Find the depreciation rate of your Subaru Outback in the graph below.
All vehicles start to depreciate, or lose value, from the moment of purchase. The Subaru Outback is no different. The most depreciation happens over the first year. After the first 12 months, the Outback will depreciate more slowly each year until it reaches the six-year mark. All makes and models depreciate at different rates, so it’s important to learn the depreciation rate of your vehicle. By knowing the depreciation rate of your Outback, you can evaluate its long-term value and total ownership cost.
Keep in mind that just because the vehicle costs the least to own in the sweet spot we have outlined here, you still may not want to own the vehicle during these depreciation sweet spot years. Although vehicles depreciate less as they get older, they have more repairs. Duh right? However, keep in mind that repairs don’t just cost you money, they cost you time. Reliability is the difference between being able to make it to your destination on time or missing an opportunity because the car broke down.
Check out our article on the best and worst years of the Subaru Outback to see our reliability ratings for all years of the Outback between 2001-2021. We also cover MPG, safety ratings, and a number of other factors. We pulled data from Outbacks registered in our app and surveyed owners to get you data-backed answers on just how good or bad each year of the Outback is.
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Subaru Outback Depreciation
|Model Years||Mileage||Amount Depreciated||Residual Value Percentage||Resale Value|
The chart above conveys the approximate depreciation for a Subaru Outback. It is based on Kelley Blue Book data since 2001, assuming a vehicle in standard trim, a generic color such as black or white, and a mileage of 12,000 per year.
Keep in mind that the auto market was heavily affected in 2020 and beyond. Automakers selling new cars during the COVID pandemic raised prices which caused a spike in demand in the used car market as people tried to save money. Many automakers, however, did not drop prices after the pandemic, they kept them so they could make a larger profit.
This is why the most recent years of many vehicles have seemingly experienced less depreciation. Some may have even appreciated due to the heightened levels of inflation created.
Factors That Impact the Subaru Outback Depreciation Rate
Subaru makes a variety of cars, sports utility vehicles, and performance vehicles. Most Subaru vehicles come with standard all-wheel drive, and the brand has become popular with outdoor enthusiasts for its all-terrain capability. Subaru also has a reputation for making highly dependable vehicles. Many vehicles in the Subaru lineup, including the Outback, rank well for safety and reliability. The brand’s loyal following and reputation for quality can improve the resale value of its vehicles. Besides Subaru’s reputation, here are other factors that can affect the depreciation of your Outback.
The age of your Outback refers to its model year. Not necessarily the same as the production year, the model year describes the version of the vehicle, including its generation and features. Typically, most vehicles depreciate the fastest over the first year. Outgoing model years depreciate quickly once a newer version arrives on dealers’ lots.
Many manufacturers also update their vehicles every year or so, adding technologies and features as selling points for new models. For this reason, your Outback may have slightly different features than the model that came before and after it. That’s why different model years have different depreciation rates and resale values.
The body type, or body style, of a vehicle depends on its size, shape, and arrangement. The most common body styles include sedans, coupes, hatchbacks, convertibles, sports cars, station wagons, SUVs, minivans, and pickup trucks. In North America, SUVs and pickup trucks are more popular than other body styles, so they usually have the slowest depreciation rates. In comparison, luxury cars usually depreciate the fastest in this market.
Subaru markets the Outback as a midsize SUV, though previous generations have been classified as a station wagon. The Outback continues to retain many wagon-like qualities. Vehicles in this segment usually depreciate more slowly than sedans, coupes, and other compact cars. If smaller cars become more popular, the Outback and other similar SUVs may depreciate more quickly.
The more miles you rack up in your Subaru Outback, the faster the vehicle may depreciate. That’s because high-mileage vehicles often need more maintenance and even more advanced repairs due to wear and tear. According to recent federal data, the average person drives a little over 1,000 miles each month, so we base our model on 12,000 miles of driving per year. If you drive more than that, your Outback may depreciate faster. Conversely, if you drive your Outback fewer miles than average each year, it may hold its value better.
Your Outback’s condition refers to its mechanical functioning and physical appearance. If it’s in good condition, it will have no major mechanical problems and minimal wear and tear. You can get a better value for your vehicle if it’s in good condition since it shouldn’t require extensive maintenance or repairs. You can keep your Outback in good condition by taking care of the vehicle, scheduling routine maintenance, and avoiding major damage.
At some point, however, it may no longer make sense to continue maintaining or repairing a vehicle. When maintenance costs more than the car’s total value, it’s better to sell the car and get a new one. If you continue paying money to fix or maintain a low-value car, you likely won’t make that money back when you’re ready to sell it.
While the other factors may seem obvious, the color of your vehicle is a lesser-known variable that can affect its depreciation and value. According to a recent study, uncommon vehicle colors have slower depreciation rates than mainstream shades. Specifically, colors such as orange, yellow, and beige depreciate at slower rates than colors such as black, brown, and gold, according to the study. For this reason, consider purchasing an Outback in a less common color to get the maximum resale value for the vehicle.
Other Costs of Subaru Outback Ownership
Depreciation is just one cost of owning a Subaru Outback. Here are some other ownership costs to consider.
It costs money to insure your Outback so you can drive legally. Insurers can charge different rates based on various factors, including what car you drive. Some vehicles, especially those with advanced safety features, may cost less to insure than others.
Generally, the Outback is cheaper to insure than other vehicles. The average monthly premium on an Outback is $118. In comparison, the average premium for all vehicles is $147 per month. Additionally, the Outback is one of the cheapest cars to insure in several states. For example, in Virginia, the 2021 Outback is the most affordable vehicle to insure in the state at $70 per month for full coverage.
Maintenance is another ongoing cost to consider when purchasing a Subaru Outback. Taking your Outback in for routine maintenance can keep the vehicle running smoothly, which can improve its overall value. The Outback has slightly less expensive maintenance costs than other vehicles. It costs $649 per year, on average, to maintain an Outback. In comparison, the average maintenance cost for all vehicles is $694 per year. If you drive an Outback for five years, you’ll spend about $3,245 on maintenance.
Keep in mind, however, that different Outback model years can have more expensive maintenance issues. You can compare the maintenance costs by Subaru model year using our graph. Specifically, these model years have various problems that may result in more expensive repair bills:
The Best Model Year To Buy a Subaru Outback
Based on factors including price and reliability (but not depreciation), our choice for the best Subaru Outback model years to buy are the 2014, 2016-2019, and 2021, but check out our article on the best and worst years of the Outback to get the whole story.
If you want to buy a model with the lowest cost of ownership, choose a 2005-2008 Outback. While none of these model years make our list of the best Outbacks, you’ll get the lowest ownership costs with these models.
Buying a Subaru Outback New vs. Used
|Years Since Purchased||Depreciated Value||With Inflation|
If you’re debating whether to buy a new or used Subaru Outback, consider the depreciation cost. A 2020 Outback has accumulated about $10,826 in depreciation over three years. It’s currently worth $22,353, adjusting for inflation. In comparison, a new Outback will accumulate about $9,257 in depreciation in its first three years. After that point, it will be worth an estimated $22,481, accounting for inflation.
Both Outbacks have roughly the same value after three years of ownership. However, when you purchase the used model, you’re not the driver who will lose that value over the first few years. Instead, the original owner will take that loss. When you purchase the vehicle, it will already have accumulated its highest depreciation costs, making the used model a much better value.
Do your research when buying a used vehicle to ensure you’re getting a good deal. Resources such as Kelley Blue Book can show you the estimated value of a car and its accumulated depreciation costs. Remember to account for other ownership costs, such as maintenance and insurance, as you evaluate the overall value of a used vehicle.
We base our findings on the residual value after depreciation and the cost per mile to maintain or repair each model year of the Subaru Outback. The data in this article applies to an Outback in a base trim with standard equipment. If you purchase a higher trim or a model with advanced equipment, it may have a higher value. Other factors can also affect the resale value of your Outback, such as the COVID-era chip shortage. In addition, the condition of your Outback and how you choose to sell it can affect how much you get for it.
Keep in mind, there are large economic factors at play here too and the sale of new cars has caused shifts in the used market too. There is a stark difference in the cost of vehicles due to car manufacturers seeking higher profit margins after COVID as detailed by CNN and posted by CBS channel 58:
“… (T)he auto industry saw sky-high profits even as sales plummeted. Domestic manufacturers of cars and car parts saw a profit of $32 billion through the third quarter of 2022 (the latest data available) — their largest profit since 2016. Car dealerships also reported record-breaking profits through Q3, according to auto-retail advisers Haig Partners.
That’s because pandemic-era pent-up consumer demand remained strong as supply shifted, allowing automakers to increase their prices and their profit margins. Cars and trucks were sold nearly as soon as they hit dealership lots, and the average price paid for a vehicle in December soared to a near-record high of $46,382, according to J.D. Power.
Data from the Labor Department’s November Consumer Price Index shows American consumers are paying about 20% more for cars than they were in 2019.
The trend could continue into next year — research website Edmunds expects new-car sales to hit 14.8 million in 2023, a marginal increase from last year but well below pre-pandemic levels.
The auto industry has entered a new era: Less choice, higher prices and larger profit margins. So far it seems to be working for them.”
This shift by car companies to create higher profit margins by taking advantage of the heavily-reported-on chip shortage panic of COVID has had rebounding effects upon the value of used cars.
Be aware that newer years (the latest 3-4 model years) may be inflated in price because of this and depending on how big this problem is for the model you are considering – it may even be inflating the price of the older model years.
Frequently Asked Questions About Vehicle Depreciation
In general, Subaru Outbacks hold their value well. However, the depreciation of your Outback can vary based on several factors, including its age, mileage, condition, and other factors mentioned in this article. In addition, the way you choose to sell your Outback can determine how much you get for it.
For example, if you have a black 2021 Subaru Outback with standard equipment in good condition, you can get $22,389 if you trade it into a dealership, according to Kelley Blue Book. However, for the same car, you can get $24,833 if you sell it to a private party.
Based on our analysis, it’s better to purchase a Subaru Outback from the past 10 years. Specifically, the 2014, 2016-2019, and 2021 model years make our list of the best Outbacks to purchase. These models have high-reliability ratings, good safety scores, and a low chance of needing expensive repairs.
In contrast, here are the Outback model years to avoid:
While some of these model years fall within the depreciation sweet spot, they have various other issues that put them on our worst years list. Some issues associated with these Outback models include numerous recalls, mediocre reliability scores, and a high risk of expensive repairs, particularly related to the engine.
The numbers reveal an average of 116,621 miles of use among all surveyed Outbacks. This data point creates a good benchmark for when to attach a high-mileage label to these Subarus. For simplicity, we’ll call it 120,000 miles.
But high mileage doesn’t mean the end of an Outback’s usefulness. We can be confident in this determination because the surveys show that the Outback can rack up more miles.
The 2001 model year has an average usage of 225,000 miles. And the 2006 Outback comes close to the 200,000-mile threshold (it has an average of 191,667 miles). Several model years have 150,000 miles or more: 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2010.
Outside of accidents and other mishaps, longevity is determined by the vehicle’s condition and how well it’s cared for. An Outback with 150,000 miles of mostly highway use that’s received diligent, regular maintenance will likely have many more miles ahead. Compare that to a 100,000-mile Outback that’s seen nothing but city use and never received regular maintenance — it may already be struggling.
A qualified mechanic can best determine high-mileage status and vehicle life span. Always get professional advice about any used car under consideration.
To avoid the most depreciation, purchase a 2005-2008 Subaru Outback. That’s the sweet spot for this vehicle. However, all these model years land on our list of the worst Outbacks to purchase, so you may be better off choosing a newer model with a lower risk for extensive maintenance and repairs.
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(2023.) 2024 Subaru Outback. Car and Driver. Retrieved Nov. 2, 2023, from https://www.caranddriver.com/subaru/outback
(2022.) Average Annual Miles Per Driver by Age Group. U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved Nov. 2, 2023, from https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/onh00/bar8.htm
(2023.) The Best and Worst Car Colors for Resale Value. iSeeCars. Retrieved Nov. 2, 2023, from https://www.iseecars.com/car-color-study
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