The Subaru Outback has been redesigned for 2005. Exteriors are sharper, more stylish, less boxy. More important, the new models are larger outside, and roomier in many dimensions inside. The interior design is more contemporary, more attractive, more comfortable and more luxurious than before. The cars are lighter and more stable than before. They handle well on winding roads, yet the ride is smooth and soft. The headlamps are higher tech, more upscale in appearance, and the lighting is better managed, with improved coverage. All come with a full complement of safety equipment, including curtain-style airbags and all-wheel drive. In short, these are terrific cars when the weather turns nasty and roads turn slippery. New to the Outback lineup is the XT, powered by a new, 250-horsepower, turbocharged intercooled four-cylinder engine. It's designed for people who like to drive. The engine surges with power at high rpm making the car fun to drive on winding mountain roads. The top models are still powered by a 3.0-liter flat six, but horsepower has been increased to 250. The six-cylinder delivers strong torque, giving it plenty of power on mountain roads without having to work at it. It's designed for people who like to travel, to get where they want to go with minimal fuss and bother, but want upscale trim and plenty of power. Continued is the base 2.5-liter flat four-cylinder engine, now with 168 horsepower, a slight increase over last year's base model. These are the most popular models due to their price point. They deliver adequate power but are geared more toward frugality and practicality than performance. The Outback offers slightly more ground clearance than the Legacy models and is better suited to gravel roads and deep snow. Yet the center of gravity has been lowered on the 2005 models for improved handling and safety. Wagons are most popular by far and are the best choice for venturing into the Outback with a load of outdoor gear, but there is a well-trimmed sedan available. The 2005 models cost more, and not just a little bit. But there's a good argument they're worth it.
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