2014 Subaru Outback: Seattle to San Francisco
A last look at the current version before the new Outback arrives later this year.
There’s an all-new Subaru Outback coming out later this year, so to take one last look at the outgoing model, I took one on a road trip from Seattle to San Francisco.
Arguably the first-ever crossover, the Outback provides SUV capability but still drives and feels like a car. Perfect for our road trip.
Traveling with my wife and 16-year-old daughter for five days meant I had a good amount of luggage. On top of that, my daughter was competing in a dance competition in San Francisco, which meant extra bags plus a dance dress that had to remain flat. We would be going through Sonoma on our trip, which of course meant I’d need to leave space for the inevitable wine purchase.
Plenty of space
The Outback swallowed all our luggage and computer bags with the cargo cover in place. With everything below the cargo cover, visibility wasn’t impaired and we didn’t have to worry about our luggage attracting attention when we left the car unattended.
Since we’d be spending several hours in the car, space for passengers was just as important as space for cargo. The rear seat had enough legroom that my daughter had no complaints, and as a teenager she tends to complain about everything. We were able to keep a small cooler and bag of snacks in the back seat without her feeling crowded.
On the road
Our Outback was equipped with the 2.5-liter 173-horsepower horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine and CVT transmission. While not a sporty combination — acceleration is rather weak — this combination was just fine on a road trip consisting of 99 percent highway driving.
Quick stop at Voodoo Donuts in Portland to refuel
My car was fully loaded with leather trim and all the amenities, including the Subaru’s optional EyeSight driver-assist system. The camera-based system powers Subaru's crash avoidance and lane-departure warning, but for daily use it is also used for the adaptive cruise control, which is a great feature for long freeway drives.
As we headed into the Siskiyou Mountains, heavy rain pelted the roads. The Outback felt solid and confident, even as we plowed through standing water at highway speeds.
However, I did discover a flaw with the Eyesight system. Since it is camera-based rather than radar-based like some other systems, its performance diminished as the rain came down harder and was unable to detect the vehicle in front. When we encountered large amounts of spray from other vehicles, the system shut down. This was a little disappointing, as low-visibility conditions are exactly when you might want a bit of assistance in avoiding a collision.
Made it to California
We arrived in Redding, Calif., after about 10 hours in the car, and I felt no road fatigue thanks to the great seats. They're extremely comfortable and supportive, and even after sitting in there for so many hours I wasn’t stiff or achy.
The next day we crossed the legendary Golden Gate Bridge, finally ending up in San Francisco.
Photo-op before crossing the Golden Gate into San Francisco.
Back to my daughter's Irish dance competition — or why I drove five days in the first place. She won first prize in her group and suddenly we had three trophies to pack in with everything else. There was still plenty of room, although one trophy was so large it needed its own seat.
The trip home was much quicker with no side trips for wine; however, we did make one last obligatory stop at In-N-Out Burger before leaving California.
Unlike the drive down, it rained most of the way home, but the Outback handled the inclement conditions with no stress on my part.
The smaller engine had to work pretty hard to get us through the mountains, and while it was always able to maintain our speed, it did hurt our fuel economy a bit. We totaled 1,712 miles, and average fuel economy was 25.6 mpg.
The Outback still makes a great road trip car even as the current generation is about to be replaced. We’re looking forward to see what’s in store for the new Outback when it arrives later this year.
A Subaru is #1 on my son's list as he graduates and heads for CO for college this fall.
Unfortunately, it's as hard to find a Subaru for a decent price as a 4wd Toyota Tacoma at a good price.....so he'll just take my 4wd F150 and leave with me his vehicle.
Be nice if Subi would build more each year...but they sure have done a good job with managing their numbers - and creating a lot of raving fans, lol. Maybe we'll get one new for him for graduation...we'll see down the road.
my family has owned a 05 subaru baja turbo since it was brand new in 05. we have had no problems of reliablility what so ever. it now has 153,000 hard miles of it towing way over the max towing rate and it still runs very well. its a very well built car considering im still driving it aver its been in 2 car accedents. i love my subarus and it would be very hard for me to get ride of mine
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