Overall, the Subaru Legacy Outback is well conceived. Its all-wheel drive powertrain is a major plus on slippery roads. The Outback rides comfortably and its interior is reasonably roomy and quiet. But the wagon has its shortcomings: Normally competent handling can become tricky at the limit, acceleration is a bit poky, and fuel economy is unimpressive.
Alerts
There are 15 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Overall Owner Satisfaction

Consumer Reports’ Annual Owner Satisfaction Survey can improve the chances of finding a compatible car match. How? Our survey data reveals whether, all things considered, owners would buy the same car again. The answer to that question is what determines our owner-satisfaction rating, which is a powerful piece of intel because it predicts how well a particular model will satisfy other owners.

Overall Owner Satisfaction

Owner Satisfaction with:

Driving Experience

Includes acceleration and handling

What Owners Say

"Great handling"

PATRICK M., ID (2003 Subaru Outback)

"acceleration is slow. Handling is good"

PRAKASH P., PA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Seats are miserable - designed for a very small butt - can cause back ach."

Anonymous, OH (2003 Subaru Outback)

"It's Noisy car. Took a while to get yes to, not a sports car, but enough power to get around in safely."

Anonymous, NC (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Bad weather handling"

GEORGE W., RI (2003 Subaru Outback)

"very dependable transportation when properly serviced. very comfortable for short and long travels."

ROBERT P., CO (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Outback is great. Used price is way up there. I did buy used."

DAVID K., MI (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Lots of power and great economy for a vehicle of its size and weight. But it is not particularly quick to accelerate and handling is so-so."

WALLY K., WA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"the car handles great in snow!"

TINA S., AZ (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Also handles great in snow"

Anonymous, IA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"The all wheel drive and VDC feature makes my Outback Wagon handle like a sports car. Glad I bought the 6 cylinder because it helps me get up and down the mountain easily."

Anonymous, VA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"The Outback is excellent in the snow, confident, assured, and competent. On the road it rides as if on seamless rails. The 2 liter 4-cylinder engine is competent in everyday driving, but the illusion of the Outback as an "off-road" vehicle is just that. With no low range, it's underpowered for any steep slopes."

Paul B., CO (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Acceleration is very weak but car is quiet and comfortable."

Nicholas R., NJ (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Handling is very tight and feels good both on off road and highway. Engine is smooth but acceleration for a 6 cylinder engine is poor."

Mark W., PA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Handling is fair and acceleration very good."

Douglas S., OH (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Stability. Great on paved or unpaved mountain roads. Excelerates almost like it did when new."

Janis L., MA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Good acceleration and excellent braking."

Harry H., OR (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Very powerful and very quiet 3.0 litre H6 engine which gets great mileage in typical driving, but is able to do high performance passing, hill climbing, etc. when required."

Anonymous, WA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Rock-solid feel on the highway."

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"All wheel drive"

Anonymous, AZ (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Very good handling. Better than the Forester. Superb on snow and ice."

John D., BC (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Satisfied"

Dan D., GA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"adequate for general use. not powerful enough for heavy loads. brakes are good. ride is good"

Anonymous, ON (2003 Subaru Outback)

"The Outback has enough power for in-town driving, but is severely lacking in power for highway use, especially at altitude. The handling is vague and numb, which doesn't lead to much confidence in accident avoidance maneuvers. The suspension does do a good job soaking up the bumps."

Christopher A., AZ (2003 Subaru Outback)

Comfort

Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride

What Owners Say

"Outback has a longer wheelbase than most of the small SUV's, so it handle bumps pretty well. Mine is now 14 years old, so the seats are logically broken down somewhat, but the only really annoying seat feature us that the top notch on the seat back adjustment still leaves me more reclined than I would like. Wind noise is very evident, a result of the window design and its inability to seal noise, especially at highway speeds. However, in total, the comfort in the Subaru is adequate for my needs"

CHARLES L., NY (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Air noise when driving on freeway, perhaps from side mirrors"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Seats not very comfortable to sit on. Air conditioner not working, leaking freeon"

PRAKASH P., PA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Somewhat noisy, a/c intermittent, very easy and comfortable to drive, lots of interior space to carry large items"

CAM K., ON (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Wind noise from the gussets holding the side mirrors is quite loud. The gussets have been replaced several times to reduce the noise."

Anonymous, MA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"This car is still performing wonderfully after 150,000 miles. I love it! The only real issue it has had throughout the 13 years, is that the A/C does not really cool the back seat."

MARY B., VA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Wind noise is very bad; the only reason I would not get this car again."

THOMAS K., NY (2003 Subaru Outback)

"seats are totally uncomfortable"

Anonymous, WY (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Very satisfied"

D F., PA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Incredibly noisy, hard to hear the radio, or directions from my phone."

Anonymous, WA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Overall good car - a lot of wind noise and the interior is rather cramped."

BARBARA R., CO (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Seats are comfortable but are not very supportive for long drives."

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Overall great car but there is wind noise."

Anonymous, MI (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Seat uncomfortable because I'm short. Lot of wind noise."

DEBORAH G., IL (2003 Subaru Outback)

"The only thing is that the seals around the front corner of the front windows are worn and we get a lot of road noise at freeway speeds."

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"seats very comfortable and safe with belts. 2 heat controls for seat warming in winter driving. quick heating."

Robert P., CO (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Road noise is extremely loud"

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"It has very noticeable road noise. And now getting a lot of wind noise around the driver side door gasket."

Rochelle V., OR (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Wind noise is terrible."

Alfred W., MA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Very comfortable ride. Love the heated seats!"

Anonymous, CO (2003 Subaru Outback)

"I'm 6'2" tall and find the driver's seat to be a torture device. Even though it is 6-way adjustable, I can't drive for more than an hour without stopping for a rest and stretch to relieve my back pain. This car has had terrible wind noise on the driver's side since day 1. Subaru shrugs and says "yeah, it shouldn't be that way, but we don't know how to fix it." It is so noisy that conversation is difficult at highway speeds."

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Good support, comfort, and can be adjusted easily"

Anonymous, ME (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Comfortable seats, smooth ride, quiet for long travel."

David R., OH (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Quality of workmanship and materials. Very comfortable seats and locations of controls.."

Roger B., MI (2003 Subaru Outback)

"All the Subarus I have had, including this one, have a lot of wind noise in motion, even on a still day. I live in a windy area, so it gets worse with that."

Anonymous, CO (2003 Subaru Outback)

"The ride is firm, but not jarring. I appreciate that. The sound deadening is non-existent, and traveling over rough tarmac or at freeway speeds is fatiguing over time - paired with stereo usage; deafening."

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Very smooth ride and extremely quiet which was why I bought this particular vehicle. For the VDC package, I guess they added extra sound dampening as well as the McIntosh stereo system. Only the roughest roads need the stereo turned up for quality listening."

Anonymous, WA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Perfect car for my wife in just about all respects. it is 16 years old and still loves it."

Anonymous, IA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"The ride is numb and bouncy. The seats are terribly non-supportive and too short for even the average framed driver. The driving position is at least upright with good visibility. The wind noise is deafening at highway speeds, especially with the defective weather stripping surrounding the driver side mirror."

Christopher A., AZ (2003 Subaru Outback)

Value

Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?

What Owners Say

"Great car. Great in the winter. Michigan! Good room in back with rear seats down."

DAVID K., MI (2003 Subaru Outback)

"comfortable for my wife and small enough for easy parking. Seats are too small for me (I'm 6-2)"

Anonymous, WA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"240,000 miles and 14 years and counting"

TOM S., VA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Car has lasted 13 years so far and want to get 3 more. Really pleased that it has lasted this long. I get it serviced at a Subaru dealer, which probably helps."

JAMES D., OH (2003 Subaru Outback)

"This car needed a new head gasket relatively early, as well as the stormwater system overflowed into the car. Together, these things cost $4000 on a car that wasn't very old. Also, it has the Takata airbags and there are no parts to replace them, so they've said to let no one sit on the passenger side. Takes the liability off them and makes the car less useful."

Anonymous, OR (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Got mine used. Lasted for 10 years after purchase. Okay gas mileage and always reliable. Few repairs over the years"

THEODORE B., PA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Great car needs normal maintenance"

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Outback)

"good for living with mice in the environment. Car just does not get eaten up by mice, wiring, or equipment."

ROGER W., CA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Fantastic value"

CAM K., ON (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Extremely reliable daily driver, no unexpected downtime. Over 160,000 miles on the 2003."

Anonymous, VT (2003 Subaru Outback)

"They really last"

DON K., NJ (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Effecient dependable transportation. Mountain decent controls without excessive use of brakes"

ROBERT P., CO (2003 Subaru Outback)

"For 12 years I only had to invest in routine maintenance, so cost per year for the car was low."

Anonymous, NC (2003 Subaru Outback)

"A very reliable vehicle."

Anonymous, NC (2003 Subaru Outback)

"6 cylinder engine has very little maintenance and is very quiet. No vibration. The LLBean had all the extra features your could need, power seats, heated mirrors and seats, leather interior, god stereo radio, great ground clearance for off-road and snow, good climate controls (automatic) small size helps navigating city traffic. Has good cargo space and all for one price."

Mark W., PA (2003 Subaru Outback)

"Subaru packages features in strange combinations. for example, they typically bundle extra safety features with unrelated items, like a sunroof. I didn't care about a sunroof, but had to pay an extra $1000 above the cost of the features I did want because that was the only way to get them."

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Outback)

"It has provided good value over 14 years and 127,000 miles, but has reached the point where it needs to be replaced."

James D., OH (2003 Subaru Outback)

Styling

How it looks inside and out

What Owners Say

"I just like the look of a station wagon over a boxy suv"

EDWARD D., AL (2003 Subaru Outback)

"I bought this car because I liked the shape of it and I still do.!"

D F., PA (2003 Subaru Outback)
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