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The Best and Worst Years for a Used Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback

The outback provides a good alternative to sedans and SUVs. Compared to the regular wagon, this car has more ground clearance. For that reason, the car is ideal for adventures as it is a capable offroad car with ample space for cargo. The Subaru Outback also presents so many nice tech features. There have been different iterations of the Subaru Outback since this brand began production in 1997.

However, it is imperative to learn that when purchasing a Subaru Outback, there are some unreliable models you should keep away from. This is because they are hard to use and unreliable. Equally, good Subaru Outback models will give you value for money. Some of the best Subaru Outback models are from recent years. This article will learn about the best and worst years of used Subaru Outback. This will greatly help you to make informed buying decisions.

How reliable is a Subaru Outback?

You will love that the Subaru Outback is among the cars you can rely on in the automobile industry. Apart from that, it is considered to be among the safest options around. In terms of cost, this is among the most affordable vehicles. You will be able to enjoy its diverse features in its different rim levels since it has much to offer.

From its efficient components to its quality interior, drivers will love this vehicle's road capabilities. According to Vehicle History, the user can anticipate using it between 16 and 20 years before the car demands major maintenance needs or starts malfunctioning.

The worst years for the Subaru Outback

We begin with the negatives of the used Subaru Outback to get them out of the way first. Here, we explain why these models are bad and why you should avoid them. It is good to note that however small a car issue is, it could lead to serious issues in the future. This is why it is advisable to avoid them at all costs. Without further ado, here are the years to avoid for the Subaru Outback.

5. 2010 Subaru Outback

The 2010 model of the Subaru Outback is one of the most problematic vehicles you will get in the market. This is proven by the fact that this vehicle has been recalled multiple times. The Subaru Outback was recalled 18 times which is so many times for a single vehicle. Among the reasons why this vehicle has been recalled all these times is the issue with its airbags. From the look of things, the airbags don't inflate as needed in the car. This could be very dangerous as these airbags will not protect you as you drive.

Another main reason the Subaru Outback has been recalled severally is its engine and transmission system. These systems are said to fail frequently. Considering how much money it takes to repair such, the issue is very expensive for repairs. In the worst-case scenario, when these systems fail, the vehicle becomes useless and will not last long.

4. 2011 Subaru Outback

The other year you wanted to avoid for the Subaru Outback is the 2011 model. According to Engine Patrol, the vehicle is also said to have so many recalls. Part of the reason is that it has inflation issues with its airbags. You have zero protection in a car with no airbags in case of an accident. Therefore, this is one reason you are advised to avoid this vehicle.

According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), the 2011 Subaru Outback has been recalled 16 times. All these times, the vehicle has had concerning issues that no one should ignore.

Another issue that faces this vehicle is the fact that it has extra oil consumption. The reason why this happens is due to the weary piston rings in the vehicle's engine system. Additionally, the transmission issues in this vehicle have caused many issues in this vehicle. Some of these issues include hard shifting, non-stop noises, and the failure of the entire transmission system.

3. 2013 Subaru Outback

Oil forms the largest part of any automobile. According to Motor Biscuit, this is what helps to ensure that it is well-greased and that it keeps everything moving as it should. You are probably aware that a vehicle needs adequate oil, which makes the engine system operate smoothly. However, things are different in the 2013 Subaru Outback.

It has defective piston rings that cause oil to flow into the engine's combustion chamber. This causes many other issues and makes the vehicle hard to drive. Given that the oil does not filter to the right location, it gathers in another location. This later brings about carbon residues.

Of this issue, owners are forced to replace oil more frequently than normal. In most instances, you must change the oil every 2000 miles due to excessive oil loss. There is another issue that causes the high engine oil consumption, and that is a leaky head gasket. This seals the engine block and the cylinder head. In this vehicle, however, this happens very frequently, and it causes issues for drivers.

2. 2014 Subaru Outback

There were several complaints about the 2014 model Subaru Outback. Some of the issues included acceleration hesitancy problem. Apart from that, this unit has extra faults, such as issues with the engine system. Reports indicate that the 2014 Subaru Outback is also one of the brand's vehicles that received the most user complaints. It has endless issues which were relatively expensive to repair. The 2014 Subaru Outback had more than 349 complaints from drivers.

The vehicle was recalled at least ten times due to issues with its frontal airbags. Drivers complained that the airbags had issues with inflating correctly. They tend to explode, which is extremely dangerous and causes death in the worst-case scenario. This issue is also believed to affect up to 258,813 vehicles.

1. 2019 Subaru Outback

When you visit the complaints website, you will realize that the 2019 Subaru Outback has the most complaints from owners in its generation. Reports indicate that the vehicle had at least 816 complaints from dissatisfied users. One of the most reported issues from this car was about the battery and the windshield of this vehicle.

According to Copilot Search, the battery issue should raise concerns, considering how costly it can be to replace the battery. Again, the vehicle will become useless and never run when the battery dies completely.

Apart from the battery drying issue, this vehicle could have random cracks o the windshield. It happens so frequently that the cracks just appear from nowhere. For that matter, people feel that it is unsafe to drive this vehicle. You should avoid buying the 2019 Subaru Outback if you do not want to encounter these problems.

The best years for the Subaru Outback

Having cleared the list of worst model years, we now need to look at the best model years for the Subaru Outback. If something attracts you to the automobiles listed below, you should proceed to purchase them as they are reliable vehicles. Again, every model has something unique to offer. Therefore, without wasting too much time, here are the best years for a used Subaru outback.

5. 2005 Subaru Outback

This vehicle comes from the third generation of Subaru's lineup and is among the most famous model years. It is believed that some additions were made to this car with an XT turbo engine. It also got different interior updates that contributed to its uniqueness. Car owners appreciated the powerful 250 HP that its 2.5L engine generates.

It is also worth noting that this vehicle's engine was sourced from Subaru WRX STI, which produces 100 extra horsepower compared to the common engine system. Owners of this model are also delighted with its construction quality and the amount of light it allows via its panoramic sunroof. According to Four Wheel Trends, safety measures from this vehicle have saved people, and its fuel efficiency is something to admire. One reason why people buy Subaru automobiles is the standard AWD.

4. 2009 Subaru Outback

In comparison to the previous model years, the 2009 Subaru Outback was loved by so many individuals. This can be explained by the fact that the previous model years had many issues addressed in this model year. There were many upgrades done to the design of the 2009 Subaru Outback. For instance, the Turbocharger XT was brought in, which yielded at least 250 HP at only 6000 PM.

Another good thing about this model year is that it proved to last longer and had the least complaints from users. This is something that concerns any car owner and driver. Therefore, you should not be worried about the model's gear anymore. It will be very safe to buy and drive on the road. This way, you will be able to enjoy its quality features, efficiency, and its road capabilities.

3. 2017 Subaru Outback

This car has received recognition from organizations, including IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). It also brags a 5-star rating from the NHTSA for its safety. For that reason, it has been a good option for people looking to buy an optimum combination of safety and reliability. This is the first car to receive high safety and reliability ratings from websites, including Car and Driver, Kelly Blue Books, and Edmunds. From these websites, the 2017 Subaru Outback is the market's most competent, practical, and care option.

This car is also known for its long life expectancy, given that it can last up to 250000 miles. However, all these will be impossible without proper care and maintenance. You must therefore ensure to do that.

2. 2020 Subaru Outback

We now jump into the 2020 Subaru Outback. By this, you should probably know that this car is in the category of the latest models of the Subaru Outback. For that matter, it has several unique and advanced features that it offers car enthusiasts. Reports indicate that people love this vehicle for its quality safety features. Safety is among the most important aspects of a vehicle.

According to Hot Cars, this car has received a rating of 3 out of 5 in the reliability score. It also scores 4 out of 5 on the owner satisfaction ranking. The NHTSA has also awarded this model a 5-star safety certification.

1. 2021 Subaru Outback

One good thing about the 2021 Subaru Outback is that it is free from its predecessors' issues. For instance, it has addressed engine issues, poor acceleration, and other issues. This is why this is the safest, and among the best model years, you will get in the market. Minor changes in this model include:

  • The adaptive headlamps.
  • A rear seat reminder system.
  • The passenger's seat belt warning light.

According to the NHTSA, the 2021 Subaru Outback model receives a 5 out of 5 safety star rating, which is very rare. Apart from that, according to the Consumer Report website statistics, it brags a Reliability score of 4 out of 5.

Common Subaru Outback problems

By now, you are probably aware of the common issues found in the Subaru Outback, as we discussed in the worst model years. Here is a summary of common issues with the Subaru Outback;

  • Vibration during acceleration- This is a common complaint by at least 283 drivers. People say that they encounter severe shudders when accelerating.
  • A/C and Heater Problems- it is believed that A/C systems have severe issues in the Subaru Outback. This is after many people mentioned the issue over and over again. This issue starts happening from 100,000 miles.
  • O2 sensor issue- the O2 sensor is another frequent issue with Subaru Outback. This is an issue that up to 257 people have reported. However, not all Subaru models experience this issue despite most individuals complaining about it.


The Subaru Outback is known for its comfortable interior and strong build. Car lovers also like this car for its safety, ruggedness, and durability. For this reason, it is a great car for daily commuting and off-road adventures. If you are looking to get a used Subaru Outback in the market, we have already advised you on the worst years to avoid and the best years to consider.

When properly maintained, the Subaru Outback could easily reach up to 250,000 miles without major repairs. This adds up to at least 18 years of service. When buying a used Subaru Outback, ensure the previous owners have adhered to the recommended maintenance schedules before making the purchase.

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Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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