Overview

Overview

The 2013 Subaru Outback is one of those vehicles that stands out in a group. Its original styling and outward functionality are both staples of a brand name that is about to hit its 20th anniversary. It exists among a dying breed - the near-extinct station wagon class - but what few competitors are left are only trailing in the wake of the 2013 Subaru Outback.

With standard features like all-wheel drive, and one of the best safety records available, the Outback remains a trailblazer of a vehicle. It offers the elegance expected from a family vehicle and a rugged sturdiness that would make some off-roaders jealous. A new four-cylinder boxer engine has improved fuel efficiency and a restyled front end has given the 2013 Subaru Outback a meaner, more aggressive look.

Expert Reviews

"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." (Edmunds) This seems to be the general consensus among all the expert reviewers. The 2013 Outback remains a class leader that has yet to be unseated from its throne.

"Though it was originally promoted as the ‘world's first sport utility wagon,' the 2013 Subaru Outback is more SUV than wagon, and that's a good thing. It's as spacious and capable as a conventional mid-size SUV, but delivers the fuel efficiency and driving characteristics of a sedan. The Outback also provides the all-weather mobility afforded by Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel-drive and an elevated seating position for a more commanding view of the road." (Kelley Blue Book)

Despite all the rave reviews, there are still those who take issue with the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). "Outbacks with the 4-cylinder engine and the CVT have decent power in most situations, but they lack reserve muscle for passing and merging. The CVT can become confused in hilly driving conditions." (Consumer Guide) That's about the only negative you'll hear from most experts regarding the 2013 Outback.

Owner Reviews

"If you are looking for a vehicle that is reliable, has all-time four-wheel drive, gets good fuel mileage and will probably last you into 200k miles, then this is your car. If...you have a utilitarian view about transportation (getting from A to B as inexpensively as possible), then Subaru is probably right up your alley." (Owner review from Jimmy; North Carolina)

"We have only had the car for 10 days but have found it enjoyable to drive and travel in. Our first tank of gas averaged 26 mpg. Our [Outback] is the 2.5i premium. The CVT transmission has worked well. I never seem to get over 2500 rpm. Leg and shoulder room is excellent. Rear seat room is very good for two adults; three would be tight." (Owner review from Ohio owner, KBB)

"I visited the dealer several times test driving the Tribeca, Forrester and Outback. I was sold on the Outback the second time around test driving it. This car has a lot of getup-and-go. I love my new Outback! The standard features are great; I especially like the backup camera in the rear view mirror. The heated leather seats are a plus, no complaints from this owner." (Owner review from Washington DC owner, KBB)

"We recently passed 10,000 miles on our 2.5 Outback Limited. I'll state right up front that so far we love this car. We have not had any reliability concerns and it has performed very well. The new engine and 2nd gen CVT work well together, and we find the drivetrain to be very responsive. We have been averaging 26/27 mpg in mixed driving. Drivability and traction in bad weather has been great." (Owner review from Massachusetts owner, Edmunds)

Lineup

The 2013 Subaru Outback seats five and comes in three separate trim levels offered with two engine options. The base level is simply the "i" or "R" level depending on which engine is chosen, either the 2.5L (i) or 3.6L (R). It comes with standard features like roof rails, full power accessories, cruise control, air conditioning, 60/40-split folding rear seats with recline capability, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and a four-speaker sound system with CD player and iPod/USB/Aux interfaces.

The next step up is the i or R Premium, also offered with either engine choice. It adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, an eight-way power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, cargo cover, rear privacy glass, and a six-speaker sound system. The sound system is upgradable to a Harmon Kardon system with satellite radio.

The final trim level is the i or R Limited, again offering both engine options. This is as regal as it gets in Outback standards. Moving up this far earns the purchaser leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, wood-grain trim, an upgraded gauge cluster, heated mirrors and front seats, and windshield wiper deicer. The touchscreen navigation system with voice controls, coupled with the rearview camera, is available for the Limited version.

Interior

The interior of the 2013 Subaru Outback exemplifies how far this model has come in its nearly 20-year existence. Hard plastics and substandard materials have been replaced by a more elegant cloth interior and wood-grain panel. The cockpit features a traditional wide-eye display as opposed to the tunnel-style gauges that seem to be increasing in popularity. It is easily read and lit by very bright interior panels.

The Outback boasts 34.3-cubic feet of cargo space at a minimum. Fold down the rear seat and you've got a maximum storage capacity of 71.3 cubes. This makes it more spacious than many smaller SUVs and actually puts it on par with larger competitors like the Honda CR-V. If you can't find enough cargo space inside, there is always the available roof rack. Its rails swing to turn it into a crossbar system for attaching bicycles, snowboards, etc.

Headroom and legroom are at a premium in this Subaru and that's not an understatement. The back seat  can comfortably fit two very large adults and seats three average adults with very little elbow-nudging. Road noise is muted somewhat but can get loud at highway speeds and in any off-road conditions. Upgrading from the base stereo system is advisable.

Performance

All-wheel drive is standard; that's a Subaru staple. Your choice of two engines and a couple different transmissions are about as far as the options go here. The first engine choice is the 2.5L four-cylinder boxer (horizontally opposed) engine that pumps out 173 horsepower and 174 ft.-lbs. of torque. It can come coupled to your choice of either the CVT automatic tranny or a six-speed manual. The six-speed manual is not a bad choice here, and it gives the driver that old-style Subaru experience.

The second engine choice is the 3.6L six-cylinder boxer engine. It's good for 256 horses and 247 ft.-lbs. of torque. Most reviewers agree that this is the better option to go with if you intend on hauling cargo or carpooling often. The four-cylinder is capable but underpowered in these situations. Unfortunately, the only transmission available with the 3.6 is a five-speed automatic with shift paddles. Fuel efficiency is on the low side for the class, estimated at 24/30 mpg (city/highway) at the high end, down to 18/25 mpg depending on the engine/transmission combo.

The downside to the Outback's performance is that the additional weight of all that interior roominess we spoke about earlier comes at the expense of handling. It feels loose at times and body roll is excessive on the rougher roads. Still, being a Subaru it does manage to retain some off-road prowess; and it maintains a standard of economy and functionality in the process.

Safety & Reliability

The IIHS gave the 2013 Subaru Outback a top rating of Good in all frontal-offset, side-impact, and roof strength tests. Safety features include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags covering both rows. Subaru has also employed its new EyeSight safety system that bundles adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane departure warning systems. This advanced new system uses new camera mountings as opposed to the traditional radar system.

There are currently no recalls and reliability is simply average. Like most makes, you will find your lemons and your gems. It offers a warranty that is commensurate with most competitors. It is the standard 3-year/36,000-mile manufacturer's warranty and 5-years/60,000 miles of powertrain coverage. MSRP on the 2013 Subaru Outback ranges from $23,495 at the low end, up to $32,095 for the top-of-the-line 3.6R Limited.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Wagon - AWD
2.5i 2.5i Manual 4 Cylinder AWD 23495
2.5i 2.5i Manual PZEV 4 Cylinder AWD 23795
2.5i 2.5i Automatic 4 Cylinder AWD 24495
2.5i 2.5i Automatic PZEV 4 Cylinder AWD 24795
2.5i Premium 2.5i Premium Manual 4 Cylinder AWD 24995
2.5i Premium 2.5i Premium Manual PZEV 4 Cylinder AWD 25295
2.5i Premium 2.5i Premium Automatic 4 Cylinder AWD 25995
2.5i Premium 2.5i Premium Automatic PZEV 4 Cylinder AWD 26295
2.5i Limited 2.5i Limited Automatic 4 Cylinder AWD 29095
2.5i Limited 2.5i Limited Automatic PZEV 4 Cylinder AWD 29395
3.6R 3.6R Automatic 6 Cylinder AWD 28495
3.6R Limited 3.6R Limited Automatic 6 Cylinder AWD 32095

Comparison of 2013 Subaru Outback with Similar Cars

2013 Subaru Outback MSRP Invoice
2013 Subaru Outback $23,495 $22,123
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2013 Volkswagen Jetta $15,545 $14,923 2013 Subaru Outback VS 2013 Volkswagen Jetta
2013 Kia Soul $14,400 $14,090 2013 Subaru Outback VS 2013 Kia Soul
2013 Subaru Impreza $17,895 $17,104 2013 Subaru Outback VS 2013 Subaru Impreza
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek $21,995 $20,876 2013 Subaru Outback VS 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek
2013 Nissan Juke $18,990 $18,108 2013 Subaru Outback VS 2013 Nissan Juke

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2013 Subaru Outback ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2013 Subaru Outback rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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