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 Torment Faktory on Monday, July 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 97,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Does great in the ice and snow"
Cons: "Poor reliability, Autotrans models are sluggish"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Bought this car used with 32000 on the odometer. It is now at the local Subaru dealer (again), having the engine rebuilt. At 45 years old I have owned a LOT of cars in the 30 years I've been driving. I was an ASE certified mechanic for some time and definitely know my way around under the hood. This car has very easily been hands down the most expensive to maintain vehicle I have ever owned. Since I bought it I've had two major mechanical failures, first the front CV boots (both sides) failed, spewing CV grease all over the engine compartment and the catalytic converter which to this day emits a horrendous smell from the burning grease. Then at 97000 miles a (piston) rod began knocking. At this point I am looking at $6400.00 to repair the engine. I'd have just sold the thing if I didn't still owe more than $14,000 on it. Oh, and lets not forget about the fact that due to the overly sensitive transmission failure probability, you can NEVER just buy 2 new tires for this car. Unless you want to buy a new transmission, you'd better replace all 4 tires every time, and I don't even want to GUESS how much a transmission rebuild is on this car. Bought this car because I have always heard about Subaru's reputation for reliability. Suffice to say, I am NOT impressed."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Sue on Friday, June 27, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "reliable, comfortable"
Cons: "engine slow on long hills"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"The have made the new Outbacks larger and more like every other SUV. I particularly enjoyed the smallness of the 2008 (it fits in my tiny garage) and wonder what I will try next."
5 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Guy and Girl on Friday, May 30, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Capable in any weather"
Cons: "mediocre fit and finish & material quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"A great overall vehicle to own. Fit and finish deteriorates as the miles accumulate. Engine has always rattled which gets annoying every time the engine starts up this seems due to rusted out fittings on the heat shield which is where i believe the manufacturer cuts costs. Any problems with the vehicle has been covered by warrantee: (faulty front drive shaft). A big quality issue is with the "premium" wheels; the finish deteriorates alloy oxidizes and they look terrible! have been replaced 2 times, problem still occurs. Premium radio bass rattles the doors from about 20K miles on. Other than the above problems, overall great car to own."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By SoTXOutback on Thursday, May 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 150,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "premium features, solid All Wheel Drive"
Cons: "bad gas mileage, slow performance, weird throttle"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"My 2006 Subaru Outback has 150,000 miles and the catalytic converter is failing. Cost of ownership is too high. All maintenance has been kept up to date. Mileage is terrible. For a slow four-cylider, I can't get above 27 mpg on a very low speed, highway tank. Going 70 on a roadtrip, I get 24mpg. Cargo space is amazing but the back seats don't have enough leg room for adults or space for rear-facing baby carriers. The throttle and clutch engagement make it difficult to drive, so my wife doesn't like driving it, despite her daily driver having a manual, also. Want to know how much I like it? Although it has premium features like seat heaters and mirror defrosters, I'm going to replace it with a new car while keeping my wife's 2001 Saturn SL."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Frieda on Wednesday, May 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 232,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Pep, looks, speed, hauling capacity"
Cons: "More comfortable seats; more front storage"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"It took me through snowdrifts, across rushing floodwater up to bottom of doors and never stalled. I've hauled everything under the sun in it and it usually fit. Also, I don't know how I lived before and how I'll live after having a turbo charged vehicle. It is just awesome. Like driving a sportscar while hauling 2x4's, a two cases of paper towels and groceries for a week."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By subarusucker on Thursday, May 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 122,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"The car did as we expected for 122,000. Then a crack in both heads was revealed when the exhaust valve guide slid and bent the valve. Apparently not an uncommon issue, and the dealer's response was it sounds like you had some bad luck. Here is the good luck they are 2 1/2 hours away, an I am still sleeping in my own bed."