2004 Subaru Outback

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Key Specs
Our Take
Overview
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
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Key Specs

of the 2004 Subaru Outback. Base trim shown.

  • Body Type:
  • Combined MPG:
    22-25 Combined MPG
  • Engine:
    165-hp, 2.5-liter H-4 (regular gas)
  • Drivetrain:
    All-wheel Drive
  • Transmission:
    5-speed manual w/OD
  • View more specs

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Performance
  • All-wheel-drive operation
  • Interior space
  • Automatic-transmission operation
  • Ground clearance

The Bad

  • Ride comfort on rough surfaces
  • Limited offroad ability
  • No Low-range gearing

Notable Features of the 2004 Subaru Outback

  • Legacy-based Outback
  • Impreza-based Outback Sport
  • Four-cylinder or six-cylinder
  • Manual or automatic
  • Additional ground clearance

2004 Subaru Outback Overview

By Cars.com Editors
Vehicle Overview
Subaru’s Outback is a quasi-sport utility vehicle version of the compact Legacy, which is the company’s larger series. Known as sport utility wagons, all of these Outback variants of the Legacy feature SUV-like styling cues and a higher ground clearance. Subaru also offers a smaller Outback Sport that is based on the subcompact Impreza.

At the end of the 2003 model year, Subaru added a base six-cylinder model, designated as the Outback H6-3.0 35th Anniversary Edition. Changes to the Outback are few for 2004.

Seven all-wheel-drive sedan and wagon versions of the Outback are available. They include the H6-3.0 sedan, H6-3.0 L.L. Bean Edition wagon, H6-3.0 VDC sedan and wagon, and three H4 Outbacks. All H6-3.0 models use 3.0-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder engines that produce 212 horsepower. The flagship VDC editions feature Subaru’s Vehicle Dynamic Control electronic stability system and Variable Torque Distribution all-wheel drive. The three H4 Outbacks are equipped with four-cylinder engines.

Exterior
Outback sedans ride a 104.3-inch wheelbase and measure 184.4 inches long overall, versus a 187.4-inch length for wagon models. The Outback sedan has 7.3 inches of ground clearance and stands 58.3 inches tall, compared to a 55.7-inch height for the regular Legacy sedan. The Outback H6-3.0 models have 7.9 inches of ground clearance.

Subaru says the Outback is suitable for light offroad travel. The Outback sedan borrows some of the Outback wa...
Vehicle Overview
Subaru’s Outback is a quasi-sport utility vehicle version of the compact Legacy, which is the company’s larger series. Known as sport utility wagons, all of these Outback variants of the Legacy feature SUV-like styling cues and a higher ground clearance. Subaru also offers a smaller Outback Sport that is based on the subcompact Impreza.

At the end of the 2003 model year, Subaru added a base six-cylinder model, designated as the Outback H6-3.0 35th Anniversary Edition. Changes to the Outback are few for 2004.

Seven all-wheel-drive sedan and wagon versions of the Outback are available. They include the H6-3.0 sedan, H6-3.0 L.L. Bean Edition wagon, H6-3.0 VDC sedan and wagon, and three H4 Outbacks. All H6-3.0 models use 3.0-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder engines that produce 212 horsepower. The flagship VDC editions feature Subaru’s Vehicle Dynamic Control electronic stability system and Variable Torque Distribution all-wheel drive. The three H4 Outbacks are equipped with four-cylinder engines.

Exterior
Outback sedans ride a 104.3-inch wheelbase and measure 184.4 inches long overall, versus a 187.4-inch length for wagon models. The Outback sedan has 7.3 inches of ground clearance and stands 58.3 inches tall, compared to a 55.7-inch height for the regular Legacy sedan. The Outback H6-3.0 models have 7.9 inches of ground clearance.

Subaru says the Outback is suitable for light offroad travel. The Outback sedan borrows some of the Outback wagon’s styling cues, which include bigger front fenders, lower-body cladding, large fog lights and two-tone paint.

Interior
Seating for five people is possible with the Outback’s front buckets and rear three-place bench seat. The center rear position has a three-point seat belt. The rear seatback does not fold for additional cargo space, but there is a small pass-thru section into the trunk. Trunk capacity totals 12.4 cubic feet.

The gauges have silver trim rings. The Outback Limited sedan has a standard six-way power driver’s seat, air conditioning, a CD player and dual-mode heated front seats. Outback H6-3.0 models have automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver’s seat and a Momo-designed leather-wrapped steering wheel that’s crafted in mahogany wood.

GM’s OnStar communication system is standard for Outback H6-3.0 models. The Outback Limited and H6-3.0 models have an in-dash six-CD changer.

Under the Hood
Subaru’s 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine in the Outback H4 sedan sends 165 hp to a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. Outback H6-3.0 sedans use a 212-hp, 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that teams only with the automatic. Subaru has three all-wheel-drive systems available, and the version used depends on the model.

Safety
Antilock brakes are standard. The Outback Limited and H6-3.0 sedans have seat-mounted side-impact airbags to protect front occupants.

Outback Sport
Based on the smaller subcompact Impreza 2.5 TS and 2.5 RS models, Subaru’s Outback Sport also comes in sedan and wagon forms. All Impreza-based Subarus have been face-lifted for 2004. These revisions involve the hood, front fenders, headlights, grille, front and rear bumpers, and taillights.

All versions gain electronic brake-force distribution, an in-glass antenna and a safety brake-pedal system. Outback Sport models get new active head restraints, all-disc brakes, a new Steel Gray Metallic body color and projector-beam fog lights. These models use the same 165-hp, 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine as the Legacy. Displaying SUV-like styling cues, the Outback Sport features exclusive body and interior trim and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Outback Wagon
Like the Outback sedan, Subaru’s Outback wagon is based on the compact Legacy. Wagons come in four forms: base, Limited, H6-3.0 L.L. Bean Edition and H6-3.0 VDC.

Driving Impressions
With its all-wheel-drive lineup, Subaru occupies a unique niche in the compact-car market. The Outback’s performance is sufficiently strong even with the four-cylinder engine, but a smooth-operating automatic transmission help provide more power. The Outback is easy to drive and is stable on the highway.

An Outback sedan or wagon adds extra advantages over the Legacy for driving on less-than-perfect roads, and it makes a satisfying alternative to an SUV. They are well assembled and yield a solid feel on the road. But a rather stiff suspension means the Outback’s ride can become harsh, even jarring, on urban pavement.

 
Reported by Jim Flammang  for cars.com;
Posted on 11/5/03

Latest 2004 Outback Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.1)
Performance
(4.2)
Interior Design
(4.3)
Comfort
(4.3)
Reliability
(4.7)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

What Drivers Are Saying

(4.0)

Very reliable car

by Brittlbru from Belgrade, MT on January 31, 2018

We’ve Owned Subarus before And have always been pleased with their reliability and drivability. We just obtained this 2004 Subaru outback and are very pleased with it so far! Read full review

(5.0)

Sweet wagon...

by Jordie from Norfolk, Va. on January 23, 2018

Comfortable , handling good, love the heated seats they are fantastic! Nice ll bean options. Over priced car from dealer. Overall sporty sharp looking car Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2004 Subaru Outback currently has 8 recalls

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2004 Subaru Outback has not been tested.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Outback received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker