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Subaru Is 3rd Best In Customer Loyalty But Not Everyone Loves The New Outback

Which car brands have the most loyal customers? Subaru ranks in the top five automakers but is failing some loyal customers in one area. Here’s why not everyone loves the newly-redesigned 2023 Outback.


Why do customers keep returning to buy a new Outback midsize SUV, Crosstrek subcompact SUV, Forester compact SUV or another model? A recent report from Automotive News (by subscription) reveals Subaru retains its customers with its latest products and ranks third overall among mainstream brands in customer loyalty.

The top five mainstream leaders in brand loyalty are Ford, with a loyalty rate of 59.6 percent, followed by Toyota at 57.2 percent, Subaru at 55 percent, Chevrolet at 54.9 percent, and Hyundai at 53.8 percent. But not everyone loves the newly-redesigned 2023 Outback and is leaving Subaru.

2023 Subaru Outback

Subaru is doing a lot right with retaining customers and getting new customers. S&P Global Mobility went beyond brand loyalty to factor in conquest and defection ratios, which show how many consumers are attracted to one brand from another, divided by how many leave and shop elsewhere.

S&P Global Mobility says when those two metrics are combined, the study finds mainstream brands Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru are the most successful.

2023 Subaru Outback

But not all customers are happy with Subaru’s new 2023 Outback SUV. The 2023 Outback gets a newly-remodeled exterior with a redesigned front fascia, more exterior cladding, a more prominent grille, redesigned LED headlights and fog lights, and a more rugged front bumper cover.

Subaru keeps customers and attracts new ones who have active lifestyles and use their vehicles to escape the city on outdoor adventures. Many use their all-wheel-drive vehicles to get further off the grid for camping, hiking, snowboarding, and kayaking on the weekends.

But not all customers like the 2023 Outback’s more rugged look

One loyal Subaru customer wrote to the editor of Automotive News and said, “We currently have a 2017 Subaru Outback Touring that has been a great vehicle with no problems, and the dealership has been excellent. Without hesitation, we would purchase the same vehicle again, but the 2023 Outback restyle looks terrible in our eyes, so Subaru is off the list as we look for a replacement.”

Outback comes in nine trim levels with new Wilderness and Onyx Edition models designed for those wanting to get further off the grid. All 2023 Outback trim levels get a more rugged look with more wheel cladding and a more rugged front bumper cover.

But only some Outback customers use their vehicles to go off-road. Many need a reliable, all-weather vehicle to get them to work and back safely. Subaru should offer the 2023 Premium, Limited and Touring trims with less cladding, which would appeal to more customers.

Did Subaru go too far with the more rugged 2023 Outback styling? Let us know your opinion of the new Outback in the comment section.

You Might Also Like: Still Waiting For Your 2023 Subaru Outback? New Stop Sale Update

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


Dan Sagan (not verified)    October 30, 2022 - 11:45AM

Absolutely HATE the new 2023 Outback styling changes. I have a 2020 Outback Touring XT and love it, but the 2023 has gone too far with all the ugly cladding. They should definitely offer less cladding options. Keep all the cladding on Wilderness trims maybe.

Steve Shapard (not verified)    April 29, 2023 - 9:57PM

In reply to by Dan Sagan (not verified)

Have had 5 Subaru over a lifetime. Will NOT be buying another one until the ugly excessive body cladding is removed or at least have the option of buying the car without it. I don't want a car that looks like a Pontiac Aztec

Jeff (not verified)    October 30, 2022 - 2:58PM

Our white 2022 outback touring was demolished when a tree fell on it during a storm. We decided to replace it with a white 2023 outback but when we saw the cladding around the wheel wells and the front bumper assembly we were not at all
happy with the look.

We refused delivery of the white car and reordered the same car in a medium gray. We are still not 100% happy with the look, but the gray subdues the “out of balance” look the cladding creates.

Paul Baker (not verified)    November 1, 2022 - 6:09AM

In reply to by Jeff (not verified)

Are you people nuts? You actually will forgo one of safest vehicles on the market? For what, a look more pleasing to you when you spend most of your time inside?
What were the reasons you bought the Outback in the first place? Did you consider: reliability, dependability, resaleability, value, comfort, and more. Nothing compares!

Ron (not verified)    November 9, 2022 - 10:31AM

In reply to by Jeff (not verified)

I agree with Jeff. We love our 2015 Outback with nearly 170k miles and still running well. Although I would never buy a white car, I would definitely NOT buy a white 2023 Outback with the crazy cladding. Gray might be OK, but still wonder why Subaru thought the cladding was a good idea.

Bill T (not verified)    October 30, 2022 - 3:13PM

I agree with the negative opinions about 2023 look. When I saw early pics of the 2023 Outback and the extreme cladding I thought it was the Wilderness. Owning three Subarus, and an excellent dearer with Nate Wade, the 2023 Outback is off my list if I need a new car in 2023; may look at the revised 2023 Honda CRV. Hope Subaru corrects the mistake for the 2024 model.

Victoria Bratt (not verified)    October 30, 2022 - 6:36PM

I have had many Subarus and wanted to get the 2023 Outback, but was shocked and very put off by the new font end styling. Sadly, I’ve decided not to get an Outback at this time and am hopeful Subaru will dramatically improve the Outback styling in the future.

John Burkholder (not verified)    October 30, 2022 - 6:50PM

I also agree the 2023 is to rugged in appearance for me esp the hideous front end. I have a 2021 XT Touring and love the exterior. It's a hard pass for me on the 2023.

Jane (not verified)    October 30, 2022 - 7:11PM

I have a 2020 Forester and love it! When it’s redesigned, if Subaru goes in the same direction as they have with the new Outback exterior, will not buy another one. The additional cladding on the front is a dreadful look. It cheapens the appearance of the vehicle. Cannot imagine what they are thinking!

Lynda H (not verified)    October 30, 2022 - 7:36PM

Have had 3 Subaru'sin my life and I am ready to buy a new one. My 2014 is a great Outback, but as long as they continue with the new cladding, I'm not a fan. It was Classy before all the rugged looking cladding. Save that for the Wilderness.

David Hale (not verified)    October 30, 2022 - 8:46PM

I agree that Subaru went too far on their “rugged” redesign for the everyday buyer. As the happy owner of a 2007 Outback I plan to shop for a new one when they get rid of the overdone plastic wheel well trims. Please look back to five year old designs for inspiration.

Stan Wikle (not verified)    October 30, 2022 - 9:38PM

After seeing the 2023 Subaru Outback, I am so glad I purchased a 2022 model. The added exterior cladding looks like an afterthought and gives the vehicle a cheap look. Subaru, you can do better!

Russell Casey (not verified)    October 30, 2022 - 11:42PM

Yes, the new look is unattractive with side eyebrows and fake vents.. I would still buy one but only in dark gray to hide the front-end plastic.

Damien (not verified)    October 31, 2022 - 12:08PM

In reply to by Russell Casey (not verified)

That is why I bought my 2020 touring XT in dark grey .The heavy plastic cladding in a lighter color would have overwhelmed the car….now they increased it for 2023.

Jim McC (not verified)    October 31, 2022 - 12:49AM

Excessive black cladding, overly emphasized fog lights and having to access too many functions on the glass display instead of straight forward controls have my wife and I delaying our planned 2023 purchase of a SIXTH Subaru until these styling and functional issues are CORRECTED.

Sherry c (not verified)    October 31, 2022 - 10:44AM

Just ordered my new outback 2023. The look is very similar to the small Lexus but with more storage and safety features. My first Subaru and I was drawn to the sporty look rather than the old station wagon look.

Tim (not verified)    October 31, 2022 - 10:49AM

Too far? For some, I can appreciate how they might but put off by the more aggressive, rugged styling, but for me, it won't deter me from purchasing a 2023 Outback Touring. That said, it will however, likely remove white as one of my color choices, as the contrast of the black cladding is not appealing.

Robert Bauer (not verified)    October 31, 2022 - 10:49AM

Front end styling is much too busy, chopped up looking and still lacks real off road protection. Save the extra cladding for the Wilderness models.

Larry E. Stone (not verified)    October 31, 2022 - 11:37AM

Totally to much cladding in front and the weird shape wheel cladding. Some of us like a pretty , nice looking car/ suv

Dave Humphries (not verified)    October 31, 2022 - 12:01PM

Yes Outback has to much cladding & would avoid buying 2023.
Currently have 2015 Forester Silver and black siding perfect size to ascent body style. Anymore & would look at Rav4 next.



Dennis Bonnono (not verified)    October 31, 2022 - 1:55PM

Hi after looking at the new 2023 outback ( witch we want to purchase new ) I hate the look of the new plastic cladding on the front and wheels I wanted to get the XT Touring model not now. Dennis Bonnono

Johnny Russell (not verified)    October 31, 2022 - 2:09PM

I was hesitant at my first look at the re-design, however, the look has grown on me and I now appreciate the bolder, more rugged look. I'm not a fan of the weirdly shaped fender cladding...a symmetrical design would be more pleasing to the eye, albeit slightly less functional.

Phil Normandy (not verified)    October 31, 2022 - 3:25PM

The "redesign" is hideous and cannot possibly have any purpose. There's enough ruggedness there already.
I just got a 2022 Touring service loaner because I absolutely couldn't stomach the 23 redo. And this is my first Subaru, so brand loyalty does not factor in.

Jamie (not verified)    October 31, 2022 - 3:50PM

I agree with all! Too much cladding has ruined the look. I knew I was going to order a 2023 in white BEFORE the new visuals were released. When I saw the white (unattractive) I switched to magnetite gray where the new cladding is somewhat camouflaged. My 2015 Outback I am trading is just a gorgeous car, nice lines and bare bones cladding. Yes I agree the Subie design folks blew it! I

Tom Steele (not verified)    November 1, 2022 - 6:14AM

This is my fifth Subaru outback limited edition and I love the trim package. Gives the car more protection. The front grill is a attractive change. You can always count on the good mechanics on my Subaru.

noel cassidy (not verified)    November 1, 2022 - 7:46AM

we traded our 2009 Outback for the new 2023 Outback Premium. What do I think of the new look? I love it. It stands out and gives the Outback an aggressive look.

clay cavigan (not verified)    November 1, 2022 - 8:06AM

I also own a 2020 Onyx Edition XT which I love the look but the new style has way to much cladding or plastic look to it. Wont be buying the new style in the future unless something changes in the future.