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I'm looking to buy a used 3.6, since they don't make them anymore :( and have found a 2015 with really low miles for $24k. I was originally looking at a 2018 or 2019 but they are still 30-33k so I'm trying to convince myself that there aren't any changes worth the difference in money. From what I saw on cars101 the only changes are:
better damping shocks/ride, thicker door glass for quieter less cabin noise, new stereo, all 4 tpms info, updated climate control, larger clock and outside temp,
displays are clean and easy to see at a glance, larger blind spot warning, back-up camera steering path, auto door lock and unlock, steering angled headlights.

I'm most curious about reading the CVT was updated and programming made better, is that true?
thanks in advance!
 

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2016 3.6R in Lapis Blue, Ready Lift, roof basket / roof mount tire, 2" hitch, Perrin spacers, etc...
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'18/'19 use the same 3.6 drivetrain as the '15-'17. There were some programming changes to the CVT - ie: my '16 doesn't have fake shift points while cruising, the newer ones do.

The "refinements" to the '18/'19 were mostly cosmetic - typical Subaru mid-run updates (grill, bumpers, interior, trim, etc).

The active LED headlights are only on certain models/packages, and may/may not be as good as the HID's, depending on the information source.

The new head unit with Android Auto/Apple Car Play was a fiasco on the '18s (a quick forum search will show the issues), and Automatic Rear Braking was added to the safety package.

There are other minor improvements, but nothing deal making or breaking.

Significant changes to the Outback weren't made until they went to the global platform for the '20 6th gen cars....sadly without the 3.6.

IMHO, you will be pleased with any 5th gen 3.6.

Best of luck with your shopping!!
 

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2015 3.6R Limited w/ES
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...I'm most curious about reading the CVT was updated and programming made better, is that true?
thanks in advance!
"Better" may be subjective since the 0-60 time for the 3.6 was fastest for the 2015, IIRC. There were rumors about the CVT programming having been tweaked for "smoother" fake shifts, and while I never saw anything official confirming it, I wouldn't be surprised if they made some minor changes over the years. Think a sales guy told someone this, and then there was a post or two from folks claiming to have noticed an improvement, so the evidence was pretty thin. I do believe there was in fact a mechanical tweak to both CVTs (TR580 and TR690) at some point in Gen 5, but not sure how significant it was.

The only thing I have to compare with is a 2019 Ascent, and I can say the 2015 3.6R/CVT combo is much more refined, IMO. I've always been happy with it. I also prefer the factory HIDs that came on the 2015-2017 models to the SR-LEDs - the LEDs have a cold/harsh blue tone that I really dislike. Depending on the capsule, HIDs have the ability to output perfectly neutral white light, and they're also easy to maintain. From what I've read, the LEDs are not serviceable, so if a headlight goes bad, you're stuck replacing the whole thing (which costs way more than a capsule or ballast).
 

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I'm looking to buy a used 3.6, since they don't make them anymore :( and have found a 2015 with really low miles for $24k. I was originally looking at a 2018 or 2019 but they are still 30-33k so I'm trying to convince myself that there aren't any changes worth the difference in money. From what I saw on cars101 the only changes are:
better damping shocks/ride, thicker door glass for quieter less cabin noise, new stereo, all 4 tpms info, updated climate control, larger clock and outside temp,
displays are clean and easy to see at a glance, larger blind spot warning, back-up camera steering path, auto door lock and unlock, steering angled headlights.

I'm most curious about reading the CVT was updated and programming made better, is that true?
thanks in advance!
I would get the most car you can for the money you are willing to spend. The 15-17 are nice cars and are down in the affordable range.. 24K is high imho should be around 23K or lower depending upon miles


 

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2016 OB Limited 3.6R
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I'd go with a 2017 as they are coming off lease. I was vehicle shopping last year as the 16s came off lease, most one owner, no accidents, low mileage, etc. I found the 2015/2016 to be similar in price so why buy the 2015 with less warranty and more miles? By contrast there was a premium for 17/18 model years. I got my 16' Limited last March with 26845km (16680 miles, or 5500 miles per year) for half the price of buying the identical package 2019 new. Previous owner paid $20,000+ to drive only 16680 miles.... fine by me.
 

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2018 Outback Premium 2.5
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156 Posts
I'd go with a 2017 as they are coming off lease. I was vehicle shopping last year as the 16s came off lease, most one owner, no accidents, low mileage, etc. I found the 2015/2016 to be similar in price so why buy the 2015 with less warranty and more miles? By contrast there was a premium for 17/18 model years. I got my 16' Limited last March with 26845km (16680 miles, or 5500 miles per year) for half the price of buying the identical package 2019 new. Previous owner paid $20,000+ to drive only 16680 miles.... fine by me.
Exactly, let someone else take the depreciation hit. Bonus is the certified preowned extend the powertrain warranty to 7-70k. fine by me!
 

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Brucey
'17 3.6 Limited
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Drivetrain wise it's the same minus some minor programming tweaks.

The 15 didn't have lane keep.

The 16 didn't have auto high beams.

If you can live without them the 15 is probably the lowest priced versions you can find.
 

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2019 Outback Limited 3.6R; Magnetite on Gray Leather, Package 24, Bone Stock for Now
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That 2015 sounds really high. The residual retail value in my lease paperwork on my 2019 3.6 is somewhere between $22-$23k for a 3yr old car with likely around 34,000 miles. My lease is up July 2021.
 

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2015 3.6R Limited w/ES
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My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I thought @walker may have posted something specific regarding a mechanical change to the CVTs in Gen 5. No success yet with search.
 

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2018 Outback 3.6
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Drive both. It's your money. I have an 18. I'm not going to try and appease you with my choice (like the 15 owners or 2.5 justification vs 3.6. It's ridiculous). The LED lights are the best I've ever used. The steering assist headlights (I didn't even know about until driving at night); freaking awesome. Apple Car Play. Yep, nice features. Most head unit complaints have been resolved with an update. I don't have any issues. My car was a lease return and a CPO car. I keep my cars for a long time. Getting the right one was important.
 

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2018 3.6R Limited
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'18 was the first year I felt the Outback was refined enough to consider. Plus the tech updates helped a bunch. The steering responsive headlights are terrific...some of the best headlights I've used.
+1 the midyear changes are what made me want nothing less than an '18. I also insisted on a 3.6.
 

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2015 3.6R Limited w/ES
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Not trying to disparage the 2018 (except that time bomb of a head unit ;)), but the OP will be hard pressed to find a really good deal on a late model Gen 5. $24k is a bit steep for a 2015, however, with the 10y/100k warranty extension on the CVT, getting a low mileage 2015 might be nice if you're planning to put a lot of miles on it over the next 5 years. High mileage used vehicles are a pretty risky investment anyway.
 

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2015 OB , Premium
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High mileage used vehicles are a pretty risky investment anyway.
Define high mileage. over average or high, as in remaining life expectancy?

There is always risk, but performing your due diligence minimizes that, and that applies to any investment.

My 15 was way over "average" at 55k miles at two years old. But, Subarus being what they are, I was not concerned too much about reliability issues. I did however save a ton of money on the price. Timing had a lot to do with that also. It had been on the lot for several months and this particular dealership wants high turn over, so they hacked the **** out of the price....

I had a 2001 F250 diesel .... three years old, had 80k miles. Those trucks are good for 300k, again , reliability was not a concern with that truck/motor combo. Again, I saved a bundle on that truck.
Timing ws an issue here too, I saw it on Sunday and bought it on Monday after work, at a dealership I drive past everyday. People were comiing in to ask about t as I was doing the paperwork.

The lessons to OP:
Do your home work.
Be patient. This is really important. Learn the market and wait for that great deal to show itself.
Be prepared, have your financial ducks in a row, so when that deal pops up, you can jump on it.

As suggested, with the lease returns coming in, there will be deals.

My favorite hobby; Cars.com.
Make an account and start "saving" cars that peak your interest. If they sit in "saved cars" for awhile, the dealer may start to get itchy about moving it.
 

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If Carplay/Android Auto is important to you , 2019. When I went car shopping, that was a must have. It may not be important to you and not worth the extra dollars.
 

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2019 Outback 3.6R Limited
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I drove a 2016 3.6R Limited for 3.5 years before buying a 2019 3.6R Limited last summer. I noticed a few differences. The 2016 had some significant wind noise coming from the front windows even while it was new. I would often catch my passengers pushing the window button because they thought it was open slightly. Wind noise is not an issue with my 2019. The infotainment system in my 2016 had a cloudy screen that showed wavy lines. It was very difficult to see the screen through the lines in bright sun. The infotainment system also had some very annoying glitches that would make it unresponsive. I actually had it replaced once but that did not stop the glitches. The 2019 has Apple CarPlay which is a nice companion for longer trips. But it’s not wireless so you’ll need to keep your phone plugged in all the time. The adaptive headlights in the 2019 are fantastic. The automatic high beams in the 2019 are not helpful for me in NJ because they rarely go on due to constant reflections off of road signs. The 2019 automatic locks are very helpful for me in NJ. The blind spot monitoring is much better in the 2019 as Subaru moved the indicator light off of the side mirrors and onto the mirror pillar. It’s easier to see now. The climate control is more efficient and quieter in the 2019. My 2016 would often run at near full blast for an entire drive which was very loud. The 2019 shows the speed limit in the gauge cluster next to the speed (probably coming from the navigation). I have found this useful too. The rear auto braking in the 2019 saved me from hitting another car once. It was dark and cars were parked at all angles among trees in a park. So that feature was helpful at least once so far. I have not really noticed any engine, transmission or suspension differences. The front grill on the 2019 is much more attractive.
 

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2015 3.6R Limited w/ES
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Define high mileage. over average or high, as in remaining life expectancy?...
Well, this is obviously a matter of opinion, but, ok. In this case, I'd probably be comfortable with 50k, but hesitant if it were closer to 100k assuming it's your typical (relatively) blind purchase. There are, of course, many factors to consider, but my past experiences with used vehicles (including some which were supposed to be reliable) would probably outweigh most of them. As I see it, with high mileage comes greater risk from being poorly/improperly serviced and/or operated. With used vehicles, I'm risk-averse, and no doubt happier for it.
 

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2015 Outback 3.6R Package 23
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That 2015 sounds really high. The residual retail value in my lease paperwork on my 2019 3.6 is somewhere between $22-$23k for a 3yr old car with likely around 34,000 miles. My lease is up July 2021.
$24k for a 2015 is way too high even if it's a low mileage cream puff. The street price for that car new was around $34K and it's a 5 year old off-warranty car.

Anyways.... I own a 2015 option package #23 with Eyesight/roof/Nav. I don't think there are any deal killer enhancements in the newer 5th generation 6-cylinder Outbacks. For nitpicks that were improved:

The outside air temp and clock are really small and not legible in any kind of glare
The lane crossing warning beep nanny resets back to on any time you start the car. I'm used to it.
No reverse automatic braking to keep you from bashing into things
No lane keeper feature

My brother-in-law has a 2018 6-cylinder. The newer ones are a lot quieter. Better glass. More sound deadening. Less door seal noise.

Hands free with my iPhone works fine. It would be really nice to push Waze to the Nav screen with CarPlay.
 

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dont let the headunit in an '18 discourage you either. bought my brand new, had my infotainment replaced with a new one within 3 month and im going on a year and a half with it and not an issue one. subaru fixed it, theres updates to fix the issues and theyre fine afterwards. love my '18, i agree with those above that say the mid year revisions sold the vehicle in my opinion.
 
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