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.
There are 11 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

"Relatively poor mileage. Too low front seats. Stodgy handling. Reliable, roomy, good in snow, great for hauling stuff."

J R., DC (2004 Subaru Outback)

"We attended a conference at a Smokies resort in which, due to a surprise spring snowstorm, our Outback was used to ferry people up a mountain to the conference center. They had Explorers, Suburbans and Tahoes which could not reach the top. Great fun."

THOMAS J., VA (2004 Subaru Outback)

"accelerates vigorously"

Anonymous, NY (2004 Subaru Outback)

"great handling with the all wheel drive"

STEVEN W., MO (2004 Subaru Outback)

"3.0 liter 6-cylinder engine uses regular gas. Acceleration has always had a lag and it's not a turbo. Handlers great, but turning radius is very wide."

Anonymous, CO (2004 Subaru Outback)

"Great in snow"

NOEL J., CA (2004 Subaru Outback)

"The car is a bit underpowered and wallows in the corners, with modifications the handling can be improved, but it still remains under powered. The AWD system combined with a good set of tires makes this the most confidence inspiring vehicle I have ever driven in snow and ice."

JOHN D., ID (2004 Subaru Outback)

"Acceleration OK, but engine runs at too high a speed in highest gear at highway speeds. Car was engineered for Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, not for actual highway miles. This manual 5-speed transmission car runs over 3000 rpm at 65 mph; the automatic runs just over 2000 rpm."

JERRY Y., CA (2004 Subaru Outback)

"acceleration and climate control, driving to and from Florida with AC, never a hiccup..."

STEVEN W., MI (2004 Subaru Outback)


Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride

What Owners Say

"We bought this car because you can fit three narrower car seats across the back seat and still have trunk room."

Anonymous, MI (2004 Subaru Outback)

"Seats uncomfortable for lower back for longer distance drives (>2 hrs)."

WILL K., WA (2004 Subaru Outback)

"I'm a shorter person and it fits me well. It's been a good ride and holds the road well. The interior is nice-looking and I like the durability of the cloth seats. Controls are easy to find and use."

Anonymous, OR (2004 Subaru Outback)

"air conditioner no longer chills air, dealer refused to fix."

Anonymous, CA (2004 Subaru Outback)

"Seats slope down at back are horrible for posture and back pain."

Anonymous, CO (2004 Subaru Outback)

"Hood started to get paint chips then rust. This was after a couple years. Didn't have the $ to fix. Found out several years later that the hood had been repaired. Bought this car brand new. ?'d that and the body guy said the hood had been repainted. Says that the cars come in on big trucks to the dealer, and the chains will on occasion drop down on the car below. Dealers don't have to disclose the damage if the repair is less than a $1000. He said "definitely" the hood had been repaired. We were"

JOYCE B., WA (2004 Subaru Outback)

"Major issues in the past with this system, specifically the air conditioning and the electronics. It was not cooling. Subaru was cooperative in correcting the problem, but it took several trips to the dealer and was expensive."

STUART B., UT (2004 Subaru Outback)

"Front seats are too low, requiring added cushion"

J R., DC (2004 Subaru Outback)

"Seats are not comfortable for long rides, especially for riders who have long legs. Rear seat comfort is even worse. This aspect of the car is my biggest concern by far for what I otherwise consider the best choice among all competing car options. This may turn out to be a deal breaker for when I replace this car with a new one, and may lead me to chose a competing vehicle instead."

STEVE G., NJ (2004 Subaru Outback)

"I have taken many long road trips in this car and have always found the seats the be comfortable, the climate control works well, it's not too noise and the ride is comfortable."

JOHN D., ID (2004 Subaru Outback)

"very comfortable seats and very quiet on the highway. On the downside, bumpy ride on uneven streets and not that quiet interior."

S B., RI (2004 Subaru Outback)


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

What Owners Say

"Perfect reliability on long trips{highway 6 or more hrs} Solid performance, perfect climate control."

Anonymous, MD (2004 Subaru Outback)

"It is a fine and useful car, but the gas mileage is always a problem."

TERRY S., CT (2004 Subaru Outback)

"would buy an outback again, love the car, summer and winter"

STEVEN W., MI (2004 Subaru Outback)

"Very versatile and roomy wagon with super winter AWD Dependable winter starting and AC still works perfectly"

WAYNE P., VT (2004 Subaru Outback)

"It's been an excellent car for the past 12 years (although it's at the point where it's needing various repairs to keep rolling)"

SALVATORE L., PA (2004 Subaru Outback)

"This car has been well worth its value. Consumer reports was the one who recomended this car new and they were not wrong. This car has gone where others have failed or gone into the ditch. It is a incredible machine. I don't know how it would fare against new cars, but it still is on the go and I don't plan on buying a new one until I absoulutly have to."

ROGER H., BC (2004 Subaru Outback)


How it looks inside and out

What Owners Say

"I like Subaru styling in most cases."

Anonymous, OR (2004 Subaru Outback)

"Lot of room and handy rear lift gate for easy access and large cargo."

WAYNE P., VT (2004 Subaru Outback)
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