1998 Subaru Outback 2.5L flat 4 from North America
I am the third owner, and thankfully the head gaskets were properly fixed long before I bought this car.
Repairs done/to be done:
Replaced both front axles - driver's side CV started to click when turning, will soon replace the right rear wheel bearing. Small oil leak (probably crank seal or cam seal(s)).
Headlights seem to burn out in pairs (very strange). Rear wiper stopped working. HVAC & radio/tape player control panel lights burned out.
These all seem to rust behind the left rear wheel. Almost every 1st gen Outback/Legacy I see in Minnesota has a little rust here.
I am willing to do maintenance and minor repairs until the engine or the transmission die. I think this car can make it past 300,000 miles easily.
The sign of a good car is one that lets you know what's wrong long before it breaks, and gives you adequate time to fix the issue. This is very true of the front axles that I've had fixed, and the rear bearing and oil leak that will soon be fixed.
It has never left me stranded or failed to start, even on a -13F day last year.
It is UNSTOPPABLE in snow. Granted I've never owned a truck or SUV with a transfer case 4x4 system, yet it has never gotten stuck in harsh Minnesota winters. Driving through 6" of snow feels like going through a light dusting.
Not the most comfortable seats for long trips (I've driven between Minneapolis and Chicago several times now), but this is a very minor non-issue. Poor cup holder location; again, I could really care less.
General Subaru-specific tips:
Always rotate tires on an AWD car often, so the diameter doesn't vary between the front & rear tires, or you will damage the AWD system. Make sure the timing belt is changed every 105,000 miles. The 2.5 engine is an interference engine, and if the timing belt snaps, pistons and valves will collide.
I would definitely buy another Subaru again, but I am disappointed how big the Outback got in its 4th body style (2010-current). This is supposed to be a station wagon, not a crossover SUV-like thing...?
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 6th November, 2013