Vital Stats

Engine:
2.5L H4
Power:
173 HP / 174 LB-FT
Transmission:
CVT
Drivetrain:
AWD
Curb Weight:
3,459 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
34.3 CU-FT
MPG:
24 City / 30 HWY
Subaru has given the 2013 Outback a host of detail changes and updates, though you'd hardly know from looking at it. The mild exterior changes mostly go unnoticed, and if you're comparing on a numbers basis, the new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is bang-on what the old engine would do. The biggest news is EyeSight, Subaru's new stereo camera-based system that drives lane-departure warning, active cruise control, automatic emergency braking and forward collision alert functions.

The 2013 Outback spent some time in my driveway, and as far as jacked-up wagons with off-road cladding go, this is one of the most affordable of the lot. That doesn't mean it's cheap; the Outback I tried was a Limited model with moonroof, navigation, EyeSight, leather and CVT added on. That takes the Outback from its roughly $25,000 starting point and adds nearly $10,000, landing solidly in the mid-$30,000 range. Still, against its most natural competitors like the Volvo XC70 and Audi A6 Avant, the Outback is a better value.

DRIVING NOTES
  • The new 2.5-liter four-cylinder is surprisingly happy in this big wagon. It never felt underpowered, though it also never felt abundantly strong. Adequate.
  • Even more shocking, the CVT and four-cylinder combo proved smooth and refined most of the time. Hard acceleration, like merging on the highway, was really the only time the slippy-revvy characteristic of the CVT appeared. Most of the time it was as unobtrusive as the smoothest automatic transmission.
  • This is a very nice car in Limited trim, and the interior materials are better than I remember them being in the last Outback I sampled. The leather seats are very comfortable for long hauls, the interior is acceptably quiet, and the car is a perfect match for climates that see lots of inclement weather. Driving through rain and snow quickly points out what the buzz is all about with these cars. The Outback is comfy and confident in the slop.
  • When it's dry, you pay a price for the increased ride height and chunky tires. Still, sporty handling is not this car's forte unless you're competing in winter rallies.
  • The navigation system is fiddly to use, the screen is now on the small side compared to the competition and it generally just isn't that good. It took a lot more active babysitting of the nav to get it to display useful information and get me to a destination when a clogged highway changed my route. The key to a successful arrival turned out to be 70-percent my own wits and 30-percent the navigation system's capabilities.
  • The EyeSight system is mostly annoying. It's really sensitive and alerts at the slightest provocation. The first thing I did every time I got into the Outback was hold down the two overhead buttons to shut the EyeSight system up.
  • The fuel economy I saw was better than you'll get out of a CUV or SUV with comparable space, though given the ride height and size, the Outback is practically a crossover anyway, so the solid mid-to-high 20s I was able to squeeze from each gallon of fuel are mostly due to having a small engine and a transmission programmed to reach for the sky as fast as possible.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 55 Comments
      Bill
      • 1 Year Ago
      My parents got one this fall. It is not my cup of tea, but I can understand why they're popular. The handling is more loose and bouncy than I'd like, but on the plus side the CVT isn't as annoying as I thought it would be. Would be a great roadtrip car.
      KingTito
      • 1 Year Ago
      I drove this. Ended up looking for a while and finding a low mileage 2009 Outback XT (turbo) with the manual transmission. Great car. Not going to win any handling competitions but plenty of room, comfortable, enough power to keep it interesting and deal with mountains. I had the short throw shifter installed and it really helped firm up the shifting feel.
      Joyce Kinman
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sorry to hear it is so ugly since we thing it looks very good! We are in that group that could buy any car we wanted, but got this 2013 outback 2.5 premium for utility purposes. Our main objection is road noise on new asphalt roads! We are straight Christian Republicans so we are probably rare on this site!
      Dennis
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just got my 2013 outback 2.5 . I have 500 miles on it. The 2.5 is really smooth running for a 4 and has plenty of power. Im not a small engine guy but this one really works out well. The CVT is a little winnie but that was to be expected based on all the research I did and trust me i did alot. Always did love the concept of the subaru AWD wagon. When I picked it up at Hodges in Ferndale MI the car was flawless . Had a 2011 charger, nice car it came with door ding and rippled sheet metal no extra charge. Wanted one that would have good gas mileage and be able to go through the wood this seems to be the ticket. Good job Subaru.
      J Assad Surferjoe
      • 1 Year Ago
      i am Thinking of purchasing a 2013 Subaru Outback Limited No porsche no bmw no audi no lexus no benz no land rover no rolls royce no other subaru model even can compare ..you have to drive it or ride in one to believe it...both my sisters have one and i know Jimmy has one too...its like you are floating on air... its almost like flying...
      brgtlm
      • 1 Year Ago
      It is very practical and capable, but the only people I see driving them are granola families, old couples and lesbians.
      Alfonso T. Alvarez
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow - that has to be in the top five of ugliest cars out there! At the same time it looks like it hit something in the front, got stretched too wide, was saddled with way, way too many 'styling cues', none of which work together and finally - there MUST be a color that works better than that for this poor thing!
        savvybuyer
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Alfonso T. Alvarez
        Agree that this photo does the car no favors. Looks much better in red or black.
        BG
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Alfonso T. Alvarez
        Oh, I can think of more than 5 cars/things that are uglier than this. Three examples: the BMW X6, the BMW 5GT, and the Cadillac version of the Avalanche.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Alfonso T. Alvarez
        [blocked]
      marv.shocker
      • 1 Year Ago
      It might be a nice car...but GAWD is it UGLY
        pleximax
        • 1 Year Ago
        @marv.shocker
        True, not exactly the best looking car, however, if you can get past the looks and take it out for a serious spin you'll quickly find out that it can carve corners better than the big bunch of mid-size sedans (I've driven them all) despite the high ride height. Btw, don't even think about trying the 2010-2012 Legacy/Outback, the engine/trans/suspension is very different on them and admittedly very much on the boring side, but the 2013 is a beauty.....on the inside :-)
      ShrinerMonkey
      • 1 Year Ago
      $30K for a low powered 4-cyl (10-11 sec 0-60mph) is a little much. You could get a much more powerful and feature loaded Escape for that kind of dough.
        writewing76
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ShrinerMonkey
        You can get the 3.6 liter Outback for around 27K with a regular transmission that has great acceleration if you skip the Limited model. It gets 18/25 mpg which is very good for a AWD vehicle and it's most recent restyle finally makes it an acceptable looking vehicle. It fills the wheel wells now and the front end (while still plain) is no longer cringe inducing. What I love about the vehicle is that for an older guy or gal with aging knees, you don't have to squat to get in or climb up into a full size SUV. The ride height just feels right. The Ford Escape is a nice vehicle also and the only American brand I'd consider buying.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ShrinerMonkey
        [blocked]
        audiohack
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ShrinerMonkey
        Escape is smaller, for one thing.
        savvybuyer
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ShrinerMonkey
        A comparably equipped Escape costs more, is smaller, is considerably less reliable and less safe. Looks better, but that's it.
          Smilez1105
          • 1 Year Ago
          @savvybuyer
          You had me until the reliability part.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ShrinerMonkey
        Outback buyers don't care about 0-60 times. Also- once you load up a Ford Escape with leather, sunroof, nav, etc, etc, I guarantee you will be looking at $30k as well.
        symmetricalguru
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ShrinerMonkey
        yes you certainly could get a Escape with a sub-par AWD system for that price...that is if you can find one that hasn't been recalled.
      JF
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have to admit, I'm sold on these cars. I own a similar but less utility-oriented 06 Legacy wagon and it's the perfect car for us (family with 2 kids). It's the 2.5i model so no turbo, but it's still fun to drive in winter. Yesterday was the perfect evening for a winter drive: fresh snow and awd drifting on-demand = awesome fun in a family wagon. The interior is great, the cargo area is huge, it's safe, feels solid as a tank, sound deadening is pretty nice. It's affordable, has never required repairs, only regular maintenance and it uses regular gas. For a family oriented vehicle in cold climate and for someone who loves drifting in the snow, this is IMO the perfect vehicle. Okay, it's a flawed vehicle in a few areas as all cars are, but it's still a really good package. I wouldn't trade it for anything else!
      • 1 Year Ago
      We own a V70, so the XC70 is the same on the inside. I'd spend the 5 grand more for the Volvo. So much nicer materials inside.
        savvybuyer
        • 1 Year Ago
        To each their own, of course, but I recently compared these exact two cars and bought my wife a "13 Outback Limited. I agree the XC70's interior is a smidge nicer, but not even close to 8 grand nicer (the real difference, comparably equipped). Factor in the Volvo's abysmal reliability reputation versus the almost legendary Subaru reliability (one commenter above not withstanding), plus much better fuel economy and the decision was pretty easy. Safety? Not so fast. Subaru is the only manufacturer that gets a five-star safety rating on every car they make. Even the little BRZ. That's pretty solid.
          Smilez1105
          • 1 Year Ago
          @savvybuyer
          It's much more than 'a smidge' nicer. One of the cleanest and most artistic. Subaru isn't exactly going to win any design awards for their interior. My wife had an '05 XT Outback Limited. Absolute only thing I hated were the seats. Rock hard and sucked for long distance traveling. Everything else was wonderful. Wish they still made that model.
        • 1 Year Ago
        [blocked]
      fuzzyfish6
      • 1 Year Ago
      I've never warmed up to this generation Outback/Legacy, pretty sure it's the terrible Sebring-esq headlights.
        Brent Booth
        • 1 Year Ago
        @fuzzyfish6
        00-04, and 05-09 were the best. Owned a 2000 GT limited sedan(manual) I miss that car a lot.
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