Don’t Buy the 2018 Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback is the most sold wagon in America. It has been loved through its many generations and passed down generations. The Subaru Outback is a wagon that people consider a reliable choice. If you buy a Subaru Outback, you’ve probably made a smart buy. Unless you buy the the 2018 model year.

For the last decade, Consumer Reports has not rated the Outback lower than a 3 out of 5 for overall reliability. Except for the 2018 model year, which earned a 2 out of five; the worst it has seen in its generation. Why would you want the least reliable year of a vehicle reputed for reliability? It’s simple. You don’t.

When there is a more reliable 2017 or 2019 model year, it’s safe to say that there is no reason whatsoever to buy the model year with the most reliability issues. Just don’t buy the 2018 Subaru Outback.

Electronic complaints

The 2010 Subaru Outback is a lemon electronically. Its faulty software has cause massive issues both with safety and simple convenience. The Starlink system is reportedly going blank for drivers. This renders anything controlled by the infotainment screen useless.

This is a frustrating issue that led to a recall, but apparently getting parts to address the problem isn’t easy. Drivers have been forced to continue driving their 2018 Outback wagons without an operable rear back up camera, despite federal law which mandates all new cars must be equipped with a back up camera.

Subaru Outback

Consumer Reports reflects these issues and complaints in their ratings. The 2018 Subaru Outback earned only a 1 out of 5 for the reliability of its in-car electronics. Additionally, the 2018 Outback earned only 2 out of 5 for reliability of power equipment. These two ratings contribute to the poor overall reliability rating that the Outback received for that year.

Safety issues

Two recalls aren’t the only safety problems with the 2018 Subaru Outback, but we’ll start there. The 2018 Outback was recalled first for the software in its electrical system. The fuel gauge display was showing more gas in the Outbacks than was really there. “The inaccurate fuel display may cause a driver to unexpectedly run out of fuel and the vehicle to stall, increasing the risk of a crash.” The next recall was related to visibility and the issues with the rear back up camera. This problem, also said to increase the risk of a crash, is not an easy fix either.

More problems with safety

In addition to the recalls, the 2018 Subaru Outback has racked up a massive amount of complaints on both the official NHTSA website and on Car Complaints. The 2018 model year of this beloved station wagon received over 300 and almost 450 complaints from each source, respectively.

These are huge numbers for just one year of one make and model. Most of the complaints included problems with electronics, visibility in terms of the windshield and windshield wipers, and safety issues with the steering system. It’s safe to say the 2018 Subaru Outback is a lemon. We’re warning you, don’t buy it.

The other Outback model years are better

In contrast to the 2018 Outback’s sad CR ratings and worrisome owner complaints, the 2019 Outback received nearly half of what the 2018 model year saw. Also, CR gave higher ratings to the 2019 model year for the Outback for reliability across the board. This Subaru wagon’s 2017 model year also did far better than the 2018 Outback.

Even though the 2017 model year was released a year before the 2018 Outback, it has far fewer complaints. The complaints that the 2017 and 2019 Outbacks received were for similar issues as the 2018. It just seems that the problems plagued fewer vehicles from the 2017 and 2019 models than the 2018.

The Subaru Outback

It is also worth noting that they all have great engine reliability, according to CR. The issues with the 2018 Outback’s software are just not worth it. It appears that Subaru is having problems with electronics. Hopefully, the 2020 model year will show in time that Subaru has worked out the kinks.


Best Wagons of 2020