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There Was Once a High-Performance Subaru Outback

Here’s something you might not have known: There was once a performance version of the Subaru Outback. Yes, the same beloved Subaru Outback that’s now known as simple, reliable family transportation — there was once a fast version of that.

It was called the Subaru Outback XT, and it came at a time when Subaru was offering high-performance versions of basically everything, presumably to make up for all those years when they stiffed us on fun variants of Subaru models. There was the WRX, there was a high-performance Forester XT, and there was the Outback XT, which really was a fast Outback.

The base-level Outback model at the time used a 2.5-liter flat four that made about 170 horsepower. That engine was fine — nothing more — but you could also opt for the Outback XT and get a turbo. That engine made 243 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque, which is not huge figures by today’s standards, but it is a healthy boost over the base-level 170 hp.

The really impressive thing about these Outback models is that Subaru also offered them with three pedals, which meant you could get a manual, high-performance Outback with a turbocharger. And the cool part is that it was actually fast, with period magazines showing a 0-to-60 mph time of around 6.2 seconds with these Outback models back in the day. That’s pretty quick for family transport, and it was lightning fast back then.

Unfortunately, these Outback models were rare even then, and they’re becoming especially hard to find today. Right now, there are only about 60 of these for sale on Autotrader across the US, and only about a dozen have the desired manual transmission. Still, it’s fun to think back to a time when you could get a truly fast Outback. Find a Subaru Outback for sale

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  1. I’ve got an 05 xt turbo. Timing belt popped and it bent a valve. Have a spare engine with good heads and turbo etc. Still runs but one cylinder is weak. Who wants it? I haven’t had time to get out right and hate to see it sitting. 575 737 B6B9. If you can’t tell, those are 8s and it’s in N new Mexico but could ship anywhere

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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