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What Are the Best Years for Subaru?

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Subaru has a long history of building reliable, high-performance vehicles, but 2017 and 2019 may just be the best years for Subaru yet. As for the Outback, its best year was 2009.
  • As with all vehicles, the reliability scores of certain Subaru models can vary from year to year—making some model years better options than others
  • Before buying a used Subaru at the dealership, note any recalls or commonly reported problems associated with the model year

What are the best years for Subaru?

Subaru has been in the car-making business since 1954. Along the way, it’s had some smash hits—and a few duds. That’s common for any automobile manufacturer. Automakers often tinker with their vehicles to make them more competitive and desirable, and the results can be hit and miss.
Here are the best years for the most recognizable Subaru vehicles:

Best Subaru Outback years: 2005–2009

The
Outback
is Subaru’s all-time best-selling vehicle and is one of the last remaining station wagons available on the market today. 
With all-wheel drive, a ground clearance of 8.7 inches, and a towing capacity of 2,700 lbs, the Outback is great in off-road situations, endearing itself to the SUV crowd. It’s a spunky car with tons of character, and the 2005–2009 years are arguably the best Outback models.
The ’09 Outback came with your choice of a 2.5-liter 170-horsepower flat four-cylinder engine, a 2.5-liter turbocharged 243-horsepower flat-four, or a 3.0-liter 245-horsepower flat-six. Each subsequent engine upgrade brought with it better and better torque, appealing to those looking for off-road adventures.
Standard anti-lock brakes, stability control, front-seat airbags, and side curtain airbags helped the 2009 Outback earn a five-star
safety rating from the NHTSA
for frontal and side-impact collisions.
The interior of the ‘09 Outback is subtle and classy with faux wood and aluminum trimmings. It’s the last Outback to don a panoramic sunroof.
Year to avoid:
2013

Best Subaru Legacy year: 2015

The sixth generation of the
Subaru Legacy
launched in 2015 with a complete redesign. The 2015 Legacy is available with either four or six-cylinder engines and is one of the only sedans on the market with standard all-wheel drive. 
The Legacy rates very well for fuel economy with an estimated range of 26 city mpg/35 highway mpg, which is especially impressive for an all-wheel-drive vehicle.
The 2015 Legacy was outfitted with a bevy of safety features ,including: 
  • Anti-lock disc brakes
  • Rear view camera
  • Front airbags
  • Side curtain airbags
  • Seat cushion airbags. 
Subaru’s driver-assist suite, EyeSight, was made available on the 2015 Legacy, offering pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control capabilities. 
The 2015 Subaru Legacy earned an overall five-star safety rating from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick+ nod from the IIHS.
Year to avoid:
2009

Best Subaru Impreza years: 2017–2019

If you’re looking for a reliable car, look no further than the
Subaru Impreza
, which is available as a sedan and a hatchback. 
The 2019 edition of the Impreza has a 45% above average reliability rating from Consumer Reports and made Forbes’ “Toughest Cars on the Road” list. And with an MSRP of just $19,095, it’s the lowest-priced all-wheel-drive sedan on the market.
The Impreza is really safe, too. It received a Top Safety Pick from the IIHS every year from 2008 to 2019, and in 2019 earned a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA. 
Standard all-wheel drive, traction control, and four-wheel anti-lock brakes make the Impreza a favorite for drivers in snowy and wet climates—add in Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist system and you’ve got yourself one of the safest vehicles around. 
Year to avoid:
2013

Best Subaru WRX year: 2017

If it’s excitement you seek, then the 2017
Subaru WRX
is the way to go. 
Retailing at $30,995, the WRX is a sports sedan that draws heavily on Subaru's rally car heritage. With an available six-speed manual transmission and 268-horsepower flat four-cylinder engine, the WRX can get you to 60 mph from a standstill in just 5.4 seconds.
Originally a trim level for the Impreza, the WRX became its own stand-alone model in 2015. The 2017 edition saw a number of improvements to the original 2015 effort including:
  • Updated four-wheel independent double-wishbone suspension
  • Redesigned front-end styling
  • Upgraded interior
  • Steering mounted paddle shifters
The WRX handles incredibly well, too, thanks to the Driver Controlled Center Differential all-wheel-drive system that is found exclusively on WRX models. 
Year to avoid:
2015

Best Subaru Forester years: 2016–2020

The 2020
Subaru Forester
is a crossover built for adventure with an 8.7-inch ground clearance, standard all-wheel drive, and hill descent control among its many off-road features.
The Forester scores high marks from J.D. Power for reliability and its fuel economy is among the best in its class with a rating of 29 combined mpg. The 2020 Forester also has a host of available safety features including:
  • Lane-keep assist
  • Lane centering
  • Adaptive cruise
  • Forward collision mitigation
  • Tire pressure monitoring for each individual tire
Year to avoid:
2009–2010

Best Subaru Crosstrek year: 2019

The
Subaru Crosstrek
is a small and nimble compact SUV with great sightlines, making it perfect for city driving. It’s roomy and economical with the best fuel economy in its class and perfect safety scores. And it can be had for a steal—just $22,870 to start. 
Another plus: Crosstreks also tend to have strong resale value.
Inside, the Crosstrek is quaint. Apple CarPlay and Android Audio are available via a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, while Bluetooth and USB connections are available. The Crosstrek’s seating is comfortable and the ride is smooth and quiet, making for an enjoyable drive.
The Crosstrek is available in a traditional gas engine or a plug-in hybrid version which provides a fuel efficiency rating of 35 mpg combined and is capable of 17 miles of pure-electric driving. 
Year to avoid:
2013 and 2018

Best Subaru BRZ year: 2016

The
Subaru BRZ
is the only vehicle in the Subaru family that does not offer standard all-wheel drive. 
Instead, the BRZ is a powerful, lightweight, rear-driven sports coupe with a low center of gravity and spectacular handling. And at $21,000 the BRZ is one of the most affordable sports cars around.
The BRZ is a fun little car with a 2.0-liter flat-four engine that will get your heart pumping. With 200 horsepower under the hood, this speed demon is capable of going from 0 to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. 
If you opt for the automatic transmission, you can switch to sports mode which allows for sharper gear shifting—you can also manually select gears by using the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
Year to avoid:
2013

Best Subaru Ascent year: 2021

The
Subaru Ascent
is a great all-around family SUV. 
Three-row seating provides enough room to include the cousins on long family road trips. Good cargo space and a 5,000-lb. towing capacity will even allow you to bring along some camping supplies so you can spend some time under the stars.
Safety was on the brand’s mind when Subaru was designing the Ascent, with the 2021 edition earning the highest possible safety marks from the IIHS and NHTSA. Standard safety features for the 2021 Ascent include:
  • Front and side-impact airbags
  • Overhead airbags
  • Knee airbags
  • Forward-collision warning
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Lane-departure warning
  • Lane-keeping assist
  • Adaptive cruise control
Whether you’re hauling kids to soccer practice or cross-country on an epic family road trip, the 2021 Subaru Ascent is a great vehicle. 
Year to avoid:
2019
“After signing up with
Jerry
, I went from $199/month to $97/month for my car insurance. My 2019 Subaru Forester now has full coverage for a great price!” —Rhonda H.
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