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2016 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited Update 4: A Great Photo Support Vehicle

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 12/7/2016 Motor Trend Staff
2016-Subaru-Outback-25i-Limited-front-three-quarter-in-motion-e1456333827991.jpg

Our 2016 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited has blown past 20,000 miles thanks to my urban adventures and its regular use as a photo support vehicle for our staff.

What makes it such an attractive vehicle for photo folks? Well, it schleps a lot in its 73.3-cubic-foot cargo hold with the seats down, it's great for what we call car-to-car photography. The load floor with the seats down is lower—29 inches off the ground—than many SUVs, so it's perfect for those nearly ground-level shots we get of moving cars' front ends. And that's despite having a ground clearance of 8.7 inches that laughs at some of the deep V-shaped gutters at street intersections around Los Angeles. Note: Our car-to-car photography is performed on closed courses by trained professionals. Do not attempt.

Of course if an ultra-low load floor is your top priority, you're better off with a minivan such as the Honda Odyssey (24.5 inches).

2017 Subaru Ooutback cargo space© Motor Trend Staff 2017 Subaru Ooutback cargo space

With all those miles, it was time for our second scheduled maintenance, the "minor service" of a synthetic-oil change, tire rotation, and inspection. The only cost was the short time waiting on the car at Subaru of Sherman Oaks. The actual wrenching was included in Subaru's two-year maintenance program.

I've mentioned the EyeSight system before in these updates, offering praise for its follow-distance-maintaining cruise control and the "vehicle ahead has moved" alert, among other features. But the Outback and some other autonomous systems also go through something that ranges from annoying to dangerous in the following scenario.

Say you're traveling behind a vehicle at highway speed with the auto-distance cruise control on. The car ahead of you brakes. EyeSight begins to slow your vehicle to match the speed of the car ahead. You see the lane to your left is relatively open, so you jump into it quickly.

And here's a difference between a human driver and a computer. The human driver would, most likely, jump on the gas to reaccelerate to the speed of traffic. The computer, however, takes an eternity (at least in traffic) to realize your lane is clear and decide to speed up again. If there is any approaching traffic closing from behind, the computer does not know it, which can present some tense moments.

I know that many will say, "That's not what the system was meant for." It's certainly what our testing director, Kim Reynolds, said. Kim noted that for a system to deal with such a situation, it would also need rearward- and rear-side-viewing radar or camera systems.

Maybe this is something that will be on the agenda for the next push forward in autonomous systems. But for now, it's occasionally harrowing, even as a result of driver overconfidence or error.

More on our long-term Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited here:

2016 Subaru Outback 25i Limited rear end© Motor Trend Staff 2016 Subaru Outback 25i Limited rear end
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