The Subaru Outback is a pretty bulletproof vehicle made by Fuji industries under the Subaru brand name and despite being a reliable vehicle, the car/SUV does have some caveats. Also known as the Subaru Legacy, the Outback has been around enough years to iron out most of the kinks, but there are still twenty reasons why buyers may not want to purchase this vehicle. On the plus side, The Outback has a kick-ass symmetrical AWD system that outperforms anything else on the car market and that handling may be enough to counter the problems listed below. Most of the points below refer to the new sixth generation Subaru Outback 2020 model, but many of them also apply to the previous Outback models including the fifth generation (2015 – 2019) and the fourth generation (2009 – 2014)
The Very Worst Fault With The Subaru Outback Is:
- It is an insanely difficult task to replace headlight bulbs in the Subaru Outback. When attempting to replace the main-beam headlight bulbs, the car must be jacked up and the front wheels must be removed. Then, the wheel arch panels must be removed to gain access to the back of the headlights just to replace a broken bulb. This is a sad but true statement about the Subaru Outback and it is a common lament by Subaru owners and Subaru mechanics the world over. When they discover how much labor must go into performing such a simple task of replacing a bulb, owners are shocked. The problem speaks to a fundamental design flaw that Fuji industries cannot seem to resolve and ends up costing Outback owners a small fortune in labor costs every time a bulb blows. Even worse, an Outback owner cannot do this themselves unless they have half a day available to spend messing around with a jack.
- The Outback also has a problem with the ‘auto’ light setting, which compounds the bulb replacement access problem above by burning out the headlights prematurely. Whenever daylight gets a little dim (like driving through a tunnel, or int the shade), the headlights instantly come on and then off again as soon as light improves. Most cars avoid immediate response on this, but the Outback will keep rapidly flicking the lights off and then on when light changes, until the bulbs finally burn out and then it is time for the wheels to come off for a bulb replacement.
- Many of the Subaru car parts are proprietary, making them quite expensive and rare to find. This can cause delivery delays and price gouging when urgent fixes are needed. Subaru vehicles often require special tools for mechanics to work on them, meaning that not every garage can undertake work on the Outback. E.G. proprietary wheel bearings that fail after 60K miles and the non standard ratchet required for the Boxer engine cylinder head.
- The Subaru driver assist ‘eyesight’ system takes up a large amount of real estate in the car windshield and interferes with an owners use of their own dash cam, radar, nav, EZ Pass and any other windshield mounted items that an owner may want to use.
- Subaru does not have a good record into owning up to past mistakes and it has taken a number of consumer lawsuits to force them to fix dangerous problems with past Subaru Outbacks see: http://www.subarucomplaints.com
- LED brake lights are still not standard on the Subaru Outback. Studies show that quick-response LED brake lights can provide an extra 25 feet of braking distance for cars behind, often making all the difference from a safety perspective/ LED brake lights save lives and Subaru has yet to receive that memo.
- If Subaru owners attempt to add their own LED bulbs to the Subaru Outback, all manner of error lights will appear on the dashboard as the on-board computer is expecting to see the electrical resistance of an incandescent bulb and now thinks that the old-style light has blown and will notify the driver by flashing all sorts of error lights on the dashboard and then switching off cruise control or traction control to boot.
- With the introduction of the turbo for the more powerful Outback models, the reliability of the top version of the Subaru Outback just went downhill, fast. Turbos often will break when they are needed the most and this failure will render the car inoperable. Adding a turbo to a vehicle design is an engineers way of getting more horsepower and better efficiency out of a smaller engine, but its introduction brings significantly less reliability over time. That may be fine on the Subaru WRX model, but not on the old faithful Subaru Outback that has been known to be a longstanding workhorse and now may have jumped the shark.
- In the 2020 model, the rear cargo space just went down by 3 cu ft, but leg room went up by the same amount. Go figure, longer legs and less luggage.
- Memory seats are still not an option, even on the top of the line model. For anyone that shares a car with another, this feature has been outstanding on the Subaru Outback for quite some time.
- The Outback still suffers from sticking windows, that will not roll down if the vehicle has been standing for a while. A quick elbow to the window temporarily solves the problem, but could be devastating if the car is already underwater and there is no other way out.
- The problems with leaking engine oil on the Outback have have still not been solved, requiring the engine to be regularly topped up with appropriate oil.
- After adding engine oil, it often takes over 15 minutes for the oil light to go out even though the oil is now actually full. This because the computer likes to take its time to re-assess the oil level and this action confuses many Outback owners who then add even more oil.
- The 2020 Subaru Outback still does not come in a hybrid or electric version. An all-electric version of this popular vehicle is still twenty years away for Fuji Industries, but a new partnership with Toyota may deliver earlier than date.
- The 2020 model is the sixth generation model of the Subaru Outback and savvy buyers know that should never buy the first year of any model car, unless they are going to lease the vehicle. At the end of the lease they can hand the car back with all its problems to the dealer and wash their hands of any problems that seem to manifest themselves in the first versions. If there are no problems with the car, lessees can then choose to just buy it for the pre-agreed amount on the lease, which means that they were able to avoid all the risk. Its a three year long test drive!
- The choice of accessories for the Subaru Outback is significantly less than other comparable vehicles. For instance, no manufacturer makes a chrome bumper protector to protect the paint on the top of the bumper from being scratched when loading the vehicle. They do offer a black plastic version, but it is both expensive and downright ugly.