For 2000-2002 Outback, H6 LL Bean, Ltd or VDC edition?

After getting the editions sorted for each year 2000-2002, and getting great recommendations from many forum members, I would only go with a 6 cylinder, and I definitely think either the LLB or Ltd 6 cylinder 2000-2002 or the VDC Ltd 6 cylinder 01-02 (VDC apparently wasn’t available in 00).

Wanted to ask:

1) What do people like about the LLB edition over the Ltd edition for 2000-2002?

2) Do you prefer the LLB 2000-2002 to the VDC Ltd edition 2001-2002?

3) I realize the VDC for these years commands a premium. Is it worth it?

4) If price were no limitation, would you go for the 2001-2002 VDC Ltd over the LLB and Ltd editions?

5) Does getting the LLB mean paying a premium just for the LL Bean name?

In the last day I’ve narrowed my choices to these model years and editions, and CarTalk has been a HUGE help. Thanks everyone for the great advice and information.

The LLB Edition came with different, two-tone leather upholstery, instead of the sold color leather upholstery in the VDC model–at least in '02 it was that way. Also, the LLB came with a limited-slip rear differential, whereas the VDC model came with VDC (naturally!).

Also, the VDC model came with the superior Variable Torque Distribution (VTD) drive system, which is different from the AWD system on all other Subaru models. When you hear about the necessity to put in a fuse in order to switch a Subaru to FWD when a temporary spare is mounted, this advisory does not apply to a Subaru with the VTD system, as it is not subject to the problems from mismatched tires that other Subaru models experience. Also, these vehicles have their “normal” torque split approximately 40% front and 60% rear–for better handling–instead of the usual Subaru mix of 60% front and 40% rear. In the event of slippery conditions, the VTD system varies the torque distribution as needed, just as with the cheaper Subaru AWD system, but it is more flexible in the way that it varies the torque split.

Another difference with the VDC model (at least in '02) was the audio system. The VDC at that time was the only vehicle on the road that came from the factory with the very high-end McIntosh audio system (not to be confused with Apple’s Macintosh trademark). Over the past few years, several friends have purchased cars with JBL audio systems and other high-end systems, yet they all admit that the McIntosh system in my '02 VDC is far superior in audio quality to theirs.

I can’t speak for the mix of features on any of the models after '02 except to add that for a year or so ('03 and possibly '04?) some Subaru models came with OnStar, as a result of Subaru’s short-lived relationship with GM. (Toyota bought out GM’s minority share of Fuji Heavy Industries a couple of years ago.)

So–now that I have confused you, I think that you need to examine these vehicles more closely to figure out the combinations and permutations of features which probably varied a bit from year to year. Regarding the VTD system, my best guess is that most Subaru owners are not even aware that they have this system, and the only way to see if a particular model is so equipped is to look for the “FWD fuse” holder under the hood, between the firewall and the strut tower on the passenger side. If there is no FWD fuse holder, then that means that the vehicle in question has the vastly superior VTD AWD system.

All-in-all, I suggest that you go for one of the 6 cylinder models, but in terms of which one, you will have to look really closely at them in order to determine what type of equipment they have and whether that equipment meets your needs.

Thanks VDCdriver, super helpful. After checking, and a few other forum posts, it seems that in at least 2001-2002, the VDC system was only available with the VDC Edition, which was a 6 cylinder. The other 6 cylinder was the LL Bean edition. Not sure about 03-04, have to check those years, but I think it’s likely the VDC system was only available with the VDC edition.

Do you think it’s possible during 03-04 non-VDC edition 6 cylinders had VDC as an option?

I hope it’s not too difficult to find VDC models in the area in which I’m looking for 01-02 and possibly 03-04.

As far as I know, the VDC system existed only on the models designated as VDC (i.e.–not the LLB or Ltd.) Once Subaru dropped the separate VDC model, that feature became an option on other models, as far as I know, but I am a bit hazy as to which year the separate VDC model ceased to exist.

The six cylinder engine began to be available on more models of the Outback as of…'03 or '04, IIRC–albeit possibly not in combination with VDC.

Now, VDC is available as an option on all Outbacks and on all Legacy sedans–except for the lowest-level stripped Legacy sedan–for something like $400.00, which is a bargain for the type of feature that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety called “the biggest advance in automotive safety in X years”.

Incidentally, VDC is simply Subaru’s terminology for that type of anti-skid system. Toyota (and others, I think) refer to it as VSC, and some other acronyms might exist with some companies.

If you don’t need AWD, get a four cylinder car and not a Subaru.

PDV–The OP previously informed us that he takes periodic trips into the mountains for skiing and other types of recreation. Note his screen name. If he perceives that he needs AWD, then he probably does, based on his experiences.