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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 186 Ratings for the 2010 - 2015 models.

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

Thought it would be a great, is even better

By on Monday, July 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,700

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
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Great - safe, dependable, efficient, comfortable"

Cons: "Smallish cup holders-fixed in 2015 model"

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

"My wife had been wanting an Outback for a long time, I was a little skeptical at first. Research found this to be a very well built, safe, dependable and efficient car. Subaru's parent company is a manufacturer of heavy duty construction/manufacturing equipment and the Subaru line definitely falls inline with their dedication to quality. We have had our 2013 Outback 2.5i Limited for over a year and absolutely love it. It is even better than we had expected. Great efficiency and very solid overall. I like to perform my own maintenance and have found it very easy to change the oil, filters, etc. Only downside we have found is that the cup-holders don't fit all large drinks (PowerAde, etc.). In looking at the 2015 models it looks like they have given the Outback larger cup holders. After seeing our experience, my parents purchased a 2014 Outback and one of my wife's clients have purchased one as well. You will not be disappointed with this vehicle."

7 people out of 11 found this review helpful

Love my Subaru. Second Outback.

By on Tuesday, July 08, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000

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

Cons: "Speakers are not great."

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

"Handles well in bad weather. New England can throw us some humdinger weather. Economical fuel. Average highway 33 miles per gallon."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Comfortable, Safe, and Reliable

By on Saturday, June 28, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000

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: "Same as the title"

Cons: "none"

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

"I bought my 2012 Subaru Outback 3.6r Limited in January 2014. I found it to be extremely reliable, comfortable to drive, quiet, and most importantly very safe. On 20 June 2014 I was driving on Colorado Highway 96 when a pickup truck ran a stop sign. I t-boned the pickup at about 55mph. My business partner and I walked away with only bumps, bruises and some aches and pains. No broken bones, no stitches, no scars... I survived!"

6 people out of 8 found this review helpful

A Great Vehicle

By on Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000

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: "Excellent all the way around !"

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

"We first bought one for my wife, we liked it so much we bought a 2nd one for myself. Great car for the money, great quality, great milage."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Great Vehicle, Just too small for us

By on Monday, June 23, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,226

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
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Size, handling, reliability, style. AWD!"

Cons: "lack of rear reading lights."

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

"This is our second Outback Ltd. We sold the 2012 because we put a lot of highway miles on cars. I shouldn't admit 85 mph all the way to New Mexico in Interstates, but we did, and with a 25.7 mpg average over 3,000 miles. The puddle lights were very convenient for the rattle snake areas where we stopped, like my father-in-laws yard. It is a very quiet and comfortable ride with both front and rear leg room comparable to larger vehicles. It is not small by any means. To us the only lacking interior features are no reading lights in the back, the front interior lights blind the driver if turned on at night, and there are no magazine holders behind the front seats. Driving it on winding country roads is reminiscent of my sports car days-this car drives great! The handling and braking are superb."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

2011 Subaru Outback

By on Sunday, June 15, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000

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
7/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Comfortable, capable, economical, quiet."

Cons: "Not a sports car, but no sport utility vehicle is."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

Door open only to let the heat out before I got in to drive. Yes the AC works fine, but it takes a while to cool the vehicle after sitting in the day.

"I have one car to drive daily and live with for years. I chose the 2011 Subaru Outback Premium. After driving it for 4 years, here is my evaluation. Each category based on 10 point scale> Comfortable cruiser:10 -I could drive all day except windy days, when the vehicle gets pushed around by the wind. Fuel Economy:8 For All Wheel Drive -great, I average 29 MPG Exterior styling: 8 I don't like arches over the wheels, headlight assembly looks too busy, other wise is very good! Interior :7 -Uncomfortable seat fabic. light color not suitable for an SUV. Surfaces have a cheap feel. Reliability:10 It has never shown a hint of any kind of failure. Engine:8 -A little noisy at high RPMs, but it rarely gets there. At 65 MPH the engine turns only 2000 RPMs. CVT auto transmission:10 -The trans always select the right ratio and you never feel it shifting. All auto transmissions should be this good!! -Suspension:9 -durable but a little tippy during high speed turns. Instruments and controls:8 -Needs engine temp gauge, Radio a little complicated, traction control and parking brake release buttons not visible from driving position. -Cargo capacity:9 -I have hauled all kinds of bulky items."

17 people out of 18 found this review helpful

Door open only to let the heat out before I got in to drive. Yes the AC works fine, but it takes a while to cool the vehicle after sitting in the day.

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