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Auto blogWed, 17 Apr 2013 14:59:00 EST
I will freely admit to struggling with why Subaru continues to stubbornly employ a boxer engine design while so few other automakers do the same. After all, with twice the number of cylinder heads and cams as a traditional inline four-cylinder engine, a boxer four is more complex, more expensive to manufacture and more cumbersome to service with few tangible benefits. Until recently, the company's engines struggled to meet the fuel economy numbers of its competitors while offering no real boon in horsepower or torque. Subaru seems to recognize I'm not the only one scratching my head.
In order to help us non-believers understand what's what, the company has employed a pair of mimes, a toy car and a few clay engines to demonstrate the folly of every other automaker on the planet. Subaru says the boxer offers up a lower center of gravity than either an inline four-cylinder engine or a V6, which I will gladly concede. The company also says the design offers up smoother operation.
I'll offer just two counterpoints here. First, an engine with a low center of gravity is excellent, but when vehicles like the Forester, XV Crosstrek and Outback boast more ground clearance than most mainstream SUVs, that argument flies out the window. Second, anyone who's spent any amount of time behind the wheel of a vehicle equipped with an inline four and then proceeded to move into one propelled by a boxer can tell you the latter has all of the idling manners of a small tractor. Check out the video below to see for yourself.
We're set to record Autoblog Podcast #344 tonight, joined by Doug DeMuro, author of Plays With Cars, formerly of Porsche Cars North America, and all-around swell guy. You can drop us your questions and comments via our Q&A module below, and we'll give them extra-diligent attention. Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so, and if you want to take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.
Discussion Topics for Autoblog Podcast Episode #344
The Subaru Legacy and Outback are the latest vehicles to be awarded the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's most prestigious safety title, Top Safety Pick+.
As we've explained many times before, this only applies vehicles that can score an "Acceptable" or "Good" rating on the five IIHS crash tests and earn at least a "Basic" rating for crash prevention systems.
In the Legacy's case, it totally aced IIHS's testing, earning "Good" scores on the small overlap, front moderate overlap, side impact, roof crush and rear impact tests, while also bringing home the top "Superior" rating for its optional EyeSight system.