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Consumer Reports Says Why Subaru Dropped From 5th To 14th In New Rankings

In a recent Consumer Reports’ study, Subaru dropped from the 5th most liked car brand to 14th. Here is CR’s response when we asked them why.


In a recent report, we covered an updated Consumer Reports, Least, And Most Liked Car Brands list, and Subaru dropped significantly in its ranking. Subaru's lineup of the 2022 Forester compact SUV, Outback, midsize SUV, Crosstrek subcompact SUV, and other all-wheel-drive models fell from 5th to 14th in owner satisfaction.

We questioned why the Japanese automaker dropped so far so quickly from one year to the next. Last year's CR report ranked Subaru number five overall and the third-highest mainstream automaker behind Ram pickups and Chrysler. Subaru, with a score of 75, outranked Hyundai (75), Porsche (74), Dodge (74), Mazda (72), and Toyota 71).

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback
photo credit: Cross Creek Subaru

In the updated ranking from Consumer Reports, Subaru, now scoring 68, drops to 14th overall. Subaru scores behind mainstream brands like Chrysler (74), Dodge (74), Ram (73), Ford (71), Mazda (70), Hyundai (70 ), and Toyota (69).

The 2022 Outback is Subaru's highest-ranked model by CR and is one of the most satisfying midsize 2-Row SUVs with an owner satisfaction of 4/5. The Subaru Forester 4/5, Crosstrek 4/5, Ascent 4/5, WRX and WRX STI 4/5, BRZ (4/5) all score well above average in owner satisfaction. The Subaru Impreza is the only model with lower owner satisfaction (2/5).

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback

In the most recent study, we wondered why one model (Impreza) would lower Subaru from 5th last year to the middle of the pack in CR's new study? We reached out to CR, and this was their response from Consumer Reports' spokeswoman Chontell.

Consumer Reports says, "Subaru is "Good" overall with their brand based entirely on owner satisfaction. The owner satisfaction scores come directly from our consumer surveys, and we mainly ask a member if they would recommend their vehicle to someone else. And how satisfied they are with all the main components of the car."

Consumer Reports did not give us the results from asking owners if they would recommend their vehicle to someone else and how satisfied they are with all the main components of the car questions.

"Based on our survey results for seven models of Subaru, it was just "Good" overall, mainly people having issues and not satisfied with the in-car electronics portion. The data is from 2019-2021 models, and we say in the article that these scores are based on the percentage of owners who responded definitely "yes" about whether they would buy the same vehicle and do it all again," CR says.

From what Consumer Reports told us, it appears Subaru dropped because of the owner's satisfaction level with the vehicle's infotainment system and the percentage of owners who responded definitely "yes" about whether they would buy the exact car and do it all again.

The latest 2022 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study explains why Subaru scored low in the past three years. One of the things the study measures is, what software updates have been made to the vehicle?

2022 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback

In-car electronics is one of the reasons Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and other models score low. David Amodeo, director of global automotive at J.D. Power, says automakers have to keep up with software updates to satisfy car owners.

"For instance, cellphones update all the time with over-the-air software releases and, increasingly, automakers must take advantage of this approach to fix problems, improve features and add capabilities to keep owners satisfied," says Amodeo.

Subaru Starlink was an issue in some 2019 model year vehicles. Owners claimed the system was prone to freezing and other malfunctions made it non-responsive. Here are some excerpts from the recent Subaru Starlink lawsuit.

Some owners experienced several problems that include backup camera freezing/or shutdowns, loss of audio functions, complete system lockup, display shutoff, inability to shut radio/audio off or turn high volume level down when backing up, radio comes on at high volume when the car is turned on, smartphone favorites aren't saved, audio/radio functioning is erratic, touchscreen controls are unresponsive, and Bluetooth connectivity issues. You can get the complete details here.

In the Consumer Reports explanation to us, we would have liked to see the percentage of new Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and other model owners who responded and their satisfaction level in the survey.

Has Subaru fixed the Starlink infotainment issues?

The current generation Starlink technology seems to be operating without issue, and the automaker has corrected the problem with the previous-generation 3.0 system. Customers can get the new updated Starlink system on the 2022 Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, and other models.

You Might Also Like: Why the 2022 Subaru Forester and Crosstrek Will Be Even More Scarce After Latest Shutdown

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Subaru Report - We’ve got you covered! Check back tomorrow for more unique, informative SUBARU news, reviews, and previews you can trust.

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Photo credit: main image Cross Creek Subaru


jg (not verified)    February 14, 2022 - 1:18PM

These are all well documented issues with the Clarion systems and unlike many other brands, Subaru recalled and replaced complete head units to remedy almost all the issues -- even going so far as to extend the warranty on those systems out to 5 years. Odd none of that was mentioned in the article or by CR.

Tensubies (not verified)    February 14, 2022 - 9:50PM

In reply to by jg (not verified)

I contacted CR to see why they thought the Ascent was about the best car made back in 2019 and now in 2022 they show predicted reliability as much worse than average. Do you think Subaru has not made changes to the Ascent since 2019?

Jay (not verified)    February 14, 2022 - 11:22PM

In reply to by jg (not verified)

No, these infotainment issues persist in my 2019 OB Ltd. The dealer had me pay my deductible and twice no updates.
Biggest disatisfaction, however, is the tragically soft suspension even after new struts making me want to drive my older cars for a pleasant experience.

jg (not verified)    February 16, 2022 - 12:40AM

In reply to by Jay (not verified)

I couldn’t believe how dangerous the suspension was in my 2018 Outback Touring 3.6 after trading in a 2016 Outback (which was perfect, after adding a 19mm rear sway bar). Search Outback forums for a 19mm rear sway bar kit (includes new bushings) and put that on your car. You won’t believe how much nicer it drives and corners. It still “flounders” a bit at highway speeds if there are road undulations in gradual turns, but it is much, much better than the ridiculously dangerous stock setup. I’ve been wanting to put 2016 struts on the back but don’t know how long I’m going to keep this one.

Jay (not verified)    February 27, 2022 - 12:11AM

In reply to by Jay (not verified)

The 19mm rear sway bar kit (OEM for the WRX) was the first thing that I swapped. The handling did slightly improve over the original 14mm bar, but this car (19 OB Ltd 2.5) is severely undersprung and under-dampened, even with new struts and the sway bar kit. I thought it was going to improve after replacing these, but it's still so sloppy that I regret buying this car.

Jessica (not verified)    February 15, 2022 - 1:28PM

In reply to by jg (not verified)

Actually that’s not true I had a 2017 impreza sport and on my way home the day that I purchased the car (2018) I had immediate issues went back to the dealership. Software update, unable to figure out the issue, same excuses and it took the entire unit frying my electrical system for them to replace the radio. That was June of 2021. And after issue an issue an issue an issue videos and pictures they had my car for four weeks before there’s answer to me was just do a factory reset every week. They can only replace the head unit of a 2017 Impreza, with a 2017 radio. So it was the same result every time. I got rid of it.

Aaron (not verified)    February 15, 2022 - 5:08PM

In reply to by jg (not verified)

Quite frankly, even their new large touch screens are garbage. Truly terrible interface, very laggy performance, terrible glare. Subaru had so many years to improve their infotainment system, and they somehow seemed to make it worse. I've sold Subaru recently, and I can assure you most buyers, especially the older generations, HATE Subaru's touchscreen, especially since they've done away with so many standard buttons. People don't want to go into menus just to turn on a seat heater, people don't want to mess with the awful screen and settings to make it barely functional. They need to go back to the drawing board for this one.

CoolerByTheLake (not verified)    July 4, 2022 - 6:29PM

In reply to by Aaron (not verified)

Totally agree. I have 2019 3.6R. I like the engine and dash/infotainment set-up with lots of REAL BUTTONS. The 3.6 it's far better suited to the CVT than any buzzy/droney 4 cylinder CVT Subaru I've had a a loaner. However handling is terrible. It's Ponderous. And almost dangerous to make any quick lane changes. I'd dump it but this is a terrible time to be buying a car (poor inventory - astronomical price premiums) So I'll hold on to it for another year or two.

Nick (not verified)    February 22, 2022 - 8:53AM

In reply to by jg (not verified)

My wife and I have all of these problems with our 2019 Forester and always get the runaround when we take it in for service. We also paid for tire service package since it voids the warranty to have anyone but Subaru do the work. Got a nail in the tire on the way home from the dealership and they plugged it. Been three years and that tire always loses pressure before the rest. Subaru says it's fixed. This was my third and last Subaru.

Mike Brown (not verified)    February 15, 2022 - 3:52AM

I am happily driving a Subaru Imprezza which I bought new in 1996. It has 511,000 miles on it. I see no need to replace it but when necessary will buy another Imprezza.

Frank (not verified)    February 15, 2022 - 10:07AM

Not inpressed with the cloak and dager survey which paints a dire decline for Suburu. I will say that the rellibility overall has slipped, but I'm still impressed with the way Suburu fixing their issued. Comming from a longtime Honda owner, I am very satisfied with the brand and the overall value and performance.

Stephen Naus (not verified)    February 15, 2022 - 12:24PM

You need to take a course in writing. You contiunally repeat sentences. What you have said in many sentences and paragraphs o could have been done with less words.

Thang Nguyen (not verified)    February 15, 2022 - 3:09PM

After 4 years of owning the 2018 Outbqck, the infotainment system still has problems with freezing, bluetooth connection issue, android wired connection, no sound that requires you to turn off the engine and restarting, sound ar max when starting the vehicle. With the amount of time people are in their car, the electronic infotainment system should be a priority. Iphone connection for navigation is slow and laggy. Cabin noise is significantly worse than Toyota. How hard is it to insulate engine noise from the cabin? My 29 years old 4runner is considerably more quiet.

S.A. Smith (not verified)    February 15, 2022 - 8:11PM

The fancy electronics aren't needed. Most drivers want a reliable vehicle that will start and get them where they want to go. Your reviews seem to have it in for Subaru, lots of negativity lately. I'd buy another but I think my 2016 Crosstrek will last forever.

Ted Cohen (not verified)    February 16, 2022 - 6:05AM

Very confusing story.

It says the reason Subaru lost buyer confidence is because of the Impreza but then the story goes on to talk about how all the other models have problems but never goes back to explain what the problem is with the Impreza.

Ian (not verified)    February 16, 2022 - 6:18AM

I have a 2018 Outback and 18 months ago I noticed rust starting on the passenger door window trim. 6 months ago the same issue started on the driver side. I contacted Subaru and they basically told me too bad. There is clearly something going on with a seal on the doors. No reason rust should be starting that high on the vehicle in less than 2 years of driving it.

Kazoo86 (not verified)    February 16, 2022 - 7:57AM

CR, if forbidden by the protection of the 1st amendment, freedom of the press. They could literally print “Subaru is sh-t”, snd get away with it! CR , was not paid enough for Subarus rating. No glitzy product roll out, like the big 3 have done. What has changed at Subaru to feminist s product, events call life and evolution in the auto world. Behiclr to day must be self generation electric. Go zero to 60, in under 1.5 seconds( like getting on I94 in Michigan.). Make your coffee. Breakfast snd babysit the kids, by the push of a button. But bear in mind, anything made by made WILL break!!

Meg (not verified)    February 16, 2022 - 8:17AM

I’m not in my car to be entertained and so therefore bigger screens better computer systems and all the other items that you listed are not why I buy a Subaru. Had a 2005 outback which I loved and I now on 2016 outback which I love
I don’t want a car to be smarter than me when I’m driving. I want comfort I want reliability I want room for a large dog and as for playlist and music and all of those things they are nice if you were on a long drive but quite frankly fiddling with your gadgets in the car affect the way you drive so being safe on the road and getting to my destinations is my goal and Subaru meets that goal and yes I’d probably buy another one that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that the new newest cars do

G.Nicholas (not verified)    February 16, 2022 - 8:26AM

We purchased a 2022 Outback Limited and with less than 1500 miles on it my wife would rather drive our 2019 Nissan Frontier SL.
The auto shut off and Driver Assist-JUNK. Who asked for this crap technology?
I have to go into the settings menu to SHUT OFF the Driver assist so I won’t continually be told HOW TO DRIVE.
No heater controls except on a touch screen I thought I could live with, but it’s quite annoying.
The blower fan speed is barely readable and almost impossible to see because of screen glare.
Sure, I could voice commands if I want to wait for the car to respond, but sometimes I don’t want to wait.
This Outback was our 9th Subaru and will be the last and possibly sold before the first oil change.
Like VW, they are over engineering their cars.

Jim Borer (not verified)    August 4, 2023 - 8:13PM

In reply to by G.Nicholas (not verified)

I am replying to this complaint: "The auto shut off and Driver Assist-JUNK. Who asked for this crap technology? (People who don't know how to drive?)
I have to go into the settings menu to SHUT OFF the Driver assist so I won’t continually be told HOW TO DRIVE." (Every time you start the car?)
I traded in my 2018 Outback for a 2023 (my 4th) Outback. What a MONUMENTAL MISTAKE!
I suspect that all the computerization is the culprit. It is a horrible waste of space consumption and a dangerous distraction. Not only is the interior console and glove-box space smaller, they've had to go back to using a stick to hold the hood up like in the early 20th century. The driver's manual alone is over 600 pages and with all the other print, it's only one volume of the mess. In order to avoid all the bells and flashing lights and the car trying to take over control, I'm required to DUMB-IT-DOWN every time I start the car.
Added to my displeasure, when I went to play a CD, I discovered there was no CD player. When I checked all their manuals, I could find NOTHING about a CD player. Has Subaru stopped providing them? My 2018 had a good one.
I've never been so unhappy with a car. I want my 2018 Subaru back, but now I'm stuck with this one.

Jacob Hess (not verified)    February 16, 2022 - 8:41AM

Why can't they update current systems in 2021 cars to fix the problems.I guess not because the owner has to constantly update the map themselves.Dont think I'll be buying a third subaru if the only way to correct a problem is to replace the whole car.

Steve S (not verified)    February 16, 2022 - 4:04PM

I have a 2018 Subaru Outback Touring 3.6R and really do love the vehicle. I did have a lot of problems with the infotainment to start with, but after several software updates it is working well now. However, I wouldn't buy the new model, primarily because they moved ever more controls to the infotainment system. I would probably buy a Toyota Highlander, as they haven't followed this stupid trend. As someone who lives in the north, heated seats and climate control buttons don't belong on the touch screen.

Juliann (not verified)    May 28, 2022 - 10:50PM

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