2013 Subaru Outback Review

Pros & Cons

  • Spacious interior
  • comfortable ride
  • excellent visibility
  • generous cargo volume
  • clever roof rails
  • confident off-road ability.
  • Lacks agility
  • weak base stereo
  • fussy controls on upper trims.
List Price Range
$7,495 - $15,997

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Edmunds' Expert Review

A new, more efficient engine, high-tech safety features and commendable off-road performance make the 2013 Subaru Outback a top pick among utility crossovers, especially for those who frequently enjoy the great outdoors.

Vehicle overview

Even if the 2013 Subaru Outback never spent a second in the Australian expanse that inspired its name, it's reassuring to know that knotty, rutted desert roads pose minimal challenge for Subaru's crossover wagon. With 8.7 inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive, the Outback is a rugged adventure vehicle that can negotiate dirt roads and snowed-in streets with confidence, even if rugged off-roading is out of the question.

A new, more fuel-efficient four-cylinder "boxer" engine helps the Outback straddle the line between wanderlust and daily frugality. When paired with Subaru's second-generation CVT, the four-cylinder Outback returns 30 highway mpg while still offering a civilized ride and the ability to get off the highway when inspiration strikes. Those seeking a little more power or wanting to maximize the Outback's 3,000-pound towing ability can opt for the gutsier six-cylinder model.

Inside the cabin, the Outback offers an attractive and spacious interior, with plenty of head- and legroom, even in the backseat. A generous cargo hold and clever roof rack with fold-out crossbars and numerous dealer-installed attachments make the Outback a practical alternative to larger crossovers. Few vehicles match the Outback when it comes to carrying around the large leisure items that come along with an active, outdoor lifestyle.

For 2013, the Subaru Outback also offers the optional EyeSight system, which uses two windshield-mounted cameras to adjust the adaptive cruise control, alert the driver if the car wanders out of its lane and apply braking to avoid or minimize a collision. This is safety technology we're accustomed to seeing from premium automakers, and its presence among more mainstream brands is encouraging.

Just as the real Australian Outback is a desolate place, the market for beefed-up, midsize all-wheel-drive wagons is pretty thin. The 2013 Toyota Venza is very similar in terms of size, capacity and power, but it's not off-road-oriented like the Outback. The 2013 Audi Allroad and 2013 Volvo XC70 are meant to travel off pavement, but cost significantly more. Beyond that, you're left with taller and less capable crossover SUVs like the Chevrolet Equinox and Honda CR-V. Ultimately, the Outback occupies its own space and comes highly recommended.

2013 Subaru Outback models

The 2013 Subaru Outback is a five-passenger wagon offered in five trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 3.6R and 3.6R Limited. The numbers refer to engine displacement.

The base 2.5i comes with 16-inch steel wheels, roof rack rails with fold-out crossbars, full power accessories, cruise control, air-conditioning, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split-folding and reclining rear seats, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an iPod/USB audio interface and an auxiliary audio jack.

The 2.5i Premium model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, rear privacy glass, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a cargo cover and a six-speaker sound system.

Opting for the 2.5i Premium's available All-Weather package gets you heated front seats, heated mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer, while the Power Moonroof package adds a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a rearview camera. A nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with satellite radio and HD radio is also available.

Stepping up to the 2.5i Limited includes dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery and wood trim, a four-way power passenger seat, the contents of the All-Weather package, an upgraded gauge cluster and the Harman Kardon sound system. Options for the Limited include the EyeSight driver assist system, the Power Moonroof package and a Special Appearance package that includes unique exterior styling details, keyless ignition/entry, driver seat memory functions and perforated leather upholstery. A touchscreen navigation system with voice controls and a rearview camera is also available for the Limited.

Standard and optional equipment for the 3.6R models follow those of the 2.5i trim levels.

2013 Highlights

The 2013 Subaru Outback features a restyled front end, a more efficient four-cylinder engine, an updated continuously variable transmission (CVT) and revised suspension tuning. New features include keyless ignition/entry and newly available adaptive cruise control with a collision avoidance system.

Performance & mpg

The all-wheel-drive Subaru Outback is offered with two different engines. The 2.5i models use a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed ("boxer") four-cylinder that produces 173 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque, and comes paired with either a six-speed manual or a CVT.

EPA fuel economy estimates for the four-cylinder with the CVT are 24 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. Models with the six-speed manual return 21/28/24. Both results are pretty good for an all-wheel-drive four-cylinder crossover.

Outback 3.6R versions come with a 3.6-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder good for 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic with shift paddles is the only transmission offered. In Edmunds performance testing, the 3.6R accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds, a strong time for a six-cylinder-powered crossover or wagon. However, EPA fuel economy is below average at 18/25/20.

Safety

The 2013 Subaru Outback comes standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags that cover both rows. Subaru's new EyeSight system bundles safety technologies including adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning and sway warning. The EyeSight system uses two cameras mounted inside the upper edge of the windshield, which Subaru says reduces the potential for damage compared to conventional radar systems mounted in the front bumper. EyeSight can also detect pedestrians and is capable of braking the Outback if the driver takes no evasive action.

In Edmunds brake testing, the 3.6R managed to stop from 60 mph in 126 feet, a bit longer than average for this type of vehicle. The 2.5i Premium took a few feet longer still.

In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's testing, the Outback earned a top rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.

Driving

The Outback's last growth spurt opened up plenty of interior room, but lost the previous generation's quick handling in the process. Last year's Outback was saddled with significant body roll and vague steering feel. For 2013, Subaru says it stiffened the car's structure and retuned the suspension to reduce body roll and improve handling. We've yet to fully test the new Outback to see if these changes did the trick.

Of course, standard all-wheel drive and 8.7 inches of ground clearance are really what the Outback is about. Light off-roading is the idea here, and the Outback can traverse narrow, deeply rutted trails that would intimidate other crossovers. The 2013 Subaru Outback is not quite a trail-rated, rock-crawling Jeep, but carrying kayaks and mountain bikes off the beaten path is a cinch.

The 2.5-liter four-cylinder delivers both adequate performance and respectable fuel economy with either the six-speed manual or the excellent CVT automatic. It's a solid choice if you need to balance fuel economy with utility. Folks who regularly travel hills and grades, or frequently haul full loads of passengers, cargo or both would be better served by the six-cylinder.

Interior

With its redesign a few years ago, the Subaru Outback traded a smaller footprint and snappy handling for size. Enthusiast drivers lamented the Outback's growth, but it meant more room inside, especially for rear seat passengers who now enjoy excellent headroom and legroom. The seatbacks also recline for greater comfort.

Behind those rear seats you find 34.3 cubic feet of cargo space. Folding them down yields 71.3 cubic feet, volume on par with larger crossovers like the Honda CR-V. The Outback is actually even more spacious than midsize crossovers like the Ford Edge. For anything that doesn't fit inside, the Outback features clever roof rails that swing inward when needed to become crossbars for attaching bikes, snowboards, etc. Loading them up there is made easier by the Outback's shorter overall height.

While the interior of the 2013 Subaru Outback is nice enough, especially on the upper trim levels, too much hard plastic reminds us of the car's utility roots. Most buyers will find the 2.5i Premium trim level worth springing for, especially to get the optional Harman Kardon audio system. The base 2.5i model's standard four-speaker stereo simply sounds tinny and flat.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2013 Subaru Outback.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Impressive Machine
jetpilot767,08/28/2012
I bought a 2013 Outback 3.6 Limited last month. Since then I have traveled from Georgia to New Hampshire to Michigan and Illinois visiting family and friends. All told, I put 3400 miles on the car very quickly. I had been looking at the Outback for several years since my 2002 BMW X-5 was getting a bit long of tooth. I am glad I did because just about all the complaints from other reviewers of the 2010- 2012 models have been resolved. The more I drive this car, the more I enjoy it. And it will go places that other crossovers only dream about.
Not as good as I had hoped for.
sknaffl4,12/23/2013
This Outback is my first Subaru, and sadly, it will probably be my last. I had high expectations for this car considering the excellent reviews from prior models, but now that I've got 40,000 miles on it, I'm not impressed. It burns 1 quart of oil every 1000-1200 miles, which Subaru says is normal. There is a constant vibration at hwy speeds that is NOT tire related. There are large gaps in the body panels, and the hatch doesn't even line up...indicating poor build quality. The seat is already starting to deform, and I'm not a big person. There is a constant rattle on deceleration, and the stock stereo speakers are probably the worst I've ever seen.
Best Subaru Yet!
poohbaru,02/02/2013
Had the car now since Sept 2012, my 6th Subaru and the best so far. My first was a 84' GL wagon and I've been in love with Subaru's ever since. They are more refined now and offer a lot more creature comforts but still have that unique character that makes a Subaru a Subaru. I have the 3.6R Limited with EyeSight (thought about the Special Appearance Package but opted for safety over a couple of additional gadgets). Very glad I did. The EyeSight system is AWESOME. It has saved me from a few close calls and actually prevented me from hitting a deer. I had a 06 LL Bean Outback (also a great car) couldn't believe how much roomier it was and love that I can use regular gas versus high test
First car!
lynncy,08/21/2012
As this was my first car and I'm a highly practical person who wants to make sure I make the absolute best decision for me, I drove, drumroll please... 30 cars. I even drove the 2012 and 2013 outbacks back to back to see if I could notice significant differences in the way it drove. I did. Much less body roll and more pep with slightly better gas mileage did me in. So far I've driven 1500 miles, mostly city. City, I've been averaging 23 MPG and on the highway I did about 28 with two large adults and all our junk for a vacation. I haven't done much off-roading, but I can tell this car would handle it no problemo.

Features & Specs

MPG
24 city / 30 hwy
Seats 5
Continuously variable-speed automatic
Gas
173 hp @ 5600 rpm
MPG
24 city / 30 hwy
Seats 5
Continuously variable-speed automatic
Gas
173 hp @ 5600 rpm
MPG
24 city / 30 hwy
Seats 5
Continuously variable-speed automatic
Gas
173 hp @ 5600 rpm
MPG
24 city / 30 hwy
Seats 5
Continuously variable-speed automatic
Gas
173 hp @ 5600 rpm
See all Used 2013 Subaru Outback features & specs

Safety

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
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover17.4%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2013 Subaru Outback

Used 2013 Subaru Outback Overview

The Used 2013 Subaru Outback is offered in the following submodels: Outback SUV. Available styles include 2.5i Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Limited PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Premium PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 3.6R Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), 2.5i 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Premium PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M), 2.5i Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M), 2.5i PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M), 2.5i 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M), and 3.6R 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A).

What's a good price on a Used 2013 Subaru Outback?

Price comparisons for Used 2013 Subaru Outback trim styles:

  • The Used 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium PZEV is priced between $9,488 and$12,800 with odometer readings between 66783 and107725 miles.
  • The Used 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited PZEV is priced between $7,995 and$14,000 with odometer readings between 54422 and135078 miles.
  • The Used 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited is priced between $7,495 and$14,590 with odometer readings between 89671 and166753 miles.
  • The Used 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i is priced between $11,117 and$11,117 with odometer readings between 84501 and84501 miles.
  • The Used 2013 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited is priced between $15,997 and$15,997 with odometer readings between 63013 and63013 miles.

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Which used 2013 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) 2013 Subaru Outback for sale near. There are currently 18 used and CPO 2013 Outbacks listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $7,495 and mileage as low as 54422 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 2013 Subaru Outback.

Can't find a used 2013 Subaru Outbacks you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Subaru Outback for sale - 2 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $23,850.

Find a used Subaru for sale - 7 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $8,439.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru Outback for sale - 7 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $18,085.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru for sale - 7 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $9,452.

Should I lease or buy a 2013 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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