2010 Subaru Outback

A week after unveiling its bigger and better Legacy, Subaru is now letting the other shoe drop. Or should we say letting its hiking boot drop. Since 1994, the Outback has been the Legacy's rough-and-tumble alter ego. Their Indiana Jones to the Legacy's tweedy Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr. And like Harrison Ford himself, the Outback has gained in both savvy and physical size since his swashbuckling debut, though neither one appears to be any less willing to tackle genuine adventure.

As with the Legacy's architecture, the 2010 Outback has swelled in size. Its wheelbase has added 2.8 inches, it's been widened by 2.0 inches, and its height has been elevated by 4.0 inches. The consequence is an interior that's ballooned by 8 cubic feet of passenger room (up 7.6 percent), while cargo volume (with folded rear seats) is up 8.4 cubic feet. Aging whip-crackers will appreciate its additional 3.5 inches of front hip room (1.3 in the back) and 4 extra inches of rear legroom in which to straighten arthritic knees. Although the Outback's overall length has actually contracted by nearly an inch, those gains in width and height give it a much more imposing visual presence.

As the Legacy and Outback share much sheetmetal in common, the styling of either one has always been a delicate compromise. In this case, we think the Outback has gotten the better end of the deal; here, the thick eye-browed wheel arches, wide-eyed headlamps, and general musculature, make a lot more sense. Adding to this wagon-ized Legacy's bodywork are such bush-whacking filigree as a toothy lower front valance, side rocker cladding, and a standard roof rack featuring pivoting cross bars which either link the side rails or fold back to reduce wind resistance and aero-noise. Underneath, ground clearance has risen to a lofty 8.7-inches.