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Last 7 Days
  • Refinement, build quality, interior spaciousness, practicality, multi-purpose, driving dynamics
  • Poor infotainment and satnav system, Bluetooth issues with iPhone

8 / 10

Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2
Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2
Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2

We’ve now spent more than two months with the Subaru Outback wagon and have found it a reliable, refined and overall smooth family car well suited to our needs.

We have been impressed by the Outback’s quite cabin and sturdy build quality. It has also surprised us by just how much it can carry for a car that is easy to park and navigate around town.

We travelled to Ikea this month and bought a series of shelfs and other random items that were much larger than the boot would fit on its own. Simply folding the rear seats (60:40) allowed us to fit two kids, one in a child seat, and the shelves in the back without any hassle.

Over the last 70 or so days, our average fuel economy figure has not dropped below 9L/100km, which is still pretty close to Subaru’s claimed 8.4L/100km and the good chunk of our commutes have been in suburbia.

The 65L fuel tank means you’ll get roughly 700km out of a cycle, which is not too bad, but the diesel variant (manual only) which we have tested, uses 6L/100km and carries the same fuel tank, meaning it will easily handle 1000km per load.

The leather seats and the material used for the cabin have proved very useful, as our one-year-old baby’s best attempts at making a mess are easily cleaned. We’ve also found the seat memory function has come in handy, but could be improved if was enabled on the key fob so we could have the seat position ready prior to getting in (since one of us sits much closer to the steering wheel than the other).

Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2
Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2
Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2
Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2

As a car at its core, the Subaru Outback is a very good package. It’s simple to drive and the 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol provides enough power and torque to get five adults and their luggage moving without issue. The continuously variable transmission is hardly noticeable until you floor it and hear the whine that’s associated with these types of gearboxes. We’ve yet to face a situation where the Outback has struggled for pace in either keeping up or overtaking traffic.

Although we’ve had it for over two months, we still haven’t got used to the fact that it doesn’t have reversing sensors (though it does have a reversing camera presented through an 8-inch LCD). Rear and front sensors would be highly recommended as either a dealer fit option or fitted as a third party accessory (roughly $300 for rear or $600 for both from a third party).

We’ve also had our share of issues with the car’s satellite navigation and infotainment system. The satnav screen is of high quality and good resolution but the interface to input destinations and navigate the audio controls can be rather frustrating to use and the lack of a USB interface (which we believe is coming very soon) has also been a disappointment.

The biggest issue, though, is the Bluetooth connectivity. The steering wheel phone controls are not allowing us to pick up or hang up a call, which means we need to manually answer the phone using the device itself. We tested this with the iPhone 4/4S and 5 and all presented the same issue.

Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2
Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2
Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2
Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2

There’s also the Bluetooth audio streaming which although is available as a feature, tends to work intermittently as it forgets the iPhone is able to stream music, meaning you’ll have to manually set it up almost each time the Outback is restarted. We suspect both these issues may have something to do with the latest version of the iPhone operating system (iOS 6.01 at the time of writing) and may perhaps be solved with either a Subaru software update or one from Apple.

This month we spent a fair bit of time in the back seats to test out the air-conditioning vent capabilities in Brisbane’s scorching sun and ride comfort over rough terrain. It’s fair to say the entire cabin is kept at the set temperature and the rear air vents help to rapidly cool the Outback down when left out in the sun. Rear ride comfort is also pretty good and no bump has yet woken up our little boy up from his naps.

The sunroof has gotten little use as it seems to be positioned too far towards the front of the Outback’s cabin and if the glass remains unshielded, it tends to heat up the car rather quickly. It would’ve been nice to have a larger sunroof or have it placed further back so the rear passengers could also enjoy the view. Some competitors in this segment offer panoramic roofs, which is a great feature if you have young ones.

Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2
Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2
Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2

Overall we’ve so far been rather impressed by the Subaru Outback, it’s the type of car we’d buy if we needed something super reliable, refined and highly capable across multiple terrain. The all-wheel drive system has been a godsend in the wet and further adds to the list of reasons why you’d pick the Outback over its front-wheel drive competitors.

The electric park brake is also a brilliant addition to car in this class as not only does it save space but automatically disengages when it needs to. Once the few niggling technology issues have been resolved, it would get a big tick from us.

This coming month we intend to take it off-road and see how the outback handles itself on dirt.

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Subaru Outback Review: Long-term report 2
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  • Jerrycan

    Even if all the tech worked perfectly, it would be out of date in less than a year.
    Personally I buy the base model and then get a good GPS, then when new features appear you get a new one. Saves thousands that way.
    I am not aware of any manufacturer selling upgrades for old models.
    Current vehicles have moved away from any standardised fascia slots.

    • Dave-V-Tony

      manufacturer sell map updates on the GPS unit but they cost about $300 so not worth it when your $300 handheld in general get free updates.

      • Mad Max

        Thats an interesting point you make DVT. The only car company I know that does free upgrades is Hyundai with their new Sante Fe. They are advertising free upgrades for the warranty period.

      • Guest

        You’ve never heard of torrents have you?

  • Noddy of Toyland

    Dat housing estate.

  • Phil

    Two months is all you need to determine if a car is reliable?

  • Zaccy16

    If it looked like the previous gen and had a dual clutcher or torque converter auto it would be a good car!

    • davie

      According to wikipedia, the Subaru CVT, which they refer to as “lineartronic” does have a torque convertor.

      Given Subaru’s use of CVT to save fuel, I assume that the convertor is only used during stop start driving and locks up once the car is moving.

      Does anyone know if this is the case?

      I prefer manual over any auto. However there are some good videos on the net of suburban driving using the subaru CVT, it does seem very responsive.

      • Zaccy16

        Interesting about the torque converter in them, the problem with CV T’s is at higher speeds when the engine is strained is that they are very unrefined and loud

        • Hacky

          Dual clutch can have it’s own issues too, particularly at low speeds. Just read some of the recent reviews of Audis with dual-clutch transmissions here.

      • Tangible

        Checked their Japanese site.
        I didn’t know Subaru is the first company to use CVT for passenger car.
        Anyway, their “Lineartronic” is used metal chain like belt from Germany.
        And NO torque converter. Current Lineatonic build and designed for high power& torque engine such as JDM only Legacy 2.0GT DIT (221KW and 400Nm of torque) and has virtual 8 speed mode !!! sounds fun.
        Also I found lots of positive customer reviews. 

        • Tangible

          Sorry I was wrong. It has a lock-up torque converter.

  • OCD

    I hope that you hose the car out before giving it back, looks like a grub owns it

    • Nasal Explorer

      Notice the boot tray. You just have to pull it out and give it a shake.

      • The Truth

        I can see stuff under the tray

    • davie

      strange comment, do you have kids yourself?

      • OCD

        Yes, we clean up after them, not allow them to trash a new car

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      Photos were taken after a long weekend getaway with the fam and a trip to ikea :-) – It has already been cleaned. But I thought you’d appreciate photos of the car being used as oppose to the general clean photos everyone is so used to. 

  • davie

    Great review – thanks for checking out those rear vents.

    Suggest you try the blue tooth pairing with a non-apple phone as a lot of your readers probably use android or something else?

    One question for the next review relates to the screen in the dash.

    – Does it dim or switch off at night?
    – If it stays on, is the peripheral light from the screen distracting to the eyes when driving on unlit roads at night?

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      Yep, it stays on, you have to manually switch it to night mode which can be rather irritating given the satnav screen is bright as hell . 

      • davie

        thanks for the answer. Once its on night mode, how bright is it?

        I did a 2 hour stint last weekend on unlit freeways, in that situation, I usually turn the dash brigtness down to stop distractions, and let cruise control regulate speed.

        I”m hoping that its night mode settings is sufficiently dark so that it does not distract a night driver on an unlit freeway?

        • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

          Perfectly fine in night mode, it would be nice if it did that automatically though

          • Guest

            I find it unbelieveable if any manufacturer would not have screen not tied in with the headlight switch or a seperate light sensor on the dash.

            Perhaps you need to get clarification from Subaru themselves before publishing it or we might end up with another case of user error like the IS350 (or was it CT200h?) review that was erroneous and never corrected in the article.

  • F1orce

    Subaru has one of the best AWD system available.

    I think also Toyota uses this AWD on some of their vehicles.

    • Enlighten Us All

      what’s so good about it? How is it any better than anyone else’s??

      • marcuspetraska

         well for starters its full-time – without any hydro-electrics clutches. secondly, its one of the few that still has a mechanical lsd in the rear – at least in manual tranny.

        • mo

          Actually you’re wrong there. The CVT Outback has exactly what you say it doesnt. In this model they use “Active torque split AWD” which relies on a hydraulic multiplate transfer clutch. And no, there’s no rear LSD. 

  • Unidexter Hopping

    Not a bad family car option. I still hate the styling inside and out, it uses too much petrol, maintenance is over the top and the sheet metal is too thin. Still, reliable good AWD and good resale.

  • Sakdjfhlajdhfladfladf

    What really upsets me about this car is how Subaru managed to make the design of this current generation so poor. It just pales in comparison to the previous generation. 

  • JoeR_AUS

    Quote: “It’s simple to drive and the 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol provides enough power and torque to get five adults and their luggage moving without issue.”

    Yes the Outback will move but in this configuration the vehicle would be well over two tons. My expereince at 100kph with a truck on the inside lane which has accelerated due to a down hill run is that the Subaru did not have enough performance to easy away from the truck. In my case the overtaking lane ceased and the truck driver eased over forcing me over double lines and into head on traffic. The car was power less and gave the driver no options, I will not drive a car powered like this and carry a full load ever again. My family and I was lucky there was no on coming traffic!.

    Sure the truck driver had serious issues but when we drive we are driving with the public, including the idiots and this type of power and load are a risk.

    • Guest

      Maybe we should bring up those ads with the Doctor that treats accident victims here because wherever you’re going, I’m sure they won’t mind you being 30 mins late but not sure if you’ll forgive yourself if you land your passengers in hospital.

    • JCSS

      You psycho-analyzed a truck driver ?????, whist failing to read the road and make allowance for converging lanes and put the lives of your passengers and the other driver at risk. I don’t think you come over as being an expert on any level. (I know this is an ancient posting but JoeR_AUS, I really hope you re-visit this posting.. I won’t.)

  • Ajzcafe

    Thanks for addressing the questions asked after the previous review Albert. I am curious as to which vehicle your family would prefer between the i40 tourer and the outback? I am choosing between the two at present, but thought I’d hold off until the diesel cvt outback comes to light.

    Thanks in advance!

Subaru Outback Specs

Car Details
Body Type
New Price
Private Sale
$24,970 - $28,380
Dealer Retail
$25,900 - $30,800
Dealer Trade
$19,600 - $22,700
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
229Nm @  4000rpm
Max. Power
123kW @  5600rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
8.9L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:1500  Unbrake:735
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
225/60 R17
Rear Tyres
225/60 R17
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
Double wishbone, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Control & Handling
Automatic/Self levelling Suspension, Traction Control System, Vehicle Stability Control
Satellite Navigation, Trip Computer
Side Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats
Service Interval
6 months /  12.5,000 kms
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Centre Eng Bay Scuttle
Country of Origin