Exploring the 5th-Generation Subaru Outback: A Comprehensive Review

The 5th-generation Subaru Outback, renowned as a midsize crossover SUV, stands out with its rugged and versatile design. Primed for off-road escapades, this vehicle caters perfectly to adventurous families. Here, we delve into its key features, design, performance, safety, and some noted concerns.

The Subaru Outback seamlessly combines performance, design, and innovation in its 5th-generation model. It's a vehicle designed for the modern family with features that enhance both on-road and off-road experiences. We'll explore everything from its aesthetics and driving capabilities to potential issues and recalls.

Design and Features


The Subaru Outback's exterior is designed to make a bold statement on the road, with a muscular and refined appearance that conveys both strength and elegance. The sleek front grille, sharp headlights, and pronounced muscular wheel arches create a dynamic silhouette that's hard to ignore.

Advanced features include energy-efficient LED headlights that provide excellent visibility, fog lights that ensure safety in adverse weather conditions, and roof rails for extra cargo space. The optional power sunroof offers an open-air driving experience, adding a touch of luxury to your adventures. Other refinements, such as premium paint options and alloy wheel designs, further accentuate the Outback's unique character.


The interior of the Subaru Outback prioritises comfort and quality, offering spacious seating with ample legroom and headroom for all passengers. The large boot, coupled with flat-folding rear seats, provides flexibility for various cargo needs. Subaru has also integrated an extensive infotainment system, including a touchscreen interface, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, to keep passengers entertained and connected. 

The Harman Kardon premium sound system delivers crisp audio, enhancing the driving experience. Select models take luxury further, with heated front and rear seats, high-grade leather upholstery, and a power tailgate that simplifies loading and unloading.

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    Under the hood, the Subaru Outback offers three distinct engine choices: a fuel-efficient 2.0-litre 4-cylinder, a balanced 2.5-litre 4-cylinder, and a powerful 3.6-litre 6-cylinder option. Each engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that ensures smooth acceleration and seamless power delivery. 

    The all-wheel-drive system and raised ground clearance provide exceptional off-road capabilities, allowing drivers to explore challenging terrains with confidence. Subaru has also focused on refining the suspension and steering, ensuring responsive handling and a comfortable ride on various road surfaces.


    For Subaru, safety isn't just a feature but a fundamental aspect of their vehicle design. The Outback's robust safety package begins with Subaru's EyeSight driver assistance technology. This advanced system includes adaptive cruise control that automatically adjusts speed to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, lane departure warning to alert drivers if they drift from their lane, lane keep assist to gently guide the car back into its lane, and automatic emergency braking to help prevent collisions. 

    Beyond EyeSight, the Outback offers additional safety measures like blind-spot monitoring, which warns drivers of hidden vehicles in adjacent lanes, rear cross-traffic alert to detect approaching vehicles when reversing, and reverse automatic braking to help avoid collisions while parking. These features collectively contribute to a safer, more reassuring driving experience, reinforcing the Subaru Outback's reputation as a family-friendly vehicle.

    Pros and Cons


    • Versatile and well-equipped
    • Durable interior and exterior
    • Exceptional practicality
    • Enjoyable driving experience


    • Concerns regarding CVT repairs
    • Oil consumption issues
    • Mechanical reliability
    • Fuel consumption of 6-cylinder models
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    Technical Specifications

    Here are the key technical specifications including ANCAP ratings, body styles, engines, power, torque, transmissions, fuel consumption, dimensions, weight, and towing capabilities.

    • ANCAP ratings: 5-star safety rating
    • Body styles: Wagon
    • Engines:
    • Power:
    • Torque:
    • Transmissions: Continuously variable transmission (CVT)
    • Fuel consumption:
    • Dimensions (L x W x H): 4820 x 1840 x 1675 mm
    • Weight: 1617–1733 kg (depending on the variant)

    Towing capabilities: Up to 2000 kg (braked)

    Potential Issues

    Exterior Issues

    Blind Spot Monitoring: Some models may face issues with Blind Spot Monitoring, requiring recalibration. This feature is essential for safe driving, and addressing this issue promptly ensures optimal functioning.

    Interior Problems

    • Infotainment Glitches: 2015–2019 models may encounter infotainment issues such as Bluetooth connectivity problems, frozen screens, or slow response times. These inconveniences can be addressed through software updates or professional repairs.
    • Battery Drainage: Some owners have reported unexpected battery drainage. Subaru resolved this with an extended warranty for affected vehicles, safeguarding owners against potential repair costs.

    Mechanical Concerns

    • DPF Related Issues: The 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine might face Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) issues, requiring frequent maintenance or replacements.
    • Oil Consumption and Leaks: Engines, particularly the 2.5-litre and 3.6-litre variants, may consume excessive oil or experience leaks. Regular monitoring and servicing can help detect and resolve these issues early.
    • Timing Chain Complications: Timing chain issues have been noted, potentially leading to more severe engine problems if not addressed promptly.
    • Air Conditioning Compressors Concerns: Some users may find the air conditioning system less effective due to compressor problems, which can usually be repaired or replaced by a qualified technician.
    • CVT Reliability: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) has been a point of concern for some owners, with costly repairs reported. Understanding the symptoms and seeking professional assistance can prevent more significant problems.


    • 9 June 2015: 5,073 units of the Liberty and Outback models were recalled due to a software programming issue related to the PCB system.
    • 21 March 2016: 15,585 units of the 2014-2015 Subaru Liberty and Outback models were recalled for a defect in the Electronic Parking Brake motor.
    • 6 March 2019: 129 units of the 2017/2018 Outback model were recalled for an issue with the oil pipe diameter.
    • 6 May 2019: 10,815 units of the 2017/2018 Outback and Liberty models were recalled for a programming error in the Combination Meter Display unit.
    • 18 May 2021: 71,986 units of the Subaru Liberty, Outback, and Impreza models were recalled for a deteriorating fuel pump harness connector.
    • 24 August 2021: 2,037 units of various Subaru models were recalled for a fuel pump impeller issue.
    • 3 August 2022: 78,617 units of multiple Subaru models were recalled for an issue with the Electronic Park Brake adaptor cord connector.

    Final thoughts

    The 5th-generation Subaru Outback is a standout midsize crossover SUV designed for adventurous families. Its rugged exterior features, like LED headlights and roof rails, combine with a comfortable interior filled with modern amenities. Passengers can enjoy Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a premium sound system, among other conveniences. With three engine options and off-road capabilities, the Outback offers smooth and powerful driving experiences. Subaru's EyeSight driver assistance technology provides a robust suite of safety features, contributing to peace of mind on the road. 

    Although a great vehicle overall, some issues and concerns need to be considered, such as CVT repairs, oil consumption, and mechanical reliability. Additionally, various recalls over the years have been addressed to ensure the Outback meets safety standards. Prospective buyers will find the 5th-generation Subaru Outback a reliable and enjoyable choice, though they should be mindful of certain aspects before purchase.

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    Is a Subaru Outback a reliable car?

    Yes, the Subaru Outback is generally considered one of the most reliable cars in Australia, known for its rugged design and durability. Its all-wheel-drive system and well-built structure make it suitable for various driving conditions. Some models may have specific issues, but overall it's a dependable choice.

    What are the weaknesses of a Subaru Outback?

    The Subaru Outback's weaknesses can include concerns regarding CVT repairs, certain mechanical reliability issues, and oil consumption problems in specific models. Some owners have also raised fuel consumption concerns with 6-cylinder models.

    Which is bigger, Subaru Outback or Forester?

    The Subaru Outback is generally longer and offers more cargo space, while the Forester might be slightly taller, offering more interior headroom. The choice between them might depend on individual preferences and needs in terms of space and functionality.

    Are Subaru Outback fuel efficient?

    Fuel efficiency varies among Subaru Outback models. Generally, the 4-cylinder engine options provide better fuel efficiency compared to the 6-cylinder models. It is considered reasonable for its class, but exact figures will depend on the specific model and driving conditions.

    Philana Kwan

    Philana Kwan is the marketing coordinator at Driva she has a demonstrated history in customer service excellence and is knowledgeable in all things car and finance related. When she’s not working Philana enjoys learning new things and keeping up with the latest trends in marketing and technology.

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