Warren Stoddard II
Feb 15, 2022
The Subaru Outback is synonymous with the term ‘high-mileage car.’ But maintenance concerns have to be addressed to ensure the crossover SUV makes it to its reported 200,000-plus miles of longevity. Also, new studies may signal the end of the Outback’s reign over the high-mileage club.
- Most Subaru Outback owners report getting over 200,000 miles out of their cars when following proper maintenance procedures.
- The timing belt’s replacement at 100,000 miles is critical in making sure that any Subaru makes it to the end of its life cycle.
- Gasket problems and oil leaks are common in Outbacks with high mileage due to inadequate cooling systems, but if addressed quickly these should give owners few problems.
Subaru Outbacks are Often on the Road for Decades, with Some Vehicles Lasting Beyond 250,000 Miles Over 20 Years, but that Could Be Changing
Introduced in 1994, the Subaru Outback took the American station wagon market by storm, essentially dominating the crossover market to the present day.
Customers love the Outback for, among other things, its great safety ratings, moderate maintenance costs, on-road and off-road capabilities, and perhaps above all else, its longevity.
“The Subaru Outback stands the test of time, retains much of its value, and allows you to drive well beyond 250,000 miles,” says Reader’s Digest in its report on “25 Cars Guaranteed to Last You Over 250,000 Miles.”
Also, Subaru claims that 97% of its vehicles sold in the last 10 years are still on the road today. And while there may be some give and take in the numbers, this statement is mostly true.
Parked on the curbs of any street in America, it is not uncommon to see Outbacks manufactured two decades ago.
Outback’s Popularity as a Road-tripper Confirms its Durability, and with Proper Maintenance, the SUV Can Reach as High as 300,000 Miles of Longevity
And, given the U.S.’ obsession with the road trip, it’s no surprise that the Outback is consistently ranked among the best cars to take from Great Smoky Mountain National Park to the Grand Canyon.
All this road-tripping takes a toll, but the Outback, if properly maintained, can last drivers even up to 300,000 miles.
This means that the average driver could expect to get 15 to 20 years out of their Subaru. Conservative drivers could see Outbacks last much longer.
Subaru Outback’s High Recall Count for Some Model Years Means its Shining Reputation for Longevity May be Starting to Tarnish
However, in recent iSeeCars studies, the Subaru Outback has fallen off its once ubiquitously high perch on the list of longest-lasting vehicles. It didn’t even crack the Top 16 after having previously been a mainstay among the list’s top performers.
Other auto reviewers and Outback owners still say otherwise. But Subarus in 2018 and 2019 had many more recalls than previous years. So, this could have hurt the Outback’s reliability and longevity scores.
Subaru has since pledged to make a more concerted effort in its manufacturing quality. But time will tell if new Outbacks will be as reliable again as they were previously.
Replacement of Timing Belt is Perhaps the Most Important Maintenance Consideration to Ensure a Long-lasting Outback
As with any car, the Outback has important maintenance procedures to follow to ensure longevity to the vehicle. Subaru Outback manuals suggest first checking the timing belt’s condition at 60,000 miles.
Additional checks should come every 30,000 miles after. Many see the 100,000-mile threshold as the point where the timing belt absolutely must be replaced.
If left unattended, the timing belt is prone to dry-rot and wear away. If it breaks, the camshaft and driveshafts of the Outback will be out of sync. The issue may lead to drivers having to replace the entire engine.
Much the same as every vehicle driven by an internal-combustion engine, frequent changing of oils is paramount to the longevity of the Outback.
Long intervals between oil changes lead to dirty oil, which is burned quicker by the engine. This leads to less oil in the engine, creating higher operating temperatures that will eventually result in parts failure.
Outback’s Storied History of Longevity Could Be in Jeopardy, and Newer Models should be Approached with Caution
Inherently, to find a model that has been on the road for a long time, you have to search for older vehicles. Subaru Outbacks from 10 and 20 years ago are overwhelmingly common, and drivers adore them.
Recent quality discrepancies have cast an uncertain shadow on the future of the Outback, however.
Models manufactured in the late 2010s have the highest number of issues reported of any Outbacks. And time will tell if those vehicles can last as long as their predecessors.
But, judging as a whole, the Subaru Outback should last drivers well over 200,000 miles.
The most important factor unique to the Outback is the timing belt. If it is changed on time, the car should last nearly forever. But if not, there could be many problems with the engine as it gets a higher mile count.
Gasket leaks are inherent among Subarus, but if these problems are addressed in a timely manner, most drivers should indeed see their Outback drive down a couple decades’ worth of highways.
Andy on February 17, 2023
311,000 miles in 4 years.
I have a 2017 Outback 2.5 premium. I bought it used with 42,000 miles on it and have since racked the mileage up to 311,000 and counting. I have had it just under 4 years. I average 75,000 a year and change my oil every 4 weeks and tires every 8-9 months. I had a transmission issue at 260,000 but nothing major other than normal maintenance. I have since bought my wife a crosstrek for peace of mind in her travels. Love them both and am looking forward to many more Subarus in my future.
Joshua B on September 5, 2021
2012 Subaru Outback - The only car you can trust like a horse
True to its reputation, my Subaru Outback has been a trusty companion through mountain driving and inclement weather. The battery listed for 6 years, which I had hoped would be longer, and the tires it came with were pretty low quality. However, the car turns on a dime, is comfortable, reliable, and has truly been a joy to own. Whenever anyone I know is on the market for a car, I always suggest Subaru, and I plan to only ever own Subarus for the rest of my life.
Mary W on September 28, 2021
I bought a 2010 Outback Subaru for a safe and dependable vehicle that doesn't break the bank to buy.
I like that Subaru vehicles are dependable. I like that they spend more time focusing on making a good running car rather than on all the extra fancy things. Complaint: Headlights have an issue and although they will replace the headlights for for free, I am still burdened with paying for the labor. I worry that Subaru has gotten so big and so popular that the Subaru of the past is going to the dogs.
Bart FRANCOIS on October 30, 2022
Reliable and dependable. Absolutely a must have!
I love my 2013 Outback, 270.000 km till now, diesel and manual gearbox. Yes, I am living in Belgium, for a change. It is extremely dependable. Very few issues : a clutch at 180.000 km, one wheel bearing and recently new headlights for free ! Great. Otherwise, just regular oil changes and new tires. If I ever have to get another vehicle of my own it will be a Subaru! Love their no-nonsense attitude.
Wendy Henderson on July 21, 2021
2018 Subaru LEMON w/ electrical issues
When these electrical issues started I should have sold this car immediately. Problems with radio not working for days, window wouldn't roll down, back up camera not working and now a 2 year old car with a battery that won't start the car. AAA came & jumped it and already dead. Ran test on battery could not find anything wrong. I need a reliable vehicle.
Wildtil9pm on January 19, 2022
BEST AND WORST CAR I HAVE EVER OWNED
I drive a 2015 Subaru outback which I loved for the 1st 2 years and hated for the next 2. It has had 3 defective wheel bearings at around 60000 miles, will not hold a constant temperature in the cabin, and now the Actuator arm for the rear hatch door Is defective making a significant clunking noise. This is my 1st and last Subaru.
Wj Lindahl on February 7, 2023
Best 1000$ I've ever spend on a vehicle
I bought a 2001 outback and I became it's second owner. Very satisfied with this car it other than changing the transmission recently and regular maintenance and tires this car has a very respectable amount of power at 367000 miles. They go just about anywhere you want to and comfortable 👍👍
La H on November 17, 2021
Subaru outback for the win.
My vehicle handles very well. It has had no major issues with the power train or engine systems. It has had issues with the security system and keyless entry. It has little issues as it ages. Overall, it has been a good dependable vehicle and I would recommend it to others.
Michelle E on November 24, 2021
2011 Subaru Outback so far so good.
So far our Subaru Outback has been pretty reliable. The one issue it has had was covered under a special extended warranty the Subaru did to cover a known transmission issue. Other than that the performance has been good, it is comfortable and reliable.
Bob on November 16, 2021
Its reliable und dependable
Hi, I have a 2019 Outback with 3.6 R. Good car so far . Not going to talk about gas mileage (6 cylinder). After 21,000 miles its due both front tires and alignment. Sad 21,000 miles and needs tires. Other then that and mpg its 5 star
Leed B on December 5, 2021
Great all around vehicle for everyday life.
Good reliable car. Durable enough to off-road, but smooth enough ride for everyday driving in the suburbs. Love the fold flat rear and rubber mats, easy to hose off and clean. Just enough frills, not too many buttons and gadgets.
Robyn A on December 10, 2021
People supposedly love Subarus but they're not reliable anymore.
EVERYTHING! It doesn't have auto-lock; every option I paid a lot of money for doesn't function; there was an issue with the battery dying with only 39K miles on the car and the dealership tried to make me pay for it.
Tammy F on October 5, 2021
It is DEPENDABLE and Comfortable.
I LOVE my Subaru it is extremely dependable. We have had it for 7 years and never had an issue at all. Just regular oil changes and new tires. If I ever have to get another vehicle it will be a Subaru!
Dean K on October 26, 2021
Very safe reliable car. Handles very well in bad conditions.
I love my 2015 Subaru Outback Limited. It is very comfortable. It rides and handles very good. At 80,000 miles I have not had any problems whatsoever. You can tell that it is a very solid built car.
Erin M on October 10, 2021
Reliable ride that makes long distance travel much more comfortable.c
Comfortable and overall reliable. Ride is very smooth and the adaptive cruise control is amazing. Gas mileage is phenomenal. I've traveled almost 500 miles on one tank. I have had minor issues.
Trish B on January 1, 2022
Subaru outback- reliable, economical car.
Love it. It is reliable, gets good mileage and can carry a lot of people and many things. The passenger side airbag currently has a recall that will take 8 hours in the shop to fix.
Mark S on October 24, 2021
2017 Subaru Outback is awesome!
Very comfortable, super reliable, Eyesight addition is worth the price increase for the reduction in insurance costs, also makes long drives easier. Awesome technology!
Daniel F on November 27, 2021
My life with a 2017 Subaru outback.
My car is very dependable, versatile, and comfortable to spend extended periods of time in. It performs great in any weather and on every terrain.
Barb M on December 9, 2021
I am a repeat outback. Customer.
Most reliable car I have ever had. It feels solid on the road. I am not afraid to drive it in bad weather. I would definitely buy a third Subaru.
KLAUDIO on March 2, 2022
Without a doubt the most terrible car I have ever driven (2020) Had a 2012 Outback and it was great. Electrical engine you name it TERRIBLE
John B on August 27, 2021
The fuel isn't the worst. And 2010 Outback semi dependable
It's not the worst on fuel. It's not bad in the snow but it's not the worst. But had on going problems even with annual maintenance
Sab Z on January 15, 2022
Little things about 2016 Outback.
I drive a red Subaru Outback, and have been driving it for a year or two. It is pretty reliable and really comfortable.
Lindsey H on October 15, 2021
Reliable and comfortable vehicle.
I have very few problems with this car, it is not running as smoothly as it used to but it is a reliable car.
Natasha S on September 1, 2021
2018 Outback is extremely sturdy! I had no injury after being rear ended.
The car is extremely durable and dependable. I have driven it through a snowstorm, and it handled very well.
Warren Stoddard II
Warren Stoddard II is an avid enthusiast of vintage vehicles. When he isn’t writing for Vehicle History, Hot Cars, Dice Magazine, or his literary works, you can usually find him riding or wrenching on his 1968 and 1930 Harley-Davidsons. When the weather is bad, he takes his ’67 Dodge D100.Following his graduation from Texas State University in 2018, Warren’s writing has been featured in The Antonym, Into the Void, and numerous publications around the globe, where they have received several honors. He is the author of the novella No Birds in Yesterday, and the short-story collection A Good Place on the Banks of the Euphrates.
Subaru Outback Reliability: How Long Will It Last?