This 2008 subie is my 3rd subaru experience. I was reluctant to leave a review because I have been told I am too critical so you be the judge. 1998 subaru was very noisy engine wise other than that a head gasket failure at 135000 miles 2001 subaru brakes once every other year at the dealer. Coolent leaks at the heads of the engine maintained by conditioner. 2008 Head gasket leaks at 68000 miles needed replacing. wire harness broke to tail lights. Noisy catalytic converters replaced but they left off the shielding. replaced under recall which is good. 75000 miles has a skip. plugs and wires. 7/30/16 96000-113000 owner replaced timing belt and tension pulleys, coolant water pump and timing belt, oil pump seals , cam shaft seals as normal maintenance items. valve cover gaskets Wheel bearings x3 as they were noisy. dealer replaced one air bag and another takata air bag is due under warranty control arm bushings and front and rear sway bar links. intermediate pipe and resonator with seals (noisy) Still drives and handles great. has not left us stranded yet. that is good. brakes hold up well. 1/31/17 120000 update. wire harness at rear gate wire broke again (first time was at 70000 and just ordered a new harness (rear gate Cord) from subaru lost back up lights and antenna wires the remaining wires insulation is cracking and just opted for new. Drives and runs great 23 mpg normal city milage. Just purchased new 2017 Outback Limited My wife drove most everything in this price range and insisted on a Subaru.
The Outback handles great in every day driving around town or on the highway. Steering is light and responsive. The Outback's 3.0R engine delivers plenty of refined power with a hint of growl. The transmission delivers that power unobtrusively. I normally leave SI drive in Intelligent mode but when necessary "sport sharp" mode (S#) provides that extra punch. The Outback's raised ride height means more suspension travel (take that speed bumps!) and it has a smooth ride over rough surfaces. I think the Outback looks the part of a luxury wagon. The interior is upscale and comparable to my 2004 Passat. The materials feel substantial and fit and finish are excellent. Braking is very sure.
We bought this car used in 2010 with 17,000 miles on it. It was a great car until it hit about 70,000 when it started having regular repair issues that really shouldn't happen. I fully expect to do maintenance on any vehicle for parts that wear out, but these problems are something different entirely. First it was the head gasket problem that most of these have, that came to just under $2,000 for repair (known issue that should have been covered by Subaru). Over the last three years I had problems with the ground wire in the radio that I had "fixed" three different times until it went out entirely and I had to have the radio head unit replaced for $500. The wires in the rear lift gate began breaking about a year ago causing my tail lights to go out. This is apparently a common issue as well and is very dangerous (no tail lights at night) and should have been recalled. That was $400 to replace. My catalytic converter is going out now and apparently it has been recalled in some states, but not in mine so it's going to cost me another $1,000. I also have problems in the passenger airbag light/switch that the dealership is telling me will be another $350 to fix. A little research on the internet tells me that it is bad soldering on a circuit board (another common enough problem that it can be found on youtube). Like I said, I gladly pay for regular maintenance and parts on a vehicle but these things are not "normal" problems and seem to be regular occurrences on Subarus. Tack on to this substantially decreased winter mileage (I expect some, but not 15%-18%), and I can't see myself purchasing another Subaru. Sure, you can probably pass them on to your children when you upgrade to a new one (just like the commercials show), but you're going to spend a lot of money to keep it that long and you'll be saddling them with something that appears to require regular, expensive repairs.
Traded our 2002 Bean Outback. This one is a much better performer but the interior has been redesigned for the worse. Controls were moved around to accomodate the opt. Nav. screen (which should be mounted on the dash). Climate controls placed low behind gearshift, audio controls lowered. You used to be able to adjust with a glance, now you have to take your eyes off the road. No storage for cds or loose change. The ashtray barely holds a chapstick. Rear seats no longer fold truly flat. Parking brake lever intrudes on drivers right leg. Odometer/temp/etc multigauge is useless and annoying.