Best & Worst Subaru Outback Years In 2024: A Comprehensive Guide

best & worst subaru outback years in 2023 a comprehensive guide

The Subaru Outback is one of the most popular crossover SUVs on the market, known for its rugged capability and reliable all-wheel drive. This versatile vehicle combines SUV space and ground clearance with car-like handling and fuel efficiency.

But how do Outback model years compare to help determine the best and worst Subaru Outback years? Should you buy the redesigned 2020 Outback or opt for the brand new 2023 Outback Wilderness?

The best Outback years are the 2020 for its full redesign and the 2023 Wilderness for off-road ability. The worst is the 2010 model due to engine problems. Read on for a detailed comparison of pros and cons and expert recommendations for best and worst model years.

This comprehensive guide analyzes Outback specs, expert opinions, consumer reviews, and expected reliability across generations and model years. Key aspects covered include:

  • Overview comparison table of Outback specs by year
  • Breakdown of the best Outback years to buy
  • Analysis of the worst model years to avoid
  • Verdict on overall best and worst years

Let’s dive into picking the version that’s right for your needs!

Outback Generations and Specs

First, here’s an overview of Subaru Outback trim generations with key vehicle specifications to compare:

YearGenerationTrimsMPG (city/hwy)Safety FeaturesMax Towing (lbs)Warranty
20236th genBase, Premium, Onyx, Wilderness, Touring26/33 (base engine)EyeSight Driver Assist, blind spot detection3,5003 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain
20206th genBase, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition, XT26/33 (base engine)EyeSight Driver Assist, blind spot detection3,5003 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain
20195th genBase, Premium, Limited, Touring25/32 (base engine)EyeSight Driver Assist, blind spot detection, reverse automatic braking2,7003 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain
20175th genBase, Premium, Limited, Touring25/32 (base engine)EyeSight Driver Assist, blind spot detection, reverse automatic braking2,7003 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper, 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain
20105th genBase, Premium, Limited, Touring, Outback XT22/29 (base engine)Front side airbags, side curtain airbags2,0003 years/36,000 miles bumper to bumper

You’ll notice key upgrades in safety tech, gas mileage, cargo space, and towing capacity over time, especially with the full redesign for the 2020 and 2023 model years. Now let’s analyze the pros and cons of specific model years to pick the best and avoid the worst.

Best Subaru Outback Years

Taking all factors into account, here are the best Outback model years:

2019 Subaru Outback

The 2019 Subaru Outback finishes out the fifth generation with a few key upgrades while avoiding a “first model year of a redesign” tax. Highlights include:


  • Optional turbocharged 260 HP engine introduced
  • Standard advanced safety features like blind spot detection and reverse automatic emergency braking
  • Slightly improved city and highway fuel efficiency
  • Positive professional and consumer reviews as a late model year


  • No full redesign introduced compared to next generation
  • Lower max towing capacity than newer models

In the sweet spot before the 2020 redesign, you can’t go wrong with a 2019 Subaru Outback!

2020 Subaru Outback

The sixth generation 2020 Subaru Outback brings the first full redesign since 2013, including:


  • First model year of full redesign on new Subaru Global Platform
  • Significantly more passenger space and rear cargo capacity
  • New XT Onyx Edition trim with blacked out styling
  • Updated Eyesight driver assist system with advanced adaptive cruise control
  • Optional tablet-style 11.6 inch touchscreen


  • Some reported Android Auto connectivity issues
  • More road noise than previous gen on highways

With major upgrades all around, the 2020 model year kicks off overhauling of the Subaru Outback to compete with other top crossover SUVs.

2023 Subaru Outback Wilderness

If you want to go off-roading in style, the brand new 2023 Subaru Outback Wilderness delivers upgraded trail capability:


  • Higher ground clearance and upgraded suspension for off-road performance
  • All-terrain tires and full-size spare improve traction
  • Unique hexagonal front grille and exclusive exterior colors
  • Standard front view monitor improves visibility on uneven terrain


  • Slightly lower city and highway MPG
  • Only comes in one well-equipped trim for higher MSRP

While fuel economy takes a small hit, the Wilderness edition transforms the Outback into a rugged adventurer!

Worst Subaru Outback Years

On the flip side, avoid these worst Outback model years:

2010 Subaru Outback

As the first model year of the fifth generation, the 2010 Subaru Outback makes the list of worst years due to a few issues:


  • Debut of refreshed design and larger overall size
  • Higher ground clearance improved off-road ability
  • Quieter and more comfortable ride than previous generation


  • Common engine oil consumption issue
  • Transmission problems in early models
  • Base infotainment system felt outdated quickly

Unfortunately the updated engine and transmission of the 2010 Outback had some kinks to iron out through its lifespan.

2017 Subaru Outback

While not a terrible model year, the 2017 Subaru Outback didn’t change much from preceding years:


  • Optional advanced driver assist safety features like blind spot detection
  • Slight styling updates including new front grille
  • Continued reputation for reliability and resale value


  • Very similar to 2016 and 2018 model years with minimal changes
  • Some owners report oil consumption issues

Without substantive upgrades from prior years, you may want to opt for redesigned models or spend a little more for newer tech.

Best and Worst Subaru Outback Years – The Verdict

Weighing all the pros and cons, as well as expert and consumer reviews:

The best Outback years are:

  • 2020 – for its major interior space and tech upgrades after a full redesign
  • 2023 Wilderness – for its adventurous off-road enhancements

The worst Outback years are:

  • 2010 – for engine oil consumption and transmission issues
  • 2017 – for minimal changes from previous model years

While small issues popped up, Outbacks have a reputation for longevity and reliability overall if properly maintained. Choosing one of the best model years can get you the most value for your money.


Whether you prioritize the latest high-tech upgrades, best fuel economy, or serious trail terrain capability, the Subaru Outback checks all the boxes. Steer clear of early first-generation model years, and you’ll have a competent, dependable crossover SUV that feels right at home on backcountry roads yet works great for daily commutes.

Now that you know the best and worst Subaru Outback years, which one would you choose? Leave a comment below sharing what years catch your eye. Happy searching for your perfect Outback!

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