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Mind giving a prospective buyer a brief rundown


IMHO, the standard Outback (my wife drives our 1998 4cyl 5spd) is an outstanding mix of space (hauling around our two 85lb greyhounds), durablility, practicality and economy (20-28mpg). With the 5-speed gearbox comes some rather short final-drive gearing, turning about 21mph per 1000rpm in fifth. In our hilly/mountainous geography, this is a plus, but on the freeway at 75mph, it tends to be a bit noisy. The all-wheel-drive system is very straight-forward (50-50 f/r torque split) and gives the car a pleasant rear-wheel-drive feel.

I drive an '02 LL Bean edition Outback with the H6-3.0 and 4spd e-auto gearbox. Same car dimensionally, save for a titch less headroom due to the sunroof. The 3-liter six is a wonderfully smooth and silky motor. With its fat, flat torque curve, it is deceptively quick under all road conditions and can easily pull its longer gearing (about 28mph/1000rpm) in fourth, also giving 20-27mpg. The AWD system is a little different, with torque transfer being modulated electronically, and includes a limited-slip diff at the rear. This Beaner is muy quiet at freeway speeds providing an encapsulated environment for listening to one's six favorite CD's on the 120w sound system. The auto-temp hvac system is a nice addition, too. I haven't let the hounds on the leather yet, and may not do so for some years to come.

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