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New Subaru Outback Keeps Chasing The Older Crosstrek - Dealers Voice Their Concerns

To start the year, the newly upgraded 2023 Subaru Outback is losing to the older Crosstrek again. Are there problems with the Outback customers should know about? Check out the report here.


Outback sales should be going up, but they dropped to start the new year. The 2023 Subaru Outback midsize SUV received new upgrades, while the older 2023 Subaru Crosstrek subcompact SUV returned as a carryover model with no changes or upgrades. Subaru of America reports the Outback dropped in sales, while the older Crosstrek is setting new records.

Outback is still behind the Crosstrek

The newly-upgraded Outback can't catch the older Crosstrek to start the year, similar to the finish last year. Outback finished second in the SOA's lineup in January, and the race wasn't close. The Outback midsize SUV dropped 1.1 percent, with 10,414 models sold to start the year, staying the second best-selling model in the lineup. Outback had 10,527 sales in January 2022.

2023 Subaru Outback

The older Crosstrek, needing new upgrades, had impressive sales to start the year and achieved its best January ever with 12,706 vehicle sales, surpassing its previous record set in January 2021 (10,431).

The second-generation Crosstrek subcompact SUV is on its last legs before the next-generation model arrives, and it's not cooling off. Crosstrek continues its impressive sales run into the new year, and the old model, like a fine wine, improves with age.

2023 Subaru Outback

Is there a problem with the Outback?

Why isn't the 2023 Outback midsize SUV that received new upgrades ahead of the 2023 Crosstrek that returned as a carryover model with no changes or upgrades? The Crosstrek is positioned well in price and fuel mileage and offers the utility of an SUV.

The newly-upgraded Outback should be a hot model in Subaru of America's all-wheel-drive lineup with its new improvements and the outdoor-themed Outback Wilderness trim level. But the midsize SUV still needs to catch up with the aging Crosstrek.

2023 Subaru Outback

In Subaru of America's recent meetings with its U.S. retailers last week, Subaru executives talked about some Outback issues, but they were kept private. Jeff Williams, owner of Williams Subaru in Lansing, Michigan, made a few comments to Automotive News that reveals some issues retailers have with the Outback.

Subaru of America even gave retailers a glimpse of the next-generation 2025 Outback showing they have fixed what issues they have with the current generation Outback.

"That's the most excited I've been about a vehicle heading here in a long time," said Williams, who declined to reveal any specifics about it. "I will say that (Subaru engineers and designers) seemed to have addressed every issue we've brought up with the Outback. They seemed to listen to us, which gives me confidence in how the next-generation Outback will perform in the marketplace."

Williams told Automotive News that if production constraints fade away by the redesigned vehicle's introduction, the Outback will return to its perch as Subaru's top-selling model.

Should customers avoid the 2023 Outback?

Whatever issues Subaru retailers have with the current generation 2023 Outback, they aren't serious issues that customers should be concerned with now. We know Subaru had a recent stop-sale of the 2023 Outback pertaining to the vehicle's SOS button.

The SOS button is used when a Subaru owner is in an accident or needs roadside assistance. The button is connected to the Subaru Starlink connected services where there have been issues. A statement from Subaru of America says, "Specifically, when the SOS button is depressed, it does not operate as designed, failing to make a connection."

The Outback stop-sale is likely the issue Subaru retailers wanted Subaru of America to address. The automaker fixed the problem, but there was a wait for parts, and customers could not take their newly-purchased vehicle home.

We expect the 2023 Subaru Outback to return as the top-selling model in Subaru of America's lineup this year. Stay tuned.

You Might Also Like: Subaru Secretly Reveals The All-New 2025 Outback To Its U.S. Dealers

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.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Glenn Jacobsen (not verified)    February 3, 2023 - 5:43PM

The article was full of repetitive fluff. Looks like the author was fulfilling an obligation to torqunews but had nothing to say. I mean, a minor electronic glitch that Subaru fixed is hardly headline worthy.

Dirtman (not verified)    February 3, 2023 - 5:59PM

Did not the new Crosstrek offer the optional 2.5L engine. I love my 2022 Outback Limited XT (despite waiting for the 5 month upon order), but before that I owned a 2016 Impreza Limited Sport (2.0L) and had the same interior space as the Crosstrek. I tend to think smaller families or couples would happy in the smaller car.

John Hanken (not verified)    February 3, 2023 - 7:28PM

One issue with the new Outback is that it is still very difficult to find top trim levels that are not the Wilderness edition. Wilderness was a great add to the lineup, but the body cladding can be polarizing for buyers looking for the stealth luxury vehicle that the Premier trims offer.

Bob (not verified)    February 3, 2023 - 7:30PM

Let’s see; you let a grade-schooler “style” it in the most hideous fashion and wonder why people aren’t buying it?

Jason (not verified)    February 4, 2023 - 9:32PM

There's a few issues with Subaru at this point...

1. Price - The higher priced Outback is out of many people's range and the Crosstreck is more enticing for price after inflation has had its way and the dealers stack on silly markup.
2. Availability - Our local Subaru Colorado dealers had absolutely zero stock when my daughters car was totaled and we needed to replace it. Their answer was to have us place an order that would take 4 months. Well the car is totaled and waiting on an order isn't an option. We went to Mazda who tracked us down a suitable replacement within a week.
3. Other Options - Other makers, i.e., Mazda is making all wheel drive and doing so for less money than Subaru for like models.

I dig Subaru but they come at a price in Colorado and when its easier to get another makers cars for less people go looking elsewhere.

WhbRider (not verified)    February 5, 2023 - 5:36AM

It's the plastic. Sure it look "ok" now but give it a couple years and you'll be slapping Magic Black on it every week.

Brian (not verified)    February 5, 2023 - 4:40PM

The Crosstrek is popular because of pricing & sporty looking design, not functionality. I’m on my 6th Outback since 1997 (which was an Outback Sport). My current one is a Wilderness. The Crosstrek lacks the ground clearance & the cargo capacity of the Outback. Throw in the Wilderness & there’s no comparison, but for many it’s the price & sporty look that does it for them. From what I see, most of the buyers are younger, often without kids or with very young kids. Once those kids get older they will outgrow the Crosstrek. The Crosstrek is a great vehicle, but it lacks the capability of the Outback on many levels, but to each their own.

SumDude (not verified)    February 5, 2023 - 7:49PM

Isn't this Economics 101? If you take an item off the shelf (stop sale) it makes it damn hard for consumers to keep buying it. Thus sales numbers drop for that product, especially compared to that brand's other offerings that are still on the shelf and available to purchase.

Kevin (not verified)    February 10, 2023 - 2:07AM

The weird unpainted sections of the bumper and bizarre misshapen jagged plastic cladding... looks like someone who was high on too much caffeine and drunk at the same time styled the car.