Eryn P purchased this Subaru Outback used for $29,500 (including all on-road costs) in 2021. Eryn P would buy this car again because: “In the absence of performance and soul that typically only comes with a $100,000+ price tag, the mark of a good car is to do what you ask, when you ask it to. The Outback is one of those cars. Deceptively roomy, punchy for its size, reliable and not half bad to look at; it ticks my boxes for an affordable family SUV, and serves faithfully as a well rounded daily driver. “
Second-hand cars are always a gamble, regardless of servicing history and how genuine the seller seems. The car came to us with 45,000km and a history of beach work (the previous owner compared it, unfairly, to his Land Rover and said that it was not up to their expectations of off-road capabilities).
That said, the car had been well looked after, serviced on time, and kept tidy. To his knowledge, there had been no reliability issues.
Our experience has been similar, with the minor exception of a rough idle due to dirty fuel injectors. An easy fix, and certainly not something that compromises the overall reliability of the car.
This car is not our first dance with Subaru, having owned a few Libertys (4th and 5th Gen), but it is our first Outback experience, and it’s yet to disappoint.
It may not turn heads but it’s steadfast and sturdy, comfortable and easy. Servicing has been straightforward, and Subaru in general has always been professional and responsive.
The Outback was slightly more expensive than we were originally prepared to pay, but given the lack of competition of a reliable nature, we stretched the budget and are very glad we did. Subaru may not be the fanciest, but it doesn’t compromise on quality. The cream leather is comfortable and hardwearing, the floor mats aren’t cheap velcro, and the interior is effective and inoffensive.
The Premium boasts features such as the sunroof and the electric tailgate, both of which are welcome features with young children.
Subaru’s ingenious idea to build roof racks into the rails of the car was also a big draw card – it’s made trips to Bunnings or IKEA less stressful knowing that one can simply fold out the racks for spur-of-the-moment furniture purchases.
If I’m honest, I identify as a performance driver on the inside, but so far lack the bank account to make that a reality. The Outback may not be quick, but it’s responsive for its size – I can comfortably beat most unassuming drivers off the line at the lights.
Living semi rurally, with many 100km/h roads, the Outback has no issue maintaining high speeds up hills. Average fuel consumption lies around 7.5 – 8.0L/100km which is not too uncomfortable in the current climate.
While 99 per cent of our driving is on bitumen, the Outback has also not disappointed off-road. Brief soirees on average 4WD tracks have not been a struggle, and it’s also managed to pull a large caravan out of a muddy hole.
I wouldn’t suggest it as any kind of proper 4WD, but the AWD is capable (with decent driving skills) to drive most terrain with no issue.
From an average consumer’s point of view, the Premium delivers more than standard in the way of features. It’s got the tech that was all the rage at the time – blind spot sensors, adaptive cruise control, rain sensing wipers, and emergency braking to name a few.
From my point of view, I find a lot of these features either unnecessary (blind spot sensors negate a head check in my opinion, and make for less attentive drivers), or just plain annoying (everything beeps). Subaru have made this slightly more bearable by allowing most things to be turned off, either per drive or permanently.
The integrated navigation system is average – it does the job, but not well. That said, I’ve never met an inbuilt navigation system that has outperformed Google Maps, so that’s not really on Subaru. The sound system also leaves a lot to the imagination – it’s tinny and baseless, which is disappointing for the ‘premium’ badge.
The electric tailgate is also a bit of a gimmick – I do enjoy it generally, however the car will not lock if the tailgate is not fully closed, and it is stupendously slow to do so.
These complaints are fairly superficial, and personal preference. In general, the features are easy to use and fulfil their function. My favourite feature is the adaptive drivers seat, with options to set seat position with one button. This is obviously not new tech, but it’s a welcome feature.
We’ve tested the Outback locally and over longer, interstate distances. In all scenarios, it’s a comfortable ride, though tends towards being a little more rigid than I’d like.
Road noise can also be considered a little much at high speeds, but this may be rectified somewhat with higher profile tyres (currently 18-inch wheels).
The boot is spacious, and we can comfortably pack the dog and a week’s worth of holiday bags with room to spare. The rear seats can comfortably fit two adults, and less comfortably, three. We currently have two Britax Graphene seats installed for our children, and can fit one narrow adult between them, or a third car seat.
The Outback handles really well – one pet hate of mine is the height of most SUVs, because they feel top heavy and don’t handle well with corners. The Outback, being lower to the ground, does not suffer this top-heaviness which makes corners at speed more enjoyable.