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I've crept on numerous forums and reviews of the outback, my best friend has owned one for years and I've always admired them. I have a few questions for all of you Outback owners!
My friends and I are planning on going out west and backpacking around. The plan is to buy a used car out there and drive it back to east coast. It needs to be reliable, AWD and big enough for friends and gear. My first thought ran to an outback.
My question is twofold:
1. Is an outback suited to this task?
2. What year outback has a good, long lifetime reputation.

Because we are all students, price needs to be low and therefor mileage will probably be high. I am aware of the head gasket, exhaust and knock sensor issues, I was just wondering if you all could provide some real world experience based advice!

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A
 

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I've crept on numerous forums and reviews of the outback, my best friend has owned one for years and I've always admired them. I have a few questions for all of you Outback owners!
My friends and I are planning on going out west and backpacking around. The plan is to buy a used car out there and drive it back to east coast. It needs to be reliable, AWD and big enough for friends and gear. My first thought ran to an outback.
My question is twofold:
1. Is an outback suited to this task?
2. What year outback has a good, long lifetime reputation.

Because we are all students, price needs to be low and therefor mileage will probably be high. I am aware of the head gasket, exhaust and knock sensor issues, I was just wondering if you all could provide some real world experience based advice!

Best
A
It sounds like the OB is a good choice. I have a 2005 with 97,000 miles that is holding up pretty well. I've had some issues with the power windows, and have ordered another window motor (its my 3rd).

Here are a few things to check :

1) Oil on the spark plug boots (need to pull the boot to check) indicates valve cover gaskets and spark plug o-ring gaskets need replacing. Not a huge job.

2) CV Boots - The bane of my existence. The cv joints on the front passenger side seem to tear more often than the others, some have said due to exhaust pipe heat making them brittle. Bad replacement joints can cause a vibration at idle (there is a sticky thread about this in the problems area).

3) Timing belt/water pump/belt tensioners need to be replaced at 10years/105 miles on the EJ25 engines. If the car is over that mileage, make sure it has been done... I've seen people report $1200 or so repair bills on this.

4) Have a mechanic go through the suspension components... endlinks, bushings etc. to make sure there are no expensive issues.

5) Get a carfax report to make sure there were no records of the car being totaled... if it was, it should be disclosed by the seller.

I'm coming up on the timing belt job, and will decide what to do in a few months... sell or keep... I'm leaning toward putting a few grand into it to keep it on the road another 5 years. The car still drives very nicely, no head gasket issues yet. It has a few rattles from some endlinks and bushings that need to be fixed.

Good luck!
 

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2015 Outback 2.5 limited
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It needs to be reliable, AWD and big enough for friends and gear. My first thought ran to an outback.

My question is twofold:
1. Is an outback suited to this task?
2. What year outback has a good, long lifetime reputation.

Because we are all students, price needs to be low and therefor mileage will probably be high. I am aware of the head gasket, exhaust and knock sensor issues, I was just wondering if you all could provide some real world experience based advice!

Best
A
Just a couple of thoughts --

1) how many people? The pre-2010 OB has plenty of room for gear in the cargo area, and it is easy to put it on top if you need more room. You could fit gear for 4 people in/on the OB easily. However, the rear seat is surprisingly small for a car this size. Rear seats in a mid-size sedan (ie, Accord, Camry, etc) are noticeably larger.

2) why and how much do you need AWD? The OB's system is nice, don't get me wrong, but you'll pay for it at the pump. My '07 tops out at around 27 mpg with just me in it on freeway trips. Meanwhile, one of the aforementioned sedans will be in the 33+ mpg range. Adds up over a cross-country trip. And if you put bikes on the outside, gear on the roof, or whatever, I'm lucky to get 22 mpg.

The OB is a great exploration/adventure vehicle for a couple of people. But it isn't the cheapest, most comfortable, or most economical option out there, if you're on a budget.
 
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