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Coloring Outside the Lines: 2003 Crossover Buyer's Guide
by Steve Siler

Subaru Outback Wagon - Character Counts
2003 Honda Pilot

Subaru has been in the crossover game longer than perhaps anybody (remember the Brat, anyone?), which explains why their products do so much so well in so many aspects. And no Subaru does all this as well as the Outback.

First, it is versatile. Its station wagon body carries a bunch of junk (as wagons are wont to do), while its appearance is morphed into a comfortable blend of car and SUV. It carries four adults with ease, and even the base comes with keyless entry, cruise control and power accessories. Limited and H6-3.0 models add leather seats, upgraded stereos, side air bags and a dual-panel moonroof that turns it into a sort of modern-day Vista Cruiser (big hit with the kids).

The Outback also goes well. Base Outbacks have a rather weak four-cylinder (165 hp), but any Outback that says H6-3.0 on it has a 212-hp six-cylinder engine that livens things up considerably. And of course, all Subarus have sophisticated all-wheel-drive systems, and the raised ride height makes light duty off-roading possible.

And finally, Subarus have character. Not many machines these days have personality. But there is something about Subarus, whether it is the Outback, the Legacy, the Impreza or the award-winning WRX, that resonates with their owners in a way that no other car seems able to match.