2010 Outback - they wrecked it!

Was at the Subie dealer today (ransoming my old 2002), and saw the new Outback design. Besides making a sleek car look ugly, they have wrecked the rack!!

The new rails have nifty crossbars that swivel out of the airstream when not in use. The problem - you get a whole 30" of bar spread - no more. I can’t see a way of attaching aftermarket bars with any more spread. Maybe Thule will come up with something - I hope.

Sniff - Alan

One Solution

– Last Updated: Jul-31-09 3:09 PM EST –

I don't understand that mentality either. I really don't think car designers "get it" when it comes to the difference between a good rack and a bad rack. Seems like the luck of the draw, whether they come up with anything useful. For a long time, Subaru had pretty good racks, and it seems strange that they would make such a change.

Anyway, what you can do is mount your Thule or Yakima clamps and crossbars as far apart as you can. Then, connect the ends of the crossbars with lengthwise bars which extend as far forward and rearward as you'd like. Then, attach new cross bars to the ends of these lengthwise bars. In theory, within the strength limits of the materials you use, you can get as much spread between front and rear cross bars as you want. The problem is that yawing forces imposed on the boat by highway-speed wind will induce a lot more stress on the attachment points of the factory rack (the greater the spread between attachment points of the factory rack, the less of this type of stress they will experience). That may or may not be something to worry about.

Edit: I realized later that this thing about increasing the stress on roof mounts is not quite true. If the boat is solidly attached to the rack, it's the length of the boat that determines the stress, regardless of bar spacing, but on short-spaced bars the boat is more likely to slip a bit, providing some cushioning against sudden wind loads, but that's not good for the boat. What IS true is that you reduce the stress applied to the mounting points of your boat with increased bar spread, meaning the boat will "stay put" more firmly with less severe tightening of the tie-downs if the bars are farther apart, and any lift or yaw imposed on the boat will result in less stress on the boat itself (that's why long delicate boats are best carried on widely spaced crossbars).

There's a guy in my town who carrys a long, fragile racing canoe with an apparatus of this type. His front cross bar is not very far behind his front bumper, and the rear cross bar is over his rear bumper. That's a lot of spread!!! He also has a few diagonal braces to keep the whole thing rigid and squared-up. It is something he bought somewhere (sort of looks like a Yakima as I drive by him), but if it were me, I'd built it myself and probably retain about two-weeks' pay!

wow, you weren’t lying!
I like the 1993 camry sedan I’m getting way better.

It was possible, back in the day ('97)
to get towers and clips, the same ones used for the sedan, to mount up front of the factory rack. Back then it wasn’t necessary, but possibly it can be done now. Just check what’s offered for the 2010 Legacy sedan.

While I am a fan of fore-and-aft bars solidly connecting rack bars, I don’t recommend using Yakima tubes to do it. They are just too damn heavy, and they aren’t wildly strong for their weight.

Well its unfortunate about the rack - any good news about the rest of the vehicle? I read something that its even more roomy and has better road clearance.

The whole transport thing seems hard in general. I read all the threads and reviews and it seems most people have to tweak and modify many of the Thule, Yakima etc. racks out there regardless - we aren’t all able or happy about having to do that (well ok, at least I’m not).

In a station wagon format, increasing
the ground clearance doesn’t mean all that it could. A vehicle with a somewhat shorter wheelbase like the Forester will deal with very lumpy roads better than the Outback. I think they should have stopped with a reasonable amount of ground clearance, like on our '97. Further increases in ground clearance have an unavoidable bad effect on emergency handling, never a strong suit in Outbacks anyway.

New Outback
I did not get to open the doors or sit inside, but the overall design looked taller, half way between the 2009 Outback and the new Forester. It brings the Outback closer to being a real SUV, rather than a squashed one. Not a good thing in my book. I opted for the Outback in '02 because it was lower for boat loading and had more horizontal room behind the back seat.

The rails on top extend as far fore and aft as the earlier models, but most of that span is useless. The rails are solid in front and back, with around 30" open, where aftermarket bars could be attached. It did not look like bars could be attached anywhere but in that open area. Maybe I’ll be surprised and find that a cover comes off and reveals bar attachment space…

Does it say something about our paddling addictions when we look at a vehicle first as a boat hauler?


don’t you want to point out
that this is on the wrong forum?

Sometimes I leave it to you.

Another two cents worth
My husband and I looked at the 2010 Outback ourselves last week, and ditto the disappoint expressed by others. Subaru doesn’t need another SUV-like vehicle! We feel that the “former” station wagon filled a special niche for paddlers that don’t want or have trouble with the added height of an SUV. We played around with the swivel roof rack, and besides the 30" space between crossbars, the entire side rail assembly seemed flimsy to us. We left with the impression that Subaru was just trying to get trendy with gimics, when they already had a proven model in the past. It’s curious, too, because the dealer from whom we bought our Outback wagon a few years back, was very interested in why, as paddlers, we and other members in our local paddling group all chose the Outback over the Forester. Now, unfortunately, Subaru just lost a loyal customer…

I Agree
With you - the new Outbacks just don’t look right. I’m glad my 2005 still has a lot of life in her, because I don’t evern plan on trading her in for any of the newer models.


2010 Outback
I guess I’ll be driving my 2000 Legacy wagon(low to the ground) for a couple more years as it only has 165K on the clock I really don’t worry about scratching it any more.

Now just another SUV

– Last Updated: Jul-31-09 10:41 AM EST –

Yup, they ruined the Outback wagon. We saw a new one about a month ago and noted the roof rack. I asked a salesman how it worked and if he knew of Yakima or Thule racks for it and he did not know the answer to either.

I would appreciate more room inside than Celia's 2007, but not additional height because of boat loading. But as a company with such strong identification with the ACA, it seems particularly odd they did not retain a rack system useful for carrying boats...

Wondering about the new Toyota wagon?
I think it’s the Venza? We haven’t taken an in-person look, but have it on the “look over” list to replace the Sable wagon. We figured that the new Subie wagon with more space might work until we saw the rack…


– Last Updated: Jul-31-09 11:14 AM EST –

Why not the new Forester? (Mileage is not great like the Outback due to AWD.)

To replace the Sable…
Probably need a vehicle with more room than in the Forester. For our really long trips with lots of boat stuff, we can’t manage it all in the current Outback.

There is Hyundai Elantra wagon as well.

Forester vs. Venza
I’m pretty sure the Forester will have more room than the Venza. Certainly more useful cargo space. It is amazing what I can stuff into it.


It’s unfortunate, but except for the Impreza line, it looks as if Subaru is abandoning its niche market and is chasing after Toyota and Honda. They’ve “upgraded” the Forester so as to compete with the Rav4 and CRV. Now it’s way too big and tall for me. And I bet it won’t be long before they ditch the Forester’s manual transmission. Gotta make my '05 last forever, I guess.

Damn, bigger and taller is NOT always better. And it’s sad to hear that they’ve gone the way of useless racks, too.

Gnatcatcher (5’3", falls off stepladders)

All Subys are AWD now I believe
The Forester has essentially the same platform as the Outback, and gets similar mileage. ANd it has great roof rails.