By KBB.com Editors
Subaru builds the 2009 Outback for active individuals who shudder at the thought of driving a fuel-thirsty SUV. Based on the popular Legacy sedan platform, the Outback takes Subaru's four-wheel-drive philosophy one step further by increasing ground clearance, adding protective side cladding and offering a host of accessories designed to carry various types of equipment and cargo. Offered in wagon trim only, the rugged Outback models range from simple (2.5i Wagon), to sporty (2.5 XT Limited), to luxurious (3.0 R Limited). Engine choices vary by model and include a powerful turbocharged four-cylinder and a refined six-cylinder. Subaru's legendary Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive is standard, as is the ability to go just about anywhere four wheels can travel.
If you need the sure-footed traction of all-wheel drive but shudder at the thought of driving a big, fuel-inefficient SUV, the 2009 Subaru Outback is the answer. All-wheel-drive confidence and new safety features add up to a prudent and pleasurable road experience, heightened by a comfortable highway ride.
If you need an off-road vehicle that can also tow heavy loads and seat seven, the Outback is no match for a truck-based, V8-powered SUV.
The 2009 Subaru Outback drops the L.L. Bean trim, while a new Special Edition package is offered on the base car consisting of heated front seats, a power driver's seat, windshield wiper de-icer, heated side mirrors, fog lights, a limited slip rear differential and 17-inch alloy wheels. A new 440-watt harman/kardon stereo is standard on all models except the base 2.5i.
Driving Impressions Ride comfort leads the 2009 Subaru Outback's list of benefits. On rougher surfaces, though, the suspension tries its best to maintain a level attitude but some occupant-tossing may occur. Acceleration...with the turbocharged engine is swift; nudge the pedal at a standstill and the XT Limited will move forward with enthusiasm, though response to pass or merge on the highway isn't quite so assertive. Quiet-running, an Outback maneuvers well, but requires more steering effort than some drivers might find reasonable. Overall, the XT Limited isn't quite as much fun as you might expect of a smaller, turbocharged car, but that's easily outweighed by its sensible utility.
This could be Subaru's number-one selling point, since no other manufacturer makes such a system standard on all models.
Semi-Manual Shift Mode (SI-DRIVE)
Tapping a steering-wheel button in the 2.5 XT Limited lets you downshift briefly without going into full manual mode. This can be handy when road or traffic conditions change suddenly, and the transmission resumes normal operation as soon as the temporary situation ends.
Like most aspects of the Outback, its dashboard and control layout convey a down-to-business personality. Subaru notes that the Outback's seating position provides a more "commanding" view than ordinary wagons. Two-toned interiors are fitted with cloth upholstery on the base 2.5i and 2.5i Limited trims, while the 2.5 XT Limited and 3.0 R Limited receive leather trim. Seats are inviting and supportive, but front and rear seat legroom is only average. Visibility is excellent all-around and the Outback runs quietly at all speeds. The sporty 2.5 XT Limited and 3.0 R Limited uses an electroluminescent LED instrument display, and a five-speed manual is offered on the both the base trims and the 2.5 XT Limited.Exterior
Subaru calls the Outback the "world's first sport utility wagon," calling attention to its pronounced wedge-shaped profile. Its SUV-like attributes are subtle but noticeable. Aerodynamic ground-effects components blend with more pronounced wheel arches to give it a bolder stance. There's a spoiler on the liftgate and, on the 2.5 XT Limited turbo model, a functional hood scoop feeds air to the engine's intercooler.
The 2009 Subaru Outback 2.5i Wagon includes front side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), cloth upholstery, power windows and locks, cruise control, remote keyless entry, 100-watt stereo with six speakers and MP3 compatible CD player, air conditioning, tilt/telescopic steering wheel and an alarm system. The 2.5i Limited adds a panoramic sunroof, power driver's and passenger seat, Sportshift automatic transmission, dual-zone automatic climate controls and steering-wheel mounted audio controls. The 2.5 XT Limited adds a 243-horsepower turbocharged engine, leather seating and SI drive control, while the 3.0 R Limited adds a six-cylinder engine, five-speed automatic transmission, leather seating and an auto dimming rearview mirror with compass.
The 2.5i Special Edition package adds to the base car an eight-way power driver's seat with manual lumbar, heated front seats, fog lights, heated side mirrors, 440-watt nine-speaker harman/kardon audio system with single MP3 compatible CD player, limited-slip rear differential, windshield wiper de-icer, a cargo cover and cargo tray, 100-pound roof rack cross bars and 17-inch alloy wheels. Practical-duty accessories include a bike carrier and ski attachment set. Buyers have three engine choices and three types of all-wheel drive from which to choose, but they are available according to model rather than as separately ordered options. Individual options include upgraded audio, remote start, SIRIUS or XM Satellite radio and DVD navigation.
The Outback offers three engine options: A 2.5-liter four-cylinder, a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 3.0-liter six-cylinder. The normally-aspirated 2.5-liter boxer engine produces enough power to suit most non-enthusiast drivers. It also offers the best fuel economy. The turbocharged 2.5-liter engine provides nearly the same horsepower as the 3.0-liter six-cylinder, but offers more torque at a lower rpm and the option of a manual transmission, perfect for performance driving. The 3.0-liter six-cylinder found on the luxury models is strong and smooth and is matched with Variable Torque Distribution, which is Subaru's most sophisticated all-wheel-drive system.
170 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 (manual), 20/26 (automatic)
2.5-liter Boxer-4 Turbocharged
243 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
241 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/24
245 horsepower @ 6600 rpm
215 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24
By ken on Saturday, February 28, 2015
I owned and sold this car
Reason: high maintainance
Pros: "fun to drive"
Cons: "fell apart way too soon"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I owned this car, maintained it very well , and at 90,000 miles developed cracked head gasket, heater needed repair , seats tore, rust developed under the car and engine parts, could not maintain a realignment after several attempts, front and back end bushings tore.. The car seemed to be built so solid.. drove very tight and looked great.. seems to be so popular with a great reputation.. Now I see so many reviews just like mine.. and parts and repair are very expensive.. stay away.. I sold the car to a dealer and the trade in was a disaster... see KBB for trade to a dealer.. cant sell to an individual unless they are a mechanic.. I bought a Toyota.."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Crabby Dave on Friday, February 27, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 131,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great all weather cars , easy basic mtc."
Cons: "2.5 engines head gasket issues"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I currently own a 09 Outback 2.5 I. I love the driving experience best in the snow with Snow tires. I just replaced head gasket and several other items totaling $4200.Had a 06 Outback that head gaskets fail at 120k and 260k. First Subaru was a 2000 Legacy wagon that had head gaskets go at 130 and 250 k. Walked away from 1 major wreck without a scratch. Love the driving experience but due to head gaskets failing I will not be buying another Subaru. I am in outside sales covering Wi. Mn. and the Dakotas and put on about 40k a year and drive hard but always keep up on regular service."
By Lindy on Sunday, February 15, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 154,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "great in snow"
Cons: "high maintenance"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Cloth seats not well made, stain easily ie: rain drops. That is not a joke. Low beam headlamps do not last long, and very difficult to change bulbs. Wipers froze up several times in a rainstorm. Very costly to maintain, car falls apart after a few years."
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By geneorama on Thursday, February 12, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 100,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "price, interior, sleek look, rugged interior"
Cons: "annoying HV/AC, annoying radio, expensive repairs"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"I've really been a huge fan for years. My wife and I love the way the car drives,and most aspects of the design. However, in the past 2 years I've had to put more than 5k into maintenance and repairs, and it needs another 3k according to the dealer. I've never taken better care of a car before, this was my first new car. However I've had problems with the head gasket, oil leaks, and other issues that I don't fully understand. I think that many of the issues could have been avoided by having a more open sensor system. The only people who can see the full history of the electronic monitoring are dealers, and they can only see it with a special computer (not the normal one they use for free). So, when we had problems with our Subaru dealer's service, we couldn't easily take it elsewhere because of both the system and their proprietary parts. I love most of the design, but there are a few things that have really been annoying. I hate the HV/AC controls. There are two thermostats for each side of the car, and additional controls on each vent, which is overly complicating it to begin with. On top of that, the thermostats are very sensitive to how long the car has been running and the external temperature. Also, the AC runs almost continuously no matter how cold it is outside. It's just been an extra set of things to fiddle with that are overly complicated and cause dispute between my wife and I about how to keep some fresh air going though the car. I just think that the old fashioned hot/cold high/low interface is pretty close to perfect, and there's no need for fancy "smart" improvements. I also wish that the radio could scan. It stops at every single interval after a pause. So you have the disadvantage of needing to change the station one decimal at a time, without the benefit of it finding a station automatically. I was really expecting this car to easily last 10 years, and to last 15 years with care. However, it got really expensive in year 7-8"
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Roadie on Sunday, February 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 127,325overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great resale value. People think they are durable"
Cons: "Common issues...head gaskets blow and lots of rust"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I bought this car because so many people swear by Subaru. They must not care about maintenance costs. My head gaskets blew at 90K miles and it was cheaper to buy a used engine than to make the repairs. After checking with repair shops I found that this is a VERY common problem with these cars. Then the rust behind the rear tires got so bad the car would not pass inspection. Again, VERY common. Why in the world do people love these cars. They are terrible!"
7 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Kona on Saturday, January 24, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive great mileage safe!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"All the extras you would ever need! Great town and travel car! Safe! Great on ice and snow! SOOO easy to drive and handle! Love it and would recommend to young or old!"
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful