Skip to main content

Before making a used car purchase, it pays to do some research to figure out which model years are best and which are worst. While the Subaru Outback is known for being a reliable vehicle, it still isn’t perfect. In fact, one model year is the worst Subaru overall. Here why the 2015 Outback earned this designation.

Why the 2015 Subaru Outback is the worst

A 2015 Subaru Outback on display
The 2015 Subaru Outback | Eric Thayer/Getty Images is one good spot to find owner submitted complaints about their vehicles. The website even has graphs to show which model years are worst and which problems are most frequent.

Of all the Subaru models, the 2015 Outback is named the worst one. There are 2,426 complaints about Subarus, and 127 of those are about the 2015 Outback.

Other Subarus that come up short are the 2013 Outback, 2016 Outback, 2014 Forester, and 2015 Forester. Overall, the Outback has 930 complaints, while the Forester has 674. Across all the model years, the biggest Outback problem category is engine problems

Of the 127 complaints submitted for the 2015 Outback, the biggest problem categories are interior accessory problems, windows and windshield problems, and electrical problems.

The interior accessory issues are a collection of annoying ones, including that the radio doesn’t work properly, blind spot monitor isn’t functioning, the lifetime fuel mileage monitor isn’t working properly, and voice navigation is useless. The problem with blind-spot monitoring showed up on average around 3,100 miles.

The lifetime fuel mileage monitoring issue appeared around 10,000 miles on average. And, the broken radio and dysfunctional voice navigation problem occurred at 13,350 and 13,800 average miles respectively.

While these problems may be trivial, there are others that are more serious, although less commonly reported. The worst three are that the windshield cracks easily, the engine won’t turn over or start, and the lift gate does not operate properly.

The bigger problems appeared at relatively low mileages. The cracked windshield happened around 19,000 miles on average. The engine that won’t start appeared around 10,000 miles, and the broken lift gate happened around 6,000 miles on average.

2015 Subaru Outback recalls

In addition to the owner complaints, there are also five recalls for the 2015 Outback. Two of the recalls affect the driver’s ability to control the vehicle: loss of steering ability due to a steering column problem and an electronic stability control system issue caused by brake fluid.

The other three recalls are for a transmission oil leak caused by a deformed seal cap on the propeller shaft yoke, the failure of the collision mitigation braking system due to a broken switch in the brake lights, and a problem with the trailer hitch assembly if the trailer hitch mounting nuts were too tight.

Other model years that missed the mark

The 2015 Outback isn’t the only recent model year that has had some issues. The 2013 Outback also fared poorly and is part of a class-action lawsuit related to excessive oil consumption.

That earned it a “Beware of the Clunker” seal. In 2014, the Outback earned another “Beware of the Clunker” seal. It had an engine hesitation when accelerating and several other smaller engine issues.

The 2016 Outback had a lot of electrical problems submitted, with the most common ones for not starting and for having a drained battery. The 2017 model year has very few submitted problems so far, but the most common is still interior accessory problems, primarily from a frozen touchscreen radio.

The problem most reported across all the Outback model years is a dead battery on the 2018 Outback. The 2019 model year has just 23 complaints submitted, but it continues to have electrical issues and windshield problems. 

While the 2015 Subaru Outback may not have terribly serious issues, it has a large enough collection of annoying ones that it may be one for buyers to avoid when possible.


Best Wagons of 2020