Subaru Outback

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Subaru Outback

The 2010 Subaru Outback is debuted during the New York Auto Show in New York City.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Some automobile manufacturers are known for specific qualities and characteristics that their vehicles exude. Subaru vehicles have portrayed an adventurous and almost non-conformist persona for some time now. Their vehicle's intrepid personality comes partly from their standard all-wheel-drive systems on every model, the Outback being no exception.

The Outback was redesigned in 2010, making the current model one of the roomiest, tallest and biggest Outbacks to come off the Subaru assembly line. With improved ground clearance and over 71 cubic feet of cargo space, the Outback is ready to jump off-road and carry more camping equipment than some of the other crossovers in its class. Not to mention that it also won 2010 Motor Trend SUV of the Year as well.

The Outback is available in six different trim levels, which may seem too many options to choose from, but the variation in packages allows the base price to start at around $23,000 and builds up to $35,000 for all the fringe benefits. Buyers have a choice between a 2.4-liter four-cylinder boxer engine or a 3.5-liter flat six. The four-cylinder engine provides ample power when taking into account that the Outback is much lighter than the other crossover competition. Gone is the turbocharged version that some diehard Subaru fans may be used to seeing.

The Outback not only offers great cargo space and a lightweight build compared to its competition, but it also offers some of the best fuel efficiency as well [Source: Car Connection]. An optional continuously variable transmission, or CVT, 2.4-liter engine gets around 22 city and 29 highway miles per gallon (9.4 and 12.3 kilometers per liter). The 3.5-liter will see about 18 in the city and 25 highway miles per gallon (7.7 and 10.6 kilometers per liter) [source: Edmunds].

The Outback doesn't offer a third row seat like some other crossovers, so if you're looking to pile in more than a few kids, you may need to look at some of the other vehicles listed in this article. The Outback does come with a four-star crash-test safety rating for both front and side impact tests.

You can upgrade the Outback to include niceties like a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot for your laptop or a 440-watt Harmon-Kardon stereo system. Or you can enjoy some of the standard features like stability and traction control, which will come in handy when putting the AWD system to the test.

The Outback may be a difficult AWD crossover to beat, but there are few more on our list that deserve some attention as well. Go on to the next page for the next AWD crossover.

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