""I bought this vehicle with New England winters in mind (AWD for snow). It really does handle beautifully in poor driving conditions... However when the check engine light is on or you can smell antifreeze fumes it becomes a night mare. Initially, everything was great, bought it used with 80,000, I had some reservations but the Suburu dealer assured me they will back the car 100% and talked me into a used car warranty... so the slow downward spiral began. Over the past 3 years ending with the dreaded head gasket, one troublesome piston, timing chain and oil pump replacement at a cost of $4900. Apparently, Subaru knew of these problem but refused a recall of the 2003 and earlier models. The car sounds like the front windows are always open a tiny bit. Replacement of rubber gaskets at a cost of $395! No more Subaru!!!"
"We have had very little problems with our subaru. Here in Seattle, this is the official car of the lower yuppie class. There are 8 on our block. We have never had any reliability issues. When it was new I did however find a few things wrong with it like the seat cushion was unstitching, and one taillight was holding water. The dealer fixed these issues right away without question. We like the space, 4WD, handling, and low road noise. The only detractors are a cheap plastic interior, poor acceleration, and not the best gas mileage for such poor pep...(20mpg avg).
I had an old 1985 subie wagon with a pathetic 96hp 4cyl that got 34mpg. I wish they would target a 30mpg car with moderate performance."
"My husband bought the car brand new for me, as a birthday gift. It had all the bells and whistles, too! There has not been a time in 13 years that my beloved Outback refused to start. In snow, in Florida heat, no problem. AWD was marvelous in sand and odd terrain. My children loved the two moon roofs. I will drive this car forever if I am able! Heated seats are grand in winter! Bottom line: I ADORE my little car and NO ONE can ever persuade me to trade it in."
Pros: "Moderate repair bills, good heat and a/c. AWD"
Cons: "motor issues, marginal power"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Decent AWD vehicle. Do own maintenance and bought new, so very familiar w/trouble points. Rear brake pad backing plates need to be ground or will bind in retainers and wear fast. Most Outbacks of this era have piston slap noise when engine cold and hit throttle. Sounds bad, but not a serious problem, but could keep a potential buyer away. Lots of head gasket problems, but mine has been OK at 125,000 mi. Center viscous coupling on manual transmissions can go--mine did. Check by making hard left and right turns and note noise. Clutch on manual transmission models wear fast due to high 1st gear requiring lots of clutch slip to get started. I got 60,000 mi. out of clutch. Other cars I've had get twice that. Exhaust stainless, but not flanges, so will rot. Need custom exhaust place to cut flanges out and replace with sleeves--don't need new exhaust. Suspension and manual transmission are very good. Softly sprung for comfortable ride at expense of good handling. Marginal acceleration even w/manual. Excellent heater and A/C--never any problems."
"The car was going well until the head gasket issue came up. Up until then the car was fine no major issues. Ok performance level - solid but nothing extraordinary. A bit tough on brakes and the seats are not that comfortable.
This was my third Subaru but I have decided to move on. Since I was out of warranty (83k) they gave me only 20% off the fixing of the head gaskets $2200 plus they felt they were doing me a huge favor. Amazing how companies get this stuff in reverse.
They are clearly designing cars at a cheaper level nowadays. Not like the older designs which were over-engineered.
So all up an average car with average service."