Exterior Design: *
It s often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder— as if an ugly person or object is OK if even one person finds it attractive. Oh please. While we re at it, the B9's rear resembles the face of a gigantic alien — which is only fitting. Other than its side profile, the B9 s best viewing angle is high Earth orbit.
I m not saying the B9 is slow, but I d rather hitch a lift with continental drift. Floor the SUV and there s a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. Where's the turbo?
The B9 s vented discs do an excellent job of reigning-in the SUV s considerable mass. Pedal feel errs on the squidgy side, and the stoppers will fade if used repeatedly in anger, but why in the world would you want to do that?
As you'd expect for such a portly people carrier, the B9 will crash when dropped into a pothole, but lesser surface imperfections are soaked-up with grace and dignity. With 8.4" of ground clearance, it wouldn't be my first choice for off-road forrays.
B9 by name, benign by nature. Body roll is surprisingly well-contained, and understeer only kicks-in when you re driving like a total loon. The variable, hydraulically-assisted rack and pinion steering is meatier and more precise than you d expect for an SUV (well done that brand). If the B9 had better/any throttle control and a blower, it would have given even the sportiest SUV s a decent run-for-the-money. It doesn t, so it doesn t.
The B9 s autobox swaps cogs smoothly enough— which is just as well considering how closely they re stacked. Fifth gear is ideal for long distance cruising — on the great plains of Kansas. Even though reasonably spirited drivers will never get out of their teens, the B9 is yet another lumbering leviathan geared for mileage rather than pleasure.
Our test car came with the $3800 DVD/sat nav system. The drop-down screen provided enough Shrekage to distract the way back kiddies from the fact that they'd lost all feeling in their legs, while the sat nav lives in The Kingdom of Far, Far Away. Although you waive your right to blame Subaru for anything ever whenever you start the SUV, you still can't enter nav info unless you're stopped.
Other than MP3 compatibility, there's nothing here to delight the gadgeteers.
If you're five alive, there's plenty of room for stuff. If you're seven up, there's no space, and everyone will scream.
Overall rating: *
[by Robert Farago]