Crossover & Midsize

This Is the Best Used Subaru Outback to Look For

With the rising cost of new vehicles continuing to exceed that of a healthy down payment on a house, it’s no wonder many people are turning to the used car ranks for their next set of wheels. As anyone who’s spent time scouring the ads, lots, and yards for a buried treasure can attest, it’s no easy feat to uncover a true gem. That’s where the 2009 Subaru Outback edges out the competition.

The thought of purchasing a 10-year-old vehicle may invoke a shiver as you recall the sound of pneumatic wrenches and ratchets in a near-constant whir of repairs; however, the Subaru’s crossover wagon/SUV maintains an impressive record of reliability. Let’s take a look at where the used Subaru Outback holds the road.

Who’s complaining?

A Subaru Outback is unveiled at the New York International Auto Show
An older Subaru Outback | Eric Thayer/Getty Images

This generation of Subaru Legacy-based wagons and Impreza-modified hatchbacks maintains consistently positive reviews. Cars.com reports that 95% of consumers rank the 2009 Subaru Outback with an overall score of 4.7 out of 5 stars for comfort, reliability, interior design, value for the money, exterior styling, and performance.   

That said, this used Subaru Outback lacks one notable SUV interior element – third-row seating. If the lack of seating capacity is not an issue for you, there’s plenty to appreciate. Its svelte 3,350-to-3,600-pound bodyweight provides sharp steering and tight cornering, offering solid road grip.

Each of the five trim levels comes standard with all-wheel drive with an impressive power boost in the 2.5 XT and 3.0 R packages. The four-cylinder, 2.5-liter engine gets an added boost with the 2.5 XT’s turbocharged engine. The Outback’s 3.0 R Limited adds another bump in energy with its V6 engine.

Head-turning standard features include roof rails, power accessories, keyless entry, a CD player, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and 16-inch steel wheels. Upgrades in the 2.5i Special Edition include a limited-slip rear differential with 17-inch alloy wheels, heated exterior mirrors, an upgraded audio system, heated front seats, and a power driver’s seat. The 3.0 R Limited’s top-of-the-line features include electroluminescent gauges and a leather steering wheel with faux wood accents.

The 2009 Subaru Outback’s reliability

One of the reasons the 2009’s Subaru Outback has maintained its reputation as a reliable midsize SUV crossover is due in part to the attention to detail afforded during assembly. At the time, the Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. manufacturer was only producing two models, the Legacy and the Outback.

The focus on precise specifications contributed to the automaker’s role-defining moment as the Subaru Outback received accolades including the Motor Trend 2009 SUV of the Year award.

While the Outback may not be the vehicle of choice for serious off-road, mountain-climbing enthusiasts, its 8.7-inch ground clearance is more than adequate to move through a quarrelsome amount of snow and mud.

Subaru’s engineers noted previous Outback generations had a tendency for rear slide when cornering at an accelerated speed. They corrected the issue beginning with the 2009 model year, including stability control in all trim models.

Stellar safety

In addition to the previously mentioned stability control, the 2009 Subaru Outback previews other standard safety features on all trim levels. Models come equipped with front and side airbags, including anti-whiplash front head restraints and full-length side curtain airbags.

The Outback earned a five-star government crash test score for front and side-impact collisions. However, it’s important to note reports of side airbag deployment failure.

Despite the 2009 Outback’s lack of interior space, less than expected fuel economy, limited off-road terrain capability, and side airbag issues, it remains a reliable used vehicle choice. It provides more than ample power and maneuverability to meet the typical driver’s requirements.