The Subaru Outback is a rugged, family-friendly station wagon that offers both passenger and cargo-friendly interiors, not to mention a plethora of tech features. Aside from being extremely practical and capable of getting you to most trailheads and camping sites, it's also more affordable than its closest rivals like the Volvo V60 Cross Country and the Audi A4 Allroad. However, given all its impressive specs, performance, and cutting-edge tech, you may be wondering how well the Subaru Outback handles in harsh winter conditions when it comes to driving on snowy and slippery icy roads. We've got the answer to this question provided in this guide!
The Subaru Outback is an excellent winter car and handles very well in snowy driving conditions. With Subaru's distinct standard Symmetrical AWD system, the Subaru Outback comes ready to navigate inclement weather, rutted, and even muddy roads. But that is just the starting point of the snow-bound capabilities of the Outback station wagon.
Fall and winter months can get brutal at times, preventing you from making commutes or traveling to and from family gatherings. But no matter the conditions, the Subaru Outback comes well equipped with all the features you want for snow and winter driving. Read on as we discuss more of the Subaru Outback's capabilities in the snow and how to use its all-wheel-drive system.
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Master Of The Snow
There is no doubt that the Subaru Outback is so popular in northern regions because of its all-wheel-drive system. The Outback is an efficient vehicle that can be used for multiple purposes. However, the Outback is a top choice for people who need an economical vehicle that can get them through even the worst of road conditions.
We highlight some of the Outback's essential features, which make it an outstanding winter vehicle:
Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
The Subaru Outback uses a great AWD system referred to as Symmetrical AWD. Compared to conventional AWD systems, the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system has the engine, transmission, and differentials mounted along the vehicle's centerline. This makes the force of the front/rear coupling to be raised, thereby enhancing the overall control of the drain train.
The Symmetrical AWD promises more traction on snow and ice by delivering power more evenly to all four wheels and helps prevent fishtailing when accelerating. The best thing about this feature is that it comes standard in all Subaru Outbacks. You have don't to dig deep into your pocket to enjoy the Outback's superior AWD.
Subaru's X-Mode traction control system
When snow and ice start to pile up, your Outback's tires may lose their grip and spin endlessly. The X-Mode system will take over in such conditions and provide the needed traction to overcome slick roads. The X-Mode comes standard on all Outbacks and features five different forms of control:
- Throttle – Serves the same purpose as the traditional Snow Modes by reducing throttle sensitivity and delivering enough torque.
- Transmission – Keeps the transmission in lower gears to ensure engine power is optimized.
- AWD – Constantly delivers power to both the rear and front wheels at all times.
- Vehicle Dynamics Control System (VDC) – Stops individual tires that are slipping.
- Hill Descent Control – Provide more stability and control when you approach an incline on trails.
By keeping wheelspin in check, the Outback's Traction Control system maintains the stability of the car on slippery roads.
Anti-Lock Braking System
Prevents the vehicle from skidding out of control when braking on hard or snowy surfaces.
Heated Mirrors, Windshield and Rear Glass, Seat, and Steering Wheel
Winter driving is more than just cruising through ditches full of snow. Keeping the driver warm, safe, and aware of their environment is just important during those snowy winter commutes. The Subaru Outback takes care of all of these. Its heated side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer enable drivers to view from every angle of the car.
Though a Remote Start feature does come as standard, your Subaru Outback can be fit as an aftermarket upgrade by the dealer. This feature allows you to start the engine and turn on the heaters to warm up the interior cabin before you get in the car.
How to Drive Subaru Outback in Snow?
Winter driving can be brutal depending on how the road is covered in snow, but if you have the Subaru Outback for the job, it's not that bad. To drive Subaru Outback in snow like a pro, follow these tricks and tips.
- Get your Subaru Outback to be serviced regularly at a nearby shop. Check the windshield washer fluid and freeze protection fluid levels, engine oil, and coolant level.
- Check into tires: tire pressure, chains, and tread condition.
- Carry a kit. Pack an extra coat, gloves, bring some water, or even remember to bring one or two blankets for you and your four-legged friend.
- Pre-check the weather conditions along your route.
Is Subaru Outback AWD Always On?
Yes, the Subaru AWD system, commonly known as Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, is always on. It's a permanent all-wheel-drive system that delivers power to all four wheels at all times. Conventional AWD systems often disconnect the rear or front axle when extra traction isn't needed.
When traction is lost, the system redirects extra power to slipping wheels. The Subaru Outback's AWD system, on the other hand, is always on, whether there's enough traction or not. It's also important to note that all models in the Subaru lineup, except the Subaru BRZ, are equipped with an AWD system as standard.
What is the Best Subaru For Winter Driving?
All Subaru vehicles include the Subaru Forester, Impreza, Subaru Crosstrek, Subaru Ascent, Subaru Outback, Subaru WRX STI, and Legacy good for driving in the snow. Among these Subaru models, the Subaru WRX STI is the best for winter driving. It can handle any including snowy roads, slippery roads, and other rugged conditions.
Honestly, you can't go wrong with any of the all-wheel-drive Subaru's when it comes to reliability when faced with snowy or icy roads. However, you will first need to decide what body style you would like and if you need more ground clearance or not. For example, the Subaru Legacy gets the best gas mileage, while the Subaru Outback and Forester have the highest ground clearance. Choosing which vehicle to go with will ultimately come down to your personal needs.
How Do You Drive AWD in the Snow?
Most vehicles that are equipped with AWD, like the Subaru Outback, handle very well in the snow. However, your car won't be able to handle the snowy and icy conditions if you mishandle the AWD system. With that in mind, here are four tricks to drive AWD in the snow.
- Before you embark on your winter driving expedition, it's a good idea to assess the driving conditions of the road. First, you must note that AWD works well in snow than on ice.
- Accelerate slowly when tires start to slip. A maximum speed of 40 miles per hour is ideal for driving in icy conditions. Never overcorrect the steering wheel when your car begins to slide.
- While AWD helps the car to stay straight when driving on snowy roads, it performs fairly when driving at high speeds. Therefore, you must be cautious when at high speeds.
- Minimize unnecessary and sudden stops. The AWD does not help bring a car to a halt, so you must apply brakes carefully to avoid sliding or skidding.
Do You Need Snow Tires With AWD?
Sure, you need a good set of winter tires when driving in snow. With all-wheel drive, snow tires are strongly recommended because they're made of special rubber compounds that grip the road better in extremely cold temperatures.
Snow tires also have deeper grooves and special tread patterns designed to dig through the snow and push it out underneath the tire. Of course, snow tires are only necessary for a vehicle like the Subaru Outback if you really need more traction. However, if you get a set of all-season tires, you should be fine in most harsh road conditions.
A few to no models are prepared and eager to hit the road when adventure calls than the legendary Subaru Outback. If you are looking for an economical car that does great in the snow, then the Subaru Outback won't let you down. However, that doesn't mean it is right for you. The best thing to do is a long test drive on both city and highway roads before making a buying decision.
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How does your Subaru Outback drive in the snow? Leave us a comment below!