Subaru Outback Overland Profile

The words “Subaru Outback” instantly reminisce our mind back to the advertisements featuring Crocodile Dundee star and the Outback’s spokesperson Paul Hogan.

The Subaru Outback has finished 5 generations and is currently on the 6th. It started as a trim level to two other models – the Legacy and Impreza.

Now, it has risen to become Subaru’s most successfully selling model of its own – at an average sales of 180,000 Outbacks per year, solidly just in the U.S.

Not to mention that this wagon-SUV crossover was named after Australia’s remote wilderness. As the name defines, the Outback is meant to be a smart, off-road vehicle. It can also be an awesome overland vehicle for those who value substance over style.

The Subaru Outback, which was launched by Fuji Heavy Industries, has been reaping more profits recently than its complicated early days.

Models

ModelYearsEngineBHPTorque (lb-ft)MPG (city/hwy)
Wagon LS19962.2 Liter 4-cylinder Boxer135 @ 5400 RPM140 @ 4400 RPM19 / 26
H6 3.0 Wagon20013.0 Liter H-6212 @ 6000 RPM210 @ 4400 RPM20 / 27
2.5XT Limited Wagon20082.5 Liter H-4243 @ 6000 RPM241 @ 3600 RPM18 / 24
2.5i Wagon20092.5 Liter H-4170 @ 6000 RPM170 @ 4400 RPM20 / 27
3.6R20123.6 Liter H-6256 @ 6000 RPM247 @ 4400 RPM18 / 25
2.5 Limited PZEV20152.5 Liter H-4175 @ 5800 RPM174 @ 4000 RPM25 / 33
2.5i Premium20172.5 Liter H-4175 @ 5800 RPM174 @ 4000 RPM25 / 32
3.6R Touring20193.6 Liter H-6256 @ 6000 RPM247 @ 4400 RPM20 / 27
Touring XT20212.4 Liter H-4260 @ 5600 RPM277 @ 2000 RPM23 / 30

Cost

★★★☆☆

Purchasing Cost

Starting with the price tag, you can get a new or used Subaru Outback anywhere from $6,500 – $41,070. One important note is that models before 2010 that have 2.5 liter turbo-four engines are notorious for head gasket issues. Subaru has not made a recall on it yet.

Thus, always do a full pre-purchase inspection to safeguard yourself from wasting a few hundred or even thousands in some cases. I would suggest going for the more recent years, specifically 2014 and after, as several 2000s models had more than just the gasket issue…

The Subaru Outback is sold primarily in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Japan. It is not as popular in Europe and Asia, but you can always import one. Ensure that the import fees don’t exceed your planned budget. In my view, importing an Outback is not worth the price and stress.

There are several other alternatives to the Outback which can bring much more overall value.

Maintenance Cost

Proper vehicle maintenance is the cornerstone of longevity. According to Motor Biscuit, the average cost of maintaining an Outback is $607 per year – which is a little over the competitors’. Fuel efficiency has not been the best or worst of the Outback. 

All 5 generations have seen an average of 21 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway. From the first year of the 6th Gen, 2019 model year, the fuel economy became one of the class-leading rates with 25 mpg and 32 mpg in the city and highway respectively.

Other than that, the Outback will not rob you much with the bills – at least on the gas.

Reliability

★★☆☆☆

On the whole, the Subaru Outback has an above average rating of 3.5/5 in reliability as it has garnered some faithful followers and loyalists over the past one and a half decades. However, there are some inherent flaws of the Outback, which took a huge toll on its reliability.

Many 2nd and 3rd generation models came with numerous issues in the drivetrain, transmission, windshields, wheels, and hubs.

The revised CVT version for the 2010+ models was a lot more capable and repair-free. Even in those years of complications and a high number of complaints, the 2009 model stood out and proved the simplistic originality of the Outback and won Motor Trend’s SUV of the Year.

Parts

★★★☆☆

Accessibility

You can access parts for your vehicle through several dealers like Subaru Parts Warehouse or just a local dealer.

Subarus are popular almost globally so, getting parts is not an issue at all.

Aftermarket Upgrades

The aftermarket support for a Subaru Outback is quite decent. However, you can’t expect the options to be as vast as a Defender’s or Ford’s.

Storage

★★★★☆

Space is essentially unlimited in an Outback. There is tons of spacious cabin room, headroom, legroom, and underfloor storage. You can also fold the back row of seats for an even more plentiful cargo room.

The Outback has gradually increased the mainly height and width by a few inches in every other generation. 

Outback 2.5i Wagon (2009)

Overall Length189.0”
Overall Width69.7”
Wheelbase105.1”
Unladen Height61.6”
Unladen Weight3357 – 3402 lbs
Gross Vehicle Weight4435 lbs

Outback 2.5 Limited PZEV (2015)

Overall Length189.6”
Overall Width81.3”
Wheelbase108.1”
Unladen Height66.1”
Unladen Weight3633 lbs
Gross Vehicle Weight4695 lbs

Outback Touring XT (2021)

Overall Length191.3”
Overall Width81.8”
Wheelbase108.1”
Unladen Height66.1”
Unladen Weight3937 lbs
Gross Vehicle Weight5026 lbs

Comfort

★★★☆☆

With such ample space, there’s a lot to incorporate into the vehicle for enhancing customer’s comfort. As of now, the latest model flaunts a standard 7 inch Starlink multimedia system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Pandora integrated.

It also boasts the Harman Kardon Premium audio system with 12 speakers. But the drawback is that, though the ideas are slick and stylish enough to attract buyers, Subaru lags in the proper implementation.

Users have complained of connectivity and touch responsiveness issues with the infotainment system and poor audio quality in the sound system. And no, this is not in a 10-year-old 2011 model. It’s for the 2021 model!

So… let’s just hope for more practical comfort in the 2022 model.

Safety

★★★★☆

The Outback has a long list of standard safety features that have defined the brand itself. The 2014 Subaru Outback won the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s top safety pick and was rated a full 5-star safety rating by National Traffic Safety Administration. 

Standard features of the Subaru Outback include steering responsive headlight, adaptive cruise control, 8 airbags, anti-lock brakes, rear-seat reminder, etc. Out of all, the EyeSight Driver Assist Technology is the most applaudable safety suite.

It includes features like pre-collision braking system and high beam assist system that effectively illuminate the road ahead.

Off-Road

★★☆☆☆

The Outback was marketed partly as a family-friendly vehicle with rugged off-road capabilities. The new Subaru Global platform after 2019 enables better off-road handling than its predecessors.

It can endure well through harsh, inclement weather. The Outback has increased the ground clearance to 8.7 inches and comes standard with the off-road friendly hill-descent control feature. 

Basis2.5i Wagon (2009)2.5 Limited PZEV (2015)Touring XT (2021)
Break-over Angle (°)19.72019.4
Approach Angle (°)18.719.318.6
Departure Angle (°)2222.721.7
Min. Ground Clearance (inch)8.48.78.7

The X-Mode off-road driving feature in the higher trim levels is another eye candy for outdoor enthusiasts. 

In my opinion, though it’s not in competition with the off-road strengths and might of a Tacoma or Raptor, the Outback can still strongly withstand the roughness of the wild at the back roads.

Subaru Outback Overland Build Example

Equipment

  • Roof Rack: Thule Rapid Podium BLACK WingBar Evo Roof Rack
  • Tent: iKamper Skycamp Rooftop Tent
  • Fridge: ACOPOWER P15 Portable Compressor Fridge Freezer
  • Compressor: VIAIR 200 Series Air Compressor
  • Water Storage: Rotopax 3 Gal Jerry Can

Drivetrain

  • Tires: BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM2
  • Wheels: Black Rhino Barstow Textured Wheels
  • Suspension: Ironman 4X4 All Terrain Suspension Kit
  • Front Differential: Phantom Grip front LSD
  • Rear Differentiaal: Torq-Masters Subaru R160 rear lockers
  • Central Differential: 4EAT Subaru Center Diff lock

Armor

  • Front Bumper: Evan-Fischer Front Bumper
  • Rear Bumper: Sherman Rear Bumper
  • Rock Slider: LP Adventure Rock Sliders

Recovery

Lighting

  • Light Bar: Heretic Studio 40 Inch Light Bar
  • Rock Lights: Lumen LED RGB Rock Lights
  • Reverse Lights: Diode Dynamics Backup LEDs
  • Camp Lights: Extreme LED 3″ Flush Mount Scene Light
  • Interior Lights: Linkstyle Car Roof Light

Electrical

  • Power: Lion Safari ME Solar Generator
  • Solar: Lion Safari ME Solar Panel
  • Battery: Battle Born LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Battery

Conclusion

If you’re looking to get the next set of wheels for your Overlanding journey, the Outback may be the one perfectly compatible with your needs.

The fifth and sixth generations are definitely the sweet spots for me! The Subaru Outback is a masterstroke in value for money and experience. Not just that, the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness edition is already making headlines.

This wagon-SUV crossover can be one clever, low-cost alternative for overlanding, just as what Paul Hogan said – if you pick the right year and model!

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