2009 Subaru Outback Review

Pros & Cons

  • Secure handling, excellent safety ratings, standard all-wheel drive, zesty acceleration in 2.5 XT and 3.0 R trims, distinctive styling inside and out.
  • "Cozy" backseat, lacks the third-row seat of crossover SUVs, not as fuel-efficient as you'd expect.
List Price Range
$6,995 - $12,500

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Straddling the midsize wagon and crossover SUV segments, the 2009 Subaru Outback offers more off-road chops than other wagons and better handling than crossover SUVs. Keep in mind, though, that a third-row seat is unavailable.

Vehicle overview

The 2009 Subaru Outback has come a long way. A decade ago, Crocodile Dundee was serving as this jacked-up wagon's pitchman in a series of campy television commercials. Today, the Outback has moved decidedly upmarket, with refined exterior styling and a sleek interior layout that rivals that of some entry-level luxury cars. At heart, of course, the Outback remains a Subaru Legacy wagon on stilts, so its premium pretenses aren't entirely convincing. Nonetheless, the Outback offers a unique combination of good looks, SUV-grade ground clearance and a midsize car's handling characteristics -- as opposed to the supposedly "carlike handling" of 4,500-pound crossovers.

Of course, not many Outback owners are going to put those 8.4 inches of ground clearance to use -- but since the Legacy wagon is no longer sold in the U.S., the Outback's the only game in town if you want your midsize Subaru to hold more junk than what fits in a trunk. Happily, the Outback doesn't feel like it's teetering on tiptoes while cornering. Indeed, it feels very much like the Legacy sedan on which it's based, which means sharp steering, sure-footed grip and noticeable but easily managed body roll. Those Legacy roots also help keep curb weight down -- the Outback weighs in at approximately 3,350-3,600 pounds, depending on trim level. That's hundreds of pounds less than even the lightest crossover SUVs.

So what's not to like? Most glaringly, the lack of passenger capacity. There is no third-row seat, which is available on most crossovers, and the backseat is rather tight. The Outback may technically be a midsize wagon, but Subaru markets it as an SUV substitute -- and in terms of passenger accommodations, it doesn't measure up. Then there's the fuel economy, which isn't as high as you'd expect given the Outback's relatively light weight. In fact, if you go with either of the two optional engines -- the 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or the 3.0-liter six-cylinder -- your gas mileage will be squarely in crossover-SUV territory.

That said, the 2009 Subaru Outback has a lot going for it. All-wheel drive is standard, impressive power is available in 2.5 XT or 3.0 R trim, and it's among the safest cars on the road. It doesn't hurt that the Outback boasts unusually sophisticated styling for a midsize car. But we'd still recommend taking a look at competing wagons and crossovers as well, including the Volkswagen Passat wagon, Ford Taurus X, Hyundai Veracruz, Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander and Toyota Venza. Premium alternatives include the Saab 9-5 wagon, Volvo V70 and Volvo XC70.

2009 Subaru Outback models

The 2009 Subaru Outback is a midsize wagon with standard AWD. There are five available trim levels: base 2.5i, 2.5i Special Edition, 2.5i Limited, 2.5 XT Limited and 3.0 R Limited.

Standard equipment on the base trim includes 16-inch steel wheels, roof rails, keyless entry, an outside temperature display, full power accessories, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, air-conditioning and a satellite-radio-ready audio system with a CD player and an auxiliary input jack. The 2.5i Special Edition adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a limited-slip rear differential, roof-rail crossbars, heated exterior mirrors, a power driver seat, front seat heaters, an upgraded 440-watt audio system and a 12-volt power outlet. The 2.5i Limited tacks on a dual-pane sunroof, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control and an in-dash six-CD changer.

The 2.5 XT Limited comes equipped with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine as well as the 2.5i Limited's roster of features, and adds a hood scoop, a three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel and a power front passenger seat with lumbar support. The 2.5 XT Limited also includes SI-Drive, which allows the driver to adjust the electronic throttle's responsiveness and -- if applicable -- the automatic transmission's shift points. The top-of-the-line 3.0 R Limited comes with a six-cylinder engine and adds faux wood accents, electroluminescent gauges and a steering wheel with leather and real mahogany trim.

A navigation system is optional on 2.5i Limited, 2.5 XT Limited and 3.0 R Limited models.

2009 Highlights

The 2009 Subaru Outback is no longer available in L.L. Bean trim, but stability control is now standard across the lineup. Additionally, the 2.5i Special Edition makes its debut, and all models except for the base 2.5i receive an upgraded nine-speaker sound system.

Performance & mpg

The AWD 2009 Subaru Outback has three available engines. The 2.5i models are powered by a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that puts out 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. The 2.5 XT Limited gets a turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter engine good for 243 hp and 241 lb-ft of torque. Powering the 3.0 R Limited model is a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that generates 245 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque.

The 2.5i, 2.5i Special Edition and 2.5 XT Limited models come with either a standard five-speed manual transmission or an optional four-speed automatic; 2.5i Limited and 3.0 R Limited models are automatic-only.

EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 20 mpg city/26 highway and 22 combined for 2.5i models; 18 city/24 highway and 20 combined for 2.5 XT models; and 17 city/24 highway and 20 combined for the 3.0 R.

Safety

The 2009 Subaru Outback comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and anti-whiplash front head restraints. In government crash tests, the Outback earned a perfect five stars across the board for frontal- and side-impact collisions.

Driving

If you're that rare Outback owner who elects to venture off-road, we'd recommend keeping to light-duty trails. Nonetheless, the 2009 Subaru Outback acquits itself surprisingly well in the grass and dirt, thanks to all those inches of ground clearance. On paved roads, the Outback does a pretty good impression of the now-discontinued Legacy wagon -- only enthusiastic drivers will detect the Outback's distinctly higher center of gravity. The base engine is just adequate, and it's a real snooze when paired with the slow-witted four-speed automatic. The 2.5 XT's turbocharged-4 is downright quick, however, and the 3.0 R's six-cylinder power plant provides broad-shouldered passing power.

Interior

The Outback's cabin has an uncluttered and classy ambience, thanks to simple controls, tasteful faux wood and aluminum accents and high build quality. Seat comfort is generally good, though bigger adults may find the backseat tight on legroom and shoulder room compared to roomier wagons and crossovers. Car seats are easy to install, as that rear seat is broad and flat. With the rear seats up, there are 33.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Flip them down and 66 cubic feet are available.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2009 Subaru Outback.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

High number of Repairs
jdillon2,04/11/2015
2.5i Special Edition 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)
We have owned 4 different Subarus. We bought the 2009 Outback new. It has had three major repairs since purchase. The most recent was a rebuild of the transfer case which cost $2200. We never had these types of major repairs before. I expect better from Subaru being an owner since 1991. They just aren't as good as in the past.
Continuous costly repairs
Mark,11/05/2015
2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
This was my first, and last Subaru, I bought. I thought the car would be reliable after reading and researching prior models. This car is the closest thing to a lemon I could think of. After 6 months of ownership the interior of the vehicle was breaking apart. Small holes in the stitching in the doors and the center counsel lid broke. Subaru repaired the lid and it soon broke again. Very cheep. The handling and engine performance became horrible after a couple of years. As of today, the power steering unit is shot - not sure what this will cost yet to replace. I recently had the transmission leak and the thermostat sensor replaced at the dealership ($600.00 plus). Then a month later the valve cover gasket broke causing oil to run into and foul out the plugs. This repair cost over $850.00 once they figured out what was wrong with it. I'll sum it up here, this is a terrible car. Don't buy one, it's no Toyota. It gets horrible gas mileage and over time has no engine power. It just screws you over with repairs.
200+K miles without a wrench put on it!
Mario,11/29/2016
2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
This car was our 5th Subaru, and it is being replaced by a newer model. All of our Subarus went well over 200,000 miles without ever having to take them into the dealer for a repair. The only time any of our Subarus were in the shop was for normal engine maintenance that required tools or expertise beyond the average owner's ability or tool ownership (even spark plug changes need a 'special' tool to accomplish); eg. timing belt, cam belt & cam seals, water pump at about 85,000 or more miles. I did all oil & oil filter changes at 5000 mile intervals and air filter changes, myself. You also can save a little money by buying spark plugs at an auto parts store and just pay the labor to have a dealer install them. These cars are so trouble-free, you get in it, turn the key and the engine always starts. On my first Subaru wagon a 1985, at about 125,000 miles a slight hesitation on acceleration off idle developed. I took it in to the local Subaru specialist shop to diagnose & fix it. When I picked up the car, the mechanic told me (jokingly) I should be ashamed of my self for the cause of the problem. The ORIGINAL spark plugs were still in the engine - I never changed them! He couldn't believe I hadn't yet changed the plugs. Well, that's what happens when you get in your car and it starts EVERYTIME! I should also add, the 2009 Subaru never gave us any trouble, just like all our previous Subies ('85, '87, '96, '01). So, we're buying another Outback, this will be our 6th Subaru (4th Outback). [Update: 2015 Outback 2.5 4cyl Ltd.] Fantastic vehicle! Will practically drive itself! Bought it used with all the bells and whistles available (Sat radio, GPS Navigation, Eye-sight, heated seats front & BACK!, dual range heat/cool, etc.) We absolutely love this car! Had just over 9K miles on it when we bought it, now we have 28K. Oil & filter changes are a piece of cake, since the filter is now on the top side of the engine. Also another great change Subaru made is the 6 speed Constant velocity transmission. Subaru just keeps getting better & better. We travel weekly from the mountains (Lake Tahoe) to the valley (Sacramento area) so I think the gas mileage would actually be higher for someone that lives in the valley.
'09 Outback
Hal Edmonds,09/13/2016
2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
The last of the original Outback models, before they got too big. Good handling, decent fuel economy, reasonable comfort, great reliability, good resale. Hard to beat a Subaru.

Features & Specs

MPG
20 city / 26 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
170 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
20 city / 26 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
170 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
20 city / 26 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
170 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
20 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed manual
Gas
170 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2009 Subaru Outback features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • 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
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2009 Subaru Outback

Used 2009 Subaru Outback Overview

The Used 2009 Subaru Outback is offered in the following submodels: Outback Wagon. Available styles include 2.5i 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD w/Nav (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5i 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M), 2.5i Special Edition 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5i Special Edition 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M), 3.0R Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (3.0L 6cyl 5A), 2.5XT Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5A), 2.5XT Limited 4dr Wagon AWD w/Nav (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5A), 3.0R Limited 4dr Wagon AWD w/Nav (3.0L 6cyl 5A), and 2.5XT Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Subaru Outback?

Price comparisons for Used 2009 Subaru Outback trim styles:

  • The Used 2009 Subaru Outback 2.5i is priced between $7,883 and$8,995 with odometer readings between 76536 and90264 miles.
  • The Used 2009 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited is priced between $7,900 and$7,994 with odometer readings between 94405 and139106 miles.
  • The Used 2009 Subaru Outback 2.5i Special Edition is priced between $6,995 and$6,995 with odometer readings between 127176 and127176 miles.
  • The Used 2009 Subaru Outback 3.0R Limited is priced between $12,500 and$12,500 with odometer readings between 78434 and78434 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2009 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) 2009 Subaru Outback for sale near. There are currently 6 used and CPO 2009 Outbacks listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,995 and mileage as low as 76536 miles. 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 2009 Subaru Outback.

Can't find a used 2009 Subaru Outbacks you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Subaru Outback for sale - 8 great deals out of 18 listings starting at $15,749.

Find a used Subaru for sale - 4 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $13,470.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru Outback for sale - 1 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $15,346.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru for sale - 5 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $10,749.

Should I lease or buy a 2009 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.

Check out Subaru lease specials
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