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Discussion Starter #1
Thoughts on your choice?

We have been running Subarus for almost two decades and truly love them, currently we have a 2018 3.6 Touring
But after getting rid of our last pickup about a year ago we miss not having a bed
So we've been tossing around the idea of replacing an Outback with a Ridgeline

So does anyone here have any firsthand experience & thoughts on making the swap from OB to RL?

Our driving is typically about:
60% city/highway/mountain blacktop
20% forest service roads
10% desert trails
10% unimproved
From about 5500' up to 10000'

My biggest concern from crawling around them in dealer lots is the clearance and lack of protection
We run F&R skid plates on the OB and scrape, drag them regularly, nothing too crazy but they show scars

Thanks :)
 

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I own a Forester but not an RL yet. Clearance and undercarriage protection are RL limitations. Front skid plates are available for the RL from two aftermarket companies (Burtman and Jsport). I believe Burtman is a forum sponsor who also offers a rear skid plate. Body lifts up to 2.0" are also available but do some research on various threads before you go down that road. Forum searches should yield plenty of information and opinions.

IIRC, your OB has 0.8" more centerline ground clearance than the RL (measured without skid plates) and probably a better angle of approach, so I think you will notice the difference. The RL is significantly wider and longer than the OB, so maneuverability on trails and unimproved roads will be less with the truck.
 

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I went from an 06 Outback to a 13 Outback to my 17 RL.

I live at 8400' elevation in Colorado and commute to 5400' and back daily. I drive in a wide range of adverse conditions.

In the years I've driven here and owned Outbacks, I had never gotten stuck once. Within two weeks of owning the RL, I managed to get stuck twice trying to get up my driveway. My drive is STEEP. over 30 degree slope, bumpy, dirt. And we had 2' of snow on the ground. I believe the issue was one of ground clearance and not having enough weight over the back axle.

Outside of that experience, I find the RL can go anywhere my OBs went. The RL has less ground clearance but that's never really an issue for me as I haven't needed 10" of clearance for any of my driving.

The OB was nicer In the corners due to being a lighter vehicle. Gas mileage was way better on the OB and the seat heaters actually warmed my butt.

That said, I wouldn't go back. Both my Outbacks effectively totaled themselves well before their lifespan should have ended. The first with head gaskets and other issues, the 2013 had a CVT failure which is a $7k replacement.

Im beyond happy with the RL (my first Honda) and wont be going back to Subaru anytime soon.
 

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Front skid plates are available for the RL from two aftermarket companies (Burtman and Jsport)
There is at least one more skid plate vendor. Also, it's aluminum.

 

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Thoughts on your choice?

We have been running Subarus for almost two decades and truly love them, currently we have a 2018 3.6 Touring
But after getting rid of our last pickup about a year ago we miss not having a bed
So we've been tossing around the idea of replacing an Outback with a Ridgeline

So does anyone here have any firsthand experience & thoughts on making the swap from OB to RL?

Our driving is typically about:
60% city/highway/mountain blacktop
20% forest service roads
10% desert trails
10% unimproved
From about 5500' up to 10000'

My biggest concern from crawling around them in dealer lots is the clearance and lack of protection
We run F&R skid plates on the OB and scrape, drag them regularly, nothing too crazy but they show scars

Thanks :)
I purchased an off-lease 2017 RTL-E earlier this year and kept my 2012 Outback, which is what my wife now drives. Loved the Outback, and love the RL. The OB has skid plates but never really needed them, and my driving is similar to yours. I considered another OB - this one with the 6 cyl motor, but ultimately really missed having a truck. What I don't miss about the OB is the rather anemic 4 cyl motor, and while I have hauled all kinds of stuff in the OB, you can't beat a truck for such duties. And the RL is such a pleasure to drive - and especially so since I installed a S-VCM muzzler on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I purchased an off-lease 2017 RTL-E earlier this year and kept my 2012 Outback, which is what my wife now drives. Loved the Outback, and love the RL. The OB has skid plates but never really needed them, and my driving is similar to yours. I considered another OB - this one with the 6 cyl motor, but ultimately really missed having a truck. What I don't miss about the OB is the rather anemic 4 cyl motor, and while I have hauled all kinds of stuff in the OB, you can't beat a truck for such duties. And the RL is such a pleasure to drive - and especially so since I installed a S-VCM muzzler on it.
That actually brings up my second concern about switching...
While the RL does have +20hp over the OB... it also weighs about 600# more
And on top of that, the RL has about 6% less torque

Even around town we see over a 1000ft elevation range
Many of the place we go on the weekends we see 4-5 times that on steep FSR grades & trails

BTW
Subaru has ditched the 6-cyl, which is what we have in our limited now (3.6l) and its been awesome
But two cylinders have now been replaced with a turbo, better MPG, more HP/T, less weight
If we stay with an OB we will be getting a 2020 Onyx which comes standard with the turbo motor

We love Subies and have had great luck with them, including killer resale $$$
We just miss the bed and ride height of a truck, thinking the RL may be a good compromise
Currently waiting on local Honda dealers to start getting in 2020's and see if that helps us decide
 

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That actually brings up my second concern about switching...
While the RL does have +20hp over the OB... it also weighs about 600# more
And on top of that, the RL has about 6% less torque

Even around town we see over a 1000ft elevation range
Many of the place we go on the weekends we see 4-5 times that on steep FSR grades & trails

BTW
Subaru has ditched the 6-cyl, which is what we have in our limited now (3.6l) and its been awesome
But two cylinders have now been replaced with a turbo, better MPG, more HP/T, less weight
If we stay with an OB we will be getting a 2020 Onyx which comes standard with the turbo motor

We love Subies and have had great luck with them, including killer resale $$$
We just miss the bed and ride height of a truck, thinking the RL may be a good compromise
Currently waiting on local Honda dealers to start getting in 2020's and see if that helps us decide
What do you think of the CVT trannies in the Subies?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
What do you think of the CVT trannies in the Subies?
The one in our previous Forrester (old gen, not current) was like a rubber band
You would step on the gas and wait for the trans to say:
"Oh, you want to go................................................now?"
On hot days it would also smell like burning rubber after lengthy steep grades
But it never gave us any trouble

The one in our current 2018 OB Touring has none of those issues whatsoever
 

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I was going back and forth between them before buying the Ridgeline. I tow, but not heavy weight (pwc and motorcycles) and the OB with the 2.4L DIT has enough towing capability to meet my needs. The two things that stopped me, or I should say the main 2 things, were the CVT and the iPad screen in the new OB. I loathe CVT's and didn't care for the Ipad. I like to be able to upgrade the radio over time and that was a deal killer for me. CVT's is one thing I was Subaru would change but they are deadset on them. Plus I wanted a bed for house duties, in-bed trunk for firearm storage, the tri-zone climate control for my K9, and I just like the motor/6spd combination in the Ridgeline. I'm a Subaru guy myself, and have owned them, an STi, etc. But they've had a lot of motor issues in recent years and lots of recalls. It's killing the profits currently, all the recall and warranty work. But I still like them very much, despite all the current issues. What was the nail was the torque vectoring AWD system in the Ridgeline. I had a similar AWD system in my Focus RS, and it's incredible for handling. It's been every bit as impressive in this truck. I've had it out in floods and it cuts right through it. It's one of the better awd systems on the market, and more sophisticated than anything Subaru currently produces. The AWD system in the Ridgeline does not get the credit it deserves in my opinion.

I still like the OB though, despite my issues with it, as I love wagons and hatchbacks. They are my favorite body styles. And Subaru is king in the industry as it pertains to resale value. With that 2.4L DIT, that's a solid car. At your elevations a boosted motor may be more beneficial but I think the V6 should be plenty. I definitely see the pros and cons to both and that's a real hard decision. Good thing is, I don't think you can go wrong either way. My only advice would to be to demand to both mfr's local dealers, that you take extended test drives in both, and do some of your normal elevation driving. It's a lot of money either way and the dealer should let you do what you want to earn your money. Test driving both on back to back days over the same roads, same elevations, might help you decide better. Best of luck on your decision and welcome to the ROC.
 

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I went from an ‘05 Baja (turbo, A/T) to a ‘13 Ridgeline. They’re somewhat different animals, but the closest two vehicles to each other of anything on the market.

The Ridgeline is bigger, roomier, and more comfortable than the Baja (that’s a pickup version of an Outback), though not massively. It also has a bigger bed, of course dramatically more storage space and flexibility due to the under-bed trunk, and it’ll comfortably tow twice as much.

The fuel economy was basically a push, but the turbo Baja required premium gasoline.

The later turbo A/T Bajas used possibly the best AWD system Subaru had ever used up to that time, and it was superior in all respects to the Ridgeline’s system.

I used the Baja and use the Ridgeline as a hunting vehicle, and they were similarly good at dealing with 4WD-only Forest Service roads. I give the nod to the Baja because of its AWD system, but the Ridge does quite well. Both vehicles have FAR too much overhang to be great off-road, but they’re good.

I don’t have a comparison to the current Ridgeline other than that I’ve test-driven a couple. I think my Gen 1 has better interior room (especially in the back seat) and better access to the back.

I don’t suppose you’ll be unhappy with a Ridgeline instead of an Outback, assuming a pickup rather than a station wagon is okay with you.
 

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I didn't own an 2020 Outback XT, but it's what I was originally looking at before I bought my Ridgeline. Here are a few reasons I ended up with the Ridgeline instead.

1. The truck bed. Yeah, I could get a roof rack for the outback carry a bunch of stuff on top, but with the Ridgeline I can throw it in the back and I can also get a roof rack later if I need to! So way more utility.

2. Engine. I've had a turbocharged 4-cylinder before, and knowing that turbos can fail and how expensive they are to replace, I kinda didn't want one again. Even though they do make awesome torque. And get better fuel economy on the highway. The V6 in the Ridgeline just made sense from a dependability standpoint. Naturally aspirated is more straightforward, and will hopefully be easier to work on in the future.

3. Transmission and towing. Ideally, CVTs are the way to go. But technically they aren't there yet. They seem to have some problems still, and they are really expensive to repair. The CVT in the Outback is also what limits its towing capacity. You only get 3,500lbs with the outback. If you want 5,000lbs, you have to step up to the Ascent which gains a transmission cooler (that comes standard on the AWD Ridgeline) which then allows you to tow 5,000lbs. But even though the Ascent and Outback are supposed to share the same drivetrain, that cooler simply isn't available on the Outback.

4. AWD system. I know there will be people out there with anecdotal evidence to tell me I'm wrong, but by design the Ridgeline AWD system is far superior. The Outback is FWD until it loses traction, and then the back comes alive. It also has open differentials in the front and rear, meaning power goes to the wheel with the least resistance. This means a wheel has to lose traction before it can brake that wheel and send power elsewhere. On the Ridgeline, it is AWD all the time. And with active torque vectoring, it can send power to different wheels before they lose traction. It can also over drive the rear (it can take 70% of the available torque) versus the Outback which is limited to 50%.

Obviously how they're programmed can make or break and AWD system, but mechanically the Ridgeline is far superior.

5. Infotainment. Subaru is clearly very proud of their new, 11.8-inch Tesla-like display, but one thing they forgot to copy over from Tesla is responsiveness. I know there are two processors in it and it's supposed to be snappy, but when using it I could feel how slow it was. Add in that you need to use the touchscreen for everything including climate control and seat warmers, and I couldn't do it. On my test drives it was what I hated the most. I want real, responsive buttons for the things I'm touching while driving.

6. Remote Start. This is a smaller one, but I think it's stupid you need an app for this on the Outback. Sure, you can do it from across the country or even world as long as you car and the phone the app is on have reception, but you need to pay a subscription for that and what if you don't have reception? You're out of luck. Sure, you can buy a remote-start key fob that works in the conventional way, but it's over $400 and now you have to carry two key fobs! The Ridgeline comes standard with Remote start on the regular key fob and I didn't have to pay extra for it. Plus it does work from pretty far away.



Now, there are some things the Outback has that I didn't get on my Ridgeline and I though I'd miss.

1. Full-LED headlights. The Ridgeline only comes with LED low-beams, which is so stupid. I thouuh for sure they'd give the full-LED treatment for 2020 but I was wrong. You can't even get it on the top trim, when all Outback XT models get full-LED headlights that are also steering-responsive. It was pretty easy to throw some LED bulbs into the high-beams and fog lights on the Ridgeline (I recommend Philips LED lights. There very expensive but they're the best I've found and I run them on every one of my vehicles) and now my Ridgeline is full-LED.

2. Heated rear seats and cooled front seats. I was looking at the XT Touring trim of the Outback and those cooled seats were mighty appealing. Not even an option on the US Ridgeline.

3. Ground clearance. It's less than an inch difference between the two, but Ridgeline had a longer wheelbase and so this affects clearance (brakeover clearance) more. Come on Honda, it's a truck! You can make it a bit higher. Or at least offer some engine/transmission and differential protection like Subaru does.



Anyway, I love my Ridgeline and am so glad I got it instead of the Outback. I was looking at fully-loaded models on each so the MSRP was similar on the two, but since I got a leftover 2019 Ridgeline I got a huge discount that I wouldn't have gotten on the Outback XT. Even though I didn't own the Outback, I hope this helped.
 

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The AWD analysis is incorrect. The Ridgeline is a FWD that has the ability to apply pressure to clutches in the rear end when the computer detects 'too much' wheel slip. This is conceptually very similar to what Subaru has used in many of its A/T vehicles for decades.
 

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I own a 2017 Ridgeline and a 2018 Outback 3.6R. We really like both vehicles. My son always chides me about the limited ground clearance on the Ridgeline.

Personally, I don't think we could ever choose between the two and narrow it down to one. The Outback does not have enough space for hauling "stuff." Just this week, my wife purchased five matching bookcases on Craigslist. The Outback could only hold one, but we managed to fit the other four in the Ridgeline.

The second row seating is much more comfortable in the Outback, as the seats recline slightly. The heated second row is a nice touch in the Outback. We own the Outback Limited and I really have trouble seeing even with the LED headlights on the Outback. The HID's I put on the Ridgeline provide a much better driving experience at night.

The driving dynamics on mountain roads are not that much different, but I do like the "manual" shifting on the Outback CVT for going down hills. When driving through 4-6" of snow in Breckenridge, CO both vehicles performed adequately, but it seemed like the Outback was pushing the snow rather than driving through it.

The choice you have to make is a difficult one and I am glad I don't have to make it. I like both vehicles.
book.jpg
book1.jpg
 

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