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Subaru’s New 10-Year Reliability Study From Consumer Reports And Why It’s So Low

Where does Subaru rank with other automakers in reliability? Consumer Reports says Subaru is slightly above the middle of the pack. See why Subaru ranks lower in the latest study.

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Where does Subaru score with the best car brands in reliability? Consumer Reports (by subscription) says Subaru's average 10-year reliability score is 58 points. So Subaru is not the least reliable car brand nor the most reliable automaker.

Are the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek, Outback, Forester, Ascent, and other models expensive to maintain? It's common sense that maintenance costs will go up as a vehicle ages. According to a new study from Consumer Reports (by subscription), Subaru ranks 18th among 28 car brands in maintenance and repair costs over ten years.

2023 Subaru reliability

So how is Subaru's reliability?

Considering the automaker's maintenance costs and reliability, Consumer Reports gives Subaru a total score of 58 points. That puts Subaru in the top third of the pack at number nine, below eight of the most reliable brands but above fourteen of the least reliable brands.

Lexus scores number one with a score of 84. Toyota achieves second-best with low maintenance costs and good reliability, with a 10-year reliability score of 82. Mazda scores 71, Acura 69, Honda 65, Lincoln 64, Mercedes-Benz 59, and Mini 59 points.

Below Subaru (58) are BMW 55, Audi 55, Nissan 53, Buick 49, Cadillac 49, Kia 48, Tesla 46, Hyundai 45, Volvo 44, Ram 39, Ford 37, Chevrolet 37, GMC 31, Jeep 27, and Chrysler 19.

Subaru scores lower than the top automakers because Subaru's repair and maintenance costs are relatively high. A survey by Consumer Reports reveals Subaru's 1-5 year cost to maintain and repair is $1,030. Subaru's 6-10 year cost is $3,290. And Subaru's total ten-year cost to repair and maintain is $4,320.

Toyota ranks the lowest with a 1-5 year cost of ownership is $685, a 6-10 year cost to own is $2,290, and a total ten-year cost to own is $2,975. Mazda is next lowest with a 1-5 year cost of ownership is $910, a 6-10 year cost to own is $2,500, and a total ten-year cost to own is $3,410. Honda is third best with a 1-5 year cost of ownership is $975, a 6-10 year cost to own is $2,580, and a total ten-year cost to own is $3,555.

Subaru's ten-year cost of ownership is lower than ten other car brands; Dodge ($4,340), Infiniti ($4,510), Ram ($4,510), Acura ($4,525), Mini ($4,880), Volvo ($5,040), Audi ($5,895), BMW ($5,910), Mercedes-Benz ($6,955), and Porsche ($8,740).

What are the Subaru maintenance services? Unfortunately, Subaru's regular maintenance is more expensive than the top car brands, hurting its overall score.

Subaru maintenance is unusual.

Subaru has a different powertrain design. All vehicles except the BRZ sports coupe come standard with all-wheel drive. And its engines are horizontally opposed concerning its cylinders. Subaru calls this a "Boxer engine."

Because of its unusual powertrain, Subaru owners can expect to perform differential fluid changes more often than they would with a conventional vehicle. Changing the spark plugs is something Subaru recommends every 60,000 miles, which is an adventure. The engine mounts are disconnected, and the engine is nudged up to allow the Subaru technician access to the plugs, which are snugly situated against the sides of the engine bay.

Another exceptional service is the continuously variable transmission (CVT) fluid change. The vehicle needs to be running while on the lift to change the fluid as the OEM Subaru CVT fluid is added.

Your Subaru's major 30,000-mile service can range from $300-$400. The items performed with this first significant service are:

Spark plug replacement
Transmission fluid flush
Differential fluid service
Brake fluid service

The cost for a 60,000-mile Subaru service can start at $600. The recommended services at this mileage include:

Replace engine oil, filter, and drain plug washer
Replace transmission fluid with Subaru high-performance Fluid
Rotate tires, inspect tread wear, and check and adjust tire pressure as needed
Service battery, clean terminals, install anti-corrosion pads, and check battery condition
Lubricate all door, trunk, and hood latches and hinges if needed
Replace front and rear differential fluid
Replace engine coolant and test protection levels, if applicable
Adjust emergency brake to within factory specifications as needed
Replace the air filter element
Replace brake fluid
Replace spark plugs

Subaru's timing belt service.

Subaru recommends bringing your vehicle in for timing belt service every 105,000 miles. A timing belt replacement will cost from $500 to $700 and vary by model.

Subaru's significant services are more expensive because they are more comprehensive and involve Subaru's unique drivetrain. However, if they are all performed as recommended, the vehicle's life will be improved.

Consumer Reports gives Subaru a lower overall score because of higher maintenance and repair costs. Check the report below for more details.

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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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Bob (not verified)    April 24, 2023 - 4:38AM

A note... Subaru started phasing out the timing belt around 2002 on all 6 cylinder models. Most 4 cylinder cars stopped using it from 2012-2014 and none of them use it now so belt maintenance isn't an issue anymore.

NMK (not verified)    April 24, 2023 - 11:15PM

Right..... So their "reliability study" has absolutely nothing to do with actual reliability but i stead focuses on maintenance costs.
Yet another useless report by CR.

Markel (not verified)    April 25, 2023 - 8:03AM

Your maintenance schedule is wrong. According to the manufacturer manual, a 30k service is a brake fluid change and maybe an engine air filter. the 60k service is the most expensive one with it recommended the diff fluid and Tran fluid to be inspected and replace if needed. And the spark plugs to be check and if needed replace. There is a few other minor stuff but that’s the major things.

Kenneth Kraft (not verified)    April 25, 2023 - 12:37PM

All Subarus are All-Wheel-Drive cars. To avoid comparing apples with oranges, it would be appropriate to compare all-wheel-drive versions of all the other auto makers, then make cost comparisons.

Celeste Cline (not verified)    May 1, 2023 - 6:15AM

This is all if you go to a Subaru garage. If you have a good mechanic who is versatile in all makes and models, these price are going to be cheaper.