Okay, the buff magazines (and presumably the public) have carped long enough: Subaru has seen the light and will for the first time offer a 6-cyl. engine for its segment-defining Legacy Outback line.

Despite gradually pulling up the horses in its 2.2L and later 2.5L I-4s from an original 135 hp to 165 hp, it just wasn't enough for the throbbing U.S. market. So Subaru relents and fits the Outback H6-3.0 VDC (more on that acronym in a sec) and L.L. Bean Edition with a cammy new 3L DOHC horizontally opposed 6-cyl. that develops a game 212 hp.

Subaru plans to charge dearly for the privilege of the same type of powerplant until now only offered by Porsche: a rather blatant $29,990 for the L.L. Bean and a truly blatant $32,390 for the H6-3.0 VDC, which is fitted not only with Subaru's standard all-wheel drive but also the company's first stability control system - VDC, for Vehicle Dynamic Control.

Dang, we like this car - even if the lazy 4-speed automatic takes a while to realize there're now six pots out front - but 30-grand-plus is pushing it, proving that Subaru owners' deep loyalty must run all the way through the pants and to the wallet. Subaru, we'll be watching closely, `cause you're asking Audi money - but sticking with a lot of cheesy plastic molding.

Kiss those more-money-than-sense yuppies as they come through the door, because anybody with any sense wouldn't pay 30-large for a Subaru (remember the SVX? We'll bet your floorplanner still does). The new 6-cyl. engine is a great addition, but we predict price will be an issue. Another great brand trying to mess itself up with delusions of grandeur.