2003 Outback

Consumer Reviews

2003 Subaru Outback

$3,155 - $7,995  MSRP Range
2003 Subaru Outback

Review Score

4.2 out of 5 stars

4.2

26 Reviews
100% of drivers recommend this car
Score Breakdown
4.2 out of 5 stars Comfort
4.1 out of 5 stars Value for the Money
4.3 out of 5 stars Interior Design
4.2 out of 5 stars Reliability
4.2 out of 5 stars Performance
4.2 out of 5 stars Exterior Styling

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What Drivers Are Saying

1 - 10 of 26 reviews

4 out of 5 stars

Love it or Hate it Styling & All Weather Handling

by CA Coast from Big Sur, CA on Thu Jan 04 2007

The looks of the Subaru Outback are anything but plain. Massive front and rear bumpers trimmed by door and fender clad sides make the car look like a "Transformer" toy that your child would love. Huge fog lights recessed in the front bumper with grill covers look strange to say the least. This makes the car/SUV perfect for the intended buyer if snow or mud covered roads are the way you get home. The cladding gives an extra layer of protection to the vehicle when overgrown limbs encroach in the road. And hosing off the crud that gets kicked up by the tires, but doesn?t get to the windows, instead becoming trapped in the cladding makes you glad it is there. The Subaru Outback is for the driver that needs 7.9 inches of ground clearance and AWD capabilities. Requirements found in many rural communities. Power available from the H4 2.5 Liter engine is more than adequate for most situations and offers 5 Speed Manual or 4 speed automatic transmission options. Option for the H6 3.0 L and you get automatic only. What an automatic transmission you get. Variable torque split front to rear, viscous limited slip differential and 212 HP to ascend the steepest hills in any weather. Seating position puts the driver high enough to see obstructions in the road that hide around blind curves in narrow one lane rural roads. Add heated seats, wipers and outside mirrors and snow becomes more of in inconvenient than treacherous situation to have to travel through. Recent headlines of stranded travelers caught in snow banks and trying unsuccessfully to hike to civilization show the advantage of the ONSTAR system that is standard with the 6 cylinder equipped Outback. I may have a bias for the Subaru Outback having bought the first model back in 1996 and driven over 240,000 miles in the car before we had to say good bye to a car that never left me stranded. The 2003 has leather seats, 9 speaker multidisc CD, and weather band radio available to round out the pakage.

3 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
3 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Does recommend this car!!

16 out of 16 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Pretty nice so far

by Youth Pastor Up North from Minot, ND on Fri Sep 03 2010

I bought the car used with about 115,000 miles on it and I really enjoy driving it. Pros: great ride, incredible power (H6 motor), nice all wheel drive, great list of standard features, very roomy for its size, great sound system. Cons: the front windows make noise at speeds above 60 mph and the gas mileage is not quite as high as I was hoping (20 city/26 highway). Granted I've only had it a few months but so far this seems to be a great car and people keep telling me how reliable it will be. I love it and my wife sometimes even prefers driving it over her loaded Toyota 4Runner.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

8 out of 8 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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4 out of 5 stars

Sporty, holds 3 kayaks plus loads inside!

by ex mini van mom from Hampden, Maine on Sat Jul 19 2008

I have owned this car since 2005; I bought it used. I love it! It handles great and looks good. The only things that could be improved upon are the gas mileage (I get 26 mpg), and the placement of the switches for the seat heaters.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Does recommend this car!!

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Reliable and All Wheel Drive

by Subaru Lover from Southern, NJ on Sun Apr 25 2010

Love this car! This was our 3rd Outback. It is has the storage of an SUV plus it has All Wheel Drive, but it handles like a car instead of a truck. We also like the high safety ratings it gets. We have found our Outbacks to be extremely reliable, with no major mechanical issues, just regular maintenance and changing the oil. Every time we go to buy a car we do all the research but we keep coming back to Subaru. Safety, reliability, handling, AWD, low cost of ownership and features for the money.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
3 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a New car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

6 out of 6 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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4 out of 5 stars

Great car, loud windows

by Dog hauler from Hampton Roads, VA on Mon Apr 04 2011

I really like this car, and am the only owner. I noticed a drop in fuel efficiency when ethanol was introduced, but I imagine that is standard across car lines. The interior is well apportioned, and my only complaint, and the thing that will keep me from purchasing a 3rd Outback, is the noise created by the rimless windows.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
3 out of 5 starsPerformance
3 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a New car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does not recommend this car!!

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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4 out of 5 stars

Solid all season awd car

by sam from Mpls, MN on Tue Jul 05 2016

I have the Vdc model. The AWD and Vdc system work great!! Great in snow. Can do Mild off-roading with ease. Rimless window noise is present, but can be shimed. Mine has new Struts all the way around, so rides firm. Takes highspeed turns without bodyroll or tire slip. The 200+hp engine does not jump, but is smooth enough to pass 80MPH and not really notice your speeding. Mileage is varied,...i get combined 23MPG, 70% highway, If driving Offroad, hard and fast, about 16-18MPG. I have 270,000 miles on mine,...If you take great care of this car, it will last a very long time. You will have rust by rear wheels, The Windows do make noise, The 4cyl may have a head gasket problem, The 6cyl feels underpowered, but,... Very safe, parts not hard to find, not a bugeye,lol, holds value if you take care of it, The Awd system is 25% power to each axle, untill one losses power. You only need to grab with one wheel to move, Great first car!!!!!

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Work

Does recommend this car!!

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

almost feels new

by Love a smaller car that has it all from Southwestern PA on Tue Mar 27 2012

LL Bean addition has amazing features that I would never have been able to afford in a new car. Very smooth ride, shifts seamlessly. Everything works great and the engine has lots of power to get me up the big hills where I live. The subwoffer adds amazing depth to the music. Love the 2 sunroof windows. It's nice to set the temperature and just have the car decide if it needs the air conditioning or the heat. Looking forward to using the heated seats and the AWD next winter. Plenty of room for 2 backseat passengers, honestly I don't see how the 3rd person would fit. Lots of cargo room.

5 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
5 out of 5 starsPerformance
3 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car!!

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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4 out of 5 stars

03 subaru outback wagon

by henry from colorado on Tue Mar 27 2012

not much to say - you see them EVERY WHERE and for good reason - they are safe, dependable and if well maintained will get over 200,000 miles - only downside is that with all wheel drive they only get about 21 mpg in the city but still better than a big SUV - and hence great in the snow

4 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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5 out of 5 stars

Safe, reliable, and a little fun

by Blue Ovals on Sat Nov 04 2017

I got my LL Bean Outback in '08 with about 83k miles on it, and it now has over 240k miles and shows no signs of stopping. The H6 engine is very solid and hardly needs any attention as long as you use high-quality oil and gasoline. The AWD is superb, and the stability on the road is so good that I've never missed having traction control. Upgrade the springs (King) and other suspension bits (Whiteline), and it handles quite well for a car with 7.3 inches of ground clearance. Interior comfort is good, but not quite on par with Lexus or BMW. The seats are comfortable and supportive, but not as soft as the new Subaru leather. The driving position and visibility are excellent, and large mirrors make for a surprisingly small blind spot. Don't expect too many high-end amenities (by 2017 standards), but everything that is there is laid out in a logical and simple manner. The heated windshield, mirrors, seats, and excellent defrosters make for an unbeatable winter car. Cargo space is good, and despite having an unusual rear seat folding system, it's easy to manage and gives a nice flat floor. It's sometimes surprising how much can fit inside this car. The cross bars on the roof are a little narrow, but still manage to hold a bike and a kayak (held flat, not angled) side by side. It's easy enough to work on this car, although the engine bay is pretty tight for spark plug changes. If you're used to working on Ford trucks, this will be a big change since everything is smaller and closer together. However, with some patience and lots of u-joints and socket extensions, you'll be able to work on this car without too much trouble. There aren't as many computers and electronics to work around as there are on new cars, which is a big help. Keep up with preventive maintenance and use high-quality fluids and parts, and this car will last many years without trouble.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
5 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
5 out of 5 starsInterior Design
5 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
5 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car!!

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful. Did you?

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4 out of 5 stars

Happy so far

by dog mom from Lionville PA on Tue May 31 2011

Just got this car at the end of winter, so I haven't gotten to test the AWD yet, but I'm hoping it'll get me where I need to go. The wagon is a little smaller than my previous Buick Century wagons, but all my dog show stuff fit in with a little manuevering. I would change two things about the wagon part that I had in my Buicks - the choice to open just the top half (glass) of wagon door so I don't always have to lift the whole heavy door, and vent windows in the back that open for air flow through the back. Otherwise, I like the design - although the seat heaters do occasionally get turned on by accident. When I got the car everyone told me what good cars they are and how much they liked them if they had had one, so I felt assured that I had made a good choice. Like the higher ground clearance too. The gas milage in the 4 cyl. isn't any better than my 6 cyl. Buicks, but I guess that's because of the AWD. I do need that in the snow to get up some back roads I use.

4 out of 5 starsComfort
4 out of 5 starsValue for the Money
4 out of 5 starsInterior Design
4 out of 5 starsReliability
4 out of 5 starsPerformance
4 out of 5 starsExterior Styling

Purchased a Used car

Uses car for Outdoor sports (hiking, cycling, etc.)

Does recommend this car!!

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Our Take on the 2003 Subaru Outback

Some circles should be broken. The Subaru H6-3.0 Outback sedan is proof. It is the unfortunate progeny of a trend in which cars became pickup trucks in the manner of the 1959 Chevrolet El Camino -- then pickup trucks became sport-utility vehicles, SUVs became hybrid wagon/truck/minivans and hybrid wagon/truck/minivans became sedans.

In the case of the H6-3.0 Outback sedan, both the tested 2002 and slightly changed 2003 version, the result is an ugly car that rides like a truck.

I can put it no other way.

The car is ugly, square, confused, stylistically injured. Its face says SUV. Its side panels, including its egregious lower-body cladding, say pickup truck. Its boxy rear end... Read More