2002 Subaru Outback Review


Pros & Cons

  • The security of all-wheel drive, comfortable on pavement, capable on dirt, well-appointed interior.
  • Not as capable as an SUV in terms of pure off-road capability, upscale models are expensive.
List Price Estimate
$1,169 - $2,774

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Edmunds' Expert Review

A versatile alternative to mainstream wagons and SUVs.

Vehicle overview

What recipe does an automotive manufacturer use to boost sales? Ask any Subaru executive, and she'll tell you to take one part popular Australian movie star and one part advanced all-wheel-drive system. Stir in an undercurrent of SUV backlash with a dash of resurgence in the station wagon market, and behold: the perfect environment for the Subaru Outback. Available in either wagon or sedan form, the Legacy-based Outback is Subaru's answer to the question: Why would anyone want to drive an ill-handling, gas-guzzling, difficult-to-park SUV? With standard all-wheel drive, aggressive styling, a heavy-duty raised suspension and a base price in the low 20s, the Outback offers on-road practicality with off-road capability at a bargain price. While no match for the likes of Jeep's Grand Cherokee or Toyota's Land Cruiser in terms of hill climbing, the Outback can hold its own in light off-road situations without losing an oil pan or cracking a differential.

Subaru has expanded the Outback's model lineup this year. There are now five different trim levels: base, Limited, H6-3.0, H6-3.0 L.L.Bean Edition and H6-3.0 VDC. Powering the base and Limited models is a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine producing 165 horsepower. Power is adequate with this engine, but those planning on frequent hauling of people and cargo will likely want the more powerful 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine. Like the four-cylinder, it's horizontally opposed, and it brews up 212 horsepower and 210 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission offered with the larger engine is a four-speed automatic transmission.

The H6-3.0 cars have even higher levels of standard equipment. Highlights include special 16-inch alloy wheels, a limited-slip rear differential, a mahogany wood and leather steering wheel, automatic climate control with an air filtration system, an eight-way power driver seat and a rearseat center armrest. The L.L.Bean Edition, so named because of a marketing partnership with the active-lifestyle clothing maker, comes standard with special two-tone leather seating and a security system. The H6-3.0 VDC comes with Subaru's stability control system, called Vehicle Dynamics Control, as well as leather seating and an impressive McIntosh 11-speaker audio system.

Thanks to the AWD system, the Subaru is sure-footed on both dry and wet roads. The H6-3.0 VDC, with its stability control system, is even more so. A tight, responsive steering rack, along with a decent-riding suspension, allow Outback owners to overtake SUV owners quickly when the road gets twisty. In wagon form, the Outback can hold about as much cargo as an SUV; with the rear seats folded down, 68.6 cubic feet of cargo can be stored.

In 1999, people complained that the Outback didn't have enough power. So in 2000, Subaru answered with the bigger H6 engine. Problem was, it only came in the pricey L.L.Bean and VDC models. With the introduction of the cheaper H6-3.0 sedan for 2001, it would seem Subaru continues to listen.

2002 Highlights

Subaru has expanded the availability of its new 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine to the Outback sedan. The result is two additional sedan trim levels: 3.0-H6 and 3.0-H6 VDC. Minor upgrades to all trim levels this year include a dome light off-delay, an ignition switch illumination ring and wood grain-patterned door switch trim. Cars with the Vehicle Dynamics Control system now have a button to turn the system off, and sedans receive an internal trunk release. The automatic climate control system is upgraded with an air filtration system.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2002 Subaru Outback.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Head gasket nightmare
AWD 4dr Wagon w/Weather Pkg (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
I purchased my 2002 Outback new 2/2002. During warranty, the automatic seat broke & would no longer adjust for height. It was fixed free of charge. Soon after warranty expired, the same problem. I've never fixed it because the cost is over $600-- ridiculous. I've only got 65,000 miles, just put new tires on the car, and my mechanic informs me that I have an oil leak and need head gaskets replaced. He showed me a Subaru Service Bulletin which extended the warranty to 8 yrs and 100,000 miles if vehicle leaking coolant. Long story short, even though I wasn't yet leaking coolant, Subaru agreed to pay for 1/2 cost including head gaskets, water pump, and seals. Cost to me $800. I still love the car.
One helluva great car
Limited AWD 4dr Wagon (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
I am by no means a conservative driver. And this car keeps up with me without even breaking a sweat. the H6 is an insanely powerful engine. The snow and ice in this car are not even a problem. It powers through it like its not even there. Great space for over night ski trips. Great looking. comfortable. The best car i've ever owned
The best vehicle I have ever owned.
AWD 4dr Wagon (2.5L 4cyl 5M)
I bought this vehicle in 2012, it was already 10 years old. The previous owner had been great to it, it only had 94,000 miles on it and looked practically new aside from a scrape or two on the bumper. I got it when I did because I needed a reliable vehicle because I was going off to college, and the SUV I had been driving was on it's last legs. I also live in the mountains, and was going to school in the mountains as well, so I needed a vehicle that could handle any weather situation, but also didn't eat gas. This vehicle was perfect. It's like a hybrid of an SUV and a sedan. It handles like a dream. I've driven it through snow, ice, extreme rain storms, gravel, mud, you name it, the Outback can handle it. Since purchasing, I have put nearly 100,000 miles on this baby and I have yet to have a single mechanical issue with it, aside from the usual tune ups of getting the brakes or tires changed. I practically lived in my vehicle, all except for sleep, for one semester in particular, and I can safely say it is very comfortable. I always feel safe in it. It has a great sound system and fairly good, though not the most powerful, AC. Cup holders are less of an issue in this model then I've seen it be in other Subaru's. It's true that it isn't the most attractive of cars, but for the vehicle type, it certainly isn't hard on the eyes either. I love this vehicle and would recommend it to anyone who lives in a climate with lots of weather extremes, or for anyone who just loves to explore the world. I will drive this car till it won't drive anymore.
2 blown head gaskets 20k miles
AWD 4dr Wagon w/Weather Pkg (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
at 2.5 yrs noticed coolant drops in driveway. Problem progressed to wet spot. I thought no big deal that a hose needed to be replaced or clamp tightened. At 3yrs checked under car and found both head gaskets were leaking oil and water. Subaru was out of warranty and said my VIN was not amongst those recalled. Changing the gaskets would be over 3k. They sold me a 6 oz bottle of Subie coolant stop leak that did nothing. I used barrs stop leak with nano tech the last several years. Now it clogged the overfill hose so I cleaned it out. At 60k miles the oil is indicating overfill so I assume the water is now crossing into the engine block and have to get rid of the vehicle.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2002 Subaru Outback

Used 2002 Subaru Outback Overview

The Used 2002 Subaru Outback is offered in the following submodels: Outback Sedan, Outback Wagon. Available styles include AWD 4dr Wagon (2.5L 4cyl 4A), L.L. Bean Edition AWD 4dr Wagon (3.0L 6cyl 4A), AWD 4dr Wagon w/Weather Pkg (2.5L 4cyl 4A), Limited AWD 4dr Wagon (2.5L 4cyl 4A), AWD 4dr Wagon (2.5L 4cyl 5M), H6-3.0 AWD 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 4A), VDC AWD 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 4A), Limited AWD 4dr Sedan (2.5L 4cyl 4A), AWD 4dr Wagon w/Weather Pkg (2.5L 4cyl 5M), VDC AWD 4dr Wagon (3.0L 6cyl 4A), and Limited AWD 4dr Wagon (2.5L 4cyl 5M). Pre-owned Subaru Outback models are available with a 2.5 L-liter gas engine or a 3.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 212 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2002 Subaru Outback comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 4-speed automatic.

What's a good price on a Used 2002 Subaru Outback?

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Which used 2002 Subaru Outbacks are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2002 Subaru Outback for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2002 Subaru Outback.

Can't find a used 2002 Subaru Outbacks you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Subaru Outback for sale - 7 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $15,453.

Find a used Subaru for sale - 1 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $21,984.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru Outback for sale - 11 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $7,578.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru for sale - 1 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $10,211.

Should I lease or buy a 2002 Subaru Outback?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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