Subaru Outback Years To Avoid – Most Common Problem!

With the success of the Japanese brand across the world, it can be a bit difficult to figure out what Subaru Outback years to avoid.

There is no denying that Subaru elevated the automobile industry from the mid-90s, with its high riding suspension making other quality features.

This does not mean it was the first car brand to start the lifted wagon look but one can boast saying they made it popular in so many ways.

After 30 years of pure excellence, the Subaru Outback has changed over the six generations it has been in the automobile industry.

However, if you are thinking of buying one, there is some information you need to know.

This article will uncover the trends of the car brand and also highlight the Subaru Outback problem years need to avoid across all generations.

Subaru Outback Years to Avoid: A Smart Decision will Change the Life

what year of subaru outback to avoid

If you are looking to get an older Outback which some people still do today, it is important that you check the seals for the crankshaft which is located at the front of the engine. ‘

It leaks and can become an issue later. However, one Subaru Outback year to avoid whether you are looking to get an older model is the 2013 Outback.

This is not to say that the Subaru Outback is not durable but the issue of Piston rings became predominant across America at the time.

People had issues with oil consumption and many reports of it being more than normal led to a massive lawsuit.

It is important that you check for rust if you want to get an older model of Subaru Outback since the SUV has endured a year-round different kinds of weather.

Check for rust and ensure that suspension, floors, and any other metal parts are free from rust. As tempting as the offer might be, once there is rust, you should leave the deal.

What Subaru Outback Should You Buy?

The different generations of Subaru Outbacks offer divergent solutions for drivers. It all depends on what you value the most.

For example, the first-gen Outbacks have a low mileage if that is what you are looking for.

Then, if you are looking for more power and enhanced performance for an SUV then the third generation that uses the turbo engine is great for you.

However, if you are looking for combined solutions for the most affordable prices then you should pick the fourth and fifth-gen Outbacks.

With the six-cylinder engines, they are the most enjoyable Outbacks out there today.

If you are looking for a safe SUV then the fifth-gen will be your best bet as there are additional safety specifications that will help you.

It is best to go with these models as the prices can range from $5000 to $40,000.

The 2019 models cost a bit more with the technologically advanced integrations that have been implemented in them.

Subaru Outback Generations: In-depth Research, Specifications & Features

In this article, we shall wind down memory lane by giving you a detailed explanation of the Subaru Outback years to avoid.

We would also discuss the popularity rate which each generation has.

Also, by the end of this article, you would not only be fully informed on each generation of the Subaru Outback but also know the verdict on which model ticks all the right boxes.

This is why it is important that you keep reading in order to stay enlightened.

Subaru Outback Models & Generations

subaru outback model years to avoid

The Subaru Outback has been around since the ’90s. Each model has one or two features that differentiate it from its previous models.

The Subaru Outback models are known for reliability, ruggedness, class, as well as popularity in the market.

It has been around for about three decades now and they do not look like slowing down in its designs any time soon.

So, without wasting much time, let’s have a look at the Subaru Outback, from the 1st generation down to the 6th.

1. First Generation (1999 – 1999)

One of the peculiarities of the First generation of Subaru outback was the comfort that drivers and even the passengers get when riding in the car.

People enjoyed the off-road performance and the durability of the automobile was something people admired about the first generation of Subaru.

This generation had an all-wheel drive that also incorporated some other features. Some of the specifications of the model were a cargo area and a roof rack.

It was also known for its space; hence the comfort people get from riding in the car.

Consequently, the Japanese company added a modification to its design and increased the suspension of the car.

So, in 1996, the Subaru Outback had 7.5 inches of clearance off the ground. Plus, there was, even more, cargo space created.

  • It includes a roof rack
  • 2L engine box
  • 135 HP
  • Outback badges
  • Wheelbase: 103.5″
  • Width: 67.5″
  • 5-door station wagon 4-door sedan
  • 4-speed automatic 5-speed manual

The first-generation Subaru Outback was considered a viable alternative to SUVs of that era. Plus, the endorsement of celebrities made it even more popular.

Asides from its popularity, the first generation of Subaru was known for its engines. It was one topic that the manufacturers never really shied away from.

The Subaru Outback of this generation had 135 Horsepower and was fitted EJ22 2.2 Liter cylinder from the single overhead cam.

For the double overhead cam, the engine that was fitted was 155 Horsepower with an EJ25 2.5-liter cylinder. Interestingly, the Legacy 2.5GT was also used during that time.

The first-generation Subaru Outback was also characterized by the introduction of the Impreza Outback Sport and the legacy SUS.

The latter was regarded as a sports utility sedan which made the popularity of the car and the brand spread more.

However, Impreza was more successful, outlasting the legacy SUS and staying in the market for two more generations.

Although many people will liken the Impreza to the Subaru Crosstrek, it is evident that the first generation had completely fizzled away.

The price range for the first-generation Subaru outback was from $18,000 – $26,895.

Highlighted Features
  • Fancier wheels
  • Good leather seats
  • Economy fuel consumption

2. Second Generation (2000 – 2004)

With the popularity of the first generation, it was only normal for the manufacturers to take some designs or similarities from et Previous Outback and improve them in this generation.

At this stage, Subaru was already becoming a household name with more people getting interested in set designs, and other parts of et car.

The second generation was more or less like an improvement of the first one.

There were modifications but it is safe to say that the manufacturers tried to play things cool not to throw off the balance and their success.

The Legacy SUS was improved upon in the second generation, with a wider and longer frame.

Plus, this outback of the second generation had a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine and was used for the first time. Interestingly, the engine had 212 Horsepower on it.

However, the 2.5-liter flat-four cylinder produced 165 Horsepower. Although the specifications were different, it was evident that Subaru did not want to taint any success that they had in the past.

The only issue people could attribute to it was the acceleration of this Subaru was slow.

  • 5 manual speed
  • 4-speed automatic
  • Height: 1607.8mm
  • Wheelbase: 2649mm
  • 0 L
  • 6 cylinder engine
  • 210 HP

The 212 Horsepower engine reduced the 0-60 mph to 8.5 seconds and it only offered a driver automatic transmission.

The car was offered in the H6-3.0 VDC model as well as a luxury premium grade level which was created in collaboration with the recreational clothing business.

Asides from these modifications the car cost about $30,000 and it had two-tone paint which made it conspicuous to many lovers of the vehicle.

The car also had another surprise for lovers of Subaru, the second generation was more prolific than the first as it should be. This generation was characterized by the brand adding the first stability control system.

This system was called Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC).

Highlighted Features
  • Less noisy interior
  • Quality leather seats
  • Power driver’s seat
  • Automatic transmission

3. Third Generation (2005 – 2009)

The Subaru went through more modifications during this period. It was more dramatic than the first two as the car wanted to go bigger and better.

Plus, at this time more car brands were coming up with different vehicles that could perform the same functions that the Subaru could do.

Hence, it was only right for the company to thoroughly improve. Therefore, the Subaru Outback was much bigger and firmer on the ground.

It was more powerful and gave the driver more control. The then EJ 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine now produced 175 horsepower.

One remarkable change that coincided with this development was the engine gained Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) rating which was the first time that Subaru had accomplished that.

Interestingly, the 3.0-liter flat-six engine now offered drivers 245 Horsepower.

  • 3 available engines
  • 5 seats
  • Height: 63.2″
  • Length: 188.7″
  • Standard AWD operation

You will think that 245Hp was the icing on the cake for the third generation but there was more during that time.

The turbocharged engine elevated the Subaru Outback during this period and made more people begin to take note of the vehicle.

The New Outback had a 2.5-liter flat-four engine that produced 250 Horsepower.

Additionally, the engine produced 250 lb.-ft of torque. With the introduction of the six-cylinder’s 219 lb.-ft, manufacturers thought this would be a knockout at the market.

But drivers offered the four-cylinder engine and enjoyed the balance it gave the car.

For a wagon that weighed over 3000 lbs., going from 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds was something that thrilled buyers.

Plus, the wheelbase had an addition, manufacturers added 1.3 inches to it for more space.

By 2008, the outback was the bestselling wagon in the USA. It was one of the best eras so far for the car brand and the company continued to ride the storm of its success for a while.

With the three available engines, the Subaru was priced at $21,995–$35,19.

Highlighted Features
  • Standard stability system
  • Turbocharged engine
  • A wider track
  • Ground clearance

4. Fourth Generation (2010 – 2014)

By 2010, more people in America were demanding durable SUVs and Subaru answered the call. This generation implemented some of the biggest changes in the car brand.

The car was bigger and longer than the former generation and there was more space for everyone in the car.

It was 4 inches taller than the previous outback of the former generation, the Subaru of the fourth generation had more wheelbase with up to 2.8 inches more making more room for the cabin.

Additionally, this Subaru was more spacious and some will even say stylish.

  • Wheelbase: 2.8″
  • 6 L
  • 5 door crossover
  • Comes with a security system
  • 170 HP

There was another difference in the window structure. Buyers have made complaints that while driving the former Subaru, it was a bit difficult to keep the noise or the wind when on the highway, out.

So, another change that made an introduction to the Subaru brand was the frameless side mirrors. This allowed drivers to drive long hours and properly filter the sounds out.

Drivers now had the option of a six-cylinder engine with 256 horsepower. This engine also produced 247 lb.-ft and was made for improved use of fuel since it ran on regular gas and not premium fuel.

More people opted for the manual gearbox even with the introduction of a new Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

It was sad that this was the last generation to offer a manual gearbox for drivers.

This Outback had received many awards for being the SUV of the year with different commercials accentuating its durability and style for buyers to relish.

More importantly, it sold more than 93,000 in its first year and by 2014, there were up to 139,000 were sold to people in America.

The 2014 model had a backup camera and a better suspension for improved turning. It was sold within the range of $23,495–$32,095

Highlighted Features
  • Alloy wheels
  • Passenger airbag
  • Heated mirrors
  • Headlight washers
  • Audio remote

Front electric windows

5. Fifth Generation (2015 – 2019)

Subaru after two decades of being the first car in the market, at this point, has now fully integrated technologically advanced solutions for the comfort and convenience of owners of the vehicles.

  • Height: 52″
  • Length: 166.7″
  • All-wheel drive system
  • Enhanced AWD system

The fifth generation characterized better and more improved systems that made driving a lot easier and more comfortable for anyone behind the wheel of the Outback.

The safety systems were much better than any generation before it and other systems that enhance the experience of the driver were added. Some of these features include:

  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic warning
  • Adaptive cruise control

The fifth-generation Subaru had a unique feature that allowed the car to come to a complete stop in the event of an accident.

Since it is always difficult to control the car after impact, the manufacturers created a system where the car will come to a halt after impact.

As for the engine, it still remained the same as the previous generation but the interior had a refined touch to it.

Since the full operation of technologically advanced solutions was on display, with touch screen features, android and apple compatibility for the latest models.

The CVT was the only transmission option with the manual gearbox now gone with the previous editions of Subaru. It had more inches off the ground and better height for drivers.

There was more interior space for the drivers and the passengers as the cabin volume had more space with three more cubic feet added to the previous measurement.

The engine was updated for reduced noise and efficiency. So, buyers were particularly fascinated by how quiet the car could be while performing its functions.

In 2015, the Outback surpassed its previous sales, selling up to 150,000 units that year and enhancing the SUV experience for many families in America.

It cost from $26,345–$38,995.

Highlighted Features
  • Apple car play
  • iHeartRadio
  • Bluetooth
  • Pandora
  • The touch screen of 6.2″

6. Sixth Generation (2020 – present)

Welcome to where we are in Subaru Outback history. It has been quite the ride for many buyers and brand loyalists.

With the difference in size, height, and other modifications, it is truly beautiful to see how redefined the company has made the cars.

It is no surprise that reviews and other car dealers have begun saying that this current generation will be the best yet and it should be.

The company has learned from the years of trials and implementations of different features, plus, they have been able to carve a niche for itself to see how the market enjoys using SUVs.

  • 4L
  • 8 passenger seat
  • All-wheel drive system
  • CVT transmission
  • 4″ longer
  • 6″ wider

Away from that, let us look at some of the specifications of this new generation. Firstly, it is important to talk about the size of the outback for 2020.

This new Outback is 1.4 inches longer than the previous generation, plus, it is also wider which allows for more cabin space.

So not only does the driver have enough space, but passengers in the front seat with durable Subaru seat covers and at the back have enough space and you can fit more people.

There were not any exterior changes to the new Subaru but just the ones that have been mentioned.

It will interest buyers to know that turbocharging is making a return in the new generation with the 2.5-liter engine not producing 182 horsepower.

All the models in the new generation have CVT transmission which is great for an 8-speed. The addition of the turbo engine is a massive plus with the car going from 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds.

This is the fastest of all the generations that have been made making the SUV more enticing to buyers.

Drivers get a bigger screen for the interior of the car which allows them to use their devices as in the previous generation. The cost of the new generation Subaru is $26,795–$39,945

Highlighted Features
  • Top-notch interior space
  • Advanced safely system
  • High-performance thrills
  • Flashy headlights


Subaru Outbacks have had a tremendous journey that has allowed people to see how SUVs have evolved.

Although there are different models to choose from for a great start in enjoying Subaru buy, we recommend getting the 2017 model.

You should get the one that has fewer than 50,000 miles on it and it should go for about $20,000. This is one of the most durable and pleasant Outbacks you can get.