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2013 Subaru Outback

Overview
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2013 Subaru Outback Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 6.9

Though it was originally promoted as the "world's first sport utility wagon," the 2013 Subaru Outback is more SUV than wagon, and that's a good thing. It's as spacious and capable as a conventional mid-size SUV, but delivers the fuel efficiency and driving characteristics of a sedan. The Outback also provides the all-weather mobility afforded by Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel-drive and an elevated seating position for a more commanding view of the road. Competing vehicles such as the Toyota Venza, Honda CR-V and Chevrolet Equinox each excel in particular categories, but the 4th-generation Outback's balanced blend of on- and off-road proficiency offers a unique flavor in an otherwise well-defined category.

You'll Like This Car If...

Few vehicles on the market can equal the Subaru Outback's ability to conquer tough terrain while simultaneously delivering carlike fuel economy. Safety buffs will appreciate its perfect crash test marks and the availability of the segment-exclusive EyeSight driver assistance system.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Those who wish to tow more than 3,000-pounds or frequently carry more than five passengers should begin their search for a new vehicle with a conventional mid-size SUV like the Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota Highlander or the Honda Pilot. And if all-wheel drive is of little importance in your next SUV, consider the smaller, less expensive Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-5.

What's New for 2013

The Subaru Outback receives a fairly significant mid-cycle refresh for 2013. Chief among the changes are a modified body structure and suspension, which result in less body roll and reduced interior noise. Additional refinements include new audio systems, a restyled front end, and a new 4-cylinder engine that is both more powerful and fuel efficient.

Driving the Outback

Driving Impressions If fuel economy takes precedent over quick acceleration, the 2013 Subaru Outback's 2.5-liter four with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) is your best bet. The 173-horsepower engine has to work...

a bit, but once up to speed, the CVT finds and holds the engine's peak torque, providing a good balance of response and efficiency. The CVT does take some getting used to, as there are no discernible gearshifts like a traditional automatic. The standard steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, however, allow the driver to simulate manual gearshifts, for quicker passing and merging. With an estimated 30 mpg highway and an 18-gallon fuel tank, the Outback can cruise well over 500 miles before refueling. On the road, the Outback demonstrates an impressive sedan-like feel, in part because the low center of gravity of its powertrain more than offsets its tall bodywork. Steering is precise and predictable, and only some slight wind noise around the roof racks intrudes on the quiet ride.

CONTINUOUSLY VARIABLE AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION (CVT)
Subaru's take on the popular, fuel-saving transmission-without-gears features a paddle-shifted manual mode that mimics the shift points of a manual transmission without needing a clutch pedal. Best of all, the Outback CVT's estimated 24 city/30 highway mpg is better than with the 6-speed manual.

ELECTRONIC PARKING BRAKE WITH HILL-HOLDER FUNCTION
The traditional parking brake handle is replaced by a soft-touch push/pull switch on the dash. The electronic brake system includes a feature that holds the brakes for a moment on inclines greater than five degrees, for easier takeoffs without unwanted rollback.

2013 Subaru Outback Details
2013 Subaru Outback photo Interior

The roomy, versatile 2013 Subaru Outback cabin is stylishly functional. Responding to owners' desires for more rear-seat room, Subaru added four inches of legroom and nearly three inches of headroom with the 2010 redesign. During our test drive, we comfortably fit three 6-foot adults in the back seat without their knees touching the front seatbacks. Wide front seats and a reclining rear seat further improve comfort, while the upscale Limited and Premium trims offer power driver's-side lumbar support and leather seating. A dash-mounted electronic parking brake frees up console space for water bottles and latte cups. Automatic-transmission models also feature steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Exterior
2013 Subaru Outback photo

While previous Subaru Outback generations seemed more like a jacked-up, fender-flared Legacy, the newest models – including the Outback – take on more personality of their own, with a 3-inch-higher roofline and a better-integrated look of ruggedness. Thick plastic cladding, a raised ride height and 8.7 inches of ground clearance reveal its off-road capability, while beefy black roof rails conceal fold-out crossbars that stow away to reduce drag when not in use. The Outback's exterior styling looks even sleeker for 2013 thanks to new headlights, a redesigned front bumper and a more prominent grille.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2013 Subaru Outback is offered in five trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 3.6R and 3.6R Limited. Base 2.5i models feature all-wheel drive, a 6-speed manual transmission, 16-inch steel wheels with covers, roof rails and a 4-speaker audio system with Bluetooth and a USB port for portable music players. Moving up to the Premium trim adds alloy wheels, fog lights, a 10-way power driver's seat, and two additional speakers, while range-topping Limited versions include leather seating, dual-zone climate control and 440-watt harman/kardon sound system. Safety equipment consists of six airbags, all of the expected electronic stability controls, and Subaru's new EyeSight driver-assistance system, which includes an adaptive cruise control system that automatically maintains a preset distance between the vehicle ahead, pre-collision braking, and lane-departure warning to alert drivers of an unintentional lane change.

Optional Equipment

Most options for the Subaru Outback are dependent on trim level. The CVT automatic transmission is the lone option on the base 2.5i, with Premium and Limited models offering a Power Moonroof Package comprised of an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear backup camera and – you guessed it – a power moonroof. Limited models offer voice-activated navigation, the aforementioned EyeSight safety system and a Special Appearance Package with metallic gray exterior adornments, wood-grain-style interior trim and keyless access with push-button start. Given the standard audio system's marginally adequate sound quality, we suggest upgrading to the available 9-speaker harman/kardon setup.

Under the Hood

Subaru offers two boxer engines in the 2013 Outback. What's a boxer engine? Glad you asked: It's a low-profile and naturally balanced design in which the pistons lay flat in a horizontally opposed configuration. The new 2.5-liter four delivers 173 horsepower, not best-in-class but enough muscle for satisfactory performance. Matching this engine with the CVT automatic will produce the best fuel economy, but the 6-speed manual offers sportier performance. The most refined choice for the Outback is the 3.6-liter 6-cylinder and its conventional 5-speed automatic, whose strong acceleration and passing power come at the expense of fuel efficiency: an estimated 18/25 mpg city/highway (versus the 4-cylinder CVT's 24/30).

2.5-liter boxer-4
173 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
174 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 mpg (manual), 24/30 mpg (automatic)

3.6-liter boxer-6
256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg

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2013 Subaru Outback Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.6
Out of 10

Based on 212 Ratings for the 2010 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.8/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    8.5/10
  • Comfort
    8.7/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Solid and reliable

By on Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Little or no additional costs to operate"

Cons: "2.5 L engine could use more acceleration."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Had this car for almost 3 years. Plan on keeping it for at least another 5 years. 2 gripes. Wish I had gone with the 6 cyl for more power and driver convenience space around shifter could be increased for placement of wallet, phone etc. Still would highly recommend to anyone."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Love my Outback!

By on Monday, November 03, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"We just traded in 2 Toyota's, after owning Toyota's for over 30 years, to get the Outback. We LOVE this car. I feel like Toyota's quality has been declining over the past few years and we finally decided to make the switch. My husband had leased an Outback on a trip last year and was determined that was going to be our next car. I can't tell you how many recall notices I've received the past year or two on the Toyota's. Plus, the interior is far more impressive on the Outback than it was on either one of our other Toyota's. Looking forward to driving this car for a long time!"

8 people out of 12 found this review helpful

a very good vehicle

By on Sunday, November 02, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 71,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "handling, ride, all wheel drive"

Cons: "rear visibility, uncomfortable drivers seat,"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I purchased this vehicle because i wanted an American made car. I was looking at a Chevrolet Equinox and the Subaru. I knew the Subaru was made in the USA. but to my surprise, the Chevrolet was not. Frankly, it was the best decision i could have made. I was not particularly impressed with the new style as i liked the more conservative look of the 2009 but I did buy it. The only complaint i have is that the power seat does not go straight up, it goes up and forward which brings me too close to the steering wheel, but i like to sit high, also, rear visibly is not really that good. But, the car is a pleasure to drive. I have never tired of it. I feel very secure in it and it handles well in all kinds of weather. I am contemplating trading it in and am not even going to look at another model. I will buy another outback. But one with rear view cameras and rear view warning monitors. I consistently get 33+ mpg on the highway. Whats not to like."

5 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Very reliable, functional, good looking.

By on Thursday, October 30, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Great price & options."

Cons: "Power seat passenger cannot elevate."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This in my 3rd Outback. I have had them all. Jeep Grand Cherokee, Acura MDX, Ford Explorer and Chevy Blazer. This "little" car beats them all in performance, gas mileage, and COST. Well designed. I had the 3.6 L engine. Excellent pick up and power. I did pull a trailer ( about 3000 lbs without any difficulty. Would definitely recommend it."

5 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Decent car for the money

By on Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Safe, great in snow"

Cons: "lot of small issues"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"This is a good car for the money . Very safe and excellent in the snow. it has decent cargo area in the back and leg room is pretty good for such a small car."

7 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Fuel efficient SUV

By on Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Great value, easy to maintain, roomy"

Cons: "Underpowered, manual's not smooth, no rear AC"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"This thing does everything I need it to do. It is nowhere near fun to drive, but it swallows up gear/luggage and gets me where I need to go without drama. Good family vehicle."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

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