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 cherry (VA) on Wednesday, November 27, 2013
I owned and sold this car
Reason: divorce - My approximate mileage is 145,000
Pros: "Quick acceleration. Good ground clearance."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"A 2006 Subaru Outback L.L. Bean edition with 3.0 liter 6-cylinder Boxer engine was the best car I have ever owned. When I was driving over the mountain, passing big rigs was no problem. I just put my foot down on the accelerator and instantly felt a burst of speed that took me out of harm's way. The power felt good! This was NOT a sluggish car. I like the ground clearance. Also, I enjoyed carrying my dog in the back, and he liked it too!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By wbpbiogis (FL) on Monday, October 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "It is a wonderful road car, rides perfectly"
Cons: "I would have preferred darker upholstery"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The outback was my first all-wheel drive car. It performs brilliantly under all conditions. On wet roads I have never lost traction accelerating or cornering. Now my old F-150 feels unsafe - the Subaru handles so well. In 37,000 miles it has needed nothing except fluid changes. I replaced the tires a little early, shedding the speed-rated tires for Michelin Defenders. My only complaint is that the full-sized spare will not fit in the tire well."
By bean (NY) on Thursday, September 26, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 110,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "good on gas"
Cons: "spent enough on repairs to buy another new car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Had to replace everything, including the engine.Never again will I touch another Subaru.Always had something wrong with it.Can't wait to get rid of it and get another Jeep or Nissan."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By BigDog (VA) on Wednesday, September 18, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "AWD, handling, safety, performance"
Cons: "Expensive to fix, expect big ticket failures"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"The Subaru ownership experience is a mixed bag. I've owned 3 of them (2001 and now a 2009 Outback plus a 2003 Legacy). The good: These are among the safest vehicles on the road. Day to day Driving dynamics/handling is excellent The interior is very functional and comfortable AWD in weather is fantastic The bad: If you've owned a bullet proof Honda/Toyota (I've had 4 of them) and you go in believing Subaru has their reliability you're going to be dissapointed. My 2001 ate wheel bearings (6 of them over 120K miles) and blew the head gasket at 110K miles. My 2003 had the head gasket blow at 65K miles and my 2009 (just off warranty at 42K miles) blew a strut. These cars has never left me stranded but they have had issues that required large cash outlays to fix. Because Subaru is a much smaller company that Honda/Toyota the pricing for parts is also greater. I have enjoyed all of the Subarus I've owned and believe they are well designed vehicles. Having said that if you buy one then be ready to spend on a couple thousand dollars on unscheduled maintence/problems. My Toyotas (95 Camry and 06 Sienna have gone 150K miles with virtually no unscheduled repairs)."
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By abby (CA) on Friday, September 13, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,155overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"looks good runs great lots of pick up and go, burns med range gas has 3 special removable additions for back area for groceries , protective hard rubber in back floor removable cover to hide everything in back , special front floor mats car runs great in snow , snow and mud tires studded tires fo snow has plenty of power to get me moving has been kept up well with copies of all maintance work . nice car used by older couple so not driven hard or far . did I mentio its a turbo and gets out of its own way ."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By Jules (CA) on Thursday, September 12, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Handling, comfortable and repair free"
Cons: "can't think of any"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is the best vehicle I have ever purchased. Its driving characteristics and good stability and excellent performance in all weather conditions are awesome. I knew from many Alaska and Idaho friends that this car was appreciated for its handling, and that is what I bought it for. Not having any repairs for the last 8 years was an unexpected bonus for me - and appreciated."
4 people out of 4 found this review helpful