What started as a vehicle that consisted of four doors and five passengers with much more ground clearance and style, all the way back in the year 1994.
The Subaru Outback has created its own identity and established itself as a separate entity than the model it was based on, the Subaru Legacy, marketing itself as a smaller sports utility vehicle which would slowly develop in size with later models.
Good at driving slightly off the road and offered only in a four-wheel drive, the product was also offered in a sports edition and is manufactured right here in the United States in Lafayette, Indiana.
Here are the best and worst years for Subaru Outback.
Best Years for Subaru Outback:
Worst Years for Subaru Outback:
With all of this out of the way, let me explain why each falls into the specific category.
List Of The Best Years For The Subaru Outback: What Years To Buy
Subaru models can be very reliable and fun to drive, offering many good features and minimum problems. The best years have all of this at its peak.
#1 Best Year: 2005 Subaru Outback
The third generation of the Subaru Outback saw the biggest jump in performance, coming in with a stylish new redesign.
The Subaru 2005 Outback was accompanied by a turbocharged XT model, bringing a 250 horsepower, 2.5 liters, 4-cylinder engine. The model came with comfortable seats, AWD operation, an automatic transmission operation, and good ground clearance.
Its construction was based on the Subaru Legacy, while the Outback sports had an Impreza-based construction. The model successfully added luxury and performance while maintaining the already well-earned utility at affordable costs.
What is most notable is how reliable it is, being capable of running after well over a decade and on minimum maintenance.
#2 Best Year: 2007 Subaru Outback
Following the success of the 2005 and continuing a solid third generation, the 2006 Subaru Outback was not as hot as the 2005 model.
But that was amended by the 2007 model, which features fewer overall problems and continued to provide the same, useful features and comforts such as the additional ground clearance, AWD and automatic transmission and a comfortable interior.
The optional intelligent drive gave a choice between acceleration and gas mileage, always appreciated. The Subaru Outback maintained itself as a viable SUV alternative.
#3 Best Year: 2008 Subaru Outback
The second last model of, what many consider to be, the best generation of Outback, the Subaru 2008 Outback, continued to deliver the many features and aspects which made the entire generation pop out in the first place.
The model featured standard AWD operation and the much-loved automatic transmission with three available engines, slightly modified front styling, and choices between a wagon and a sedan body type.
Comfort and ease were still maintained as the car had a solid and comfortable interior and great ground clearance.
#4 Best Year: 2021 Subaru Outback
The latest generation of the outback came with a redesign that looked quite similar to the previous generation but came with a new platform design that reduced noise levels and improved handling, all while providing a better ride.
The 2021 Subaru Outback had a nice, spacious interior and a respectable fuel economy. The ride itself was quite comfortable and safe due to the many standard safety systems.
Overall, the model is very versatile and holds exceptional value making it a solid choice when considering one of the newer models of the Outback.
#5 Best Year: 2022 Subaru Outback
The latest model to hit the stores, the 2022 Subaru Outback, carries the same redesign made in 2020 while maintaining the same features it brought.
The interior is top-tier as it has a lot of room, comfortable seats, and a silent, noiseless cabin. The doors are also expertly made, providing ease of entry and exit.
The engine offers a solid fuel economy and mileage. At the same time, the car has various modern-day safety systems built in to provide an overall safe, smooth and comfortable ride, and despite being fairly recent, this model generally has positive reviews.
#6 Best Year: 1994 Subaru Outback
The original and one of the best, the 1994 Subaru Outback launched its first generation with a home run by putting out a car like that. It has proven to be one of the most capable and reliable models the company has put out.
With independent suspension, a hydraulic amplifier, and a disc drive braking system, the car can easily push out 125 horsepower, all with a solid fuel economy.
The car was placed in the top 10 in a Top Gear survey back in 2003 and is a testament to Subaru’s commitment to providing quality vehicles.
#7 Best Year: 1996 Subaru Outback
Two years after the success of their first Outback model, the company decided to hit another ball out of the park by releasing the 1996 Subaru Outback.
The AWD in this car was well praised as it would clear through the snow, which would get even Jeeps and Rodeos stuck and would do so with relative ease.
The interior has lumbar support and seat heaters, which are much appreciated. Another very reliable model can easily last you decades of travel and use with very minimal maintenance.
#8 Best Year: 1999 Subaru Outback
The last model to end the first and a great generation, the 1999 Subaru Outback, offered the users the same quality features we saw throughout the first generation, which started with the 1994 model. The AWD in this model is also nothing to scoff at.
The car drives great despite rough roads and turns corners gracefully due to the smooth handling, nice suspensions, and easy steering that the car provides.
Reliability is once again front and center as the car can last decades, with the only maintenance being a simple oil change.
List Of The Worst Years For The Subaru Outback: What Years To Avoid
Not every model is made equal, and the models of these years got the short end of the stick, coming with various problems and issues.
#1 Worst Year: 2013 Subaru Outback
Without a shred of doubt, the worst model the company has put out, the 2013 Subaru Outback, is plagued with many serious problems which have the NHSTA and customers complaining against it.
The engine is the main problem with this model, having too much oil consumption. This oil consumption problem was so severe that a class-action lawsuit was filed against the company, which stated that the company put out engines with defective piston rings, which caused the oil to leak past them and burn at a dizzying rate, forcing customers to spend a small fortune on oil changes.
Other problems included transmission issues and steering concerns. Subaru settled the lawsuit reimbursing the customers who suffered from the problem.
Related: Subaru Outback Transmission Problems
#2 Worst Year: 2015 Subaru Outback
2015 saw the start of a new generation for the Subaru Outback, which put out the 2015 Subaru outback. This model featured a new design and a lot of new problems, so much so that it is the most complained model yet.
The battery had major issues and was prone to dying. Sometimes, the battery would be dismal that the engine wouldn’t even turn on.
The windshield was also cheap, and of low-quality as during driving, it would crack without reason, which can easily lead to dangerous situations.
#3 Worst Year: 2017 Subaru Outback
The 2017 Subaru Outback repeated many of the same problems the previous generations’ same problems, specifically the battery problems.
The battery would often just die and prevent the engine from turning on. The windshield was still in a bad spot as it was getting cracked on seemingly nothing.
It was so low quality that even the rain would crack it, which is unacceptable. There were also some acceleration problems that the car would not accelerate.
Interior-wise, the touchscreen would often freeze and would not operate at all, which is disappointing.
#4 Worst Year: 2018 Subaru Outback
The 2017 model was somewhat better than the dreaded 2015 model and showed that the company was making visible progress; however, it took another step backward when it debuted the 2018 Subaru Outback, which had more problems than the previous year.
This, however, did not mean that previous issues were also fixed as the dead batter problem was still persistent and halting engines everywhere.
The windshield was still prone to random cracking. The touchscreen was completely buggy, and so was the navigation system. The steering was also janky and pulled in a specific direction.
#5 Worst Year: 2014 Subaru Outback
Being the last model of its generation, which had a lot of bad models; Subaru had to release a product that could somehow salvage the generation. Unfortunately, they released the 2014 Subaru Outback, which had many problems.
The brake pads were poor quality and would wear out way earlier than they normally should. It should be an early habit of hesitating when accelerating.
Subaru itself could not find the reason for this problem and fix it, making the entire model an accident.
#6 Worst Year: 2016 Subaru Outback
The trend of failure set by the 2015 model continued with the 2016 Subaru Outback, which showed customers that this generation would not be one worth investing in.
While having fewer problems than the 2015 Outback, it still came with a variety of problems which landed it on this list. Battery drainage was rapid and often led to the engine not being able to start.
Being called an electrical nightmare, the car battery had to be jumped several times a week to start the engine. The windshield was still prone to cracking, and the interior features such as the touchscreen were still sub-par.
#7 Worst Year: 2011 Subaru Outback
Being the second model to release in the 4th generation of the Outback, the 2011 Subaru Outback was released with more problems than its predecessor, being a host to various lighting and transmission problems and receiving hundreds of NHSTA complaints.
The headlight and bulbs of the car were prone to burning out, sometimes causing the headlight housing to melt entirely!
This is a rather expensive repair. There were common issues with the transmission jerking and failing. The model was affected by the Takata recall. This involved airbags exploding on deployment and launching metal fragments in the cabin.
#8 Worst Year: 2010 Subaru Outback
The 4th generation of the outback debuted with a new and solid redesign, making the car taller and wider and bringing more interior space.
The 20210 Subaru Outback model also came with a flurry of problems ranging from the brake line breaking to total engine failure. The engine had a habit of stalling and oil leaks and, in some cases, failed.
The transmission was also an issue as the torque converter would lock during brakes and the transmission had a distinct and annoying sound. The Takata recall also affected this model, meaning it had dangerous airbags.
What Are The Most Common Problems With The Subaru Outback?
The Subaru Outback has a habit of creating problems that persist throughout multiple models and sometimes, even across generations. Here are a few such common problems which the Outback has been affected by:
1. Weak Windshield
The windshield of the Subaru Outback has been known to be made of poor quality.
The windshield would crack for reasons as little as rain or flicking on it because you saw a bug. Sometimes it wouldn’t even need a reason. It would just crack while driving. This would end up being a costly replacement.
2. Excess Oil Consumption
A very common problem that has plagued many different models of a lot of different companies, the Subaru Outback simply burns through oil.
Customers have spent small fortunes replacing the oil, which seemingly disappears into thin air. This problem was so severe that the company was taken to court and had to settle.
3. Takata Airbags
Various Outback models were caught in the famous Takata recall, which had the car’s airbags replaced.
This is because the deployment of the original airbags would cause the bags to explode and throw metal fragments inside, causing severe injuries. This problem affected multiple companies on a large scale.
Related: Why Won’t My Subaru Outback Start?
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What Is The Difference Between Outback Base And Premium?
The difference between the base Outback and the Premium Outback is staggering; with the premium version offering more features for a bit more cash.
These features include a 10-way point driver seat, LED fog lights, automatic climate control, an all-weather package that comes with heated seats, and various safety and security features that fall under the Subaru Brand.
It also includes an 11.6-inch multimedia Plus. The premium offers all of this on top of the features of the base version.
Q2. How Many Miles Should A Subaru Outback Last?
The Subaru Outback has many models which are very reliable and long-lasting.
The average Subaru Outback can last around 250,000 – 300,000 miles if properly maintained and kept in top shape. This equates to around 20 years of service before requiring expensive repairs or breaking down.
However, if you are a responsible vehicle owner and treat your car well, it can easily last you well over two decades and cross more than 400,000 miles, as many people have praised the car.
Related: How Long Do Subaru Outbacks Last?
Q3. Which Is More Reliable, Outback Or Forester?
When comparing the number of recalls seen by both models in the last six years, we can see that the Subaru Outback has suffered a total of 15 recalls which is quite a lot.
In that same period, the Subaru Forester had seven recalls, which is less than half of the outbacks. This statistic shows that the Subaru Forester is more reliable at first glance; however, the Outback is no joke and is also fairly reliable.
Q4. How Much Does It Cost To Replace The Timing Belt On Subaru?
The timing belt itself does cost a lot; do not forget that the labor costs of the replacement also form a large amount of the cost as a lot of different parts must be disassembled to replace the best.
That said, labor costs will change depending on where you are getting them from. You can expect to pay anything from $409 to a whopping $919. On average, it should take $641 where roughly $380 for the parts and $280 for the labor.
Q5. Which Is Quieter, Forester Or Outback?
The Outback and the Forester both have very comfortable and quiet interiors as they both use rich and high-quality materials to make their seats and interiors and use plenty of insulation to block out the noise.
When comparing the two, it is quite difficult to say which is quieter. However, I can safely say that the Forester has the Outback beat in terms of noise reduction. This, however, does not mean that the Outback is noisy.
Both of them have near-identical noise reduction.
The simple reason why Subaru has around 600 dealers around the United States is that the company provides very high quality and great vehicles at affordable prices and why many Americans love the brand.
The company is known for making reliable products that are both comfortable to ride in and smooth to drive and handle.
The 2005 Outback is what I consider to be the best Outback because it satisfies all of these qualities. The worst, however, would be the 2013 Outback which is universally agreed upon due to its horrible oil consumption problem.
Now that you know the best and worst years for Subaru Outback, you can make your decisions more carefully and know what you are getting into!
Hi there! I am Tahir Azam, and this is my blog. WVDOT Automotive is a website dedicated to creating high-quality content for car enthusiasts. I am also an avid car driver. I own and drive a Porsche for my daily tasks. It is the perfect vehicle for my family. I am a proud father of two boys. I spend my mornings and evenings catering to clients at my very own software hub. After getting home, I dedicate a few hours of my time to creating an article every day. Well, this is a short introduction about me and I am also a publisher on Amazon. I hope you enjoy reading through my articles, and I also hope that I may have helped you choose an upgrade for your vehicle.