In America, Subaru’s sales were seeing a slump during the early 1990′s as the SUV was becoming ever more popular. Introduced in 1995, it was the Outback’s job to help revive sales. The Subaru Outback and its parts were typical Subaru, with a flat-head H6 engine (commonly referred to as a “boxer” engine) and all-wheel drive, but its target market and intended use were quite different from the usual Subaru offering.
Originally sold in the U.S. as a trim option for the Legacy known as the “Legacy Outback,” the first generation Outback was named for the remote area of Australia of the same name — meant to indicate the Outback’s reliability and ability to take on such rugged conditions — and had a “SUV look” about it in order to compete with better selling autos from the likes of the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Blazer, and so forth.
It was only a year later, however, that the Outback’s popularity — thanks, in part, to its better mileage than most SUV’s — was to become its own model, dropping its association with the Legacy and being given unique features such as a bumper with integrated driving lights, taller tires with aggressive treading, and higher clearance than other models.
This made the Outback a “crossover” vehicle, or a vehicle that was a cross between a car and an SUV, though not entirely either one of those. The Outback was heavily marketed to the SUV-seeking crowd which is where it found its greatest success.
To differentiate the Outback from the SUV, the 4-door model was referred to as an SUS (sport utility sedan) while the 5-door model was marketed as “the world’s first sport utility wagon,” or SUW. A third model, the Outback Sport, was based on the Impreza model.
A unique traction control system that directs power to wheels with the most traction when the system detects a slipping wheel or wheels is one of Subaru’s biggest selling points, so it’s no surprise that the Outback received this same traction control system as standard equipment on all models.
Changes between first generation and second generation Outbacks are largely unseen (aside from the obvious cosmetic differences of the exterior and interior design). For example, improvements were made to the traction control system, the braking system was improved, new features were added to the automatic transmission, and the engine’s horsepower and torque were increased.
Viewed by many consumers as a step backwards was the decision to no longer have fold-down rear seats that allowed for additional trunk space when needed.
Additional features added to the third-generation Outback include a beefed up transmission, and enlarged grill. The 4-cylinder model sports a PZEV (partial zero-emission vehicle) certification and also meets SULEV (super ultra low emission vehicle) standards.
Finding Subaru Outback Parts for the Do-It-Yourselfer
Being the only major auto manufacturer to use the boxer engine configuration makes finding Subaru Outback parts difficult. This means that shade-tree mechanics often need to visit the dealer to find parts they are needed, although some of the larger auto parts chains will carry a large selection of aftermarket parts.
SubaruPartsForYou (http://www.subarupartsforyou.com) offers OEM Subaru Outback parts online for convenience and reduced overhead, saving you money. The author, Art Gib, is a freelance writer.