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2013 Subaru Outback

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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
8.5
Out of 10

Based on 245 Ratings for the 2010 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.7/10
  • Reliability
    9.0/10
    Performance
    8.5/10
  • Comfort
    8.7/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Excellent vehicle - comfortable, carries a lot

By on Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 15,000

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
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Driver's seat adjustable to every person"

Cons: "None"

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

"Best vehicle I ever owned. Assembled in America, huge cargo area when back seats are down, comfortable, warm in the Winter, cool in the Summer, and high off the ground."

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Really Love our first Subaru Outback

By on Friday, July 17, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Sporty but rugged, yet classy, and fun!"

Cons: "Rear camera in mid dash, instead of the rear view."

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

"No, it is not a Jaguar, but it handles very well indeed. Slightly hesitant to get up and go when pushing it to merge on the freeway, it will get with the program within 2 seconds, and go for it with the best of them! We have never felt the need to refer to this vehicle as "a boat" nor any other bulky derogatory remarks, it is as much like a car as it can be, in actions and in feel inside, while offering me the space for my dogs, groceries, or Big Box store hauls. We love the tech options, the blue tooth, the rear view camera. We have never used the rear view mirror buttons, so those are superfluous to our lifestyle, obviously. I LOVE the outdoors package, or maybe it was called the weather package, with the sturdy floor mats, back of seats and back bed covers, is awesome, and the interior is in GREAT shape 2 years later. We also really depend on it's "higher than a sedan" ground clearance, it gets me through the flooded roads other cars have to back out from, and in muddy areas it has been great every time. Handles reliably in bad weather in Texas. So far it has never let us down! My only real negative, is that they have the rear view camera down on the mid dash, as opposed some other manufacturers whom place it in the rear view mirror. I have used both, and the rear camera view in the rear view mirror is far more user friendly and functional, to allow you to look around the vehicle and at the rear camera safely and effectively, while backing up. This is their one major failing, in my humble opinion."

Great Car, especially in bad weather or long road

By on Friday, July 03, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,523

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
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Fit, Finish, Quality, Power, Firm Controlled Ride!"

Cons: "Wish back lift gate was a two part system"

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

"This has been a great car, never back to the dealer for anything, firm but smooth ride, fantastic seats in this Limited edition. Lots of room, even with the seats all the way back. very useful roof rack design with disappearing cross rails, Great stereo! Just well thought out. Dependable and very agile in snow or bad weather. Sunroof could be bigger, but not a deal breaker"

10 people out of 17 found this review helpful

Excellent car for our needs

By on Thursday, July 02, 2015

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
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Cons: "None"

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

"Pros: Fuel efficient Smooth ride and quiet Excellent handling Excellent in snow Good looking interior, shows quality"

5 people out of 10 found this review helpful

Bought brand new. Best new car purchase choice

By on Friday, June 26, 2015

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

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
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "All. Plenty of room, great in winter conditions"

Cons: "Haven't found any yet"

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

"Has passed my expectations. Right now I average 30-33 mpg summer driving and 28-30 in the winter. Heated seats are fantastic along with dual controls and remote start. I have not had a need to utilize the top cargo; however, impressed with how much I can haul in the trunk/hatch area and better when seats are folded down. Nothing less that 12 bags of mulch. Saved me from having to drive my truck, which doesn't come close to the fuel efficiency. The only things I'm not impressed with is the tire sensors, but that's with any vehicle and not specific to my Outback."

6 people out of 13 found this review helpful

Nice car, really dumb roof rack.

By on Friday, June 26, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Best AWD on the market."

Cons: "Idiot roof rack."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"I can echo all the good comments from other reviewers regarding comfort, drivability and other topics, but the so-called ingenious "why didn't anybody think of this before" roof rack is junk. If it disappears into the side rails for fuel economy, show me stats to prove this. The bars are aero shaped for a reason--fuel economy and wind noise. Okay, here's my gripe. This car is marketed to the outdoor crowd, folks who carry their toys on the roof. Those big blocks of plastic on the ends of the rack do nothing but supposedly look good, and the bar spread for attaching load carriers like kayak saddles is a bit too short. In fact, Subaru even cautions against loading a kayak or canoe 17 feet or longer on the rack. Enter Yakima Racks, whose engineers like a challenge. They came up with a system that drills on and that works well, but hey, it costs an arm and a leg. Other rack companies have their own solutions but they are far from ideal. Subaru bonked it on this one. Look at the rail rack on the older Outbacks, say from 2001 up to 2010 when the current evil design happened. It was and is easy to mount just about anything on those rails. Subaru forums are full of complaints about this current rack. Other than that, it's a fine car."

3 people out of 7 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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