I like the firm seats and the leather interior. The seat heaters are something I could get used to in all of my cars. I don't like climate control in any of my cars.
The 23 mpg highway fuel economy is only obtainable with the air conditioning off. That seems a simple enough task, but the climate control ALWAYS turns on the air conditioning and one must manually hit the A/C button to turn it off each time the car is started or Auto is pressed. With the AC on, the best the car could get was 21.3 mpg. The best economy I've clocked is 27 mpg on a trip downhill from the mountains. 23 mpg is about typical for the highway, while 18.5 is more typical for the city driving I do.
The power is good, but this car doesn't have a hill brake. If starting from a very steep hill, there will be no extra power from the turbo available, so it can be a bit difficult to get going with the manual transmission. The brakes work well enough and the reliability of the turbo has been good so far. Cornering grip is good for a wagon, however, all of these Outbacks suffer from some odd handling characteristics. On slippery surfaces, the AWD is exceptional, except in the case where the rear end is on ice. Ice will cause the rear end to oscillate back and forth causing a white-knuckle moment. Long sweeping turns taken at speeds above 65 mph seem to cause a similar, but much less noticeable oscillation. I believe that these motions are called ghost-walking, or at least that will find similar complaints when searching the net.
Last update: Dec 7th, 2019