2011 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited Review & Test Drive

Over the better part of two decades, Subaru has managed to have a vehicle that breaks away from the traditional wagon and SUV segment. Today, the all-new 2011 Outback continues that conventional trail, even on the rugged off-road path.

I had the opportunity to review the new 2011 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited. My test vehicle featured a robust 3.6-liter boxer 6-cylinder engine pumping out 256 horsepower and 247 ft-lbs of torque to all four wheels through Subaru’s unique symmetrical all-wheel-drive system.

I can remember the days of Paul Hogan’s Subaru Outback commercials making it seem as if the Outback was not just a road-going wagon but more of a capable on and off-roader, that just happens to be a car. For 2011, Subaru’s Outback has not swayed too far from that perfect formula. The new 2011 Outback has 6 different trim levels either with a 2.5-liter boxer 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder boxer engine both with an all-wheel-drive configuration. The Outback line starts with the base 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited and then gets a 6-cylinder in the 3.6R, 3.6R Premium, and 3.6R Limited trims.

My Outback 3.6R Limited was loaded up with a couple goodies such as a power moonroof and voice-activated navigation system. The 3.6R Outback gets a standard 5-speed automatic transmission while the 2.5 4-cylinder versions receive a rather lazy continuously variable auto. Having driven both the 2.5i Outback and my 3.6R Limited, I can easily say it is well worth the extra $1,000+ to step into the 3.6R over say a 2.5i Limited Outback. If you are like me and want to “explore” some off-road trails, then you want to have some extra oomph powering those four wheels.

Over the years, exterior styling on the Outback has been kept contemporary. The new 2011 Subaru Outback sports the same look from its redesign in 2010 with a front grill that is reminiscent from other current Subaru models. With 8.7 inches of ground clearance the handling suffers a bit on the road but is rather beneficial when you hit the off-road trails. The new 2011 Outback isn’t going to win any beauty pageant awards but I would not go as far as to call it ugly. What is good about the subtly-styled exterior is that you can fly under the radar, literally. Don’t ask me how I know, just go with it.

The new 2011 Subaru Outback has been stretched a bit to provide more interior room. Just like its exterior, the interior of the new 2011 Outback is somewhat bland with nothing to really excite you. Although, you could say the Outback’s interior is a bit more refined than its Forrester sibling. The dashboard cluster is bright and easy to read while the navigation system LCD screen, (also used for audio, climate, Bluetooth and integration controls), leaves a little to be wanted. For starters, the LCD could use a better resolution and the audio system is not very user-friendly or pleasing to the basic audiophile. Aside from those few shortcomings, the gadgetry does what it is supposed to even if the slow DVD-based navigation is not up to the standards of other hard drive-based systems.

A very large cabin, total of 139.7 cubic feet, gives all passengers ample headroom, legroom, and storage space. The large windows provide the driver with excellent visibility, while a comfortable seating position can easily be found. A towing capacity of 3000 pounds on my Outback 3.6R Limited is more than some small SUVs. The roof racks make sure you never run out of space for your “stuff” when making those long-haul road trips. The new Outback even has an under-floor rear cargo storage area big enough for several large laptops and other small items.

Just the name alone follows after the Australian Outback where you may meet the occasional Kangaroo on a rough terrain dirt-road. You want to have something that can get you to your destination and back in one piece.

After driving the new 2011 Outback on the road, it is safe to say the Outback is more of a crossover than a wagon. Not as rough around the edges as the smaller Subaru Forrester, the new 2011 Outback is much larger and worthy enough for treacherous terrain.

Gas mileage figures for my 2011 Outback 3.6R Limited came in at 18mpg city and 25mpg highway. I averaged about 22.5 mpg on my dirt-road and highway excursions.

Handling can be an issue especially with over 8 inches of ground clearance. The all-wheel-drive system combined with stability control kept things in check when the excessive body roll made the tires squeal going into sharp turns on pavement. A civilized driver should have no serious issues keeping the new Outback in line on the road.

The new Outback is not just for the “active lifestyle” folks; but for anyone who has a desire for a reliable, safe, roomy, and off-road capable car. The Outback is a great alterative to smaller SUV’s if you enjoy more of a car-factor. Moreover, anyone who lives in a snowy area can truly benefit from the new 2011 Subaru Outback. The as-tested price of my 2011 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited came in at $35,215. You can get a stripped base model Outback 2.5i for only $23,195.


Copyright: 2011 AutomotiveAddicts.com


  • Price: Base Outback 2.5i $23,195 / As-Tested Outback 3.6R Limited $35,215
  • Engine: 3.6-liter 6-cylinder boxer (horizontally opposed) 256 horsepower @ 6000 rpm / 247 ft-lbs. torque @ 4400 rpm
  • Total length: 188.2in.
  • Total width: 71.7in.
  • Total height: 65.7
  • Turning circle: 36.8ft.
  • Curb weight: 3,658lbs. FWD
  • Legroom: f/r-43.0/37.8in.
  • Headroom: f/r-40.8/39.3in.
  • EPA cargo: 71.3cu.ft.
  • EPA interior volume: 139.7 cu.ft
  • Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons
  • Maximum towing: 3,000lbs.
  • 0-60 mph: 7.5 seconds