Subaru Outback 2.5i vs 3.6i?

Asked by Mar 20, 2017 at 07:30 PM about the 2011 Subaru Outback 2.5i

Question type: Shopping & Pricing

I am looking for a reliable car to take with me to Montana while I live there
for 6 months. I have been looking specifically at the 2011 Outback 2.5i, but
seeing so many for sale makes me question it. Are there any known
problems with this car? And should I be looking instead at the 3.6i engine? I
don't plan on towing anything, but I need to be sure the transmission won't
cause me problems in Montana.

27 Answers

136,085

I haven't heard too much complaints but I would go with the 3.6L engine.

234,915

Both the 4 and 6 cylinder Subaru's have issues with oil consumption. Not all of them but some of them do. Look up Consumer Reports Thirsty Thirty. If the car has a CVT I would stay away. I am pretty sure the 2011 3.6 engine uses the tried and true Subaru automatic.

3 people found this helpful.
52,215

Emily- I have the 2010 Subaru Outback Limited with the 2.5 and the CVT transmission. It's a great car, and you won't have any problems with oil consumption. The 2010 to 2012 Subaru Outbacks have the older EJ Series Phase 2 engines.. They are known​ for high oil consumption like the 2013 Subaru Outback FB series engines. The 2.5 Four will save you fuel and they are just a little slower on acceleration, 0-60 in 9.6 seconds. The 3.6 has the older transmission and much less effecient I took my car to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon with a trailer and the car went to 9,000 feet just​ fine.

7 people found this helpful.
234,915

Look into the CVT before buying one. They are not very good and cost a small fortune to replace. Just a few days ago there was a thread about a guy whose CVT had packed it in at a really low mileage.

2 people found this helpful.
52,215

Emily- FYI- take a look at this article from Torque News below, http://www.torquenews.com/1084/how-subaru-scores-top-5- automakers-reliability An excerpt from this article, "Subaru uses a 6-speed Lineartronic CVT with 6-speed manual mode and paddle shifters on the 2016 Outback, Crosstrek, Impreza and Legacy and Lineartronic CVT with low mode (2.5i Forester models) or 6- and 8-speed manual shift modes and paddle shifters (2.0XT Forester models). The 2016 Subaru WRX gets a Sport Lineartronic CVT transmission with paddle shifters and 6- and 8-speed manual modes. Subaru engineers have done a good job of blending fuel-efficiency and sporty driving dynamics with their Continuously Variable Transmissions. The new emerging trend that is causing many automakers to drop in the reliability ratings, has not effected Subaru as they are in the top five for reliability in CR’s 2015 Annual Auto Reliability Survey"

5 people found this helpful.
52,215

Emily-. I DO NOT work for Subaru.... Just a pleased owner and by the way, I know someone on this forum who drove his 2010 Subaru Outback Limited with the CVT transmission 300,000 miles.. YES, things happen, but, don't let people make decisions for you. I was very impressed when I purchased my pre-owned certified Subaru Outback three years ago, have had zero issues, and still love my car. Drive one and see if you like it. When I went looking for this car, I really thought that I would need the 3.6 SIX cylinder engine, but, after I drove the FOUR cylinder engine with the CVT transmission, I was pleasantly surprised. Good luck.

8 people found this helpful.
234,915

Ignore the Subaru cheerleader and make your own decisions. Mark only reports the exceptional cases, not what mechanics who work on Subaru's will tell you.

52,215

Emily- Ask yourself how many Subaru cars are on the road and why Kelly Blue Book has said that Subaru is the most trusted brand... https://www.kbb.com/new-cars/brand-image-awards/best-overall- brand/

3 people found this helpful.
234,915

Sis boom bah!

1 people found this helpful.
52,215

Emily- my suggestion is drive the car and see how you like it...

1 people found this helpful.
52,215

Please read this article below about which CVTs are considered, http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2014/06/cars-best- cvt.html/2

2 people found this helpful.
170

The CVT has Obvious problems with a Thrust Washer breaking inside the torque converter and causing the "stall at stop" or the dreaded shudder.. I'm glad Mark has had no problems with his car, but there are thousands of people that have had this exact issue, and have been left high and dry by Subaru of America.. I am one of these people.. This issue should have been a recall, but as evidenced by labor cost to do this job, Subaru is unwilling to eat it in most cases unless threatened with legal action.. And as far as the oil consumption issue, my 11 Legacy has lost a quart to a quart and a half since new, and it has had nothing but Mobil1 since new.. To me the oil consumption wasn't a huge deal since I had no other issues with the car, but when the Torque Converter failed that wore most of the Subaru "love" off for me. When I contacted SOA about some help with the torque converter issue, I was offered $500 off of a new Subaru, but no assistance with my disabled vehicle due to their defective part. I in good faith could not recommended a Subaru at this point especially a 10-14 Legacy or Outback with the 2.5 and CVT.. It seems to me that Subaru used to be over and above better, especially with customer service, until an expensive problem occurs then they revert to being just like any other conglomerate that puts profit before reputation..

2 people found this helpful.
234,915

You summed up the current state of Subaru nicely Courtney.

1 people found this helpful.
80

I've had a 2011, 2014, 2015 and now a 2017. I hated the 2014 and the 2017 doesn't get the mpg the 2011 and the 2015 got but engine and transmission wise I've never had any trouble or oil usage. I always change oil and have all my vehicles serviced at the recommended mileage. I've driven across country with 4 people that averaged out to 1000 lbs., all their luggage, two dogs and their cages, food and water for all that would last 4 days. Performance left nothing to be desired and they had the 2.51 engine. Handled the mountains and off road just fine.

8 people found this helpful.
52,215

GuruDCN11- just returned from a 300 mile run in one day.. averaging 28.5 MPG from the 2010 Subaru Outback Limited CVT...and half of those miles were towing my teardrop trailer.....SO, I probably should have gotten over 30 MPG.... without towing... All freeway miles..... runs great.. For those of you who still say towing is risky....the car is rated to tow 2,700 pounds.. and Subaru specified that with the CVT transmission..... I know that many of you disagree...too bad.. Performance of the 2.5 as stated above is just fine... And, pretty quiet unless you are under heavy acceleration. Emily, save the money and get the FOUR....the SIX is a gas hog.... Especially the SIX without the CVT transmission.

4 people found this helpful.
20

Hey Markw1952 thanks for sharing your experiences. Very helpful. What is the GVW on your trailer you pulled to the GC?

2 people found this helpful.
52,215

John- you're welcome... here's a picture of my 2010 Subaru Outback Limited 2.5 CVT transmission with the teardrop trailer....the trailer is around 1,000 pounds fully loaded...car pulls this easily...has a maximum tow capacity of 2,700 pounds... keep in mind that the 3.6 SIX cylinder can tow 3,000 pounds maximum.. not much difference.. only way you could notice is pickup, no problem to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.. also Sequoia Kings Canyon.. What's your setup???

2 people found this helpful.
20

Hi- New here. I have had several 70's & 80's Subarus that served me well over the years. I am now looking at a 2010 Outback 2.5 4 cyl. with only 74,000 miles. A dealer just received it in trade and are checking it out before I get to see and drive. I was hyped until I started reading the CVT stories. We purposely changed our target years to after the head gasket problem - post 2009, but I'm getting nervous. What other choices are there for something comparable? We need AWD or 4WD and something that doesn't mind dirt roads.

52,215

GuruWHMCH- all I can share with you is my personal experience...we have the 2010 Subaru Outback Limited with the 2.5 FOUR.... it's got 85,000 miles on it... service records are absolutely essential... I just got the timing belt, all tensioner bearings, water pump, thermostat and super coolant all replaced... cost $1,235... and all genuine Subaru parts...WHY is this important and WHY am I raising this with you... WELL, the car you're looking to purchase is essentially 9 years old... even with only 74,000 miles.. don't get too focused on the supposed low mileage.... I had a decision to make recently.. either get all this work done right now or sell my car.... this maintenance will occur every nine years...you can't skip it...my car is in beautiful condition... had everything checked out..and decided to keep it another 7 years... SO, get the records or receipts and ask them if they have done all this work....if they haven't walk away......now, to answer your question about the capability of the Subaru..we took the car to Sequoia National Park...and took the Outback down an unmaintained dirt road ( mostly washed out); I told my wife.. sure hope the car makes it down and back ...it's a long walk...and a rugged area....the car performed like a champ..... I'm not saying I would do it again, but it probably could... they're very robust... Contact the seller and see if they can provide you all the service history...you will be very happy I told you this...A super clean interior is a sign that the owner has really taken care of the vehicle..... --Mark

4 people found this helpful.
20

Markw1952- Thanks for the advice. I will check the service records and will go from there. I remember my 1978 Subaru with 290,000 that I sold to my sister-in-law who drove it for 2 more years - all without any major repairs. Of course, everything that wasn't motor related fell off at some point.

2 people found this helpful.
40

We'll, I'm glad I found this. I test drove the 2018 crosstrek, outback, and forrester. May be buying one tomorrow. I live by dirt roads and ice and mud. Crosstrek perfect fit anywhere, love the room of outback, forrester too tall van-like. I want to go out and play. Big decision tomorrow . Thank you all.

1 people found this helpful.
52,215

GuruXBX7R- good luck... In case you didn't know...2018 is the last year you can get a Subaru Outback with the 3.6 engine... after that, the 3.6 is reserved for the new Subaru Ascent.. Either way.. the FOUR or SiX is fine... just that the H6 is probably a little smoother and quieter than the FOUR....uses more fuel.... acceleration is faster by about two seconds or less... I'm not a fan of the Forester.. have friends with those cars and have driven them... Crosstrek has a smaller engine... have not driven one...

1 people found this helpful.
40

Its been decided. New Outback, 6 cylinder, awesome clearance, cargo space, smooth, big but drives like a car. Really nice. Never had one, its rides nice, and that feel of good handling anywhere. Thank you guys. Glad I read all this, Happy, Happy, Happy.... Alex. Any new car can have problems. Thank you again.

3 people found this helpful.
234,915

Enjoy!

sorry to hijack the thread, but Mark, why don't you like the forester? I actually already signed the contract for an outback, but was seriously considering forester. upgrading from an OB2010 manual to OB2018 CVT. both 2.5.

52,215

Hi Bram, it's not that I don't like the Forester...I just like the Outback more.... I have friends who own the Forester... she had a 2009 manual....drives like a truck and shifts very harshly....she recently got a 2018 Subaru Forester with the CVT.... much better.. and smoother.... The Subaru Forester is on the Impezza chassis...a lot of people look at the extra height of the Forester and think it's larger or holds more than the Outback? Maybe a little extra cubic feet.. BUT, I'm focused on the chassis... the Outback is a larger car on the Subaru Legacy chassis... huge difference... much smoother ride and wider body.. Plus, I the wheelbase is 3 inches longer... makes a big difference....

3 people found this helpful.
10

There are better options than a Subaru. Unless you find a well maintained one that didn’t come from the east coast or Canada. Get a 3.6 Liter, less chance of blowing a head gasket. I have went off road, 1 lane dirt mud mountain edge roads in my e46 3series bmw. No cell service in the middle of no where in Canada. You can find a 530xi wagon with low miles for less money than a Subaru. You can get a turbo 5 cylinder Volvo with awd for even less. Ford Taurus SEL with awd is a nice ride also. Suzuki SX4 has more room than a similar year forester and outback. I think 2.5L and 3.0L bmws are the best engines you can get. People will try to scare you about bmws. Just don’t buy a v8 or 2.0L turbo and you’ll be fine.

1 people found this helpful.

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