SUBARU Outback Models/Series Timeline, Specifications & Photos

Generations: 9
First production year: 1998
Engines: Gasoline, Diesel
Body style: Wagon (station wagon, estate, combi, touring)
SUBARU Outback Wilderness photo gallery

Subaru was relentless in its quest to transform the Outback into a capable crossover vehicle, and in 2023 it introduced the Wilderness version as a 2024 model year.

While the Japanese automaker was not a serious contender in hard-core off-road vehicles, it was very capable in the crossover segment. But it knew its customers were eager to take their kayaks or mountain bikes and hit the roads to a camping area in the woods. So, to not lose these kinds of clients, Subaru offered them the Wilderness version.

The Wilderness version was stripped of chromed slats on the front grille and sported a black, unpainted front bumper. Its side scoops were no longer vertical and slim but horizontal and wide, with a honeycomb pattern design. But the automaker kept the lower round fog lamps in place, exposed to elements. On its front and rear fenders, the Wilderness version has received additional molds that protect the bodywork from scratches. Finally, at the back, there was a different bumper than on the rest of the Outback range, with fat outer areas, unpainted, and scratch-resistant.

Inside, the Wilderness Base version came fitted as standard with two 7” touchscreens on the center stack, where the upper one was used for the sound system while the lower provided the controls for the HVAC unit. The other trim level, Premium, received an 11.2” Multimedia Plus system that offered wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Under the hood, the only engine available was a 2.5-liter flat-four that pumped out 182 hp. Power was sent in all corners via a Lineartronic (CVT) transmission.

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SUBARU Outback photo gallery

Subaru introduced the refreshed version of the Outback's sixth-generation at the 2022 New York International Auto Show and brought an improved look and enhanced safety features.

The Outback was one of the best crossovers on the market. This vehicle combined the utility of an SUV with the affordable running costs of a station wagon. Its only flaw was the lack of engine variety. However, those two powerplants were good enough for most people.

Subaru made the Outback in six trim levels. Apart from the Wilderness version, all the others featured an enhanced front fascia with a redesigned bumper. That provided a bolder grille and redesigned LED headlights. Moreover, the bumper featured black trims that offered a more aggressive, rugged look. These matched the wheel-arches moldings that protected the bodywork from mud and stone chips.

Depending on the trim level, the Outback featured a two-ton upholstery and seats covered in StarTex, a water-repellant material. From the safety point of view, Subaru installed standard EyeSight Driver Assist Technology on the entire range, with an enhanced system that operated smoother than on the previous version. In addition, this one offered a wide-angle camera that helped the driver, especially at crossroads. Last but not least, the Limited version featured an LCD rear-view camera mirror.

Under the hood, Subaru installed a turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-four and a 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated flat-four. Both were paired to a standard CVT that sent the power in all corners. The ground clearance for most of the versions was 8.7" (22 cm), while the Wilderness stood even higher, at 9.5" (24 cm).

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SUBARU Outback photo gallery

Subaru made a new generation of the Outback based on its latest global platform and it showed the model at the 2019 New York Auto Show. Even though the look is almost the same as the generation it replaces it, it is actually an all-new car.

Under the hood, Subaru engineers installed the first turbocharged boxer engine on the Outback since 2009. The 2.4-liter flat-four packs a total of 260 HP and a maximum torque of 277 lb-ft (375 Nm). Base models and trims will have the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter engines, which will deliver only 182 HP. Regardless of their engines, all Subaru Outbacks will be paired with the new CVT gearbox, which has a manual function where the driver can choose between 8 forward gears.

From the safety point of view, the latest Subaru Outback offers a complete package of airbags and standard on all trims is Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane keep assist (which is called Lane Centering for Subaru) and other amenities. On top of these, there is also a head-up display offered as standard for all Outbacks.

As usual, Subaru kept its budget for the design department low so the new Outback doesn't seem too new compared with the model it replaces.

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SUBARU Outback photo gallery

The Subaru Outback was designed for active people who love to go hiking. It was the up-lifted station-wagon version for the Legacy sedan. The 2015 model showed a big improvement in almost all areas.

The 2015 Outback didn't want to look like a rugged off-road vehicle. It was a crossover and it wasn't ashamed to tell that from the first look. It did have some off-road inspired details such as the black plastic details on the fenders or the bulky side-sills, but it was just a crossover built on a sedan chassis.

The exterior look was changed, with a raked windshield and roof-rails on top. A clever system allowed the driver to hide the transverse bars inside the long rails to decrease the wind noise when they were not used. A better aerodynamic helped the car to be quieter on the road and made the journeys more pleasant.

Inside, there was a new infotainment unit with a touch-screen for navigation and audio controls. There was room for five, but with limited leg-room for the rear-seat middle passenger due to the transmission tunnel.

As usual, the Outback featured the symmetrical AWD system. It was offered with two engine choices. The base model, with a flat-four 2.5-liter engine, was mated as standard with a 6-speed manual. The top of the range 3.6-liter was the same as before and mated exclusively with the CVT transmission. A manual mode with 6 preset gears was installed, with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel.

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SUBARU Outback photo gallery

Subaru introduced the fourth generation of the Outback in 2009 in April at the New York International Auto Show and built it on the Legacy's fifth-generation platform.

Those were the dark days of the world financial crisis, and most automakers shrunk down their operations. Subaru, on the other hand, chose to invest and launch new products, such as the Outback, also known as the BR or BM. But the cost-cutting measures were seen in this model since it lacked some of the features that made this brand famous around the world, such as the frameless windows.

The car's bodywork was basically a raised version of the Legacy station wagon but with several improvements. Thus, the ground clearance was raised to a respectable 8.7" (22 cm), and the front bumper got a lower unpainted plastic part that housed a splitter and the fog lamps. From its profile, the long-roof vehicle kept the same body panels as its non-raised sibling. Subaru chose not to install trims around the wheel arches to emphasize the car's off-road characteristics. That, along with the dismissal of the double-sized sunroof, was part of the cost-cutting measures.

Inside, the crossover was large enough to accommodate five adult-sized passengers for short jaunts. Still, for long travels, the person seated in the middle position on the rear bench lacked the appropriate space for their feet due to the transmission tunnel. It wasn't very bad, but not comfortable either. Behind the 60/40 split-folding bench, the Outback provided a generous trunk fitted with a very low loading lip.

Under the hood, the Outback received flat-four or flat-six engines ranging between 150 PS (148 hp) and 260 PS (260 hp). On specific markets, Subaru offered turbocharged gasoline engines or turbo-diesel powerplants.

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SUBARU Outback photo gallery

Designed for people with an active lifestyle, the Subaru Outback was a combination between an SUV and a wagon.

Based on the Subaru Legacy’s platform, the Outback had a rugged outdoor look with added ground clearance and protective side cladding.

The tall suspension configuration allowed a ground clearance of 8.7 inches, while the SUV styling cues featured pronounced wheel arches that made the Outback look handsome and confident.

Offered with a single wagon body style, the Outback ranged from basic to near luxury, depending on the trim level chosen.

A perfect match for those who were looking for an outstanding off-road performance, but not in the body of an SUV, the Outback felt like a mid-size sedan while driving and unleashed its nature on bumpier roads.

One of the best on the market, the Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system was available, providing maximum traction.

The long list of accessories included roof rails, numerous cargo organisers and even a dog mat.

The cabin was fitted with good quality materials, the tall seating offered the driver a good view over traffic and the roomy seats in the back were perfect for 2 adults. The cargo space was a good size and allowed storing bigger items.

The instruments were easy to read, and the controls were intuitively placed.

The base version was not equipped with standard steering wheel-mounted audio controls. The base 2.5i came with a 5-speed manual transmission, front side and side curtain airbags and 4-wheel antilock disc brakes, as well as air conditioning, keyless entry and cruise control.

The Limited versions offered a turbocharges or a 6-cylinder engine, more powerful than the underpowered 2.4-liter, an automatic transmission, a power moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, 17-inch alloy wheel and a premium Harman Kardon audio system.

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SUBARU Outback photo gallery

In 2003, Subaru introduced the fourth generation of the Legacy in both shapes, a sedan and a station wagon, and added a crossover version: the Outback.

While other carmakers had to work hard to develop vehicles for the new crossover market, Subaru had all the ingredients to build one and compete for the top-selling charts. Its only serious rival was the Audi A6 Allroad Quattro, which was much more expensive and played mostly in a different league.

The Outback was introduced for the first time on the second Legacy generation under the Legacy-Outback name. Over time, it evolved as a different nameplate in the Japanese carmaker lineup, even though it was based on the Legacy Wagon model. It featured a higher ground clearance and specific plastic moldings on the side, plus a pair of redesigned bumpers. The one in the front sported two large fog-lights. At the lower part, the plastic moldings were left unpainted.

Inside, the front bucket-seats provided good side support. Subaru's designers installed a split-folding bench for up to three passengers in the rear, but with less room for the middle one since a transmission tunnel crossed the station wagon from front to back.

Subaru installed only two engine choices under the hood, with four and six-cylinders boxer engines paired to the Japanese brand's well-known symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. Depending on the market and trim level, the carmaker installed manual or automatic transmissions.

REVIEW: SUBARU Outback   full description and technical specifications
SUBARU Outback photo gallery

Subaru introduced the third generation of the Outback in 1999, and just three years later, it came with a facelifted version, which was kept until 2004.

The Legacy Outback was ahead of its times. It was a high-lifted version of the Legacy, and it appeared on the market in 1994. Five years later, Audi introduced their version of a lifted model for the A6 Avant, which was named Allroad. But Subaru was relentless and came at the same time with a completely new vehicle, the Subaru Outback. While it lost the "Legacy" part of the name, it became a stand-alone model, even though most of its parts were shared with other Subaru vehicles.

It was unusual for a carmaker to introduce a facelifted model in such a short time since the car's launch. The second generation of the Outback was based on the third generation of the Legacy, and it was available in both shapes: sedan and estate, but the latter was the most successful version. The 2002 model-year featured improved stone protection thanks to wrapped around bumpers and plastic panels on the lower parts of the doors. In the rear, the cut-down bumper left more room for the tailgate.

Inside, the 2002 Outback featured new equipment such as the CD-cassette-radio. Depending on the trim level, two-tone leather upholstery was available, and some wood-trims on the dashboard and door panels. A Momo steering wheel was on the options list as well.

The biggest change was on the technical side, where Subaru installed its 3.0-liter Boxer engine. It was paired to the well-known symmetrical all-wheel-drive system or to an enhanced VDC that transferred the most torque to the wheel with the best traction.

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SUBARU Outback photo gallery

Subaru introduced the second generation of the Outback in 1998, four years after the first one, and it used the same recipe: it put stilts on an existing station wagon.

In the late 90s, Subaru was one of the few carmakers that produced mostly all-wheel drive vehicles. Also, about the same time, people started to forget about minivans and turned their attention toward crossovers and SUVs. Last but not least, all of a sudden, station wagons were not that trendy anymore. But Subaru had an excellent solution: the Outback.

Based on the same bodywork as the Legacy Wagon, the Outback was enhanced with additional body cladding and sported a different front bumper. That one hosted a pair of big, round fog lamps and a grille to cool the engine between them. Apart from the side panels protected by plastic trims, the rocker panels also received additional protection. At the same time, at the back, the bumper featured an underbody shield. Furthermore, to create an even more adventurous look, Subaru raised the ground clearance to 7.3 inches (190 mm), which proved useful when tackling some grass and roots terrain.

Inside, the automaker kept the same interior as the standard Legacy Wagon, although with a few specific trims. Its raised roof could've been fitted with a dual moonroof system. Also, an in-dash six-CD changer paired with a McIntosh sound system was on the options list. At the back, the 60/40 split-folding bench enlarged the trunk and offered a flat area, good for sleeping in the woods.

Under the hood, Subaru installed its already famous flat-four engine with a 2.5-liter displacement for the base model, with an option for a flat-six 3.0-liter powerplant. Both versions sent power in all corners via either a five-speed manual for the former or a four-speed automatic as an option for both or standard for the latter.

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