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Look For Subaru To Axe Outback, Legacy 3.6R Models

If you want a 3.6R Outback or Legacy model, you better get one now. Check out what Subaru has planned for their next-generation Outback.


The 2018 Subaru Outback 3.6R packs a 6-cylinder boxer engine, but you may not be able to get it for much longer. One look at the all-new 2019 Subaru Ascent tells us the 3.6R in the Outback and Legacy could be like the NFL, (Not For Long).

Subaru developed the new 2.4-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engine for the new Ascent family hauler producing 260hp and 277 lb. ft of torque. The Ascent 2.4-liter twin turbo four cylinder is their new-generation boxer engine developed specifically for this vehicle that’s built at Subaru’s U.S. factory in Lafayette, Indiana.

Why is the 3.6-liter engine in Outback and Legacy going away? It’s because of the tighter fuel-mileage and emissions regulations around the globe. Automakers need to downsize engines and make them cleaner burning for the new California and European regs. But it’s not such a bad things for consumers.

Subaru says, despite the Ascent 2.4-liter’s smaller displacement, the newly developed four-cylinder turbocharged direct-injection boxer engine will achieve smooth acceleration equal to or better than that of competing vehicles with 3.5-liter 6-cylinder engines. That is accomplished by adding torque over horsepower, because torque is what gets a vehicle moving from a stop and helps in pulling the vehicle up a hill, or when towing.

Take a look at a few examples in the story below and you’ll see why its a good thing for new-generation Outback and Legacy buyers when they arrive with a new turbo four cylinder engine.

READ: How New Subaru Ascent 2.4L Engine Compares To Competition’s V6 Power

Subaru is correct when they say the all-new Ascent 3-Row will achieve smooth acceleration because of torque, equal to or better than that of competing vehicles with 3.5-liter V6 engines. The new 2.4-liter twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engine has more torque than any of the competition’s larger 3.5-liter or 3.6-liter V6 engines, and it should get improved fuel-economy over the competitor’s V6 powerplants.

The all-new Ascent 3-Row, is powered by the brand’s all-new direct-injected turbocharged 2.4-liter Boxer 4-cylinder that beats the current Outback 3.6R engine. The 3.6R develops 256 horsepower and 247 lb. ft of torque. Both short of Ascent’s 260hp and 277 lb. ft of torque.

The 3.6R’s demise is no surprise, because Subaru Corporation spelled it out in their “Prominence 2020" plan. The plan outlines every Subaru boxer engine will come with the latest Direct Injection technology. You’ll see smaller turbo engines developing more power and with greater fuel efficiency in the new-generation Subaru vehicles.

The 3.6 Liter 6-cylinder Boxer engine in the Outback and Legacy is going away soon. The new-generation models, when they arrive sometime in 2019, will likely be powered by new twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engines like the new 2019 Ascent. So if you still want the larger displacement 3.6R 2018 Outback and Legacy model, you better get one soon, before they are a thing of the past.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Rasmaxwell (not verified)    February 24, 2018 - 11:17PM

The 3.6 engine is exceedingly smooth with ample power for merging and passing on the highway. Subaru will lose me as a customer when they drop the 3.6.

rasmaxwell (not verified)    April 18, 2018 - 12:45PM

In reply to by Mathew (not verified)

The quality of an engine and its drivability is not just measured by horsepower and torque numbers. DI and blown engines are more complex and costly to maintain and repair. If you dip into the throttle too much, fuel economy is no better than a larger engine. I have driven the BMW turbo 4. Garden tractor idle quality, poor quality start/stop and uneven power delivery at low speeds. Do your homework before you post a comment.

Geoffrey Rockwell (not verified)    July 7, 2018 - 4:35AM

In reply to by Mathew (not verified)

Well, I can certainly tell very easily that you are COMPLETELY UNFAMILIAR with the absolutely fantastic 3.6 engine.. It is one that will last virtually forever if properly maintained. By the way, those turbos REQUIRE HIGHER OCTANE FUEL!... NO THANKS

Billyd58 (not verified)    August 4, 2018 - 8:45PM

In reply to by Mathew (not verified)

I can't wait for all the people that drop Subaru because the limited little engine will be working so hard on the upgrade hills, when pulling the 5000lbs behind it, plus the Ascent it's self weighing close to 5000lbs. And will it even be safe enough to handle the weight. I will not be buying anymore from Subaru.

Paul Molnar (not verified)    January 20, 2019 - 4:03AM

In reply to by Mathew (not verified)

I have driven both and own a 2016 Legacy 3.6R. Remember Turbo lag? When I have driven Legacy's and Outback's with the 2.4 they were much louder and just flat DO NOT PERFORM. Especiall in higer altitude mountain terrain. All for a lousy 1 - 2 mpg hwy difference? Real World. If they wanted to really be smart about this they would go with superchaged engines insted of turbos that have turbo lag and are more expensive to have and maintain. Along with the normal smaller engine lige compared to the larger 3.6. I am a Subaru owner and if I am not even given the option for the larger non-turbo engine I will probably go elswhere.

JAY BOTWINICK (not verified)    August 22, 2018 - 1:11PM

In reply to by Jake McCoy (not verified)

Jake, its not about THE CAR... it is about a strong knowledge of the mechanics of the car, and various engines. I have a huge GMC that snoozes along with an 8.1 liter engine. 200k and was told after recent testing, should see another 150k easy. Why? it does not have to work too hard. very hard working effecient engines do not last as long as those that are powerfull and untaxed! A blind man could tell you that the new engines will be stressed.

Kyle (not verified)    January 19, 2019 - 6:44PM

In reply to by Rasmaxwell (not verified)

For what it's worth... Everyone had the same reaction when Ford dropped a pair of cylinders and added turbos (2.7L & 3.5L). That whole experiment has seemed to work out ok for them. For the rational people that don't punch it at every stop sign/light and only really get into the boost when they need it the engines return impressive mileage and torque when needed.

also... see below.. looks like Subaru 2.4L takes regular gasoline
2019 Subaru Ascent

2.4 L, 4 cyl, Automatic (AV-S8), Turbo

Bobby M (not verified)    April 19, 2019 - 9:31PM

In reply to by Kyle (not verified)

Sorry but you are wrong . I own a repair shop and the Ford turbos need timing chain guilds and a chain at 80-90k. You never see that in the V-8 until 150k plus. Let’s hope the bearing don’t give out in the turbo which will cost you a few more bucks as well. I got the 2018 F-150 V-8 5.0 and it will do everything the 3.5 turbo will do and Mpg is negligible without the required 93 octane at 40-50 cents a gallon more.

Douglas Larson (not verified)    February 12, 2019 - 8:34PM

In reply to by Rasmaxwell (not verified)

Don't understand the logic of dropping the 3.6l H6 because of gas mileage reasons. There are plenty of other vehicles that have significantly worse gas mileage e.g. Toyota Sequoia, and they're still available as they are with V8 engines. Seems a little phony to me. The intake valve coking for DI engines is a known issue and may turn out to bite them down the road, Subaru and customers.

Chris Barry (not verified)    March 3, 2018 - 6:35PM

We have just purchased our first Subaru 3.6r Outback. It is a great motor wish they came with a standard turbo. Would think hard about replacing it with a 4 cylinder engine. Maybe I am old school but love the 6s and 8s. Will sneeek a peek at the new engine hope subaru do a good job and it is as reliable as their current engines.

Gary Renfrew (not verified)    April 24, 2018 - 12:13PM

We are on our third 3.6R Outback and we love it. It may not have the "twin turbo" of the new 2.4L, but WHY should I get a TURBO when they all require Premium almost $.50 more per gallon??? Now, with gas on a horrendous rise, it is going to really BOOST our gas expenditures, and I am on a fixed-income VA Disability.

Jim R (not verified)    May 5, 2018 - 12:16AM

I have had experience with several four-bangers and all of them were rough. Also, like most Americans (I hear), I am allergic to paying for premium gas. I have a 2015 3.6R Outback and am looking to purchase a 2020 Outback with the new architecture and better tech. I am waiting because there is no point in buying the same car I already have. However, If all Subaru has to offer for 2020 is small turbos that require premium gas, I will probably go someplace else, or keep my 2015.

Tom (not verified)    May 14, 2018 - 8:24AM

No thanks to Premium gas. If I won Lotto, I wouldn't buy a car that took Premium, The CX9 has an option to get more HP if you use premium but I'd like to see long term results before I use regular gas in a turbo. My 2011 Outback isn't the fastest car in the world but the gas mileage is amazing. Just wish it had a bigger gas tank, I'd be annoyed at the occasional need for passing someone with a 3.6R vs. having to get gas every 320 or so miles. Bigger gas tank would be nice. BTW, how hard is it to put lumbar support for the passenger seat? I've had moonroofs for over 30 years and have used them less than 10 times. Biggest waste of money. The passenger lumbar would be used 100X more. You fixed the self changing oil, the horrific headlights, now give the wives with bad backs a break. I've seen this complaint many times over.

Geoffrey Rockwell (not verified)    July 9, 2018 - 5:35PM

In reply to by Tom (not verified)

If you are referring to the 3.6 litre needing fuel every 320 miles or so, you must be quoting the city only mileage...on the highway mine would get down as low as 27 mpg going a steady 75 mph fully loaded, otherwise at 60 mph with only me in the car I would ALWAYS see 30+ mpg!

Paul Songy (not verified)    May 22, 2018 - 9:31AM

We are looking at replacing our T. Sienna that has the 3.5L V6 with a new Subaru Outback. Please share any info you have on the redesign (model update) on the Outback. Can wait for the 2020 model at the latest (would like to get a 2019 as soon as available); but, not if there is a complete update in the works for 2020. Regarding the 3.6L being replaced by a Turbo 4, surely they will stay with the boxer design which should be a smooth running engine despite the turbine boost?? Please post any info on the update as soon as available. Thanks.

Robert Martin (not verified)    June 29, 2018 - 8:04PM

Unless there is clear acknowledgment and a plan of action for dealing with deposits on the backs of intake valves in DI engines where they typically don't get cleaned with fresh gasoline spray but do get recirculated exhaust gas and PCV oils deposited on them, I'm not even considering buying another one.
Been dealing with this on our VW 2.0TSI every 35k miles. Needs the intake manifold removed and each valve hand cleaned or you get poor performance and eventually misfires. BMW owners have been having fun blasting walnut shells at their engines to clean this crap off.
Whatever gains in performance there are when new/clean are gradually lost over 30-50k miles. And then you take apart and clean again.
Toyota is now using an extra spray fuel port to periodically hose off the valves and Mazda Skyactive engines keep the area less cooled to alleviate the buildup.
Again without a clear description of what Subaru plans to do to address this, Not interested in Direct Injection engines.

jim sperlakis (not verified)    November 10, 2018 - 11:25AM

In reply to by Robert Martin (not verified)

Robert, You Exactly stated what I've been trying to tell people !!! On the legacy/Outback I'm told that they have to remove the engine just to remove the heads to get to the valves. Some shops are trying to walnut shell blast the intake valve then blow out or vacuum the debris. Add those problems with premium fuel costs (around here it's .85/gal ) and I'm not buying one.

William D Holland (not verified)    August 4, 2018 - 9:00PM

I will not have a vehicle that can't preform in the manner that is advertised. Last year Subaru advertised that the Ascent was coming out with the 3.6 H6. Now they lie about it and say that the new engine is better. I have a 2008 Tribeca and it is as strong as it was when new.and I don't need premium gasoline in it.

Eric (not verified)    August 11, 2018 - 2:39PM

In reply to by William D Holland (not verified)

I would suggest driving the new Ascent before you write it off. I did so right after I drove the Outback 3.6 H6 for comparison.

The Ascent easily competes with the 3.6 in power and torque and I was surprised at how wide the torque band is. I detected no turbo lag. And the Ascent riding on the new Global Platform I thought gave improved ride and handling over the Outback.

I ordered one and am awaiting delivery.

Alex (not verified)    September 19, 2018 - 9:20PM

I can write off the Ascent just fine right now because of the price and expected longevity of the vehicle. What part of "not everyone can afford a car that won't last" do people not understand?

jim sperlakis (not verified)    November 10, 2018 - 11:07AM

I'm on pins and needles waiting for my '19 Subaru Outback 3.6L. No complaints about the '18 2.5L after 7,500 miles except the seats are hard as a rock! I'm sad to see they are dropping one of the best engines on the market. This will be my Last Subaru ever as I can't see a direct injected 2.4 with all the turbo plumbing and intercooler luggage along with possible gummed intake valves just to gain 5hp. (and maybe premium fuel also)

Rasmaxwell (not verified)    December 18, 2018 - 8:22PM

The 2 most expensive parts in a car are the engine and transmission. The CVT has about 40% fewer parts than an automatic transmission, so it is much cheaper to build - never mind the fact that it can't be repaired which is another issue. It is considerably cheaper to put a 4 cylinder engine in a car than a 6 or 8, and then of because the body structure can be engineered to support less weight, hence more cost savings. Sure, EPA mileage requirements come into play, but the automakers have a win-win situation by adopting cheaper 4 cylinder engines.

Kyle (not verified)    January 19, 2019 - 6:48PM

In reply to by Rasmaxwell (not verified)

EXACTLY! Why else would Ford go through all that with the F-Series. They wouldn't jeopardize money printer if they didn't know what they were doing with the smaller displacement engines. I saw something the other day that Ford sold and F-Series (150, 250, 350) every 32 seconds on average in 2018.