Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited – 2008 Review: On the dash of our 2008 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited was a small cubby behind a little door, about where you’d find the navigation screen on more expensive models. Wait…more expensive than our nearly $30,000 test car? The nav’s absence – along with many other missing features usually common at this price – is part of this Subaru’s problem. Once a quirky take on the whole crossover concept, today the Outback has a tough time making a case for itself against competitors like the Honda CR-V, living up to its “Limited” nomenclature in ways Subaru probably didn’t intend.
What We Drove Our test car was a 2008 Subaru Outback 2.5i with the Limited package. An Outback with the automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive is $25,240 including the $645 destination charge. Our car’s Limited and VDC package added leather seating, a monstrous moonroof, upgraded audio system, dual-zone climate control, titanium-look trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and, obviously, Subaru’s Vehicle Stability Control. The package added $3,100 to the price. Individual options included a $212 cargo management system, $456 XM satellite radio and $304 worth of auto-dimming mirror and security package. The total came to $29,512.
As the base model, the 2.5i is equipped with Subaru’s base engine, a 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder mated to a willing four-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. With more than 3,400 pounds to haul around, the little 170-horsepower engine has its work cut out for it, and that, coupled with the transmission, probably accounts for the disappointing 19.8 mpg we got. Initial torque delivery is good, but it falls off quickly and you soon discover that maybe making the stretch to the turbocharged XT may have been worth the extra payment. It never feels strained, but it’s never very sprightly, either.