""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."
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."
"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."
"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."
"I've owned Subaru's for over 20 years due to living in AK & NY. Fantastic vehicle for snowy, uphill terrain. Enjoy the warmth of the heated seats but will not purchase another one due to fuel economy. Current mileage 22 mpg(auto). Do not like the window design as with every Outback I've owned they whistle in the wind & don't hold up well when closing for numerous years. Had some problems but Subaru was great to work with. I'll miss the Sub's but look forward to Prius mileage."
"Our '99 passed 100K with only routine maintenace (brakes, oil, etc.) when everything pretty much melted down. About every gasket now leaks oil, speedometer is intermittent, exhaust system cracked requiring cat converters to be replaced too (only a $1,000 repair!), cruise control is intermittent, and on and on and on. If I had the heart to sell it in such shape I'd be lucky to get a couple grand. In my opinion, I don't think this car lived up to it's expectation. It was flawless til 100K, but to have virtually no value after 9 yrs of good care is an unforeseen bummer. Although I like the car and the snow factor, I won't buy another. My Hondas have far exceeded the Subaru's useful life."
Pros: "Reliable powerful versatile great for traveling"
Cons: "A little more head room"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I go to Lake Tahoe, to the desert, off road, in snow, over creeks, and down wash board roads. San Diego to Sedona Arizona. I have had my Subaru since she was new and now is 11 years old, and she runs with great power. I did pay a pretty price for her luxuries since she is an LL Bean edition. Leather interior still looks phenomenol. I take her camping and to the ocean. I have slept in her when I forgot my tent, I am 5 ft 3 inches and it works for me. I will say that my boyfriend is amazed that I can put down the seats and he can haul timber and packages from Home Depot."
"This is my fourth Subaru; my first one was a '78. They go forever with minimum upkeep. They are tough and rugged. I test drove a 2013 and was surprised that the ride was really no sweeter than my 2002, which I dearly love. I just wanted a new car, but after that test drive, I will fix the few dings that mine has and I will keep driving it. It's the BEST."
"For some reason it goes through brakes, (3 sets in ten years and needs them again). Only other mechanical is I replaced a leaky radiator at about 3 years. They seem to hold their value well. I would buy another."
Cons: "Automatic transmission is a little slow to respond"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Five years ago, I bought a used 2001 Outback L.L. Bean with 43,000 miles. It now has over 170,000 miles, so I have a fairly deep experience with this model. In total, I have owned 14 cars, and can safely say this is the best vehicle I have ever owned.
For starters, Subaru's all-wheel-drive system is incredible. I have lived with this car through five Minnesota and Colorado winters, and it grips snowy roads like they are dry. I sell new cars for a living (not Subaru), and can say that other manufacturers' all-wheel-drive systems don't come close to Subaru's for winter performance.
My car is quite high-mileage, and I have had no major concerns or maintenance issues. A few minor things, to be expected of any vehicle this age, but nothing significant enough to even mention here. I fully expect to have it several more years.
The car's interior holds up great. The seats are supportive and comfortable on long drives and the leather looks almost new, despite being 11 years old. The audio system is great. The automatic climate control system has never given me a problem.
I especially like that it is a wagon instead of SUV. There is little in the way of competition, but this is such a great setup. By sitting lower, physics is on your side for aerodynamics and cornering. It is easy to maneuver.
This car has made me loyal to the brand. I fully expect my next car to be another Outback; the only thing holding me back from buying a newer model is that I am still so happy with this one that I don't want to part with it. This is the only car I've had that I haven't tired of driving within a year or two."
"When it comes to performance and reliability, it's hard to beat a Subaru. If you keep it well maintained according to manufacturer specs, this car will last you a long time. The mpg rating is great for an AWD vehicle...I still get 28 on the highway after 110,000 miles."
"If one is looking for a practical vehicle that can handle pretty much any type of situation, this is it. I too am agravated about the windows, the rubber wears out and the whistling begins. I love my heated seats but the seat feels too hard on long drives. But I love this car. With simple check ups, it never lets me down. Mileage OK and if I can find an independant mechanic that could tweak it for the future on the gas issue, I would spend the money."
"I gave this car only 3 stars on reliability because it blew the head gasket, ($2500) replaced the air conditioner at 5 yrs($900), replaced the clutch twice ($1600).....something wrong with the springs??? All in all had one really bad year for repairs. I still love this car! I am planning to purchase a new Outback soon."
"This has been the most reliable car I've ever owned. Traded in a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee for this car and I'm so glad I did. I've had to put money in it from time to time but it's never been anything out of the ordinary; just standard things like a brakes, clutch, etc. I know people who have had problems with later models and I asked my mechanic about it (Superior Import Repair on Burnside) and he said the engine for my year and model was a particularly sturdy one."
"I love my Subaru. Have owned my "RuRu" for 11 years. trouble free, handles great..plenty of power..6 cyl. great body finish..may keep this car for my guests and will buy another Subaru for sure..have driven Lexus, Mercedes, Honda, Toyota..the Subaru is my preference!"
Pros: "It has never broken down or left me stranded."
Cons: "I can't think of anything for this catagory."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love my Outback. We bought it brand new, and it's the best car I've ever owned. We've had two Foresters, too. But the Outback is my absolute favorite. It feels luxurious to drive, handles like a sports car, and hauls everything I need for work and play. I'm a professional massage therapist, and I transport my portable massage table and extra linen in the back. It's ten years old and still going strong with over 150K miles. It's been on many vacations, goes anywhere, and holds everything we need for camping and long road trips."
"After owning 2 brand new American cars ,84 pontiac grand prix and 1987 20th anniversary Mercury Cougar. I got smart and bought my 2000 Outback Lmtd Sedan. Best car I ever owned, reliable and never let's me down. With 111,000 miles on it still going strong. My next new car will definetly be another Subaru. Regular maintinence is the key."
"Other than the head gasket recall, the car has been absolutely worry free. If you get one used, make sure the head gasket has been replaced, though I think this applies only to the 2000-2002 4-cylinder Outbacks. The exhaust shield rattles too - it's annoying, but not harmful. Currently at 140K miles - oil changes at about 6K mile intervals, with, uh, less than religious maintenance. Not a lot of passing power, but gets the job done. Gearing is a bit tall as it runs 3500rpm in 5th. I think the heater is kind of slow, although the A/C is awesome. Mileage is okay, not great - about 21 city, 27 highway - I average around 23 mpg in mixed driving. The car is a bit narrow, so 3 across in the rear seat is cramped. The front seats are comfy for long trips though - they've stayed fairly firm over the 10 years I've owned this car."
"I fixed the head gasket when I bought the car at 190,000 miles. We're now at 215,000 and there's no stopping this thing. Built well and looks good for almost 10 years old. Better than most cars I've owned and I can pack the wagon full of stuff. All wheel drive and good gas mileage make this a great car."
"I bought this vehicle for the new baby in our family. In the year that we have had it we have made 25-35 4 hour or more trips with the subi. Comfort and styling wise it is an awesome vehicle! However there is not much space with 1 baby and 1 dog and my wife and I. It is also quite dificult to squeeze 4 adults with the baby seat installed. The latch system works great and legroom for rear passengers is adequate. The thought into the vehicle is phenominal (rear middle seatbelt retracts into the roof, seatbelt receivers have a holder for them in the seatback so they don't lay on the seat). The cargo storage in the back is pretty decent and small things can sit under the floor with the spare tire. There are two cubby holes in the cargo area as well for stowage and a 12v cigar plug for power in the rear is helpful also. All the buttons and switches seem placed just right for the driver except for the pop out cup holder which doesn't hold more than a can of pop (this was fixed in the 02 and later...). The 6 cylinder is not very quick off the line but has substantial top end. Likewise it is not that economical with the fuel due to the AWD but the piece of mind of AWD to me is more important. I would definately recommend the LL Bean or VDC just for the dual moon roof option!!!"
"Mechanical wise this car is in great shape have all receipts just put in new clutch and had alot of other work done. The interior is leather but needs to be cleaned up. Along with the rest of the interior. A great driving safe car. Just needs some clean up on the inside and a new grill which is easy to find. I just don't have the time."
"My husband got this for me as an eight year anniversary gift. I love my Subaru. I'm a 30 year old mother of two daughters (9 & 7) whom I care for while my Michael works out of town. This car has never let me down. I traveled 120+ miles in 22" of snow and used it to literally plow my mothers' 95 Cherokee out of her driveway. Nine months later, my outback is still standing tall and with little maintenance (oil change, plugs, wires, ETC.). This is the best vehicle I have ever owned. I have had a 1999 Nissan maxima, two jeep grand Cherokees (1997 and 2002), and one 1994 Cherokee. This outback beats all of them in every aspect. The only thing I don't like so far is the location of the seat warmer buttons. I don't like reaching for my drink and without knowing bumping the warmer buttons; my backside gets slightly roasted. It's not pleasant :("