By Steve & Tamami Laser
It’s amazing how fast time flies. In early 2016 we decided to lease a new Subaru Outback Limited for three years and report on the experience. This story is the final chapter where we highlight some of the things we discovered during the past 36 months.
The above photo recaptures our happy feeling when we took delivery of our new car at Subaru Pacific in Torrance, Calif. We called our first story, “The Ultimate Test Drive Begins,” because we usually only test a car for a week. By the way, we’ve owned plenty of other cars over the years (30+) yet this is the first one that we leased.
This video, from our CarNichiWa.com YouTube Channel, wraps up three years of ownership and highlights some of the things that we liked about the Outback, and some that we thought could use improvement.
We made a total of seven visits to two different Subaru dealers during the course of three years. Most of the visits were for regularly scheduled maintenance, including things like oil and filter changes and tire rotation.
Something unexpected usually happens with a new car during the first few months. We heard a “squealing” noise from the engine compartment that we couldn’t isolate. It turned out to be a defective drive belt that was replaced at no charge by the dealer. Another visit handled a recall notice that we received from the automaker to upgrade the software for the in-dash infotainment and navigation system.
We drove the Outback more than 23,500 miles during three years. Our lease allowed 10,000 miles per year, so fortunately we didn’t occur extra charges by staying below 30,000 miles at lease end.
We bought a total of 1,087 gallons of gasoline and averaged about 21.6 mpg (the above photo taken earlier shows 22.2 mpg). We had a total of five oil changes. Yet the total cost for maintenance during three years was just $66.71. That’s because our dealer, Subaru Pacific, gave us the first four oil changes for “free” as part of the lease deal.
Overall, our Outback was a very reliable car. It never left us stranded. The engine started every time. We didn’t need to add oil between regularly scheduled maintenance. And it was tough to say goodbye at the end of the lease.
So after three years of driving, here’s our list of “Top 3 Likes” and “2 Dislikes.” (We covered all of these topics, and more, in previous stories.)
Top 3 Likes
1. EyeSight Driver-Assist System
This is our favorite Outback feature. The twin stereo cameras, mounted near the inside rearview mirror, work together to monitor the road ahead for safety features like the Pre-collision Braking System, Lane Keep Assist, and Lane Departure Warning. We had many occasions where we drifted out of our lane (to the right) or didn’t apply the brakes quickly enough when a car stopped in front and the system gave us alerts.
2. Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
We were impressed with the sophisticated AWD system in our Outback. It made it easy to drive on unpaved gravel roads or rain-soaked streets. It also made the car feel more secure on completely dry roads, in sweeping turns, and climbing steel hills.
3. Pet Friendly
Our dogs give the Outback two paws up. They were comfortable on long journeys and often fell asleep while we were driving. We bought some aftermarket accessories, including twin travel beds, a hammock that fits between the front and rear seats, and a bunch of toys to keep them happy.
What About Dislikes?
1. Front Headrests
As with any long-term relationship, little things can become troublesome over time. Our short list included our editor’s dislike of the front-seat headrests. As he demonstrates in the video, the headrest pushed his head too far forward no matter how it was adjusted (it tilts forward and goes up and down). The solution? He strapped an aftermarket cushion to the seatback that solved the problem by adjusting the angle of his back and neck.
2. Lack of Power on Hills
The 4-cylinder Outback has good performance on level ground. Yet with 175 horses and 174 lb.-ft. of torque moving a 3,638-pound car (plus passengers, dogs and gear), the engine feels strained going up steep hills. Steering wheel-mounted paddle “shifters” for the Continuously Variable Transmission do help. Yet we often wished for more power.
It’s Tough to Say “Goodbye”
After three years the Outback became a member of our family. We used it for running regular daily errands. We drove it to a wedding. We took it on several vacations. We had lots of happy times together. (And we took hundreds of photos and countless hours of video.)
When the end of the lease was approaching, we sat down to discuss our options: We could turn the car in and simply walk away. We could buy it and pay off (or finance) the residual value. We could lease another Subaru, or try something else. (We’re currently in the midst of another long-term test with our 2018 Honda CR-V).
We seriously considered buying the Outback. However, the residual value was about $22,000 which would take another three (or more) years to pay off. So we decided to turn it in and lease something else.
Before we wrap it up, we want to say “Thank You” to Subaru for designing and building a great car that kept our family safe for three years. We also want to thank Jeff, our sales consultant, and the staff of the service department at Subaru Pacific for handling our leasing and maintenance needs.
The next chapter begins for our Outback which is likely already in the garage of its new owners. And we’re happy campers because we’ve started another three-year lease on a … what? That’s the topic for more stories to come, so be sure to visit CarNichiWa.com for more news and car reviews.
Click or tap on the following links to read our previous stories in this series:
The 2016 Outback test car in this story was privately leased by the editorial staff of CarNichiWa.com
Story, photos, and videos © 2016-2019 CarNichiWa.com