The 2016 Subaru Outback is a crossover often found on the roads of Washington, which is why we took this wagon to its native environs (no, not the parking lot of Sound Publishing, where there are two more of it’s kind out of ten cars, but…) on dirt roads out by Mount Forgotten along Mountain Loop Highway.
In preparation, we filled a bag with some sandwich makings (the best kind of road-trip food) and a ton of water. Then we set out on the road to… pick up my favorite volun-told passenger and my best friend of 15 years, Britt, who obligingly tested out the back seats for us.
Sure, the Outback has a Harman Kardon stereo system with 12 speakers, which sounded great (how Subaru got the EyeSight system work with Bass bumping enough to shake the rearview, I dont know…engineers are crazy smart), but these kinds of trips are about the people you’re with not what’s on the stereo.
Ok, sometimes it’s about what’s on the stereo, but not this time. This time it was about family, friends and roads.
Eventually, the pavement ended and the bits we’d been waiting for began. The AWD came alive on the uneven surfaces and the 2.5L BOXER engine gave me a grin on the straightaways as 175hp sent gravel spinning off behind me.
Mount Forgotten loomed to the west, a stoic sentinel over the day. Looking up its massive sides, furred with pines and hosting clouds, was like looking back into the glacial past of the Pacific Northwest. Mountain Loop wound it’s way around Forgotten and other peaks, with even taller yet peaking through the trees in the east.
When there were clear sightlines, I enjoyed the paddle shifters; which are connected to Subaru’s Lineartronic continuously variable transmission. The transmission shifted responsively instead of glacially, like the timeframe that shaped the mountains around us.
The Outback could have handled much worse than what summer-time Mountain Loop Highway could throw at it. More than AWD, the Outback has a traction control system with hill descent control and the latest in safety technology.
Subaru’s EyeSight system features adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure and keeping assist, along with a sway warning; keeping everyone safe and in their lanes.
Though, there weren’t any lanes where we were.
Nestled into the comfortable and roomy interior, with more than enough space for our averaged 5-foot 7-inches of height, we left civilization in civilized fashion of the Outback. The interior was grey leather with dashes of brushed metal here and there. One didn’t feel like one was in a $26,995 crossover, but something a bit more expensive.
It may have been overcast and cold, but the forest was full of life; human life and animal life, alike. When Britt thought it was getting a bit cold, I reminded her the backseats were well heated. She didn’t so much mind the open windows after that and even spotted a wild beaver, though it disappeared into it’s dam before we could snap a picture.
We made many stops to just sit and listen to the forest, finding the tailgate, bumpers and hood more than comfortable places from which to view the world. And when we weren’t appreciating nature, we were being kind to it, averaging around 32 mpgs on the back roads.
We ate our sandwiches, made in the forest-kitchen that is the tailgate of the Outback. It was a shaded space to tailgate from as we listened to the Sauk River flow past. Then, we climbed around Outback-sized boulders resting along the riverbed and just let the world pass by.
Once we were nice and cold, we’d head back into the Outback and warm up with the heated seats, a heated steering wheel, the heater on and the windows down bringing the world inside to the warmth. It was heaven in a Subaru.
We enjoyed the land, we enjoyed each others conversation and we enjoyed the 2015 Subaru Outback.
Starting at $24,995 ($26,995 as tested), the Outback was cozy to sit in, the leather steering wheel felt alive with the sensation tires finding grip on the loose gravel road and it was warm even with the 50-degree weather of Washington mountains blasting inside. That’s a win in my book.
With Subaru’s eco-friendly presence, the Outback was the perfect vehicle for taking on Mountain Loop Highway, to meet-and-greet with Mount Forgotten and touch the clouds with Venetian Red Pearl paint.