17 Best & Worst Subaru Outback Years (With Facts & Stats)

The Outback offers a practical alternative to SUVs and sedans – it also has more ground clearance than a regular wagon.

It’s ideal for adventures and is a very capable offroad vehicle with plenty of space for cargo and lots of nice tech features.

If you’re wondering what its best and worst years are, you’ve come to the right place….

Here’s The Short Answer To What The Best And Worst Years For The Subaru Outback Are:

The best Subaru Outback model years are 2022, 2021, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2004, and 2003. The worst model years of the Outback are 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2011, 2006, and 2005. This is based on auto industry reviews, NHTSA statistics, reported problems, and consumer feedback.

What Are The Best Years For The Subaru Outback?

2022 Subaru Outback

What sets the 2022 Outback apart from the earlier models is its upgraded Wilderness variant, which offers higher ground clearance, better suspension, and branded all-terrain tires, among other minor improvements. 

  • Edmunds: 3.7 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.0 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 79 / 100

2022 Subaru Outback, Edmunds review:

“I traded a beautiful 2020 Ford Escape Titanium Hybrid for a 2022 Subaru Outback Limited. I needed better seat comfort, a quiet smoother ride, and more storage for my wife’s travel wheel chair. I am sure I made the right choice.”

2022 Subaru Outback, Kelley Blue Book review:

“Great performance with a great ride. Infotainment can be a little touchy, wish nav used Google maps. Steering can feel a little “electronic ” at times.”

2021 Subaru Outback

The 2021 Outback carries the reinvigorated appearance of the 2020 model year but was far less problematic than the latter.

Minor changes included adaptive headlamps, passenger’s seat belt warning light (and chime), and a rear-seat reminder system. 

  • Edmunds: 3.8 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.0 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 77 / 100

2021 Subaru Outback, Edmunds review:

“So far very pleasant experience. Rides nice, handles nice. Very comfortable vehicle. Power is good. Lots of bells and whistles!!”

2021 Subaru Outback, Kelley Blue Book review:

“Great value and very comfortable. Love the drive and storage capacity. Sound system is incredible. Extremely safe and incredible in the snow.”

2014 Subaru Outback

The 2014 Outback can make an excellent purchase – it has great reliability, safety and collision-avoidance features, and more than enough cargo space.  

  • Edmunds: 4.1 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 80 / 100

2014 Subaru Outback, Edmunds review:

“I really like this car, I’ve been looking into it for the last couple of years. All of the merits fit what I’ve wanted it for. Lots of room, reasonable gas mileage, car-like handling, off-pavement ability… This car gets it done…”

2014 Subaru Outback, Kelley Blue Book review:

“I’ve had my 2014 Subaru Outback 2.5i manual transmission for 8 years, 2014 was the final year for manual transmission in the Outback. I’ve done all the routine maintenance on it myself and have had zero trips to the mechanic/dealer for anything. Everything works as it did from the date of purchase, no breakdowns, maintenance lights, etc…”

2012 and 2013 Subaru Outback

The 2012 and 2013 Outback are considered to be two of the strongest entries of the vehicle line from the Japanese vehicle manufacturer due to their fuel economy, safety features, and updated CVT (continuously variable transmission). 

2012 Subaru Outback:

  • Edmunds: 3.7 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 82 / 100

2013 Subaru Outback:

  • Edmunds: 3.8 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 80 / 100

2012 Subaru Outback, Edmunds review:

“Had the car now since Sept 2012, my 6th Subaru and the best so far. My first was a 84′ GL wagon and I’ve been in love with Subaru’s ever since. They are more refined now and offer a lot more creature comforts but still have that unique character that makes a Subaru a Subaru…”

2012 and 2013 Subaru Outback, Kelley Blue Book review:

“I truly like this car! I’m looking to perhaps get a newer Subaru Outback, seeing how the pricing of vehicles right now could help me get the newer model!”

2007, 2008, and 2009 Subaru Outback

Although relatively old in terms of vehicle age, the trio of Outback model years are strong contenders primarily because of its offering of multiple trim levels, which welcomes any type of Subaru owner, old and new alike. 

2007 Subaru Outback:

  • Edmunds: 4.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0

2008 Subaru Outback:

  • Edmunds: 4.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 78 / 100

2009 Subaru Outback:

  • Edmunds: 4.3 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0
  • JD Power: 79 / 100

2009 Subaru Outback, Edmunds review:

“The last of the original Outback models, before they got too big. Good handling, decent fuel economy, reasonable comfort, great reliability, good resale. Hard to beat a Subaru.”

2008 Subaru Outback, Kelley Blue Book review:

“The car has been super reliable. We have put repairs into it… cv joints, replaced the turbo charger and power steering pump. Have kept up with regular oil changes and scheduled belt and hose replacements. Drives like a Cadillac! Love this car!”

2003 and 2004 Subaru Outback

These model years may be the oldest (and riskiest), but if you are on a really tight budget, either the 2003 or the 2004 Subaru Outback is a good purchase because of its fuel economy, simplistic design, and powerful engine.

Just make sure to know how to look for a quality vehicle in the second-hand vehicle market.

2003 Subaru Outback:

  • Edmunds: 4.5 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0

2004 Subaru Outback:

  • Edmunds: 4.5 / 5.0
  • Kelley Blue Book: 4.3 / 5.0

2003 Subaru Outback, Edmunds review:

“This car has been a workhorse, grocery-getter, commuter car, and family truckster for us. It still runs great and we hope to get 200k out of it. The exterior has held up well. The car has been dependable.”

Consumer Scores For Best Subaru Outback Years

Below is a table that presents all the consumer ratings of the best Subaru Outback model years from reputable vehicle websites:

Model YearEdmunds’ Consumer RatingKelley Blue Book’s Consumer RatingJD Power’s Consumer Rating
2022 Subaru Outback3.7 / 5.04.0 / 5.079 / 100
2021 Subaru Outback3.8 / 5.04.0 / 5.077 / 100
2014 Subaru Outback4.1 / 5.04.3 / 5.080 / 100
2013 Subaru Outback3.8 / 5.04.3 / 5.080 / 100
2012 Subaru Outback3.7 / 5.04.3 / 5.082 / 100
2009 Subaru Outback4.3 / 5.04.3 / 5.079 / 100
2008 Subaru Outback4.3 / 5.04.3 / 5.078 / 100
2007 Subaru Outback4.3 / 5.04.3 / 5.0NA
2004 Subaru Outback4.5 / 5.04.3 / 5.0NA
2003 Subaru Outback4.5 / 5.04.3 / 5.0NA

Related: How Long Do Subaru Outbacks Last? (Solved & Explained)

What Are The Worst Years For The Subaru Outback?

The models listed below are the versions of the vehicle that you may want to steer clear of.

2020 Subaru Outback

The 2020 Subaru Outback’s biggest flaw was its windshield spontaneously cracking.

It also had issues with its blindspot warning system. A lot of users reported that there were several instances wherein they were not warned about nearby vehicles, leading to accidents. 

The 2020 Outback had a total of 48 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 813 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common Problems:

  • Windshield cracked
  • Touch screen blanked
  • Battery failure

2019 Subaru Outback

The 2019 Outback had several issues, but the most prominent and frequent problem was how fragile the windshield was.

Several owners reported cracks, dents, or scratches on their windshields appearing out of nowhere.

The 2019 Outback had a total of 54 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 792 problems at CarProblemZoo.com

Common Problems:

  • Windshield crack
  • Dead battery
  • Unintended acceleration

2018 Subaru Outback

An unfortunate instance that frequently happened for many 2018 Outback owners was constant battery drain and/or premature battery depletion.

This led to several unfortunate and inconvenient instances where owners were left stranded and had to call for breakdown services to have the battery replaced. 

The 2018 Outback had a total of 140 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 747 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common Problems:

  • Windshield cracks easily
  • Dead battery
  • Steering pulls to the side

2017 Subaru Outback

Much like the 2018 Outback above, the 2017 model year had its fair share of complaints around its battery and battery charging system, leading to cars failing to start repeatedly and oftentimes consecutively within the same month. 

The 2017 Outback had a total of 110 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 867 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common Problems:

  • Dead battery
  • Cracked windshield
  • Touch screen radio freezes up and will not operate

2011 Subaru Outback

The 2011 Subaru Outback had several issues that were significant safety risks.

Power steering randomly stopping, engine frequently stalling, and transmission failure were but a few of the cited powertrain-related issues of this model year. 

The 2011 Outback had a total of 90 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 753 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common Problems:

  • Transmission failure
  • Stalling while braking, stopping
  • Shuddering

2005 and 2006 Subaru Outback

The 2005 and 2006 Outback model years dabbled in cruise control technology and did so unsuccessfully.

A lot of owners reported faulty cruise control, leading to overspeeding, underspeeding, and even non-responsiveness. 

The 2005 and 2006 Outback models had a total of 78 complaints at CarComplaints.com and 737 problems at CarProblemZoo.com.

Common Problems:

  • Oil leaking out of heads
  • Check engine light on, cruise control blinking, no acceleration
  • Head gasket leaking

Related: Subaru Outback Tune-Up & Maintenance Costs (Complete Guide)

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

There are several Subaru Outback model years, both old and new, that have received numerous complaints through the years. Listed below are complaints and problems listed for each model year: 

Model YearComplaints (CarComplaints.com)Problems (CarProblemZoo.com)
2022 Subaru Outback8177
2021 Subaru Outback29188
2020 Subaru Outback48813
2019 Subaru Outback54792
2018 Subaru Outback140747
2017 Subaru Outback110867
2016 Subaru Outback109623
2015 Subaru Outback159539
2014 Subaru Outback106246
2013 Subaru Outback75338
2012 Subaru Outback51320
2011 Subaru Outback90753
2010 Subaru Outback60437
2009 Subaru Outback12130
2008 Subaru Outback42269
2007 Subaru Outback35170
2006 Subaru Outback44397
2005 Subaru Outback34340
2004 Subaru Outback11109
2003 Subaru Outback22115
2002 Subaru Outback13170
2001 Subaru Outback10204
2000 Subaru Outback23243
1999 Subaru Outback3150
1998 Subaru Outback2165
1997 Subaru Outback2794
1996 Subaru Outback357

What Problems Do Subaru Outbacks Have?

Based on the information we have gathered online, here are the most common issues that you may encounter with a Subaru Outback:

  • Excessive oil consumption
  • Transmission failure
  • Windshield cracks easily 

What Are The Best Alternatives To The Subaru Outback?

The Subaru Outback is among the few genuine wagons in the modern market.

Listed below are the rankings of the Outback and its direct competitors.

Make & ModelScoreMSRPFuel Economy (MPG)
Volvo V908.6$55,200City: NA /Highway: NA
Audi A6 Allroad8.4$66,900City: 20 / Highway: 26
Volvo V608.4$46,200 – $67,300City: 22 /Highway: 31
Audi A4 Allroad8.3$45,500City: 24 / Highway: 30
Subaru Outback8.2$27,145 – $40,145City: 22 – 26 /Highway: 26 – 33
Volvo XC707.0$19,151 – $23,281City: 19 – 23 /Highway: 26 – 31

Source: cars.usnews.com

Related: 8 Most Common Subaru Outback Problems (Explained)










  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...