Skip to main content

Subaru Drops Again In New J.D. Power Dependability Study - Should You Be Concerned?

Subaru scored poorly again in the 2023 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study. And no Subaru models win any individual segment awards. Check out the dependability report here. See which car brands score the highest.

It's not a surprise that Subaru scores poorly again in the latest 2023 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study. They do it every year. Subaru vehicles like the Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, and other all-wheel-drive models have scored poorly in the past, and this makes seven years in a row they have scored below the industry average.

Two years ago, the Subaru Forester scored one of the top three models in dependability in the competitive compact SUV segment. Still, no Subaru models are singled out for an award this year. Check out Subaru's ranking with other car brands in the chart below.

2020 Subaru Forester

Powers says it covers 184 specific problem areas across nine major vehicle categories; climate, driving assistance, driving experience, exterior, features/controls/ displays, infotainment, interior, powertrain, and seats.

The study examines how 2020 model-year vehicles are currently performing in terms of quality, component replacement, and appeal, including those vehicles with new technology.

J.D. Power 2023 Vehicle Dependability Study
photo credit: J.D. Power

Power says, "Some of the most deteriorated areas from 90 days to three years of ownership are starter battery failures, outdated maps, Android Auto/Apple Car Play, and voice recognition problems. The increase in problems in the technology area shows the importance that over-the-air updates can play in correcting issues with audio systems and keeping the information in them up to date."

The Subaru Starlink infotainment system could be one of the reasons the Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and other models score low.

Power says, "Owners' relationships with their vehicles go beyond wear and tear on parts; it also includes their expectations of how up-to-date the technology remains over time. For example, satisfaction scores for vehicle condition improve when vehicles receive over-the-air software updates to infotainment systems that are perceived not to meet today's standards."

2020 Subaru Outback

What does the Power study measure?

The J.D. Power study measures the number of problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of their three-year-old vehicles. The lowest scores are the best in the rankings. Of the 32 automakers in the study, Subaru ranks 22nd and below the industry average with a score of PP/214. The industry average is PP/186.

The top five automakers in the 2023 study

Lexus (PP/133), Genesis (PP/144), Kia (PP/152), Buick (PP/159), and Chevrolet (PP/162) and are the top five automakers in dependability, according to J.D. Power.

Why does Subaru score well below the industry average in this study? Customers' most significant complaint with their vehicles is with Subaru's Starlink infotainment system.

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, the radio coming 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.

According to complaints posted in online forums, these issues render the infotainment system's features, including navigation, radio, cruise control, EyeSight driver assist, backup camera, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, unusable.

Should customers be concerned?

Keep in mind that the J.D. Power information was accurate with cars people bought new in 2020. The study examines how three-year-old vehicles are currently performing in terms of quality, component replacement, and appeal.

Has Subaru fixed the Starlink infotainment issues?

The current generation Starlink technology is operating without issue, and the automaker has corrected the problem with the previous-generation 3.0 system. Customers can get the updated Starlink system on the 2023 Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, and other models.

You Might Also Like: The Most And Least Reliable Subaru Models, Years - The Ones You Should Avoid

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.

Leave your comments below, share the article with friends, and tweet it out to your followers!

Photo credit: Subaru


Chw (not verified)    February 11, 2023 - 8:30AM

I had a 2020 Outback XT, which was traded for a 2022 Outback Touring XT. I did see some of the quirks mentioned in the article. The problem it turned out to be the problem EZ pass token just below the Eyesight cameras. The Ezpass token was interfering with Eyesight. Once the token was place on the upper right side of windshield, the the problem went away.
I still see Subaru owners with the Ezpass token very close to the eyesight cameras.
They will continue to see crazy issues with Subaru electronics.

Toby (not verified)    February 11, 2023 - 2:38PM

Ive never considered Subaru as reliable a vehicle as Hondas or Toyotas. They has serious head gasket issues as late as the 80s/90s. Not sure if they resolved it.

ImprezaOwner (not verified)    February 24, 2023 - 12:11PM

In reply to by Toby (not verified)

As Kerry says, the head gasket problem was solved a long time ago. 'Blowing a head gasket' is such an iconic phrase that the image is permanently stuck on Subaru.

Subaru's real kryptonite is their transmissions.

NMK (not verified)    February 23, 2023 - 7:11AM

What a janky "study". A bunch of old people cant figure out their new fangled technology in their new car so it gets ranked low as hell. Nevermind the fact it will last 25 years and a million miles .... That darn voice assistant cant understant my commands and the car tells me to watch the road when my eyes wander....!!