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Feedback from Gen 5 Outback Owners - reliability

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Hello All!

Starting this post with a question…before a long ramble if you can be arsed to read that far…

Calling all Gen 5 Outback owners - what have your experiences been with reliability? Any particular recurring issues to watch out for?

I have read conflicting (but rather vague) information online, for example: 

https://www.whatcar.com/news/reliability-survey-most-reliable-cars-brands/n26159# - Subaru generally very low placement (between Audi & LR!?). Calls out Subaru Outback Gen 5 in particular near the bottom of the article. 

But then on the other side, lots of online outback reviews say something along the lines of “reliability shouldn’t be an issue with Subaru’s excellent reputation”. Forums generally seem to concur with this from what I can find.

So which is it in your experience?

I have not owned a Subaru before, nor know anybody who has. 


In case you can be arsed to read the reason for my question, ramble below…! 

I am currently looking to buy a second family car, with a growing family and therefore a growing need for me and the wife to be in two places at once with different kids hobbies etc - our other car being a Volvo xc40 (which is great). 

I have been looking for something with decent load lugging capabilities, something to fulfil muddy dog walking duties, camping trips into Wales, tip trips and general pack mule jobs which can handle very knackered roads and tracks in the dead of winter in the back of beyond - something the Volv can struggle with from time to time. 

I would say beyond the above the important factors for me are reliability,  a decent level of ride comfort and creature comforts (doesn’t need to be a speed demon but something with enough pep to not feel sluggish), and at least some character/charm to the car. 

I have test driven a lot of cars in the past few weeks, originally being pretty set on a 4x4 new gen Rav 4 early on in the research phase…fairly characterless in my personal opinion but mostly ticked the other boxes….then finally I came to the outback. 

I originally intended just to have a quick look at the gen 6, but while I was at the dealer (a fairly long drive from home) thought I may as well take a gen 5 for a quick spin for comparison (21 plate).

Something just clicked for me with the gen5 - meeting all the criteria above, plus on the contrary to many other online reviews I have read, I found it had enough pep and power as long as you didn’t thrash the throttle and worked consciously with the cvt. 

I know this is very subjective, but for my personal taste I preffered the gen5 to the gen6 - it felt somehow more connected to the driving experience, more responsive acceleration…Gen6 felt more plush, modern, but somehow too “detached” and floaty for my tastes... gen 5 felt like this great balance of handling, comfort, practicality and character. Oh and I hated the infotainment in the Gen 6 - felt very tacky bleepy and Japanese, everything felt overwhelming with menu diving etc…again totally get that is personal taste, probably just getting used to it/learning curve. 

Overall this exercise has also been a lesson to take motoring journalist reviews with a pinch of salt, because many of the generally lauded cars I have testing have been pretty underwhelming and bland…how is the outback so universally slated in the press?! 

So to conclude, I am pretty smitten with the gen 5, feels like the right car to be my dependable workhorse for hopefully the next 10 years - the only thing holding me back right now from pulling the trigger is a question mark over reliability…hopefully the good people of this forum can convince me of this so I can join your ranks.



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Firstly, I don't have an Outback currently, but I've had my Levorg for 6 years now with zero issues. It's my seventh Subaru, all of which have been 100% reliable. I am currently thinking of changing to a Gen 5 Outback too, and having driven a Gen 6, I totally agree with your comparison to the Gen 5. It sounds like the perfect car for your needs, the motoring press have never understood these cars, and Subaru don't do extravagant launches with freebies galore for the press, which might have something to do with it. For example, reviews of the Levorg mainly said I'd be better off with a Skoda Octavia, which is a very different sort of car, and so bland I'd have died of boredom by now.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend a 2018+ (facelift) Outback from a main dealer with a full history (very important with any Subaru). 

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Thanks @Scoobyfoz for the feedback and vote of confidence, that is helpful. 

….and I get what you mean about the Octavia, tested an estate a couple of weeks ago and everything about it screamed bland, wasn’t a fan. 

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I had the 2.0 Diesel Lineartronic for 4 years around 50,000 miles from new with no problems whatsoever. I  tried a couple of other brands then moved back to a Gen 6 2.5 Petrol. I’ve had that for nearly 18 months again with no issues whatsoever. I wouldn’t describe either as a particularly exciting drive, but I have never worried about reliability or traction on or (very occasionally) off road. If I was buying used the key for me would be a full service history, good condition and I would buy from a Subaru dealer who ideally knew the car from new. Hope this helps. Whereabouts are you looking (which dealer) if you don’t mind me asking? 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, I've just joined as i bought a 2016 Outback diesel SE Lineartronic yesterday so cant really comment but early signs are good. I absolutely love it. It may be the entry level model but it’s got everything I need ( maybe with the exception of front and rear parking sensors ) I’ve spent the day cleaning it 😁IMG_9331.thumb.jpeg.ed1e5e05d29c2400525189abeef8fefc.jpegIMG_9329.thumb.jpeg.0f5c16f2755b0bb4446d32acc58dae25.jpeg

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3 years of ownersip of my 2020 Gen5 OB and 32,000 miles on the clock.  My first Subaru ever, after years of considering them, but opting for a string of Skodas (4x4 1.8T Octavia, x2 Yetis (4x4s) and my partner is on her 4th Fabia).  I was commuting them and Subarus have always been relatively thirsty, but that's not an issue for me know as I work from home mainly.  All the Skodas were great and serviced for over 20 yrs by a local independent Skoda specialist - never any issues.

So the Gen5!!  Firstly, I love alot about the car.  It's size; it's off-road ability (which is why I bought it); etc.  But (and it's a big but) I've used Subaru dealers for the last 3 services and the experience has been dreadful.  Apparently, major problems with the NSF brakes wearing out - needing new discs and pads ( in 7,000 miles, and then after 10,000) and despite my arguing with the last two dealers that this is a mechanical problem, with that individual caliper, and not normal symmetrical wear-and-tear,  and so a warranty issue, they can't/won't agree. So I've been 'banging my head against a wall' and it leaves a sour taste when I think of Subaru now.  The same goes for Subaru UK (ie. the IM Group) - no support and terse emails. Overall, terrible customer service.  On most of my vehicles I've driven since the 1980s, I've always had discs lasting 50,000 plus miles - no issues.

Maybe it's just this particualr car (I'll be selling it before the next service is due), but the service costs have been around £1000 for the last two services - ridiculous.

Anyway, best of luck with yours.  As I say, there's alot to like about the full ICE subarus.

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Hello James I have only had my 2021 Outback Touring for a year my first Subaru, I had the Mercedes ML before and test drove the Lexus RX and a few of the others all very boring. Liked the look of the Outback and a year later I still love it and as for the road holding its brilliant. Main dealer garages seem a bit far apart for serving but go for it you will love it. It’s great off road too not up to my Defender but one hell of a lot more comfortable

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