2010 Subaru Outback

2010 Subaru Outback

Episode 2909
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

It was 1996 when Subaru decided to combine station wagon “garagability” with outdoorsy car-like utility.  The Legacy Outback became known as “the world’s first sport utility wagon” and helped launch a new category of vehicles called crossovers.  Since that time, mainstream crossovers have saturated the market, but the Outback has retained its unique and sporty wagon appeal, not to mention a growing fan base. 

For 2010, the Subaru Outback enters its fourth generation and undergoes a full redesign. While Legacy is no longer part of its name, the Outback still shares its new platform with the sedan. This 5-door is wider, taller, yet a hair shorter than before.  Wheelbase gains almost 3 inches to 107.9, yielding a larger interior.

And the new Outback isn’t just stouter, it’s more rugged-looking, while also taking cues from the new Legacy. The front end starts with a more upright grille, flanked by expressive-looking hawk-eye headlamps. On profile, scuff-resistant lower rocker moldings and body cladding further convey the Outback’s enhanced capability.

But this is no poser. With 16- and optional 17-inch wheels, ground clearance edges up to 8.7 inches, giving it more off-road potential than many crossover rivals. Up top are standard roof rails, with crossbars that swing into position only when needed, a segment first that helps minimize wind noise.

The body-colored D-Pillars help emphasize the new sectioned taillights, and give the Outback a more traditional rugged utility look than before.

Hands-down, this is the roomiest Outback cabin to date.  It’s also decidedly more upscale. Like Legacy, the dash is comprised of a variety of dissimilar shapes, well-drawn lines, and metallic trim. 

Controls are laid out in a smart, easy-to-use manner. Ditto the standard electronic parking brake with hill holder, the first among non-luxury crossovers. And, with green motoring in mind, there’s even a gauge for monitoring fuel economy.

Seats are nicely contoured and padded for a high level of comfort.  Our test 2.5i Limited had leather trim, 10-way power adjusters for the driver, as well as seat heat.  A tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio and cruise is now standard. This up-level tester also came with Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, and a 440-watt Harmon-Kardon audio system. Other available high-end amenities include voice-activated navigation, a rear-view camera, and a power moonroof.

The spacious rear seat makes ample room for three and offers a new recline feature. The 60/40 fold adds excellent versatility to the Outback’s abundant cargo space.  Room behind the 2nd row swells from 34.3 cubic feet to 71.3 with seats folded down.  That’s a gain of 6 cubes over last year, and more than a Jeep Grand Cherokee. A pair of all-wheel drive boxer powertrains are also shared with the new Legacy. 

Standard is a revised 2.5-liter single cam four-cylinder with i-Active valve lift, outputting a square 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. It pairs to either a six-speed manual or a CVT automatic.

The 3.6R adds the Tribeca’s 3.6-liter 6-cylinder powerplant.  This one sends 256 horses and 247 pound-feet through a 5-speed automatic.

Our 2.5 CVT generated Government Fuel Economy Ratings of 22 city/29 highway on regular gas.  We achieved the expected 24.7 in real world driving.

The Energy Impact Score is a modest 14.3 barrels of oil consumed per year, while its Carbon Footprint measures a tidy 7.7 annual tons of CO2.

The downside to this environmental awareness is the long 10.1 seconds needed to get to 60 miles per hour.  The quarter mile was equally painful at 17.8 seconds at 79 miles per hour.  You can feel the boxer’s torque, but the CVT acts like a fire blanket. 

The Outback sports a new double-wishbone rear suspension, and stability and traction control are now standard across the board. Still, handling is also no strong suit.  Softly sprung, there’s very little feedback through the chassis.  Steering is numb and lazy, and the high center of gravity results in lots of sway and body roll.

The Outback’s brakes are 4-wheel discs with ABS and new Brake Assist.  Stops averaged a longish 133 feet from 60 to zero. There was good stability, but the Outback still stops like a much larger vehicle.

Fortunately, what the Outback lacks in track performance, it more than makes up for with a smooth, comfortable ride. It’s nice and cushy for long road trips and extended commutes. Pricewise, the new Outback begins at $23,690 for the base 2.5i.  The 3.6R starts at $28,690.

The 2010 Subaru Outback returns with a bolder outer show, more utility-like practicality, and plenty of interior refinement.  It’s not much of a driver’s car, but it’s ideal for family carting and an outdoor lifestyle. Add in mid-twenties fuel economy, and the Outback becomes an excellent alternative to the conventional crossover-and the main reason, we believe, that Outback’s popularity is bound to keep growing. 



  • Engine: 2.5-Liter Single Cam Four-Cylinder
  • Horsepower: 170
  • Torque: 170 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 10.1 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 17.8 Seconds @ 79 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 133 Feet
  • EPA: 22 MPG City/ 29 MPG Highway
  • Mixed Loop: 24.7 MPG
  • Energy Impact: 14.3 Barrels Oil/Yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 7.7 Tons/Yr
2023 Mazda3

2023 Mazda3

Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better

Episode 4304
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.

The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.

Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.

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A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.

That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.

The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.

At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.

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While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.

Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.

Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!


As Tested

  • Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
  • Horsepower: 227 | 250
  • 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
  • Transmission: 6-speed auto
  • Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
  • EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined