2020 Subaru outback, subaru forester customers
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2 Things Subaru Customers Love About Their Vehicles, 2 Things They Abhor

Subaru customers really do love their Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek, but they also dislike the brand. See what customers would change if they could.

The ads want you to believe Subaru customers love their vehicles like the Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek and that the brand can do no wrong. It is really true or is it just good advertising? There is plenty to like about Subaru, but they aren’t perfect and have their shortcomings. Here’s a look at the good and the bad.

Subaru Safety

Subaru customers say safety performance is important when they buy a new all-wheel-drive vehicle. The J.D. Power U.S. Tech Choice Study agrees, because three of the top five technologies consumers most prefer in their next vehicle are related to crash prevention. And Subaru customers love that the brand leads all automakers.

Customers want safe vehicles

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says Subaru leads all automakers in safety performance and crash avoidance. The IIHS announced the Subaru brand has achieved TOP SAFETY PICK+ awards on seven of their 2019 models, more than any other automaker. The 2019 Ascent, Crosstrek, Impreza (sedan and 5-door), Legacy, Outback and WRX all earned the highest ratings in the latest safety testing


The Subaru brand started the all-wheel-drive small SUV segment. It’s what put Subaru on the map and why they have had eleven straight years of year-over-year growth. Subaru doesn’t adapt AWD components to a front- or rear-wheel drive vehicle, they develop all their multi-use vehicles around Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. They actually offer four different all-wheel-drive systems on their cars.

2020 Subaru Forester

Why does Subaru offer four different versions of AWD? All versions of Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive distribute torque to all four wheels all the time, and each is tailored to the specific vehicles engine, suspension, and transmission.

Each reduces the load on each wheel and reducing and even helping to prevent tire slip, especially on slippery or loose surfaces. You won’t find Subaru customers stuck on the side of the road, and it’s a big reason why they love the brand.

What customers don’t like about the brand

2020 Subaru Forester

Conservative styling

Subaru gets criticized for being too conservative in their exterior designs and that they need to have more progressive styling. But Subaru won’t budge on this issue. They have a valid reason, but customers don’t have to like it. It’s not surprising design changes are minor for the new generation of Subaru like the fifth-generation 2019 Forester SUV.

It’s because Subaru doesn’t like to take risks. Subaru tends to focus more on safety tech and upgrades underneath the exterior. They also like the large open greenhouse design. It does help improve outward visibility, even though the design does look boxy. Don’t look for Subaru to change this.

CVT automatic transmissions

One of the main complaints with Subaru customers is that they exclusively use the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) technology. The drawbacks are obvious to anyone who has driven one. In technical terms, a CVT transmission uses a pair of adjustable pulleys and a segmented metal drive belt to deliver engine power to the drive wheels.

The metal belt or steel pulley gives off a whining noise when you push on the gas pedal. The sound is similar to the noise jet engines make when the pilot gives the plane full throttle for takeoff. A low pitched continuous whine that can be annoying.

Now, all automakers like Subaru use the automatic CVT for its fuel-efficiency. So if you despise the Continuously Variable Transmission, you can thank it for its improved fuel mileage. Subaru is committed to the CVT but don’t look for them to change unless they develop a new fuel-saving automatic gearbox.

Subaru does a lot of things right that its customers love about the brand, so the love for models like the new Forester SUV is real. Subaru Corporation is one of the smallest Japanese brands and they aren't perfect, but look for them to will stay with what made them successful. It's hard to argue with eleven consecutive years of sales increases.

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There are two little things I abhor about my Forester: 1. When I press the window down button on the driver side, the window goes all the way down. What if I only want it open a couple of inches? It's a bear to get it to stop where I want it. 2. Door locks with the fob. When I press the unlock button it only unlocks the driver door. I understand the reason for this, but that stupid combination of quick clicks to get the remaining doors to unlock makes this guy crazy with rage.
I own 3 Foresters, but I'm done with Subaru. My 2018 Forester with manual transmission will probably be my last. Aside from the fact that you can't get a manual transmission any more - there's also the issue of oil consumption. My 2003 Forester might lose 1/4 qt in 5,000 miles. My 2018 goes thru a qt in 1,200 miles. This is outrageous for a modern car!
Boxy is the wrong word. The problem is that Subarus are not boxy enough and they're not sleek enough. They're somewhere in the mediocre middle. Look at the beautiful Benz boxy truck G63 I think it's called for an example of boxy done right! :)
Love my 2019 forester. Had an outback before that. 13k on the forester now. There is no high pitched whining noise, period. Complete bogus. It sounds fine, and even sounds good when you start it up. If you’re comparing to muscle cars or cars with big engines you’re ignorant. CVT isn’t awful either, far from perfect, but to mention it at all seems like a reach. One thing to hate is the auto shut off when stopped, it’s nice to save gas, but is so annoying, it can be disabled temporarily but resets when you turn off the car, no easy permanent disabling of the feature. Also, pro tip, you can get better city gas mileage on sport mode.
I have no issues with the automatic transmission Some of these complaints seem awful minor some not but no one builds a perfect vechile no matter what some people claim.I just miss the older days when cars were not so complicated
I love my MY18 Crosstrek Premium. But like others on here, I would like the option to pick and choose my options. I think most people, myself included, would be willing to pay a little extra to outfit their vehicle their way. It sure works for Porsche. Understand that MY20 will only be available with standard auto climate control, hate it. Unfortunately, Subaru is not the only car company that forces you to take unwanted options in order to get the options you truly desire. A more ala carte option menu would be nice. I will definitely be looking at other brands when it comes time for a new vehicle.
I am a newbie to Subaru with a 2019 Ascent Premium. I have been a professional chauffeur and have driven a multitude of vehicles. I have 3 distinct things I do like about my Ascent, the cruise control system, the dim headlights and the lack of braking from the fickle Eye-site system. Every other car I have ever driven has a single mile per hour increase or decrease in speed with a single bump of the speed control switch. You never have to look to go up a mile or 2 per hour. On the Subaru, a single motion of the speed control ever changes the speed by 5 MPH. To go up or down 1 MPH at a time, you have to take your eyes off the road and hold the lever. The headlights are woefully dim, like driving a 1960 car or driving with cataracts. Changing the bulbs is not available due to a proprietary position of the hold down flanges on the bulbs, not standard to the numerous other brands. My Infinity collision avoidance braking would start applying the brake well away from another vehicle. The Subaru reportedly will stop, but it doesn't give you any'soft warning'
I have a hatred for my dealership in Tucson AZ. It took a whole day to do an oil change. They are morons and I don't trust any service writer. I hate CVT transmission because they put fake shifts in it. What are paddle shifters even for, there is no gear. I bought one Subaru and have no desire to ever buy one again. I have grown to hate them. The customer service is the worst and no one really cares. Car is alright but is way underpowered and no motor option.
I'm on my fourth. 1989 Loyale, 1999 Legacy S, 2001 Forester L, current car is a 2012 Forester Premium X. The 2012 has the CVT. How I hate it. I also hate the underwhelming factory stereo. Everything else has been great. But, I would get rid of it in a second if I could get the '01 back. It had a 5 speed. All Subarus should have a manual transmission option.
I dislike how my wife's 14 Forester had to have the engine replaced under recall, just to have it burning oil 20k later. Or that the windows go down instead of up sometimes. Or that we just had to replace the cvt valve body. Or that a faulty brake switch throws the whole car into limbo. I absolutely hate the fishing boat seats. I don't like how the mpg has fallen from 31 to 23. I do like the "shift-less" cvt. I hope you will be able to program this out in the future. I like the awd. I like that's it's been just an okay commuter for 190k miles. I don't mind the conservative styling, at least it doesn't look like a Toyota or Honda. I doubt I'll buy another one.
You guys never mention my car, which is apparently the black sheep Subaru. It does, however, have a manual, gorgeous styling (and RWD.)
How about metal organic head gaskets that start leaking at 10 years on the dot
Own a 2010 Outback Limited. The overall reliability has been terrific, but we had to replace 3 of 4 wheel bearings! Who would expect that? Lot's of money for each repair. Puddle lights failed and had to be replaced once. That said, we love the reliability and the solid driving experience. I cannot understand why we cannot order the interior and exterior color combination we like rather than what Subaru wants us to take. This is my first big complaint. My second big complaint is the colors themselves which are too boring and plain with the exception of the Crosstrek's few interesting colors. Outbacks in the mid 2000's had nice choices, but no longer. Imprezas color choices are the pits. Third big complaint is company openness to product weaknesses and doing nothing to let customers know of problems that might be occurring with similar vehicles. These cars are expensive to repair! Give us a break when a usually common and highly reliable part otherwise fails. Yes, I understand it's complicated, but still help us out. We endured the leaky head gasket problem on our 2000 Outback and got little satisfaction even after the repairs were made. These quirky failures make me wonder whether we should buy another Subaru product after nearly 20 years of ownership of a Subaru product.
I wish they offered a low range gear range for difficult off roading. Apparently, its available for the Australian market.
Love the visibility, lots of glass, prefer that to some trendy sleek styling. Love the all wheel drive. Mine have been reliable. Hate the CVT. I think there is a slight performance hit against the manual that used to be available, and that was the price to pay for better gas mileage from the CVT. Hate that they are underpowered. A four with turbo can produce power, but a six with turbo could produce even more.
I just retired a 2010 Forester at 301k. It absolutely met my needs including reliability and little more than scheduled maintenance: beyond replacing a clutch, tires, a battery and normal wear, the only things was an axle an a distributor and wires. I just purchased a 2019 Forester in October. So far, so great. No I am not a paid influencer or blogger. I am a happy driver of a Subaru.
We're on our third Subaru, and after the problems with the first one I had sworn of the brand for over ten years.The first one was the"Subaru SVX", that was their first attempt at a high performance "Sports Tourer". When the transmission went the first time it was covered under warranty, however it took almost six months to complete the repair. A little more than one year later the replacement transmission started to fail, fortunately that time it was only out of service for four months.Needless to say once the car was returned from the shop, we promptly traded it in. Fast forward to 2017 after owning several different makes of vehicles, from Volvo,to Lexus,we tried Subaru again, purchasing a 2017 Outback. Loved the car however with the four cylinder, it was way under powered although the gas mileage was outstanding for a vehicle of it's size. While owning it we only had two minor problems with the car the first being the Entertainment,&Navigation System which was replaced under warranty, and the second was with the low fuel warning light which was eventually replaced during a recall. But by then I had traded it in for a 2019 Ascent. The Ascent is the perfect Subaru it's not to big, drives much smaller than it is, handles well all while getting good gas mileage. I've now clocked over 25,000 miles without incident of any kind. I think that an owners experience with a Subaru is dependent in a large part by the dealer, if your dealer is proactive and takes your concerns seriously then your ownership experience is likely to be better.The only thing that would keep me from purchasing another Subaru would be their failure to offer an Ascent sized vehicle as a BEV, or at the very least a plugin in a timely manner.
When I saw the headline I thought they were going to talk about the windshields that crack all by themselves because Subaru uses thin glass to cheat on the EPA’s CAFE standards. If this happens to you please file a NHTSA complaint to try to get the government to force Subaru to issue a recall for their faulty glass!
Bought a 2017 impreza on february 14 2017 and i have had 3 spontaneously cracked windshields which all 3 were held together with gorilla glue and duct tape until they became unsafe as is my current crack.seems to be a constant problem with suburus that suburu will not accept responsability for also the mpgs i get are at least 12 mpg less than advertised car and drive tests could only get 31 mpgs and they advertise 38 hahaha
Gosh, so much to hate?. Then, really, why are Subaru's so popular? I have a 2017 Forester with 40K miles. I really like the styling. I've read so much about how everyone hates the 'conservative, boxy' look as though we all have to have some ridiculously angled, folded, pointless 'style' that looks more like an alien spacecraft than a straightforward, practical vehicle. For crying out loud. CVT? Yeah, hey, how about significantly improved gas milage and an end to those horribly annoying rapid RPM shifts whenever you're driving over a mountain pass or long uphill incline? Don't like lane departure warnings? Turn it off. The on/off switch is right on the steering wheel. Personally, I'm a huge fan. So are most insurance companies. No one forces you to buy a Subaru. I've owned Fords for 25 years. Do you really want to discuss comparative reliability or service?
What a waste of time. It seems like about 20 minutes of research and another 20 minutes of writing went into this article. "The drawbacks [of CVT] are obvious to anyone who has driven one." Don't include me in this fantasy. The noise is only bothersome during the very heaviest acceleration on my 2015 Forester. Otherwise I *love* the CVT, for its simplicity, smoothness (no shifting) and fuel savings. I do agree the style is "conservative." And the other things that bother me slightly are the firm ride and firm seat, which weren't mentioned. More importantly, I have had two batteries, one of them the day I bought it new, which were ridiculously weak in sub-50 degree weather! Overall I have found the positives greatly outweigh the negatives as of year four of my first Subaru.
The CVT hate isn't only due to the noise, it's the lagging, hesitation, and surging; the non-linear power delivery. It's like driving a sewing machine only worse. Also, the seemingly endless recalls! Subaru lost me as a longtime customer for these reasons.
Got 2008 used & the first (HOPE) repaired head gasket last ? Actually wife car the vehicle is the cost effective safe winter car ever! I'm 71 driving all 4 wheel drive / AWD trucks/ one of the safest snow ice
replacing the headlights!!! Way too complicated. You shouldn't have to jack up a car, remove a wheel and take off the wheel well to replace a simple bulb!!
My wife and I have had three Subarus between us. I sold mine and got a used 2014 Tesla/Toyota electric RAV4. My wife is just counting down until a current-generation Forester-sized EV comes out, and then it's "See ya, Subaru."
After 42 years of continual ownership we love the CVT's (6 currently in our family since 2010 - ZERO problems). If you buy a car for the looks, don't buy a Subaru. My only complaint is there aversion to COLOR. Eberhard for the Outback and Ascent is a shade of gray or has gray mixed in it.
I would like to know all the people who have negative comments towards some issues to tell the model and year. 4 years soon with Outback and no issues..
The push button, electronic parking brake...on the wrong side also. I have manual 2011 Legacy, and I need a tried and true manual floor lever. I also hate the steering wheel/ dashboard setup. I have to crouch to see vital information, and I always set my steering wheel to the lowest setting.
I am a 5 time Subaru owner. My last Subaru was a 2002 Legacy with 220,000+ miles. I never had any major problems with it. Just the usual wear and tear expenses. I purchased a 2019 Crosstrek because I needed more ground clearance. It was hard not to buy another Legacy, but I am really enjoying my Crosstrek.
I like how they make no mention about their CVT having slippage/breakage issues before the 100k mark. Our shop guy has a newish outback that just needed a new tranny after the belt broke. At 75k! And of course they make it so a $200 belt that will eventually break can't be accessed, or even provide a means to change transmission fluid because God forbid you extend the life of your vehicles components through simple maintenance. And oh the head gaskets...