Subaru Outbacks

Rot Box

Diesel and Dust
Location
Smithfield Utah
I swear we had a Subaru thread somewhere.. Sorry if we do :eek:

We bought my 98 Honda CR-V about seven years ago for $4200 with 120K miles on the odometer. It just turned over 200k this month and has asked for very little (almost nothing) in return other than routine maintenance. I know it has some life left in it but more and more lately my wife and I have been considering replacing it with something newer. I always thought I'd replace it with another newer CR-V when the time came. Right away I've noticed ~100k mile CR-V's are no longer in the $5000 dollar range--they are double or triple that amount.

So tell me about Subaru's.. I get the love thing I owned an 84 GL hatchback which was the sweetest car ever! haha :D I'm thinking 05 or newer Outback or possibly Forester.

Needs:

Wagon
Automatic transmission.
25+ mpg.
Non sport/impreza model (size limitations)
I really don't want to spend more than 10k. If it's going to cost more than 10k I'm probably going to be looking at the CR-V's again.

Wants:

4cylinder for fuel economy.
Turbo. I like turbos.
I'm hoping to gain a beefier drivetrain compared to the CR-V. Can the Outback handle dirt roads? We'll use it for daily driving in the winter months (AWD) along with camping, visiting the state and national parks, fishing trips, drive to trailheads (hiking), occasional fire roads etc.

Concerns:

Head gaskets! I could change them I guess but I really don't want to. Did they all have HG issues or some worse than others?
Reliability. I need this car to be able to take my wife and kids to Arizona during any month of the year and not give me a panic attack.
Turbo model reliability.

What years should I be looking for? Newer the better or? I don't want to end up with a major drivetrain issue because 'oh yeah those were the troublesome years/models etc'. Is a 4cylinder Subaru going to make it to 200k miles mostly trouble free like my Honda did?

Thanks for any help or advice,

Andrew
 

Greg

Starting Over
Admin
If I were looking for a AWD Wagon with a turbo, I'd HAVE to choose a Volvo over a Subaru.... but I don't like Subi's. :p

(I've actually driven/checked out Volvo's before, I think they're neat, well built cars that are more reliable than a Subaru... and you can lift them!! - http://www.xc70liftkit.com/ )
620a909f82a810506f49b44a66cfc596.jpg


Here's the thread, I'll move it to the Cars sub-forum. - www.rme4x4.com/showthread.php?80738-Subaru-getting-past-the-hype
 

TurboMinivan

Still plays with cars
Location
Lehi, UT
7415_Lucy_cutout_888.jpg

:rofl:

Right away I've noticed ~100k mile CR-V's are no longer in the $5000 dollar range--they are double or triple that amount.

Welcome to the current used car market. Things have changed significantly in the last seven years.

Needs:

Wagon
Automatic transmission.
25+ mpg.

You'll easily achieve these goals with nearly any n/a slushbox Outback or Forester.

I really don't want to spend more than 10k. If it's going to cost more than 10k I'm probably going to be looking at the CR-V's again.

FYI: earlier this year, Subaru was again awarded Highest Resale Value Brand in America--yes, above Honda and Toyota (and everybody else). There are numerous reasons for this, but a key one is simple: people will pay Real Money for a used Subaru with high miles. On the whole, the cars are known for being durable--and efficient, and safe, and all-wheel drive--so that keeps demand high, which keeps prices high.

Wants:

4cylinder for fuel economy.
Turbo. I like turbos.

So, which is it? ;) I can assure you of this: unless you never get into boost, the turbo is going to significantly reduce your fuel economy. Furthermore, the turbo will demand 91 octane at all times, whereas the n/a models run happily on regular.

On the topic: the turbo Outback used a 5-speed automatic, whereas the turbo Forester used a 4-speed automatic. This doesn't matter as far as fuel economy is concerned--they will both return similar fuel economy when driven similarly. FYI, I bought the first turbo Forester our dealership got, an automatic. I kept it for 10.5 months, and in that time I typically saw 21 mpg overall (I wasn't afraid to use the turbo). After I sold it, I replaced it with a 2001 Camaro SS 6-speed. Driven in a similar manner on the same roads and routes, the Camaro got better fuel economy (usually 22-23 mpg overall).

If you want to see 25+ mpg on any sort of regular basis, you're gonna need to skip the turbo models.

Can the Outback handle dirt roads?

Not only yes, but hell yes. As far as the center diff is concerned, the Outback and Forester use the same AWD system. However, most Outbacks had an honest-to-goodness limited slip rear diff that the Foresters lacked. Once the newer models began incorporating ESC, the limited slip diff was discontinued. This is a good thing, in that the ESC models can route power to any wheel(s) as needed much more effectively than the older models, giving them better off-road performance in seriously rutted terrain (where wheel travel limitations can lift a tire). This is where the true beauty of Subaru's AWD mastery comes in, allowing them to tackle hills and terrain that will stop a CR-V (or RAV4) dead in its tracks.

We'll use it for daily driving in the winter months (AWD) along with camping, visiting the state and national parks, fishing trips, drive to trailheads (hiking), occasional fire roads etc.

Ask Brett how well his wife's 2013 Outback gets up to their cabin.

Concerns:

Head gaskets! I could change them I guess but I really don't want to. Did they all have HG issues or some worse than others?

The head gasket issue began appearing with the newly-introduced DOHC 2.5L engine back in the late '90s. It took a few years for problems to come to light, of course. Once Subaru knew what had happened, they redesigned the engine into the SOHC 2.5L for the 2001 model year. The new head design significantly reduced HG issues, but due primarily to a materials issue you could still see HG problems around 100k miles. They ultimately began phasing in MLS gaskets. This has caused HG problems to become much less frequent. When you do see an issue, it typically involves an oil leak rather than overheating.

If you want to avoid all this, I'd suggest doing one of two things: buy the newest car you can, or buy one that has had gaskets replaced. Even if you did face a gasket issue, it's not the end of the world--it's a simple enough repair.

Reliability. I need this car to be able to take my wife and kids to Arizona during any month of the year and not give me a panic attack.

Then don't ask Brett about driving his 2013 Outback to St George. :eek:

Full disclosure: for some reason, his car's CVT transmission does not like driving on the highway for hours at a time... and when he does, the fluid gets hot. I am baffled by this, since I have no other customers who have reported the same behavior (even one who drives from Pleasant Grove to Denver and back multiple times every month). Nevertheless, it happens to him. The older transmissions are old school gear boxes and I've never heard of a single one having this problem.

What years should I be looking for?

Generations: Outback 2001-2004, 2005-2009, 2010-1014, 2015+. Forester 2003-2008, 2009-2013, 2014+.

Through the 2010 model year, the Outback and Forester both used the same SOHC 2.5L n/a engine. For 2011, the Forester received an all-new DOHC 2.5L engine; the Outback did not get this new engine until the 2013 model year. Those models will undoubtedly be priced out of your desired range, however. Through 2009, all 2.5L n/a Outbacks used the 4-speed automatic transmission. Starting in 2010, the Outback switched to the CVT instead. The Forester did not get the CVT until 2014; before then they were all 4-speed automatics. Unless you do something truly abusive, the 4-speed automatics tend to be very durable.

Is a 4cylinder Subaru going to make it to 200k miles mostly trouble free like my Honda did?

We routinely see Outbacks and Foresters with 150k-200k come in on trade that are running fine. On the flip side, we also see neglected ones come in that need significant work/maintenance. So as with many cars, I'd say condition/care is king. Even though you want a car with 100k (or less), I'd still say a careful inspection will tell you if it is a contender. Signs of mechanical neglect should be a serious turn-off.

I hope all this helps.
 
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Rot Box

Diesel and Dust
Location
Smithfield Utah
If I were looking for a AWD Wagon with a turbo, I'd HAVE to choose a Volvo over a Subaru.... but I don't like Subi's. :p

I've always been intrigued by Volvos for a number of reasons.. Hmm. Gonna have to look into it further.

EDIT: Thanks for the link. I knew we had a Subaru thread around here somewhere :D
 
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Rot Box

Diesel and Dust
Location
Smithfield Utah
I hope all this helps.

It does thanks a bunch! I didn't consider the turbocharger decreasing fuel milage. It's always been a win-win for me on diesels, but I've never owned a gas powered vehicle with forced induction--good to know. I'd be more than happy with a n/a 4cylinder for our needs.

The ESC is something I have not heard of any idea on when that became available? The AWD on my CR-V has been great but it's definitely not designed for anything more than a dirt road or snow day.

Sounds like I should be safe with an 05 or newer Outback as far as head gaskets go. I'm fine with changing them if it's a random issue--if they all do it no matter what then I might pass. I imagine there's upgraded/aftermarket gaskets out there..

Thanks again :cool:
 

TurboMinivan

Still plays with cars
Location
Lehi, UT
The ESC is something I have not heard of any idea on when that became available?

It first appeared on a select model Outback (read: top of the line) way back in 2002 or so, though it didn't expand to the full lineup until six or seven years later. I know it became standard across the entire brand for 2009, but I think it wasn't standard on every model of Outback before then.

The AWD on my CR-V has been great but it's definitely not designed for anything more than a dirt road or snow day.

Even just the front-to-rear AWD power delivery of the Subaru outclasses just about all their competitors. Most other brands utilize setups which cannot send torque to the rear once significant resistance is encountered, such as weight transfer when climbing a hill:

(This is an excerpt from a training video)
[video=youtube;0_MXK2nzt2Y]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_MXK2nzt2Y[/video]

Now mix in the added capability of ESC, and most people are astonished at what a Subaru can do in challenging conditions.

(Sorry for the dopey music--I didn't make this video)
[video=youtube;8CEVet095GI]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CEVet095GI[/video]
 

Rot Box

Diesel and Dust
Location
Smithfield Utah
My wife picked up a black 07 Outback 2.5i with 100k miles on it yesterday. Long story but kinda funny.. or depressing depending on how you look at it :sick:

It was two hours away and I could not miss work. It was a tough decision but I gave her a list of things to look out for and I crossed my fingers. She went down there with a friend and fell in love with the car. As she was driving home she called and told me the check engine light came on, then the cruise control light started flashing. (then my heart rate went up). She later called me because the car was "bouncing" in the canyon so she pulled over (that's when my heart stopped beating). You know when you're really busy at work and you get calls like this?? Yeah :rolleyes:

I had her bring it to my work and I plugged in my code reader. Four codes: P0028, P0026, P0028P, P0026P. I checked the engine oil. It was 1.5 quarts low. I checked the antifreeze and luckily the radiator was full because the overflow tank was completely empty. Hmm Subaru's legendary head gaskets was the first thing that came to my mind. Air filter was changed probably... mmmm... never. The timing belt was due for replacement about 600 miles ago. Called the po and he said he 'has not had any recent codes' but insisted he felt bad and kindly offered to help pay for any related problems.


After work I dug into the interwebs. Turns out the codes were for oil pressure sensors for both camshaft timing advance solenoids. Seems to be a common/easy to fix issue and the first step is to change the oil. The cruise control de-activates when check engine lights come on so that's not an issue. Turns out the 'bouncing' was from my wife accidentally putting it in sport mode and dropped it down a few gears on the highway........................................:eek:


Anyway this morning I looked the car over really good. It is clean, it is nice, I'm the second owner and options wise it is everything we wanted in an Outback. Although the po's 'mechanic' was not in my opinion an actual mechanic he did have all the service records dating back to 07. I ordered a timing belt kit which I plan to install asap. Changing oil tomorrow. Going to try and figure out why it was low on oil/coolant.

So far I'm optimistic. If it is half the car our beloved CR-V was I'll be happy.
 

Gravy

Ant Anstead of Dirtbikes
We recently got a 2011 2.5i impreza hatch that we are quite pleased with. We have averaged 28.6 mpg over the last 7k miles of mixed driving.
I imagine you'll see lower mpg's with the heavier Legacy wagon.

BTW Outback is actually a trim level, not a model. The way you can easy identify an Outback is the dual tone paint color/ body cladding. Although confusingly they started calling Legacy wagons "outbacks" in the past few years
 

johngottfredson

Threat Level Midnight
Location
Alpine
This video sold me on the off-roadiness of the subaru.

[video=youtube;qqQzU-q8S2o]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqQzU-q8S2o[/video]
 

Rot Box

Diesel and Dust
Location
Smithfield Utah
I'm starting warm up to the Subaru. After changing the oil as recommended the CEL has stayed off and after 200 miles or so and the oil hasn't moved down on the dipstick so that's good.

Complaints so far? I'm good at complaining haha. The headlights point at the ground which as I understand it all of them rolled off the line this way. Should be a super easy fix. The passenger seat on the other hand... Wow really? Five minutes was more than enough for my bad back. The lumbar sticks out a LOT--and I mean a LLLOOOOTTTT and it is not adjustable. I guess I'm not the only one complaining because there's a fix online that involves taking the seat apart and re-working some of the springs.. yeah :-\ The year old battery is a pos. Ah, no biggie.

Now that that is out of the way the Subaru is bringing back some very fond memories of my 84 GL hatchback. All the accessories are placed on top of the engine so it is super easy to work on. The engine makes the same horizontally opposed weird/cool sounds. I'm going to change the timing belt and related components this weekend. I ordered the Subaru brand coolant and conditioner as a preventative measure.


FullSizeRender_zpsx6nhhspz.jpg
 

mike thurston

Well-Known Member
Location
Green River
We bought ours with ~120k miles from a dealer in Pleasant Grove with a newer rebuilt engine. Three years later we are at 150k plus and have enjoyed it. I did have the same issues you do; headlight too low and I hate the seats. I does meet our needs living in the Moab area though. The occasional trips down dirt roads and the more than occasional trip over Soldier Summit in poor weather. My one demand for my wife to be driving a Subaru in Moab is that we maintain a SUWA Sucks sticker on the inside of the rear window so the hippies can't scrape it off. :D
 

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Rot Box

Diesel and Dust
Location
Smithfield Utah
Got the timing belt out today. Super duper easy for a timing belt.


With all the engine covers off I looked around the head gaskets really good. And now I know where the oil was going... You have got to be freaking kidding me. Wonder how long it will take me you yank the engine out.

I have no one to blame but myself. Doh!!
 
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