Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Subaru Outback as good as they say?

We just bought our very first Subaru, a 2019 Outback Premium with extras.
Did we make the right decision? It was between this and a Mazda CX-5, which we also loved (esp. the look!) but we surprisingly liked driving the Outback better.

is there anything I need to know about this car?


Read the owners manual(s). There is much more to know about cars than used to be the case.

One thing that matters more in Subarus than in many other cars is to avoid having a tire that varies much in size from the others. For example, replacing a blown-out tire with a new one, while the other three have been worn. Even if the model and the nominal size of the new tire are the same as the other three, its larger diameter can damage the AWD system.

I, too, like a lot about Mazdas but I see far more Subarus here in Duluth, and the Mazdas I see often have a lot more rust than other cars of their age. The Subaru AWD system beat out Toyota’s and Honda’s in on-snow tests run by CR a couple years back.

Well I can’t answer that , only time will tell how you feel about the purchase.
The only thing I can say is keep records and have all service done at the proper time. I am in the minority here but I have all service done by the dealer while under the bumper to bumper warranty.

1 Like

I agree, especially with a Subaru it’s good to maintain it ‘by the book’ at the dealer. They are a bit more maintenance-intensive than some other cars, but folks love them.

Our family has had both Outbacks and also new CX-5. They are both great to drive. Don’t look back. Enjoy your Subie!

Knowing we would be moving from the South to a snowbelt state, we bought a new OB in 2016 (Limited w/Eyesight). At this point we have 30K on it and I am about 90% satisfied with it. Keep in mind I’m pretty critical and picky when it comes to vehicles - they are more than an appliance to me. We have had only one nagging issue, and that may have been remedied in the newer models: Starting from a stoplight there can be a noticeable flat spot in the acceleration, and no dealer has been able to permanently fix that. Have been told it is the lock-up torque converter, but I don’t buy that as I have been driving long enough to tell the difference. Interestingly, I’ve found that if I re-set the computer by disconnecting the battery for 15-20 minutes, the flat spot disappears for a few weeks.

Other than that, we have been happy. Very comfy ride, the Eyesight is great (mostly) and the quality of construction seems pretty good for current times. Gas mileage was outstanding at a steady 28.4 in mixed driving until I put on Michelin X-Ice snow tires and lost about 4 MPG! Will go back to lower rolling-resistance tires when the weather improves, of course. Incidentally, this car is unstoppable in snow.

One worrisome thing is that we received an unsolicited 100,000-mile warranty this year on the transmission. Evidentially there have been some problems. . .:face_with_raised_eyebrow: We will probably get rid of it before we run out the warranty, as repair is currently around $8K if we had to do it out of pocket.

One of the main things I like about the Subaru line is that they are engineered from the get-go to be AWD, not a converted 2WD vehicle. The boxer engine design has a low center of gravity and it placed in the vehicle to allow the best F-R balance. I think you will be very pleased, enjoy.

I think I’d rather have a car that I can stop in the snow :rofl::rofl::rofl::snowflake::snowflake::snowflake:

1 Like

CR compared the on-snow driving traction performance of Subaru, Toyota and Honda AWD systems and found Subaru’s significantly better than the others.

Don’t get into deep water (6") or so as the water will get sucked up into the charcoal canister, about $1500 to repair. Also, it is NOT an off road vehicle.

I would not worry one bit about transmission problems. Their transmissions are fine. Any problems that do occur are usually because of not servicing the transmission fluid often enough or someone botching an engine oil change by draining the transmission by mistake. Neither of those are the car’s fault.

As long as you maintain it by the book, you are good. May be you want to follow outback specific board to stay on top of any issue (subaruoutback org) Some are fanboys, ignore them but helps a lot when Subaru specific issue comes up.

2015 Forester here with 10 years/100K warranty. I hope I never have to use it but your tranny is fixed (AFAIK), so you are good.

I am currently driving my third Outback, and I wouldn’t have bought the second one if the first one hadn’t been very reliable. Needless to say, I wouldn’t have plunked-down the money for Outback #3 if Outback #2 hadn’t been even better than Outback #1.

Outback #3 is a 2011 model (manufactured in 2010), and it has needed the following repairs during the 8 years that I have owned it:
Replacement of the windshield washer reservoir–under warranty.

That’s it.
No other repairs have been needed over the past 8 years/90k+ miles.

Since 2014, OB’s have had a CVT. This site: as well as Forbes’ website has more info regarding reported troubles.

Also, regarding fluid changes, Subaru claims the CVT is “maintenance free” for the life of the vehicle. So maintaining it by the book means ignoring it. . .

Its not going to keep me awake at night, but I’ll stick with my limit of <100K miles during my ownership.

There hasn’t been much in the way of serious problems noted in the 17 and 18 model years as far as I can see. Reprogramming of the computers to improve the feel of the CVT (transmission), and adjustments to the brake pedal mostly. Even going several years further, still just the expected niggles you’ll get on any car, windshield wiper motor, A/T shifter linkage, squeaks, rattles, switch and sensor replacements, ABS codes caused by low battery voltage, stuff like that. Looks like a good selection. If you need to worry, focus your worries on driving safely and keeping the routine maintenance up to date. Some folks here seem to prefer the 4 banger vs the 6 banger engine for reliability I think, but either should prove ok.

While the 4-cylinder engines are good, Subaru’s sixes are essentially bulletproof.

I agree, and I find that baffling. I’d give much more thought to a Forester except for the engine oil use issues. Just when they (maybe) got the head gasket problem fixed, which should never have gone on as long as it did.

Well, that all sounds pretty good; we’ve had it for just over two weeks now and really like it so far. Couple of little things - like the fact that you still need an actual key to open doors and start the car (I had got very much used to the keyless thing with our Mazda!) and I dislike the hood opening - it is slow and sometimes won’t open all the way…I wish there was a way that I could get it to open without having to touch the door, and maybe there is but I haven’t found it yet? Tried hitting the button on the remote twice etc. but not opening on its own. I also thought it was going to warn me if I got close to an obstacle ahead of me - I haven’t noticed anything like that yet??
But I do love the way it handles, esp. going around bends etc. - feels very stable and the ride is super smooth!!!

If you have a remote why would you need a key to open the passenger and drivers door. Are you calling the rear hatch a hood ? And if it does not operate properly that is why you have a warranty.
I think you need to return to the dealer and find out what features you actually have on this vehicle.

I have a 2005 Outback. Overall it’s been good, but it is definitely higher maintenance than my 1993 Miata, by a long shot. As others have said, always make sure your four tires are essentially the same. It does great in the snow here in CO. I have had a few issues that are not uncommon with at least that era of Outbacks. The wiring harness going into the rear hatch was made with wires that are not up to the task of being bent back and forth too many times. I use the car to transport my dogs and the rear hatch sees lots of use. Several wires have broken and I have repaired them. Head gasket blew, had to be replaced. Other than that, it’s been largely expected things for a car with 120k miles on it.

Assuming you are referring to the hatch, check your manual regarding the power-open procedure. For ours, there is a “mermory” button on the dash that allows you to set the height it opens to, don’t know if you have that or not. The procedure has to be followed in order to get it to open to the same height consistently. Also on our remote, we have to hold the hatch button down for a few seconds in order for it to open, so I don’t know if that’s what the problem is with yours. I also am wondering why you need to use a key to open the doors if you have a remote??