Best Subaru Outback Years And Years to Avoid | Complete Guide

While searching about the best Subaru Outback years, it’s important to know which ones are the cream of the crop and which ones might leave you disappointed. I have found the years 2023, 2022, 2021, 2009, and 2005 among the best, according to the owner’s reviews and studying their history. But there are also some Subaru Outback years to avoid, which have been discussed in the post.

Along with the best and worst years, this post also covers some other useful information. So stay tuned with us and join this journey.

What Are The Subaru Outback Best Year?

While searching for the best years for Subaru Outback, opinions may differ. There is no denying that the models given below deserve some special attention. These eras marked a turning point for iconic vehicles, bringing together all the qualities that make them so popular: reliability, performance, and versatility. These Outbacks were equipped with competent engines that offered enough power to easily tackle city streets and off-road adventures.

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2023 Subaru Outback

The 2023 Subaru Outback has recently been recognized as the Best Midsize SUV of the year by Kelley Blue Book, an authority in automotive reviews. This well-deserved award highlights the Outback’s winning combination of ruggedness and sophistication.

Some noticeable features include:

  • This Subaru equipped with a remarkable 8.7 inches of ground clearance, this exceptional SUV can easily conquer even the most challenging terrains.
  • Powerful and efficient engine options, including a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an available turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine.
  • Spacious and comfortable interior with seating for up to five passengers and ample cargo space of up to 75.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.
Best Subaru Outback Years
  • Advanced safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic emergency braking enhance the vehicle’s safety.
  • User-friendly infotainment system with a responsive touchscreen interface, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto integration, and available built-in navigation.
  • Fuel efficiency is a standout feature, with the Outback offering up to 26 mpg to 33 mpg.
  • Regarding safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not issued any recalls for this model, providing peace of mind for potential buyers.
  • A few consumer complaints have been filed against the Outback, with 23 complaints reported to NHTSA.
  • Jd Power’s consumer ratings for the 2023 Subaru Outback come in at 79 out of 100, indicating high satisfaction among owners.

2022 Subaru Outback

The 2022 Subaru Outback is an upgraded version of the redesigned 2020 model. It retains its identical appearance but comes with improved functionality. This SUV offers ample space, providing a comfortable and luxurious experience with plush seats and a soundproof cabin. The doors have been expertly crafted to open and close effortlessly, making users comfortable.

Some other noticeable features include:

Best Subaru Outback Years 2022
  • This version equipped with an efficient engine, it achieves impressive fuel economy ratings to keep you on the road for longer.
  • Customers who have purchased this vehicle have given it predominantly outstanding reviews, praising its performance and overall satisfaction.
  • The 2022 Subaru Outback has two engine options: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a more powerful 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
  • Regarding fuel efficiency, it delivers an impressive range of 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported two Outback model recalls and received 247 complaints.
  • Consumer reviews from Edmunds give the vehicle a rating of 3.5 out of 5.0 stars.
  • J.D. Power provides the Outback with a 79 out of 100 consumer rating.

2021 Subaru Outback

This Outback outperforms its predecessor in terms of ride quality, handling, and reduced road noise thanks to its revamped platform design. One of the standout features of the new Outback is its comfortable cabin, which offers plush seating and ample space for both passengers and cargo.

Safety is a top priority for Subaru, and the 2021 Outback comes packed with a range of built-in safety features to ensure a relaxed and secure driving experience.

Some more noticeable features include:

Best Subaru Outback Years 2021
  • The adaptability of the model is the key selling point. Whether you need it for your daily commute or off-road adventures, the Outback can effortlessly handle various terrains and weather conditions.
  • The 2021 Subaru Outback model provides customers two engine options: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a more powerful 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
  • The Subaru Outback offers impressive ratings for fuel efficiency, achieving approximately 26 to 33 mpg.
  • Regarding safety and reliability, it’s important to note that the NHTSA issued two recalls for this model. There have been a total of 183 complaints registered with this organization.
  • Based on consumer feedback, the 2021 Subaru Outback holds a respectable overall rating of 3.8 out of 5.0 on Edmunds, indicating positive customer satisfaction. Expert reviews on Edmunds give it a score of 7.6 out of 10.
  • Jd Power provides further insights into consumer ratings for the Outback, with an average score of 77 out of 100 obtained from customer surveys.

2009 Subaru Outback

The 2009 Subaru Outback was a hit among consumers due to its significant improvements over previous models. This version successfully addressed various complaints that had been made about earlier versions of the car.

One major improvement was the upgraded engine, which provided more power and better performance on the road. Some other features include:

Best Subaru Outback Years 2009
  • Subaru introduced the Turbocharger XT for the 2009 Outback, boasting an impressive horsepower output of 250.
  • Subaru focused on increasing the lifespan of this model compared to its competitors, making it a reliable choice for long-term ownership.
  • The 2009 Subaru Outback allows customers to choose between two engine options: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a more powerful 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine.
  • Both engines offer drivers the perfect balance of performance and fuel efficiency, as the Outback can achieve up to 20 mpg in the city and an impressive 26 mpg on the highway.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported 14 recalls associated with the 2009 Subaru Outback model, indicating potential issues that the manufacturer has addressed.
  • This model has received consumer feedback, reflected in its high ratings across multiple platforms. Edmunds consumer reviews currently rate it at a solid 4.4 out of 5.0 stars, while Jd Power’s consumer ratings give it an overall score of 79 out of 100.

2005 Subaru Outback

This Subaru Outback comes with a range of standard equipment; its plush seating ensures a comfortable driving experience, while the all-wheel drive system provides excellent traction on various terrains. The automated gearbox simplifies shifting gears, making it easy for drivers to navigate different driving conditions.

Some noticeable features include:

Best Subaru Outback Years 2005
  • Outback offers better maneuverability, allowing drivers to take on rough roads and obstacles confidently.
  • The 2005 Subaru Outback offers two engine options: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine.
  • Regarding fuel efficiency, this vehicle provides an average of 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
  • According to the NHTSA, nine recalls have been reported for this model, along with 269 complaints.
  • Consumer reviews on Edmunds rate the 2005 Subaru Outback at an impressive 4.5 out of 5.0 stars.

2003 and 2004 Subaru Outback

Despite being older, the Subaru Outback offers several advantages:

Fuel Efficiency: These Outback models boast impressive fuel efficiency, making them ideal for daily commuting and long drives without breaking the bank at the gas station.

Minimal Budget Friendly: If you’re on a tight budget, these model years provide an affordable option with high value for the price. They are often priced lower than newer models but still deliver excellent performance.

Straightforward Design: The 2003 and 2004 Outback’s design is simple yet functional. Its clean lines and user-friendly layout offer a no-frills driving experience that focuses on practicality.

Best Subaru Outback Years

Potent Engine: Under the hood, these Subaru Outbacks feature powerful engines that deliver reliability and performance. Their robust engines ensure a smooth ride and ample power for various driving situations.

All-Wheel Drive Capability: A signature feature of Subaru vehicles is their all-wheel drive system, providing enhanced traction and stability on different road conditions – perfect for adventurous road trips or handling inclement weather.

Spacious Interior: The interior of these model years offers plenty of space for passengers and cargo. Whether you have a large family or need to transport bulky items, the Outback can accommodate your needs comfortably.

Solid Safety Record: Subaru has maintained a reputation as one of the safest automakers over the years, and this holds for the 2003-2004 Outbacks. These models boast top-notch safety features to protect drivers and passengers.

What are Some of The Subaru Outback Years To Avoid?

Till now, what was discussed was, the best years for Subaru Outback, but there are a few model years that have gained notoriety for their reliability concerns. Here are these:

2010 Subaru Outback

The 2010 Subaru Outback, specifically the Model 74,000, was part of the Takata recall due to its inclusion of potentially dangerous airbags. Aside from this safety concern, the vehicle faced various other notable issues. Customers reported problems such as broken brake lines and engines that occasionally fail to start.

Oil leaks were also discovered in specific units. It appears that along with the Takata airbag recall, various mechanical complications plagued the 2010 Subaru Outback Model 74,000.

The 2010 Subaru Outback had numerous quality control issues that resulted in several avoidable flaws slipping through:

  • Some of these flaws were problems with the steering wheel, engine, and headlights.
  • Many owners reported experiencing vibration while driving, which could be attributed to poor alignment or wheel balancing during manufacturing.
  • The vehicle also tended to stall unexpectedly, causing inconvenience and potential safety concerns for drivers.
  • Transmission noise was another common issue, indicating subpar construction or faulty components that should have been caught during quality control checks.
  • Head gasket failure was prevalent among owners, leading to costly repairs and significant inconvenience.

2011 Subaru Outback

This vehicle is from the fourth generation of the Outback lineup and has, unfortunately, garnered a reputation as one of the worst releases by the firm. This model has faced numerous complaints from both customers and the NHSTA. Compared to its predecessor, it came with even greater issues that drew the attention of many frustrated owners who resorted to reporting them to the NHTSA.

One recurring problem was the headlights and bulbs frequently failing in this Outback model. When these vital components malfunctioned, it often led to a complete loss of lighting during nighttime or adverse weather conditions. Such failures compromised driver visibility and posed serious safety risks on the road.

Some other failures include:

  • The 2011 Subaru Outback faces transmission jerking and failure.
  • This model year was also part of the Takata airbag recall.
  • Another concern with this vehicle was stalling while braking or stopping, posing a significant safety hazard.
  • Many owners reported experiencing shuddering while driving, which could be disconcerting and affect the overall driving experience.
  • The problematic Takata airbags installed in these vehicles presented a potentially life-threatening situation upon deployment.
  • Instead of protecting occupants, these defective airbags would explode, sending metal fragments flying throughout the car’s interior.
  • Due to these significant problems, many owners had to deal with costly repairs and recalls to address these reliability and safety issues.

2013 Subaru Outback

This Subaru Outback faced criticism due to a significant issue with its engine, resulting in undesirable outcomes for the company. The primary concern revolved around its engine’s insatiable appetite for oil, causing distress among owners. This flaw led to legal disputes against Subaru, primarily due to faulty piston rings triggering various engine-related troubles.

Numerous instances were reported where the engine failed after covering a distance of 78,000 miles or during high-speed travel on highways such as interstates. These incidents caused severe inconvenience and dissatisfaction among numerous drivers invested in this model.

Some other issues include:

  • Two prevalent problems were related to steering and transmission within these vehicles.
  • Subaru took responsibility for resolving these issues and paid for a lawsuit dismissed.
  • Affected customers were compensated for any inconvenience caused by these problems.
  • The first commonly reported problem was excessive oil consumption, creating worries about engine performance and maintenance costs.
  • Another frequent issue involved transmission failure, which caused unexpected breakdowns or difficulties in shifting gears.

2014 Subaru Outback

Subaru, driven by the desire to rectify previous underwhelming offerings, felt immense pressure to create a vehicle that would exceed expectations. Regrettably, their efforts fell short with the release of the flawed 2014 model.

One issue with the 2014 Subaru Outback revolved around its brake pads. Owners quickly discovered that these vital components had been manufactured using low-quality materials. Consequently, they wore out far more rapidly than anticipated, necessitating replacement well before the standard maintenance interval. Some more issues were found; have a look at them:

  • One of the most common problems experienced by owners is excessive oil consumption, which can lead to engine damage and costly repairs.
  • Vibration is another issue that occurs when accelerating, causing discomfort and potential safety hazards.
  • Subaru’s inability to accurately diagnose and rectify the cause of these vibrations has left owners frustrated and dissatisfied.
  • Many drivers have reported experiencing shuddering sensations between gears while driving their 2014 Outbacks.
  • These constant vibrations and shudders diminish the driving experience and raise concerns about long-term durability.

2017 Subaru Outback

The 2017 Subaru Outback model faced persistent battery troubles. Regrettably, the engine often refused to start due to sudden battery failure. The vehicle exhibited a worrisome vulnerability in the form of an exceedingly fragile windshield.

An alarming characteristic of this windshield was its propensity to crack inexplicably and with minimal exertion. Walks in the rain posed a significant risk as even a shower could shatter it into pieces, exemplifying its inferior quality. Have a look at some other issues that arose during this version of Subaru:

  • One major issue plaguing this model year was the frequent freezing and malfunctioning of the interior touchscreen, rendering it unusable.
  • Overall, this particular model year of the Outback left much to be desired and could be considered rather disappointing.
  • Some common problems reported by owners included dead batteries, which could leave drivers stranded unexpectedly.
  • Many owners also complained about cracked windshields, which impacted visibility and required costly repairs or replacements.
  • Excessive coolant use was another notable problem in this model year, forcing owners to regularly top up their coolant levels or potentially risk overheating the engine.

2019 Subaru Outback

One particularly notable problem of the 2019 Subaru Outback is the fragility of its windshield. Recognizing the significance of this issue, Subaru took the matter to court to address the concerns raised by consumers. Fortunately, a resolution was achieved, albeit not until the production of the following year’s model.

This delay may have left some owners frustrated and inconvenienced, but it ultimately ensured that a solution would be implemented to fix the windshield problem. Despite this setback, it is worth noting that other areas of the 2019 Outback generally performed well, displaying the reliability and durability usually associated with Subaru vehicles. Some other faults are:

  • There are sudden development of cracks, dents, or scratches on the windshields of these vehicles.
  • Some drivers have encountered electrical problems with their Outbacks, which may require a visit to a nearby repair shop for resolution.
  • One common electrical issue that Outback owners faces is the occurrence of dead batteries that need replacing.

2020 Subaru Outback

The 2020 Subaru Outback, released just recently, unfortunately, falls into the category of worst-performing vehicles. Despite its hype and anticipation, this year’s model was quite flawed, with a few recurring issues plaguing its overall performance. One of the primary concerns centered around the windshield – a problem that persisted throughout this edition’s second and final year. Owners frequently reported cracked or chipped windshields, leading to costly repairs and replacements.

Another fault was premature wear on the vehicle’s speed control system. This problematic issue resulted in unexpected fluctuations in speed and difficulty maintaining a consistent pace while driving. It posed safety risks and caused considerable frustration among drivers who expected better reliability from Subaru’s flagship crossover SUV.

Common Problems with the 2020 Subaru Outback include:

Cracked Windshield: Many owners have reported issues with windshields cracking easily, often due to rocks or debris hitting the glass while driving. This can be a costly issue to fix and compromises visibility.

Battery Failure: Some drivers have experienced unexpected battery failures, leaving them stranded or unable to start their vehicle. This can be an inconvenience and may require towing or jump-starting the car.

Dead Battery: Several owners have complained about frequently encountering dead batteries, even in relatively new vehicles. This problem can be frustrating and requires regular battery maintenance or replacement.

Common Subaru Outback Issues

As rugged and reliable as the Subaru Outback may be, it’s not immune to its fair share of common issues. Here are some of these, which are also discussed above shortly.

Common Subaru Outback Issues


One of the potential reasons behind this problem is an out-of-balance tire. As tires wear down over time, they can become imbalanced, leading to vibrations felt through the steering wheel or seats. It’s crucial to address this issue promptly by having your tires rotated and balanced regularly to ensure a smooth ride.

Another source of vibration in Subaru Outbacks could be worn suspension components. Over time, the shocks and struts in your vehicle can lose their ability to absorb road imperfections effectively, resulting in excessive vibrations. Regular inspections and maintenance can help detect any early signs of wear and prevent costly repairs.

AC System

Subaru Outback owners know their vehicle is built to handle various terrains and weather conditions. But, like any car, the AC system in these vehicles may encounter some issues over time. One common problem reported by Subaru Outback owners is weak or inadequate airflow from the vents when the AC is on. This can make driving uncomfortable during hot summer months or in humid climates.

Another prevalent issue faced by Subaru Outback drivers is the presence of strange odors coming from the AC system. These odors can range from musty and moldy to unpleasantly sweet or sour-smelling. While there are several potential causes for these odors, one possibility may be microbial growth within the AC system due to moisture accumulation.

O2 Sensor

The O2 sensor is a crucial component of the Subaru Outback’s engine system, responsible for measuring the oxygen levels in the exhaust gases. Like any other part, it can face issues that affect the vehicle’s performance. One common problem is sensor contamination due to carbon buildup, leading to inaccurate readings and reduced fuel efficiency. Another issue is sensor degradation over time, resulting in slower response times and potentially triggering false warning lights on the dashboard.

Weak Windshields

Many owners have complained about windshield cracks and chips appearing far too easily, leaving them with hefty repair bills. One possible reason behind this weakness could lie in the design of the windshield itself.

Unlike other vehicles on the market, Subaru Outbacks employ a curved windshield extending to the roofline. While this design may enhance aerodynamics and improve fuel efficiency, it is also more susceptible to cracks and chips due to increased exposure to debris on the road.

Excessive Oil Consumption

Excessive oil consumption is a prevalent issue among Subaru Outback owners. Although Subaru has tried to address the problem, many drivers still constantly replenish their oil levels. This excessive oil consumption not only leads to inconvenience and added expenses but it also raises concerns about potential engine damage.

Failure of the Cooling System

The primary reason for this problem is the failure of the water pump, which can result in inadequate circulation of coolant throughout the engine. This leads to overheating, ultimately leading to blown head gaskets or even catastrophic engine failure.

A faulty thermostat is another contributing factor to the cooling system failure in Subaru Outbacks. When this component fails, it can cause issues with regulating the temperature within the engine, leading to overheating or insufficient heating during colder months. It’s important for owners to regularly inspect and replace their thermostats as recommended by Subaru to prevent any potential problems down the line.

A lesser-known issue with Subaru Outback cooling systems involves radiator leaks caused by corrosion or cracks. While some owners may initially dismiss a minor coolant leak, these seemingly harmless leaks can gradually worsen over time and cause irreparable damage if ignored.

Headlight Burnouts

Unfortunately, headlight burnout is a common problem. One of the main reasons behind this issue is the use of inappropriate bulbs. Many individuals mistakenly install high-wattage bulbs in their headlights, which puts excessive strain on the electrical system and leads to burnout. To avoid this, using the recommended wattage for your vehicle’s headlights is crucial.

How much does a new Subaru Outback typically cost?

When considering purchasing a new Subaru Outback, it is important to be aware of the typical cost you can expect. The starting price for an entry-level 2023 Subaru Outback, including destination charges, comes in at $29,600. This price does not encompass any dealer fees or additional charges associated with the purchase.

For those seeking a more loaded and advanced option, the top-of-the-line 2023 Outback Touring XT carries a higher price tag. To acquire this luxurious version with enhanced features and capabilities, you can expect to pay around $43,520. Again, it is essential to remember that this amount does not incorporate any additional charges the dealership imposes.

When purchasing a used Subaru Outback, prices vary significantly depending on age, mileage, and condition. An older Outback with 200,000 miles could typically be found for around $3,000. For those seeking a more pristine option, a like-new Subaru Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) car would cost considerably more.

What Are the Closest Competitors to the Subaru Outback?

While thinking about the competitors, several standout SUVs come to mind. The Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot are both formidable contenders. Both offer spacious interiors and comfortable seating for up to eight passengers, making them great options for families on the go. They boast strong safety features and reliable performance, making them excellent choices for daily commutes or long road trips.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Wrangler are worth considering for people who love adventure. The Grand Cherokee combines luxurious comfort with rugged capability, making it a versatile choice for any terrain. On the other hand, the iconic Wrangler is built specifically for off-roading enthusiasts who crave an exhilarating driving experience in even the toughest conditions.

Stepping into American territory, another strong contender is the Ford Explorer. Known for its spacious cabin and impressive towing capacity, it’s popular among those seeking versatility and practicality in an SUV. With its range of available engines and advanced technology features, the Explorer manages to strike a balance between power and sophistication.

Last but not least,

These are the Toyota 4Runner and the Hyundai Santa Cruz. The 4Runner has garnered a dedicated following due to its legendary off-road capabilities and ample cargo space—it’s perfect for those who enjoy venturing off the beaten path while still having room for their gear.

Wrapping Up the Discussion Between Worst & The Best Years for Subaru Outback!

While there may be several Subaru Outback years to avoid due to known issues and problems, the best years for Subaru Outback offer exceptional reliability and performance. The models above, in the best years, have proven reliable and durable and provide excellent value for money. So, don’t miss out on finding your perfect match – start exploring the best Subaru Outback years today!

Iram Khan
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