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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Full disclosure: I don't own a Subaru... Yet

I'm in the market for a used car and the Outback is top of the list. If I buy one, I would like to eventually install a lift, nudge bar, and roof rack. The primary use would be a daily driver, but on weekends I offroad - beach only at Assateague Island, MD. Deep loose sand, which is why I would want the lift. I currently take a suburban with leveling kit with no problem (duratrac tires at 12.5 psi), but I'm not certain a stock Outback could make it. I've never seen an outback there, not that I've seen every vehicle of course.

I'm looking for an outback in the '08-'13 price range, which spans multiple generations. So, my questions are:

Which generations are
1. easiest to lift?
2. cheapest to lift?
3. allows the largest tires?
4. has the most off road accessories available (nudge bar, light bar, etc)

5. of the generations spanning '08-'13 are there any that are better at tackling deep loose sand?

I've tried searching these things, but I've found a lot of conflicting information from "it's easy" to "you're camber will never be right" to "you'll crack your frame". Any help answering the above would be really awesome!
 

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Fresh Out of Outbacks!
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Cheapest & easiest to lift are probably the oldest ones: 1995-1999.

The oldest ones enjoy more commonality with other Subarus, lots of things have been made for them and they're easy to modify.

But if you're looking for a much newer one, get a 2010 & later. There are many more of them on the road and on the used market. Bigger market = more goodies available for it. There aren't that many goodies, but everything is relative.

2008-2013 spans 2 generations (3 & 4) with a variety of powertrains, but it's hard to pick a winner. Subaru makes them perform broadly like each other in terms of AWD power delivery and traction control, and then it just becomes a matter of picking how much power you want connected to the skinny pedal and whether or not you want to row your own gears.
 

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2013 OB 3.6R (former)
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Full disclosure: I don't own a Subaru... Yet

I'm in the market for a used car and the Outback is top of the list. If I buy one, I would like to eventually install a lift, nudge bar, and roof rack. The primary use would be a daily driver, but on weekends I offroad - beach only at Assateague Island, MD. Deep loose sand, which is why I would want the lift. I currently take a suburban with leveling kit with no problem (duratrac tires at 12.5 psi), but I'm not certain a stock Outback could make it. I've never seen an outback there, not that I've seen every vehicle of course.

I'm looking for an outback in the '08-'13 price range, which spans multiple generations. So, my questions are:

Which generations are
1. easiest to lift?
2. cheapest to lift?
3. allows the largest tires?
4. has the most off road accessories available (nudge bar, light bar, etc)

5. of the generations spanning '08-'13 are there any that are better at tackling deep loose sand?

I've tried searching these things, but I've found a lot of conflicting information from "it's easy" to "you're camber will never be right" to "you'll crack your frame". Any help answering the above would be really awesome!
Any Subaru should do better in sand than said Suburban. The Australians on ORS are happy to take on anyone in a Land Cruiser or a Jeep in sand. Of course, clearance is limited stock so a lift is still very helpful for deep sand.

I would say any 2010+ that is free of issues (there were some early production IV gen with lane wandering issues). As rasterman says, there are more of these, they score much better in Consumer Reports than earlier models, they are bigger and more comfortable than earlier models as well.

You need to know that the aftermarket support for Subaru is only good when it comes to performance. When it comes to offroad, it is still quite awful (it was totally pathetic until a couple years ago). Nowadays, there are at least a few options for 2" lifts. I have SubieLiftOZ from Australia as supposedly the strongest as well as tied for cheapest. Others have ADF or LP Aventure or Sumo. There is also a Primitive lift but it is smaller and uses taller, stiffer springs so I would not do that.

However, the moment you move beyond lift, options are few, far between, and, consequently, way too expensive compared to what is available for Jeeps or trucks. For example, there is only ONE front bumper option, comes all the way from Australia, it is very expensive, and since it is meant chiefly as a bullbar, the approach angle improvement is not as great as it could have been.

The maximum size tire you can reasonably fit on a 2010-4 is 225 65 17. You can push it to 235 65 17 but it gets ridiculous at that point with downsides offsetting and even outweighing the benefits. The good news is that the new Geolander GO15 seems to be a great all around tire (the ATS was awful and the KO2 would not be necessary for your application; I have both KO2s and ATS).

I usually advocate heavily for the H6 over the H4 models, especially for offroad use, but considering your location, H4 should be just fine.

In sum, lift, skid plates (Primitive), 225 65 17 tires, and upgraded battery is what I have (plus upgraded brakes for the high mountains in CO) and this is about all that is worth doing (plus bumper if money allows it) so far as function goes.

Also, you may want to talk to your insurance first. Some may not be used to lifted Subarus and I have no idea about insurance in MD.

EDIT: All 2005+ should be in the same boat when it comes to easiness of lift. The newer the generation, the larger the tire dm you can fit. Prices are, I think, practically the same across the various gens. You are looking at about 600 and up for a 2" lift kit, delivered. Lift and tire size are NOT related the way they are on Jeeps. A lift solves nothing per se because you are limited by the wheel wells. In addition, there is no re-gearing, so all powertrains, and especially the naturally aspirated H4s, get worse and worse performance as tire size increases.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wow! Thanks for all the info guys.

I have already accepted that there aren't as many off road options for Subarus (Google searches revealed the slim pickings, not through options but through repeat pictures of the same cars...)

I've chosen the Outback based on the overall performance I think it can provide; overall safety, poor road condition handling, gas mileage, and off road capability. Seems the Outback is the best blend of all of the above, unless I've missed a make/model out there.

I really like the more rounded look of the '05-'09 but I also realize they're smaller. Could just be Google playing tricks but it appears there are more pictures of '10+ models lifted, which led me to believe they may be easier to lift. From your information it is probably accountable to more of them on the road.

In hind sight, I believe the outback would do better than the Burb on sand. The shear weight of the Burb works against it. At 15 psi I dug right in, hence the need to drop to 12.5.

I've located and '08 2.5 limited with 60,XXX miles about and hour away. It's high on my list, but I really would like a 6 over a 4. I currently drive an Accord V6 so the drop to a 4 would be very noticeable. I realize the Outback 6 won't be as quick either, but I'm not looking at Outbacks for speed... Just don't want to miss the speed as much.

Aside from the head gasket issues with early models, is there anything else major I should look out for?
 

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2013 OB 3.6R (former)
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In general, H6 models are more reliable than H4 models. Then the 3.6 is better than the 3.0 and the car is improved overall since 2010, including cooling system. The 2010 and on have more clearance off the bat. Finally, there is hope that some more aftermarket parts for 2010 and newer will appear. There is none for the fewer, unpopular earlier cars.

The only thing that 2010s had was lane wandering which was a big deal. I thi k if you search, you will find what production months were affected.

As far as Gen IV, 2010-2 have softer suspension than 2013-4, so that should be a plus offroad. A few folks have got extra oil consumption but is random on the H6.

If I were new to Subaru, I would stay away from pre2010 cars.
 
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Brucey
'17 3.6
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Something else I'll add here:

The 4 cylinder requires a timing belt at 100k the 6 does not. It makes cost of ownership closer since that's a 1200-2000 dollar job if including head gaskets. I believe the 3rd gens still required premium while the 3.6 do not.

The gen 3 looks better (I know it's a personal thing but love the 08-09) but the gen 4 is bigger and more practical.

Lift costs the same between the two and is similar.

My advice is to drive both generations.

Is it replacing the accord or the suburban? Or both / neither? I think that's going to be your biggest deciding factor.

Tires and lifts and skid plates are your only real bolt on options unless you want to pay through the nose for stuff from Australia. Even then it's slim.
 

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2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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moved thread to the unpaved section, lots of threads in this section about sand / beach and subaru.

and this is like the 3rd mention of Assateague Island, MD here in the past 2 weeks.
 

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2005 Subaru Outback 2.5i Base, Pearl White
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I, like Brucey, prefer the 3rd Gen body style. I also prefer the 3rd Gen models for the ability to retain a physical limited slip on certain builds. I drove my friends Outback with the open rear diff and hydraulic "LSD" and disliked it. The sandy dynamics changed the requirements so quickly it was constantly braking and releasing in reaction trying to keep up. It felt jerky and non fluid unlike my viscous LSD transferring power to and fro smoothly. You can still spin your wheels though, it's not a torsen style but helps.

I do want a VTD to replace my 90/10 MTP. Problem is if you release hydraulic pressure by taking your foot off the gas she releases the torque split back to stock before she catches herself slipping and changes the split again, by this time you're easing back on the accelerator in the apex of the corner. This applies to all conditions.

I wheel my car in a lot of soft deep sand down in Joshua Tree and the desert areas around Palm Springs and the car really loves it I don't even bother airing down my tires from 33/34. I've had sand all the way up to my skid plate gently skating along.


I notice at 1.5" rear end lift my tire is forward in the wheel well about 1/4". The McPherson rear ends experiences stress on the CV on larger lifts, mines at a mild angle but have not had any I'll effects, I'm easing into 1.5"F /2"R camber corrected on top of 3/4" king spring lift. The front multilinks are more forgiving. The earlier Subarus had Multilinks all around, not sure of a year range, probably the earliest like said earlier.

Powertrain wise there's very little for naturally aspirated vs turbo; I enjoy trying to squeeze power of my N/A. As for other mods I'd say there's more for later model Subarus, Gen 3+ and little or nothing for the earlier models Gen 1,2 3. A lot is homebrew.

As for headgaskets the issue is largely solved on 04+ and is sometimes dependent on oiling schedules, like most Subie issues, an updated gasket, bimetal I think, will sort that should problem arise. My mechanic says the oil pump o ring and crank seal is a good way to ascertain how well the car was cared for in regards to oil changes and its what dealers look at closely in addition to cam seals upon trade in.

Good luck and happy wheeling. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This forum continues to be very helpful! From reading through prior posts it seemed this place was friendly and easy to ask for help/knowledge.

Thanks for all the info!

The Outback would be replacing the Accord. Wife drives the Suburban. I'd really love to get a '10-'11 3.6 because of the size increase (still like 3rd gen styling better though), but I'm unfortunately too far under in the Accord to swing that (very sad story of a VW CC Timing belt tensioner cracking, trashing the engine, driving a crap trade on an Accord). I'm looking at reducing payments (3rd kid on the way!!:) ) and moving into something a little more "all-around" with the Outback. I really do like the Accord, I just don't need this much car ('13 Touring Model).

Once I settled on the Outback as my car of choice I did the regular accessories searching which led me down the fox hole of lifts, and skid plates, and light bars, and all the other goodies I see on nice looking Outbacks.

I've been keeping my eyes open on all the used lots, checking the dealer sites, Cars.com/Autotrader/TrueCar, Craiglist, and Ebay. I think I'm doing all the right things to find the right car.....I'm just about 2 years too soon if I'm trying to find a '10-'11 in my price range.

It's good to hear the head gasket issue is mostly resolved post '04. The '08 I'm looking at was bought from, and serviced regularly, at the same dealership that is selling it used. 1 owner, all maintenance performed at factory suggested intervals. It seems like a diamond in the rough really. I guess the anxiety in me is worried that if I hold out and don't buy this '08, I'll not find a better deal on a different 3rd Gen and not be able to afford something in the 4th Gen bracket. I already saw another '08, 2.5 limited, two-tone brown (me likey!) come and go under my watch.

Because this would be a daily driver, I'm more concerned with safety, mpg, and cargo space (kids sports, Bug out bag, beach gear, etc). I would wait a while before any modifications or add-ons so I could learn the car a little and feel her out a bit.
 

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On the CVT models in Gen 4+ you cannot service the transmission yourself. If you like to wrench or part of your bug out plan is to be able to maintain your car keep that in mind.

I'd say don't settle if you want an H6, I feel your intuition is right. You're gonna need the power with the Mrs and kids on board. Oddball is H, I am OK with just my mom on board but as soon as I add an extra passenger I feel the power loss.
 

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Hey there. Another Assateague user! I have a stock 2016 Limited i take out there all the time. I just air it down to 17psi. I've never had a single issue, even with full passengers, loaded roof basket and a back porch full of firewood. I also have a Tundra that is my main OSV vehicle, but I wouldn't hesitate to put your faith in the Outback, even if its just stock.

btw... I'm also one of the developers of OSVcount.com. Check us out if you haven't heard of us yet. We're doing an organized cleanup out there on 9/30. Lots of gate prizes and fun to be had. All the info is on our FB page.
 

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2005 Outback 3.0R VDC/VTD/LSD 5eat , 2.8'' lift
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easiest are 1,2 gen foresters. they simple , cheap , better angles, comes with dual range. if its just for lifting purpose and larger tires then forester better then outback. but they not so big, not so comfy, no traction control until 2009 models.
 

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2005 Outback 2.5i 4 inch ADF lift 215/70/16 BFG's Sparco Wheels
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Im in the process of finishing up a 4 inch lift on an 2005. I can say the 3rd generation is tough if you want much larger tires.
Without doing some serious fab work on the bumpers and inner fenders you cant get much larger than stock
 

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2005 Outback 3.0R VDC/VTD/LSD 5eat , 2.8'' lift
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All gens will have same problems with bumpers. Front one you cut it or remove it or buy something custom or make yourself. Otherwise it will get in your way still. I would cut it on 3rd gen then buy another used one if i would need original look. But i even passed mot with my cut bumper .
 

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2005 Outback 2.5i 4 inch ADF lift 215/70/16 BFG's Sparco Wheels
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I lifted a 97Legacy Wagon to six inches and had no fender issues. No trimming, no cutting, no rubbing. I did have to extend the steering shaft and radiator hoses. But 15 inch steelies and 215/70/15's fit with no issues. The 15 inch wheels were an upgrade from the stock 14 inches.


It could be a Legacy Wagon doesn't have fender issues because it doesn't have the plastic trim an outback has
 
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