I've had this car for three years - no problems yet. Performs well in snow/wet weather. AWD is idiot-proof. Hauls a ton of stuff with seats folded down. Decent gas mileage -- 30+mpg on one recent long trip. Comfortable for longer trips. Adequate power for freeway; not too zippy around town. Short enough so that roof rack is easily accessible. I wish I would have got all-weather package w/ heated mirrors. Car has survived two minor accidents fairly well. This is the "Swiss army knife" of cars.
AWD, cargo capacity, gas mileage, flexibility.
Needs more power, some problems with driver-side window sealing, fog lamps are expensive to replace, cruise control seems odd.
I bought this car for dependable commuting in all (snowy) weather. It is the most sure-footed vehicle I have ever owned. It has averaged 28 mpg or better under all conditions. Visibility is excellent. It is comfortable on long trips as well. This is a convenient and useful vehicle.
Stock wiper blades have poor longevity. The rear bumper tends to collect road sand. 6 cylinder, and hybrid engine options should be offered in the base model Outback.
This is the 2nd of three Outbacks I have owned with a head gasket failure. Drivers window does not seal. Engine knocks when cold, acceleration & transmission are sluggish, gas mileage is mediocre. Handling on snowy road not the best. Interior material somewhat cheap.
AWD, size, appearance, heated seats, wipers, etc.
Improve build quality and materials. Better tires to improve handling on snow covered roads. Improve transmission and gas mileage.
This was my second Outback, my first being a '96 5 speed manual I traded for the '02 4 speed automatic. I wish I had held on to my '96. The '02 quality did not seem to be as good and was disappointing. Most recently, the engine sporadically idled poorly or hesitated on acceleration--even on the Interstate. My biggest concern was a leaking head gasket, which is apparently a common problem on 1999-2002 models and there was a recall for some--not all (Google "Outback head gasket"). The "fix" involved adding a conditioner to the coolant to seal the leak. Seems like a stop-gap to me. Between the head gasket and the sporadic acceleration problem I decided to it was time to trade.
After twenty-six months, this wagon is as much fun to drive as it was when purchased. It is comfortable, economical to operate, and handles wellin any weather and on any surface. Cruising at highway speeds all day is noproblem, but it really stands out duringa major snow storm. We look forward to many more years with this vehicle and will very likely belooking for another Outback Wagon when it's time to trade.
Choosing one feature over another is nearly impossible. This car was designed with the driver and passengers in mind and provides everything that is needed in a straight forward, clean format.
Heated exterior mirrors and windshield washer fluid de-icer should be standard features rather than options.