Subaru Legacy/Outback (2009 – 2014) Review

Subaru Legacy/Outback (2009 – 2014) At A Glance


+Capable and solidly built. Spacious interior. Works well with Lineartronic gearbox. Revised from late 2013 and much improved.

-No petrol engines in UK models from late 2013. Expensive to buy. Material quality isn't as good as rivals.

Insurance Groups are between 20–29
On average it achieves 98% of the official MPG figure

The 5th generation Subaru Legacy and Outback was launched at the Detroit Auto Show in early 2009 and went into production in May 2009, but did not reach the UK until October 2010 (leaving a bit of a hiatus while 2004-2009 model Legacys and Outbacks were sold off).

As with all Subaru models, the market for the Outback is niche but fairly dedicated. Introduced with a selection of petrol and diesel engines, the range was revised down from late 2013 to be much more simple, with a single, 2.0 boxer diesel engine and one trim level - SX. Additionally a Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission was added to the range. It works well and while the diesel engine isn't the most efficient it provides useful everday performance.

The Outback has a proper all-wheel drive system that isn't simply for helping out when there's a patch of snow on the drive - it offers useable off road traction for use in wet fields and over muddy, rutted terrain. Consequently it's ideal for rural buyers who tend to get trapped by snow and ice and who need to travel across fields. It's also a competent tow car.

It's not a pretentious vehicle - the interior is solidly finished and feels built to last, but it does without fancy embellishments like soft touch dashboard coverings. Instead it feels no nonsense and durable, which will appeal to some as much as it detracts others. There's a lot of space in the cabin with a cavernous boot and ample leg and headroom for rear seat passengers, making it a practical family choice.

It's likely to remain a niche, outside choice however, because it's simply too expensive to compete with the mainstream. Following the 2013 update the range starts at just under £30,000, which is more than the larger, more luxuriously appointed Skoda Superb 4x4. However for rural buyers who truly depend on their car every day, regardless of weather, the Outback should deliver. 

Real MPG average for a Subaru Legacy/Outback (2009 – 2014)


Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

30–58 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

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Ask Honest John

Best used estate car: 300C, V70 or Legacy?
"Can you give me an opinion on the Chrysler 300C Touring and the Volvo V70 2.0 D SE (driveability and reliability)? I recently test drove the former (2010), which impressed me hugely (3.0 CRD) and am about to look at the latter, but am slightly put off by the inferior power notwithstanding the blandness of modern Volvos. Grunt is a consideration. Also thinking about the Subaru Legacy, though the decent-sized engines are thirsty. Any other alternatives are gratefully received."
I haven't driven a 300C but if I remember correctly it is based on an old E-Class so I'm sure it's refined and comfortable. The Volvo is very comfortable and decent on fuel, but isn't going to set the world on fire in terms of performance. I would discount the Legacy, fuel economy is appalling, the frameless windows are quite noisy and the CVT gearbox makes a horrible drone when you're accelerating. Have you considered the Skoda Superb? These are huge inside and feel very well bit – a sizeable step up from the rest of the range. They're very easy to use and nice to drive for such big mile munchers. Things to look out for each: 300C V70 Legacy Superb
Answered by Russell Campbell
Subaru Outback has a whirring noise in gearbox - what could it be?
"We have owned a Subaru Outback diesel from new in September 2009. At the last MoT, it was found that one of the steering gaiters had perished causing rusting to the steering system. A new one was over £1200, so we had it re-furbished. Now there is a whirring noise, apparently coming from the gearbox. Are the two issues connected?"
Not in any way connected. The whirring is usually the idle shaft bearings at the top of the gearbox that suffer the most corrosion damage and the least lubrication from the transmission oil. Worth inserting a container of molybednum disulphide based transmission oil additive.
Answered by Honest John
What is the difference between lineatronic and automatic?
"What is the difference between lineatronic and automatic? I'm thinking of buying a new Subaru Outback."
It's a CVT and was tested here: The new Outback is covered here:
Answered by Honest John
New company car - Volvo XC70 or Subaru Outback?
"I am just about to get a new company car and have been given two choices: Volvo XC70 or Subaru Outback - both 4x4. I prefer the Subaru personally (mainly due to looks and no "old man" image). For my job I have to drive to Sweden, Finland and The Alps a lot and will be taking this car with me. Obviously these places have harsher winters than we do so I wondered which best car for these conditions was? Also should I go manual or automatic? "
A manual will always give you greater control in tricky conditions. You need to fit cold weather tyres for winter conditions or good 'all weather' tyres such as Goodyear vector 4 Season that can be left on the car all year round. Presumably you mean diesel. Volvo is about to introduce a new low CO2 181PS 2.0 litre 4 cylinder D4 diesel engine that promises to be better than Subaru's 150PS flat four diesel, but we don't know fir sure just yet.
Answered by Honest John
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