Editor-At-Large Ron Kiino took the long-term Outback on a fishing trip to California's Eastern Sierra and utilized the Subaru's 71.3 cubic feet of cargo for hauling two duffel bags, five rods, a couple pairs of waders and boots, two ice chests, and two float tubes.
"From the town of Bishop up to Mammoth Lakes, Highway 395 climbs nearly 4000 feet in elevation over a 40-mile stretch, a grade that separates the weak from the strong. At first, I left the Outback's CVT in Drive, just to see how the powertrain would respond. As CVTs tend to do, the Subaru's kept the revs nicely in the powerband, but I did need to come on and off throttle more than I liked. A quick grab of the left steering-wheel-mounted shift paddle, though, would drop the CVT into its fourth preset ratio ('fourth gear'), pushing the revs to around 4000 rpm and the speedometer to a comfortable 70 mph. I've climbed this grade spurring much more powerful engines at much higher speeds, but I can't say any has been more impressive than a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter flat-4 lugging 3600 pounds plus gear up an imposing hill at 70."
Near the town of June Lake, Kiino steered the Outback toward Grant Lake, a large body of water near Mono Lake. "The dirt road down to the shore presented me with a nasty set of offset divots the size of kiddie pools. I got out and assessed the situation. It didn't look easy at all and I didn't want to get stuck -- at all. I peered ahead and, parked near where I wanted to go, were two vehicles, a Toyota Tacoma and a Jeep Cherokee, both four-wheel-drives wearing off-road tires. Could the Outback with all-season highway Continentals make it? Ah, what the heck, I decided to find out. After some slow going and careful maneuvering, and maybe an underbody scrape or two, the Subaru found its way to the lakeshore. 'You made it down in that?' the Cherokee owner asked me."
| 2010 Subaru Outback |
| Months/miles in service || 10/22,650 |
| Avg econ/CO2 || 24.9 mpg/0.78 lb/mi |
| Unresolved problems || None |
| Maintenance cost || $512.40 (2 - oil change/inspection/rotate tires, replace engine and cabin air filters) |
| Normal-wear cost || $0 |