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2019 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all. New member, have owned my '19 Outback 3.6R Limited for almost a year now. This forum has been a huge help in making various decisions regarding my Outback, and I figured I'd try to give back & contribute my existing knowledge of vehicles, plus what I've learned in building up & driving my own rig.

My end-goal is to have a camping vehicle that is as off-road capable as possible, without significant sacrifices to daily on-road handling.

The vehicle was bone stock when I purchased it from CarMax.

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At the time, I was working at an auto repair shop, so I had access to a lift, plus wholesale pricing for a lot of parts. This helped immensely in getting many of these upgrades done. A list of the first round of upgrades:

  • LP Aventure 2" lift
  • Black Rhino Unit wheels
  • Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail tires
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Nothing really to say that hasn't already been said about these parts. 10 months later, and all the lift bolts are still tight, wheels haven't fallen off, tires still have plenty of tread. And the difference off-road was significant. I definitely noticed a bit more body roll when driving on-road, but it still handles like a car & not an SUV.
 

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2020 Onyx
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Nice!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Next was adding a place for the spare wheel, as well as adding front & rear recovery points. This meant installing the following parts:

  • Class III trailer hitch
  • Rigid Armor spare tire carrier
  • GrimmSpeed license plate relocation kit
  • D-ring shackles, pack of 2
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Thoughts on these parts:

There are basically two different Class III hitch styles you can get for the Outback. One requires drilling into the underside of the vehicle body & significantly more work. The other style uses the existing mounting bolts for the metal portion of the rear bumper, and only requires trimming the rear bumper cover. It also has the benefit of sitting slightly higher than the other style, giving you a slightly better departure angle.

The Rigid Armor carrier is very well-built, & is rock-solid once installed. There are trade-offs, however. Main one being that the rearview camera is severely obstructed, though not completely. Depending on the rim design, I suppose you could see more, but I wouldn't bet on it. Also, three of the rear parking sensors pickup the carrier, and as a result causes the proximity warning to go off whenever you shift into reverse (unless disabled). The outer sensors still function, including blindspot detection & cross-traffic alerts, and you can see enough through the camera for it to be still functional, but not nearly as well with the carrier removed. Initially I had decided to remove the carrier when not going on trips, but I ended up just getting used to it. Still, it's worth noting that if you can't live without full use of the reversing aids, you might want to consider another spare mounting solution.

Relocating the rear license plate also becomes necessary with the spare carrier. LP Aventure sells the GrimmSpeed relocation kit on their website, though I recommend buying it directly from the manufacturer or a US-based vendor for a cost discount. The relocation kit is very well-made, and thankfully it cannot be removed easily by a passing stranger interested in getting a free relocation kit of their own. It's been about 9 months, and not a single bolt has come loose. It's worth noting that depending on where you live, you may need to install a light source to illuminate the plate. Relocating the plate here also means that you lose your rear tow hook install point, though since I have a trailer hitch, that is now my rear recovery point.

For the front tow hook, I just spray painted the factory tow hook black, & installed a d-ring shackle with some washers to prevent excess movement. It's not an ideal solution, but the price was right at around $10 for the shackle & washers. I have seen others take the factory tow hook cover & drill a hole in it for a cleaner look.

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It's worth noting that this was taken only about a month or so after I bought the vehicle, and already you can see several spots where the paint has been chipped off from being hit with road debris. This was the beginning of my hatred for the front bumper design on the Outback.
 

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2019 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Next up was the roof rack, and the stuff on it:

  • Front Runner SlimLine II Roof Rail Rack
  • Front Runner antenna mount, shovel mount, MaxxTraxx mount, awning mounts
  • OVS 180° Nomadic Awning
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I won't go into the CB radio, traction boards, or shovel, unless anyone has questions on them.

The Front Runner rack is amazing, if expensive. It took me the better part of a weekend to install, though I'll be the first to admit I'm no speed demon when it comes to assembling. It's aluminum, so weight isn't bad, though like any roof rack, your mileage will suffer.

The real party piece is the awning. There are several brands of awnings out there, and I won't say that Overland Vehicle Systems (OVS) makes one head & shoulders better than others, but it's my single favorite upgrade I've done so far.

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I had to do a small amount of "custom" work elongating the mounting holes on the Front Runner mounts to get this awning to work on the Front Runner rack:

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The OVS awning does come with its own mounts, but you would need spacers for them to work, and the Front Runner mounts raises the height of the awning slightly, allowing a bit of extra headroom when the awning is deployed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The 3 most recent mods:
  • LP Aventure skid plate
  • LP Aventure rear differential cover
  • Lachute Performance axle-back exhaust
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I went back-and-forth over whether to get a skid plate with cut-outs to allow for oil changes without having to remove the plate. We'll see if I live to regret this decision later...

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On the LP exhaust: This is not, by any stretch, a performance-oriented or aggressive-sounding exhaust. If you're looking for that, this isn't the one to get. This kit is primarily meant for lifted rigs. It "tucks in" the mufflers & tips so that they no longer protrude conspicuously under the rear bumper, while also giving you a minor weight & ground clearance benefit, with a slightly more pronounced exhaust note. For my purposes though, this exhaust was perfect.
 

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Hi Mutsuraboshi , could you please post a video with the new exhaust system (Interested to see how it sounds) ... thanks Stig
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi Mutsuraboshi , could you please post a video with the new exhaust system (Interested to see how it sounds) ... thanks Stig
It's really difficult to capture how these exhausts sound over web videos, since depending on the recording equipment used, it will sound different. But I'll give it a shot. Might be a day or two until the weather's nice enough to film it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I would recommend checking out this video, as it gives you a side-by-side comparison between the two exhausts. As I said, it's a little louder & throatier, but I definitely wouldn't classify it as "aggressive."

 

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2019 Limited 2.5
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I would recommend checking out this video, as it gives you a side-by-side comparison between the two exhausts. As I said, it's a little louder & throatier, but I definitely wouldn't classify it as "aggressive."

Wow, thats the best muffler sound comparison I've ever seen (heard)! Nothing does it like side by side.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Minor update. Went exploring on some BLM land today, that I hadn't been to before. Was surprisingly close to where I live, only took about 30 minutes to get there.

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Was quite a climb, but was well-rewarded with some great views. Roads were rough, but completely manageable.

Thought this would be a good time to give my opinion on the latest two add-ons I've done: The WeatherTech window deflectors, & the EGR hood shield / bug deflector.

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Everyone & their mother seems to put these window deflectors on their vehicles, so I figured I'd see what the fuss was about. After having them on for a couple of weeks, I'll admit I can see the appeal. Cuts down on some of the wind entering the open window, actually shades from the sun in certain angles, & allows me to crack the rear windows of the car for my dog without allowing water ingress. I've been told they look good too, though I'm not sold on the looks yet. But so far I like them, multiple benefits & no real perceptible downsides (so far).

The EGR bug guard is different. I mainly got it because there was a deal on them if I ordered it with the deflectors, so I figured why not. It was another case of me seeing these installed on vehicles all the time, & curiosity got the better of me. I'm not really convinced this does anything for me. Not a lot of bugs locally, & it really only has one benefit I can perceive - protecting the leading edge of the hood - as opposed to the deflectors, which offer multiple benefits. Jury's still out on this one. At least I don't notice it when driving, I guess?

Also, during this trip, my Outback got it's first significant war wound:

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An unseen branch (I think?) smacked right into the lower right corner of the bumper. It's hard to see in the photo, but the foglight is now pointed at about a 30° angle to the right. I tried to pop the dent loose, but wasn't successful. I'm not really worried about it however, and honestly, I'll probably just leave it as-is for now, as the front bumper doesn't have long to live anyway :devilish:
 

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Scars on an Outback are character marks as long as they were gained in battle with nature and not another car!😁
 

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Everyone & their mother seems to put these window deflectors on their vehicles, so I figured I'd see what the fuss was about. After having them on for a couple of weeks, I'll admit I can see the appeal. Cuts down on some of the wind entering the open window, actually shades from the sun in certain angles, & allows me to crack the rear windows of the car for my dog without allowing water ingress. I've been told they look good too, though I'm not sold on the looks yet. But so far I like them, multiple benefits & no real perceptible downsides (so far).

The EGR bug guard is different. I mainly got it because there was a deal on them if I ordered it with the deflectors, so I figured why not. It was another case of me seeing these installed on vehicles all the time, & curiosity got the better of me. I'm not really convinced this does anything for me. Not a lot of bugs locally, & it really only has one benefit I can perceive - protecting the leading edge of the hood - as opposed to the deflectors, which offer multiple benefits. Jury's still out on this one. At least I don't notice it when driving, I guess?
I have the EGR deflector as well. I think it looks sharp, and It's main job is to protect against rock chips to the leading edge of the hood. I may get the window deflectors as well, for the same reasons you specify.
 

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Great looking ride! I have been back and forth on how I want to proceed with the roof rack and really love the looks of the slim rack you have and the Prinsu rack. How much did your noise level rise and MPGs drop after adding it? I would imagine it would be less on a slim rack verses something like the Load Warrior. But excited to follow along with your adventures and to get your thoughts on your aftermarket parts!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Great looking ride! I have been back and forth on how I want to proceed with the roof rack and really love the looks of the slim rack you have and the Prinsu rack. How much did your noise level rise and MPGs drop after adding it? I would imagine it would be less on a slim rack verses something like the Load Warrior. But excited to follow along with your adventures and to get your thoughts on your aftermarket parts!
Thanks. The FrontRunner rack is great, and like you, I was torn between it and the Prinsu. I went with the FrontRunner, because I was confident I could install it myself. The Prinsu is significantly more work to install, and I didn't trust myself, nor anyone else locally, to install it correctly.

Though lightweight, the FrontRunner does stick up quite a bit compared to the Prinsu. I installed a lot of other items around the same time as the rack, but I'd estimate I lost between 3-5 MPG from the rack alone. The Prinsu seems like it would be much more aerodynamic in comparison, though I don't have any numbers to back that up.

Something else to consider is the FrontRunner is shorter than the Prinsu, and the wind deflectors sit directly above the sunroof opening. This means with the sunroof open, air hits the deflector and gets angled directly down into the front seats. Not a big deal for me since I hate sunroofs and thus never touch it, but I'd bet it could get annoying for some.

Bottom line is, if you can afford it, and feel confident in the install, get the Prinsu. Otherwise, the FrontRunner is an excellent second choice.

Check out this thread, if you haven't seen it already:

 

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Thanks. The FrontRunner rack is great, and like you, I was torn between it and the Prinsu. I went with the FrontRunner, because I was confident I could install it myself. The Prinsu is significantly more work to install, and I didn't trust myself, nor anyone else locally, to install it correctly.

Though lightweight, the FrontRunner does stick up quite a bit compared to the Prinsu. I installed a lot of other items around the same time as the rack, but I'd estimate I lost between 3-5 MPG from the rack alone. The Prinsu seems like it would be much more aerodynamic in comparison, though I don't have any numbers to back that up.

Something else to consider is the FrontRunner is shorter than the Prinsu, and the wind deflectors sit directly above the sunroof opening. This means with the sunroof open, air hits the deflector and gets angled directly down into the front seats. Not a big deal for me since I hate sunroofs and thus never touch it, but I'd bet it could get annoying for some.

Bottom line is, if you can afford it, and feel confident in the install, get the Prinsu. Otherwise, the FrontRunner is an excellent second choice.

Check out this thread, if you haven't seen it already:

Thanks for all of that information, went down the rabbit hole the past few hours haha. Definitely gives you a lot to think about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Been doing quite a few day trips, the most recent of which was a trip to get that last bit of Winter driving in, and to see if I can get myself stuck to test out my recovery gear.

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I had a buddy in his Jeep tag along with me. He wanted to test his new winch setup out, so I told him we were just going to keep gaining altitude until one of us got stuck.

We ended up both getting stuck at around 4,000 ft, after my buddy slowed down and, like an idiot, didn't leave enough room between us, braked too hard, and sunk into about a foot of snow (right up to the underbody). My buddy then got stuck after going a few more feet.

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We figured this was as good a spot as any, so after making sure I was good and stuck, we got his Jeep turned around, and after a few minutes of shoveling, we used his winch to pop me right out. Not gonna lie, I was not super confident in using that front recovery point, and there was definitely some groaning from the frame when we were doing it. But it worked out just fine.

We ended up driving a bit further, then turning around, taking the opportunity to try out the traction boards to see how much they helped in preventing us digging in (surprisingly well!).

I also ended up stuffing the front bumper again a few times on the way down, the worst time thankfully in the same place I did before (passenger side, by the foglight), but I definitely want to deal with this sooner rather than later. The lack of approach angle & clearance, combined with the poor front protection, weak front recovery point, & lack of lighting, will all be things I address with my next investment.

Finally, a quick update on the tires, the Wildpeak A/T Trails. I've had them for a year & ~10,000 miles now. They're great all-around tires - probably the best all-terrain tire I've ever driven on-road - but with the amount of off-road driving I've been doing, I'm starting to think that I might upgrade to something more aggressive when these wear out. In particular, driving on muddy roads, I wasn't getting as much grip as I would've liked, especially when compared to the other vehicles I was driving with that both were equipped with BFG KO2s (this was a different trip, with far less snow). I really want to push them a bit more, and see if I can purposefully get into a controlled situation where I'm getting stuck due to lack of traction in dirt or muddy conditions. But really, for most of what I've been doing so far, including driving on sand, they've done pretty well.

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Made one of the larger changes to the Outback so far, replacing the front bumper. I had stuffed the front bumper so many times, the right fog light was pushed in & pointed at almost a 45° angle, and on either side near the headlights, the bumper was starting to pull itself away from the fenders. I was also looking for a place to mount more lighting. Finally, I wanted a front recovery point that was more solid than the OEM tow hook.

I went with the Defender Series Front Bumper from Full Force Metalworks. (There's another thread discussing FFM here.) The Defender, in theory, has all the features that I was looking for, at the low cost of $1,999.99 :oops: & ~25 lbs of additional weight. Both the cost & the weight are due to the fact that this bumper is aluminum, not steel. Also, a few parts - including the steel front bumper - are removed during the install process, which helps to reduce the weight gain.

I drove up to Vancouver, WA from Northern California to have the owner of FFM, Matt Camp, install the bumper himself. Arranging for a day that he was available was an ordeal; he had to reschedule on me three times, but he did end up knocking off $75 off the price due to the inconvenience (bringing the total down to $1,925), which was a nice gesture.

Here are some comparison pics before & after the bumper was installed. Pics aren't that great, it was raining pretty much the whole time I was up in WA. And they're not lined up perfectly, so you can't really use them to precisely measure differences. But they're better than nothing:

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So, the good. The welds & overall construction of the bumper itself is great. It has a solid, sturdy look & feel. I have no concerns about the bumper lasting as long as the rest of the vehicle. The design is high & tight, protecting the radiator but still allowing for as much clearance as possible. The ramped underside also happens to line up with my skid plate nicely, with just a small gap between the two (totally by chance - Matt had never even heard of LP Aventure). Though I don't have the lights installed yet, the cutouts & mounting tabs are designed specifically for the lights I'll be installing. There's a place to mount a winch if desired, though at this point I'm not planning on installing one. The recovery points are nice & chunky, are are welded through the bumper into the rear plate that bolts directly onto the frame for added strength. The bumper itself uses the same eight bolts that the OEM steel bumper mounts to the frame with. You can see two of the eight bolts through the foglight cutout in the photo below.

On-road performance is excellent. I noticed no discernible difference between how the vehicle handled before & after the install. My drive to & from WA was about 7 hours. On the way back home, I pushed the Outback hard in the twistys, and she took the curves like a champ. I have heard from multiple sources, however, that adding a winch with this bumper does cause a significant change to how well the vehicle drives, so if you're considering that option, keep in mind your on-road handling will be affected negatively.

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Now, at this point, you probably think that I'm thoroughly impressed with the bumper, and would fully recommend everyone get this bumper who's looking for a front-end solution for their Outback. The fact is, overall, I still tentatively recommend this bumper, but there are some major potential dealbreakers you should be aware of before considering one.

First off, this is a handmade product, and it shows. The sides of the bumper near the headlights sticks out more on the passenger side than the driver side. The recovery mounting points aren't perfectly straight. The bar that runs across the grille is slightly crooked (you can see this in the first comparison photo). And the driver side foglight plate cover mounting surface isn't flush. All of these don't affect the overall function of the bumper, but cosmetically, this is not a show-quality product. I think down the line, if Matt continues to sell these & he's able to streamline the production process a bit, these issues might go away, but right now, if looks are a primary concern, then I'd say pass on the Defender.

Second issue was the installation. Matt was the one who did the install, and there were a few things he did that I was not happy with. Initially, Matt had told me that the windshield washer reservoir would be replaced, because the OEM reservoir was quite exposed once the bumper was removed. I was surprised when I took delivery of the vehicle when he was done, and he told me that he decided to leave the old reservoir in, without checking with me beforehand. He also discovered that the '19 model has a set of louvers in front of the radiator that control airflow, that he said he hadn't encountered before in older 5th-gen Outbacks. He removed it all during installation, again, without checking:

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Now, in both cases, I would have likely just gone with what he did anyway. Though both decisions have consequences: The washer reservoir is quite exposed on the driver side, and in certain situations, the engine may have difficulty staying within optimum operating temp. I've been driving it for a week since, monitoring engine temps, and thankfully, so far, I have noticed no difference. The cut he made to the bumper near the grille was also very rough & uneven. After we talked a bit after the install, Matt admitted he was considering giving up installing customer bumpers, and instead subletting it out to a local shop. I agreed this was not a bad idea...

My other concern with the design is the exposed portions to either side of the front wheels. There are two frame "horns" that stick out on either side just behind the bumper, and stick out enough that they could be damaged if you aren't paying attention. The aforementioned washer reservoir is also quite exposed. From the above picture, you can also see a lot more of the suspension components are visible from the front, all of which could potentially impact an obstacle, whereas before, the plastic bumper would be hit first. Most offroad bumpers are like this, although SubiXtreme, as an example, provides two side plates with their bumpers that bolt in and cover a good portion of this gap. I would've loved to see removable panels as an option.

The last potential issue I had was with the straight-on approach angle. Looking at the above low side-angle comparison pics, it really doesn't look like there's much of a difference between the two. This was the reason why I delayed in writing all of this up, because I wanted to take it out on some trails & see if it really makes a difference or not. After running some trails that I had previously damaged my front bumper from, I can safely say that the new bumper is indeed a significant improvement. I never came close to scraping the front-end, even on obstacles that I scraped on before. And the clearance in the corners - the part of the bumper that arguably gets caught on obstacles the most - there is no comparison. There's just no bumper there anymore.

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Overall I'm satisfied with the Defender, and I'm just glad it's installed & I don't have to fuss with front bumper issues anymore. It's not going to win any beauty contests - frankly, despite what friends & family have told me, I still find it to be quite ugly - but functionally, it works as intended. I think given some time, and hopefully a price drop, these will become a more viable option. But for now, it remains a fairly niche product.
 

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Ugly is a badge of honor among Subies.

Even if it's just a sheet of 3/16th thick HDPE (like mud flap or flexible cutting board material) it seems to me that you could attach something that would cover the exposed bolts and reservoir.
 

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Looks mean for sure.
At that price point, I would expect it to be perfect. I'm all for supporting a local guy(dirtworx bumper on my Jeep), but attention to detail still matter. Things should be exactly the same on both sides.

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