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Subaru Outback: An owners experience with a 2008 model

Updated on February 2, 2013

By the time I purchase my 2008 Subaru Outback, I knew what car I wanted. I’d done some online research, read some reviews and brochures, and systematically eliminated several vehicles in my price range. I wanted a car that had decent fuel economy, all wheel drive, one that I could carry my canoe on its roof, adequate ground clearance and last but not least… I WANTED heated seats. I purchased a new car because I couldn't find a used one much cheaper. They seemed to hold their value. When I talked to the salesman I told him I wanted to purchase an Outback, so I figured the deal was closed. He proceeded to sell me on the Subaru brand and all the features of the Outback. It wasn't necessary, I had already made my decision, it was only a matter of picking the color and filling out the paper work. I let him continue, it seemed to make him feel better.

A partial listing of Specifications:

Engine & Performance

  • CAM TYPE Single overhead cam (SOHC)
  • CYLINDERS Flat 4
  • VALVES 16
  • VALVE TIMING Variable
  • TORQUE 170 ft-lbs. @ 4400 rpm
  • HORSEPOWER 170 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • TURNING CIRCLE 35.4 ft.


  • FUEL TYPE Regular unleaded
  • FUEL TANK CAPACITY 16.9 gal.
  • RANGE IN MILES (CTY/HWY) 338.0/439.4 mi.
  • EPA MILEAGE EST. (CTY/HWY) 20/26 mpg

A partial list of the features I like:

Power Features

· Heated mirrors


· Cruise control

· Speed-proportional power steering

· 12V front and 12V cargo area power outlet(s)

· Cruise controls on steering wheel


· Interior air filtration

· Cargo area light

· Air conditioning

· Front and rear floor mats

Safety Features

· 4-wheel ABS

· Dual front side-mounted airbags

· Front fog/driving lights

· Daytime running lights

· Ventilated front disc / solid rear disc brakes

· Passenger airbag occupant sensing deactivation

Subaru is noted for designing some of the safest vehicles available.

The heated seats are a must have for me. They have worked reliably and provide more than enough heat. I purchased a model with 17 in wheels so I got a bit of additional ground clearance. I purchased a roof rack for my canoe from the dealership which is a Yakima brand. I’m happy with that.

The boxer-style engine: This engine was originally developed for aircraft. The cylinders are mounted horizontally and oppose each other. This adds to the stability and traction control of the vehicle since it creates a lower center of gravity. The engine is a little noisy but not too bad. The 2.5L provides adequate power.

All wheel drive system: After a few Michigan winter seasons driving the Outback, I’ve really come to appreciate the all wheel drive system. Subaru has one of the best true all wheel drive systems available. It is very similar in function and design to the Audi system. I really notice an improvement in traction over conventional 4 drive systems. I have two 4wheel drive Jeeps and a 4 wheel drive Chevy pick-up. Even with it’s not so aggressively treaded tires it out performs the other 3 vehicles. I rarely notice a loss of traction.

The cargo area: The split rear seats fold down to allow me to carry lots of camping gear. I’ve never had a camping trip where I didn't have enough room. One time I had a kayak on the roof, all my gear in the back, including a mountain bike, a guitar and coolers and still had plenty of room.They are split by 2/3 – 1/3 so that two people could sit in the rear seat with the 1/3 side folded down or vice versa.

My owner experiences:

  • The fuel economy is typically 25 -27 mpg on the highway, but if I keep my speed below 60 mph, and drive conservatively It can achieve close to 30 mpg.
  • Three adult passengers are a little crowded in the back seat.
  • Never have a problem on icy or snowy roads (using reasonable caution of course)
  • It has 124,000 miles and still going strong.
  • I had to replace 3 wheel bearings, windshield, battery, a headlight bulb, tail light bulb and tires.
  • The Tire pressure monitoring system is too sensitive for my liking
  • Occasionally (rarely) it will take a long time to start. It seems like the fuel pump did not get started properly. But it starts.
  • The headlights are very bright and provide good visibility on high beam.
  • The cloth seats are comfortable but the only color available was black.
  • The center console came apart, but I screwed it back together with slightly large screws.
  • The clock is a little fast, gains a few minutes/month.
  • One time the oil was overfilled and the exhaust smoked quite a bit.
  • It survived a rear end collision where I was stopped at a light and the person behind me was texting and slammed into the rear. It lifted the rear end up and to the left a foot or two. The result for me was a bent tail pipe and scratch in the bumper. The result for him was being ticketed and towed with a broken grill, radiator, headlight assembly and other damage.
  • It survived a collision with a deer at about 35mph. It needed body work and parts replaced, but I drove it to the body shop.

I would recommend a Subaru Outback for anyone who drives in winter conditions with slippery roads. It's many safety feature make it a good choice for a family car. It's cargo space, fold down seats and all wheel drive system make it a good choice for the person who wants to venture off the beaten track and get away from the rat race for a while. By the way, it's an SUV not a station wagon.


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