservative driving, the difference is minimal. I doubt the gas mileage difference would be detectable.
    That said, I would have to agree that saving 20 cents on a gallon of gas amounts top very little savings. 20/300 equals about 7% savings.
  • gearhead4gearhead4 Member Posts: 122
    I don't have any eperience with the Tribute, but the mileage figures you mentioned for the Outback 2.51 (4EAT) matches my experince. I get 21 mpg in the suburbs in winter and 29 mpg in continuous hiway driving. My overall average is about 23.
    I also agree with Consumers Union's experince with the 2006 Outback when they rated it as one of the 5 slowest cars they drove last year. I would say my Outback is one of the 5 slowest vehcles I have driven in my 35 years of driving. I blame the automatic tranmission and the electronic throtle control. What is interesting is that the Legacy 2.5i with a manual trans that I owned previously was much faster and more fuel efficient (24 to 31 mpg).
    I still like the 2.5i Outback. It is attactive, nimble, confortable and reasonably efficient, but it will never win any acceleration contests.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Premium is recommend, but not required.

    How much more does premium cost around you? Here it's a 24-30 cent difference per gallon.

    You could just use premium when you knew you were going to haul a lot of weight, such as when towing.
  • shrinermonkeyshrinermonkey Member Posts: 58
    Seriously, do what you want but I would not use low octane fuel in a high compression engine like the H6. With low octane you will get pre-detonation and pinging... this causes the computer to retard the spark, reducing the engines efficiency significantly. Constantly changing the fuel grade is going to cause havok with your fuel mappings. Like was said, premium is only about 25 cents more so just suck it up and save your engine some torture.
  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,573
    My '96 2.5L "required" premium, but I never put in anything other than 87 octane up until around 200,000 miles. At that point, I was noticing hesitation/pinging on a regular basis and nothing I did seemed to clear it up. 90 octane (premium around these parts!) eliminated both of those conditions, though gas mileage did not change noticeably. I used it for the last 20,000 miles I owned the car and would certainly still be using it today had the car not met its untimely end.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
This discussion has been closed.