SUBARU Outback & HONDA Civic
By Kelly Foss
The Subaru Outback recently has been enlarged and redone. There is a very broad array of vehicles claiming to be “crossovers”— most come from scaling down truck-based SUV’s. A few try to inflate their wagons and hatchbacks to qualify. Subaru has actually been there all along with its Outback wagon. The Outback is basically a ruggedized Legacy wagon. The 2011 model is bigger, more refined and more capable.
The newest Outback is about three inches longer both inside and out. The cabin is more voluminous and increased head room eliminates the sometimes cramped feeling. This car actually feels like its grown more than it really has. The way the Outback handles itself communicates a feeling of heft and substance.
Styling leans towards the handsome side. No one will label it cute. It’s intended to be nice-looking without forfeiting its utility creds. It’s well executed and presents itself in a serious and dignified way.
The Outback is offered in two models: the 2.5i and the 3.6R. The 2.5 is a 170 horsepower 4 cylinder engine and the 3.6 is a 6 cylinder with 256 horsepower. All Subaru engines are “flat” or horizontally opposed designs keeping weight low and reliability high. The 3.6 is best mated to a car of this substance and weight and has reserve power on tap. The price you pay for all this oomph, however, is an EPA rating of 18/25 mpg.
Consumer Reports rates the Outback as a very reliable vehicle. Reliability benefits owners while they drive the car and then rewards them again with higher resale value when its time to sell. A friend of mine who has a young family and a very heavy right foot has punished his Subaru constantly for about eight years now and it hasn’t let him down yet…that is truly a testament to the ruggedness of the vehicle.
With 8.6 inches of ground clearance, the Outback really can go almost anywhere. For comparison, a Jeep Patriot has 8 and a Jeep Wrangler has 10. Its Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive has been well-honed over the years to reinforce that persona. The car is totally happy doing regular city driving chores, but to really appreciate the capabilities of the car, you need to get it dirty every now and then.
The new Honda Civic is the ninth generation of one of the most successful brands on the planet. Even though it looks remarkably like the previous model, it is new. With each successive upgrade, the Civic becomes more and more refined. With the current changes in our automotive landscape, compact cars are no longer the “entry” vehicle. Now sub-compacts like the Honda Fit handle that responsibility. Consequently, the role that the Civic now plays has changed.
Auto manufacturers are beginning to offer more refined and heavily optioned compact cars. The public is driving smaller vehicles but that doesn’t mean they don’t want their gadgets and comforts. Therefore the new Civic offers an Eco Assist capability designed to help reduce your fuel consumption. USB audio is also now standard as is stability control. Voice-activated navigation is an available option with active traffic. Bluetooth now allows streaming audio. The iMID system lets you personalize your driving experience by allowing you to choose what you see on your in-dash display. You can even choose a background photo…your dog, your family, your dog, your house, your dog…you get to decide.
The new Civic now feels and acts like a miniature Accord. It is smoother, more refined, quieter and a larger-feeling car.
There are many Civic models offered! The coupe and sedan DX, LX and EX, Si coupe, Si sedan, Hybrid, HF and CNG. Though the starting price of the base DX is just over $15,000, to get air conditioning you have to get the LX which pushes the starting price to $17,800. All except the Si use the renewed and refreshed 1.8 liter 4 cylinder engine that now produces 140 horsepower. The base transmission is the 6-speed manual and a 5-speed automatic is also offered.
The Si is the performance variant. This year it sports a 2.4 liter 4 cylinder with 201 horsepower. The redline is reduced to only 7,000 rpm’s but overall performance is improved. It’s offered as either a coupe or a sedan.
The HF is the high fuel economy model. The HF squeezes every little bit of economy from the car and ups the highway mpg number from 39 to 41. The HF has become an upscale model with lots of equipment, an automatic transmission and an almost $20,000 price tag.
The CNG Civic is one of only a few consumer vehicles that runs on natural gas. Honda has stayed with this technology over the years and hopefully now it will pay off for them. Natural gas holds great hope as an automotive fuel. It’s cleaner, it’s inexpensive, it doesn’t need to be refined like gasoline. It’s also plentiful, with over a 100-year supply of it already documented domestically, therefore there’s no need to import it and it’s already piped into most of the homes in the country.
A hybrid version of the Civic will be introduced soon. The past Civic hybrids have performed very well and have proved to be very reliable. The new Civic hybrid has already been rated at 44 city and 44 highway mpg.
Just think of how efficient and cheap a Civic hybrid that ran on natural gas would be!
Visit www.MyCarData.com for more information on these models.