Skip to main content

A 2015 Subaru Outback Is a Press-Proof Car

I don’t know about you, but I feel the constant pressure to trade in my 2015 Subaru Outback for a bigger, better and more capable automobile. Here’s why it may or may not make sense.

I often find the David Bowie/Queen song creeping into my head while driving these days. I am typically captaining our 2015 Subaru Outback to my daughter’s school, or to soccer practice, or to the grocery store, or the hardware catch my drift. Cars 5 or 6 years old stick out like a sore thumb these days. The majority of automobiles on the road appear to be brand new, or darn close to it. With our second kid on the way I had been considering trading in our Outback for a new Ascent. Oh the many ways I was convincing myself that we needed a bigger vehicle with third row seating for all of our chores, excursions and travels. Not only was I feeling that pressure imposed by everyone else on the road in newer vehicles, but the appeal of a bigger, safer, more capable kid hauler and chore doer was real.

And then I started reasoning with myself. Do we really need a new automobile? Does it really need 3 rows of seats? Does it really have to cost close to $50,000? Why do I feel the pressure to upgrade when my Outback does everything reasonably well? All complicated questions to answer, but I did my best and I hope my journey will help you in your quest for a new car or truck.

With a new vehicle, you can be reassured that all the requisite safety measures are firmly in place. We may never know how Tiger Woods flew off the side of the road recently, but he can certainly attribute his lack of major injury to something more than luck. However, I have indeed also watched all of the NHTSA videos of my Outback getting demolished from all angles, and it passes with flying colors. It also accepts an aftermarket hitch for our bike rack and it has a rather functional roof rack when we need to load up all the gear for a big road trip.

But then I ponder the whiny 2.5 liter boxer engine and its spotty head gasket history, along with the continuously variable transmission that often forces me into the body of a 16-year old kid learning to drive manual. Yes, there are paddle shifters that actually do quite fine if you’re willing to put the effort in, but I don’t have a knack for finding the gas mileage that the “Lineartronic” CVT does. Maybe that’s just my heavy right foot and experience driving turbocharged sports cars prior to having kids...

2021 Subaru Outback Interior

And of course there is the infotainment system. As comical as this may seem, technology integration is a thing of brilliance and sophistication, and when done right can completely transform one’s relationship with an automobile. I can relate to the engineers and tech folks across the industry who are doing their best to provide this seamless experience, but it is a damn tough thing to keep up with, and a strong motivator to upgrade to the latest and greatest.

So my wife and I set off to test drive a Subaru Ascent, an experience that has seen a significant transformation in the last year (more on that in another article). This was our opportunity to see and touch Subaru’s latest offering, and to truly understand what was missing from our lives. Since a global pandemic apparently made people richer and more bored, there weren’t any 2020 models left on the lot. So of course we went straight for the 2021 Touring edition. The leather-bound captains chairs were beautiful, the panoramic moonroof allowed copious natural light if desired and Subaru’s EyeSight is really quite intuitive. The ride quality and handling was rather impressive for a symmetrical all-wheel drive SUV, and the little turbocharged 2.5 liter four-cylinder was spirited enough at low speeds and on the highway. Not to mention we were able to take our test drive without a salesperson aboard, so I did not hesitate to give it the proper beans.

In the end, we loved it. We briefly considered shelling out the dough and locking down a loan with fairly reasonable terms. But then we went back to our Outback. It doesn’t do anything spectacularly, but it does everything just fine. I have now convinced myself that this will be my daughter’s first car, or maybe even my second daughter’s first car. And don’t get me wrong, it’s only a matter of time until we get that Ascent. After all, David Bowie and Queen will continue whispering into my ear until we do.

Ross Gilbert reports Tesla news at Torque News. has had a lifelong interest in the automobile industry, growing up with an obsession for automotive news. As a typical gear head, he has spent many hours in the garage, working on cars. Gilbert covers Tesla, Electric Vehicles, trucks and automobile technology. Follow Ross on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for daily Tesla and EV news.


John Baumgartner (not verified)    April 18, 2021 - 7:56AM

We have had several Subies. Our children inherited some as you suggested doing. Why getting my 2017 Outback serviced I ran into a guy who had his eifes98 Outback in for servicing. And I know a guy who had his Baja in who liked it do much he dropped a refurbished engine in after 350k. So hang in there. Plenty of people are driving 10 year old or more Subarus .

Mario (not verified)    April 29, 2021 - 1:18PM

In reply to by John Baumgartner (not verified)

Got that right John. We're on our 6th Subie, ALL of them went well over 200k, even 250k miles without a wrench put on them. Sold each used in very good condition. Regular oil changes is the secret to longevity - clean oil is the life-blood of any combustion engine. Started this love affair with a 1982 Loyale Wagon, dual-range on-demand 4WD; now driving 2015 Outback Ltd. With Eye-sight. Still loving it.

Matthew Bos (not verified)    April 18, 2021 - 9:51AM

Not getting rid of my 2005. 213,000 miles and ready for another 100,000. You can keep your eyesight and your full peal of safety chimes.

Tyler (not verified)    April 18, 2021 - 4:12PM

These articles are written by people as poorly informed as a green dealership salesperson. You write for torque news about subarus but are oblivious to the fact that the Ascent has from its first model year had a FA2.4L DIT, not a "turbocharged 2.5L". Do you somehow think that it comes with an EJ255 or EJ257? Or was this a quota filling puff piece about you and your Outback and a prospective Ascent? Did you even look at an Ascent brochure or the SOA website? Were you too rushed because you needed a Sunday puff-piece about a subaru so you threw together a buzzword-salad containing the likes of 3rd-row, children, safety, eyesight, and infotainment? The transmission is diffrerent(still lineartronic CVT but high torque application), engine is FA architecture not EJ, and hell the new 2.5 is completely different than the old 2.5 so no headgasket issues/chain not belt driven timing/direct and not port injection. Hell even subaru said that with the introduction of the new 2.5 in the outback and crosstrek its over 90% new components and redesigned.

A-1 (not verified)    April 25, 2021 - 2:36PM

In reply to by Tyler (not verified)

100% came to say all this verbatim basically.

Not knowing the Ascent is a completely different FA based 2.4l turbo (which also appears in the new OB) is really unforgivable in a piece like this that focuses on the differences between older and newer models.

To some it may seem minor, but it's a bit disconcerting that someone didn't take the 5 seconds to verify this information before publishing.

And yeah, regurgitating the old headgasket lore about Subarus left over from the 90's models that had electrolysis issues is another ding on the credibility of the piece.

Tim (not verified)    April 18, 2021 - 6:24PM

Still daily driving my 2011 outback, and yes I agree everything on the road looks newer and better than mine. Still, it continues to operate like when I bought it, so I guess I will run it into the ground.

Jake (not verified)    April 19, 2021 - 6:43AM

Hi, I'm here to address some misinformation in this article. The author mentioned being worried about potential head gasket issues with his 2015 Outback; readers should note that Subaru seems to have fixed their long history of head gasket issues when they introduced the FB series engine to the Outback in 2013. Also, the new 2021 Outback is equipped with a turbocharged 2.4 liter engine, or a naturally aspirated 2.5L. No turbocharged 2.5L engines are presently available from Subaru.

Alison (not verified)    April 19, 2021 - 9:30AM

I recently was tempted with a new Crosstrek. It was the loaner ride I got while my 2006 Baja was getting repaired. No doubt it was adorable, lively and fit me well (I find the new Outback a bit too large for me, a petite old lady). But I love my manual Baja even though it's terribly old school and am keeping it in top running condition

Bob (not verified)    April 19, 2021 - 1:28PM

Let's hope that the tens of millions driving vehicles 10, 15, 20 years old don't read this article. They won't be happy about the author's perception that everyone drives a new vehicle. Any idea about the average age of vehicles on the road? Close to 12 years.

DENNIS AMES (not verified)    April 21, 2021 - 11:21AM

I stopped buying new cars, and started buying car like you are driving. When it was time to replace my Mini cooper (which I bought 5 years old for 1/2 the price of new) I looked for another 5 year old with 50-60 k miles. I maintain my own vehicles and I hope to get another 100k + miles out of this one. Keep what you have and save some money

Mark (not verified)    April 21, 2021 - 3:29PM

I also have a 2015 outback with 250,000 k on it and it's reliable and great to drive. As you move to 2 kids I'd suggest that you try out the 2021 Sienna with AWD, which we just did for my wife, replacing a 2004 Sienna with 620,000k. The hybrid delivers great fuel economy, way more room than the Ascent and our experience is that it is very reliable, with no mechanical failures in its life and burning <1/2 litre of oil between changes. Driving to the ski hill in bad conditions is the Subie, hauling the grandkids around is the Sienna