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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 261 Ratings for the 2010 - 2014 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
    8.5/10

Best Car I've Owned

By on Monday, May 16, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000

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
9/10
Comfort
10/10

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

"This Outback has been outstanding overall for performance and reliability. The 3.6L six cyl engine is very quiet and has excellent torque -- very quick in acceleration, both from standing start and for passing on highway. At steady highway speeds easily gets 28-30 mpg. The all-wheel drive makes it very stable and secure on wet roads. At 5 years the seats are still very comfortable and interior has remained in excellent condition and appearance. Very satisfied in almost every way."

2 people out of 9 found this review helpful

Poor dealer repair service. Quality not great!

By on Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,000

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
3/10
Reliability
3/10
Quality
3/10
Performance
3/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "Good interior space. Smooth ride"

Cons: "Too many problems"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3

"Have 2010 2.5i Outback since new. The ride is smooth but my gas mileage has lowered in the last 20K or so. I don't race and keep oil changed regularly. Quality of the car is only ok probably since it's US assembly. The hatch is very hard to close. The driver head rest is extremely uncomfortable. Thrusting head forward giving neck pain. Like other owner reports, car kept stalling around 30K. Dealer didn't know how to fix it, kept reprogramming the computer. Finally after 3 try, went to another dealer. They replaced the cam sensor. This should not have happen that early. I believe is defective part. At 60K, car hesitated on acceleration and throttle intake needed cleaning. I owned many other Japanese, none of those cars needing this done and all ran smoothly. Subaru is high maintenance. Dealer requires much more work than owner's manual stated. They also do not train their mechanic properly. Sloppy oil change, spill oil all over my engine block causing bad burnt smell. I will be replacing this car soon. Hopefully resell value is ok."

Superb vehicle

By on Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000

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: "Holds the road; high resale price."

Cons: "No focused rear reading lights; make it bigger!"

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

"The worst thing I could say about this vehicle is Subaru should have put in focused reading lights in back and shielded the front interior overhead lights from the driver. At 48000 miles the wheels are still in alignment despite bumps and curbs and the tires still have lots of tread. I have gotten up to 36 MPG on road trips, but drive it faster most of the time and the overall MPG has been 25, as Subaru claims. Nothing has needed replacing except one headlight bulb and one tail bulb. I had larger SUVs prior to the Outback (Yukon XL, Several Mitsubishi Montero Sports) and wish Subaru made one Yukon size. I remain a Montero Sport fan and recently rented one in Costa Rica. That would be my preferred vehicle, but Mitsubishi quit selling them in the USA years ago."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

My Subaru is amazing, I love it so much!

By on Wednesday, April 13, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000

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
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "FUN TO DRIVE. TONS OF SPACE"

Cons: "The color is terrible, and it needs a turbo."

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

"I love my Subaru Outback, it has tons of room in the back, the backseats lay down, which I love. I also really enjoy the transmission where I can manually change the gears, I feel like I am in a race car. This car has tons of power, and I know I can rely on it to take me anywhere. I will always be buying a Subaru from now on. You all need to make an outback with a turbo and I will be the first one to buy one!! HUGS AND KISSES----SKI... Love, that's what makes Subaru a Subaru."

6 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Love my 2014

By on Tuesday, March 29, 2016

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: "quality, size, towing"

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

"I bought my 2014 new and usually drive until they drive no more. 27000 miles and no trouble with anything. The mpg is a little less than expected, but I also drive faster than expected. Does great on wet and snowy gravel roads. It's a great size, holds my 2 large dogs and plenty of stuff when I travel and does great during my occasional towing."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Some good features, some bad features.

By on Monday, March 21, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, good in rain and snow."

Cons: "Brakes worry me. Electronics frustrating."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6

"In the good news department, this car is comfortable and easy to drive in rain and snow. IMO, the forward visibility is great and the heated leather front seats are good for over 400 miles before you go crazy. My passengers tell me the rear seats are comfy too. (they are not heated - I think they are in 2016 models). Others have criticized Subaru paint, but so far so good for me. The 6cyl is smooth and powerful, and I have gotten over 30mpg on long trips. Of course, if you like to drive fast like I do, mileage suffers. My overall mpg since purchase is +/- 25 mpg. In the not good news dept, the brakes are scary disappointing. If you don't learn to paddle downshift, you will probably rear end someone sooner or later. I wrote S.O.A about them only to get a terse reply that something must be wrong with my car. Huh? Having talked to other Subaru owners and several Subaru sales reps, it appears the brake issue extends beyond my vehicle. To put it bluntly, my T&C van stops better than my Outback. Others have written about the electronics in great detail. The most complete KBB review is called "not the car for me", written 3/29/12 by bhacken. Everyone should read it. It applies to my car perfectly. The phone system, as currently designed, is too frustrating to use for outgoing calls. When we are driving and need to make a call, my wife calls from her cell and then we use the car system once the person we are calling picks up. Incoming calls are no problem. I rent cars regularly and know from experience that there are better systems available. My sales rep tells me the 2016 cars are better, but that doesn't help me. The dash board and controls are not user friendly either. Other observations include. 1. The owners manual has to be one of the most poorly written ever. 2. As others have written, this car needs autolocks. I have a 2002 sedan with them; the technology is not new. 3. A compass should be standard, and not located on the mirror. SOA advertising centers around "adventure", and they make a compass an option in their adventure machine? I don't understand their rational. 4. The doors need better insulation. Someone else commented on cold doors, and I concur. When it gets closed to zero, you will notice the cold air pouring in around both the door handles and window buttons. Never had a car with that problem before. 5. The screen for radio info and backup camera is tiny compared with ones in cars I have rented. 6. Others have commented on how hard it is to seen the dashboard dials and the screen in direct sunlight. I agree. Overall, I do like driving this car, especially now that I am aware of its quirks. However, I wonder if I would buy another. The brakes as currently configured worry me, and the current phone and radio setup is maddening. If you are interested in this vehicle I encourage you to do the following before you buy or lease. 1. Go out on an Interstate and do a panic stop from 70mph and decide for yourself re the brakes. 2. See if you can figure out how to program the phone and make outgoing calls. (My score of 6 is due primarily to my wariness of the brakes and unhappiness with the phone)."

5 people out of 7 found this review helpful

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