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Subaru Legacy/Outback: MPG-Real World Numbers



  • I just passed 200000 miles in my 1990 Subaru Legacy L wagon (EJ-22 2.2 liter engine, manual transmission) and I'm surprised that it still compares favorably to more up-to-date models. Last week I took a trip from near Seattle to Las Vegas, then to Los Angeles and back to the Seattle area. I averaged 28.9 MPG over 3000 miles (90% highway, 10% city/suburban). I regularly get just over 30 MPG on reasonably flat streches of interstate going about 75 to 80 MPH. This in a car the EPA rated 22 city/27 highway. I don't think I've ever had fuel economy as low as 22 MPG around town. All my measurements have been corrected for speedometer/odometer inaccuracy (in my case 3.7%) and my tires were at about 32 PSI cold, 35 PSI warm.I don't know why anyone would need a larger engine than this if they're not towing something. I have no problem passing semis in Nevada at 90+ MPH, and I can keep up with the BMWs on Kanan Road in Malibu (though I'm pushing the engine to 5000 RPM).
  • My 2005 Subaru Outback XT wagon now has 15,600 miles as it fast approaches its second birthday. My gas mileage ranges from 25mpg on pure highway trips going 65-70 mph to a low of 12 mpg on short trips around town. The blended mpg of typical suburban driving is about 16 mpg. I drive very conservatively trying to max out my mileage with 93 octane gas recently well above $3 here on Long Island.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The engines have more power and push around a lot more weight, so that has offset any gains in efficiency.

    Plus, the EJ22 was an engine before its time! :shades:

  • I also have a 05 legacy outback XT. With 9K on the engine I routinely get between 25 to 27 mpg at 70 MPH with about 1.5 mpg less with the AC on. In the Boston area there's not such thing as flat terrain. In the city I get between 18 and 21 depending on the temperature. When it’s lower than 32 deg F, MPG drops about 2 mpg. If your only getting 12 MPG you either must be idling at a lot of traffic lights or you have a heavy foot. Agree with the turbo it’s easy to suck up gas if not careful.
  • UPDATE: Odometer @3000 miles now. 'Realistic' mileage with 83 regular, same mix of 60/40 hwy/city yields 26-28 mpg depending on city driving conditions (red lights, idling, etc. and no lead foot). One highway trip of 400 miles @70-75 mph yielded 31 mpg with 2 passengers and reasonable (approx 80 lbs)luggage. Trip computer consistently wrong - indicates 1-1.5 mpg higher average. Still very happy with performance and handling. :shades:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's incredible, glad to hear it.

    My '98 Forester has actually been doing better than average, I'm getting 27mpg pretty consistently. I have taken a lot of road trips lately so a lot of that is highway miles.

  • Thanks juice. One thing that we (as drivers) consistently fail to realize is the 'power' ;) of ethanol as an additive (or rather, the reduced efficiency due to it and hence lower mileage). Studies have shown that ethanol consistently gives lower mileage in the same vehicle (as much as 10-15%, if not more). Pretty much everywhere you go, gas stations these days have a fuel blend consisting of 10% ethanol. Most car manufacturers still provide sticker EPA ratings that are unrealistic and done in 'ideal' conditions @55 mph etc. with archaic testing standards and guidelines. Ethanol additive is not being factored into these ratings. I'm not surprised that as a result, we'll continue to see lower real world averages.....I would say factoring the ethanol additive in, probably by 3-5%. Again, my guess is unscientific, so have at it..... :shades:
  • blackbeanblackbean Posts: 100
    I am consistently getting 23-24 MPG with my H-6 wagon. Bridgestone RE950 tires and 62k on the odometer. I drive 60% back roads, 20% town/city and 20% highway. :)
  • joelogjoelog Posts: 11
    After calculating actual miles and gas used here are my results: 51,832mi and 2,208.05 gal regular gas = 23.47mpg avg
    Best mileage was 31.05 on non-stop trip from Gettysburg to Long Island, NY with cruise control set at 65mph. I live on LI and travel daily mixed highway and city with multiple stops. Worst mileage was 19mpg.
  • mpansare1mpansare1 Posts: 29
    FINAL UPDATE: Odometer @9000 miles now. Same 60/40 hwy/city drive mix yielded 25 mpg average in winter (mileage went down, to be expected). Now since temps have started ticking up (in the 60s-70s) I'm averaging 26-28 again. Strictly highway still yields between 30-31 mpg. As usual, trip computer is consistently wrong (by +1 to +1.5 mpg). So far I'm very happy with the car - 2 icy winter trips provided rock steady handling. Will be sorry to see the Legacy wgn discontinued for 2008.

    Oh well, hopefully they will re-style the Outback over the next few years....more rear leg room, perhaps? Auto up window, perhaps? Retained accessory power, perhaps? Better stock stereo, perhaps? These little 'omitted' design elements are minor annoyances, but really necessary considering most other cars now offer them as standard.
  • mjrossmjross Posts: 3
    I recently moved from Colorado Springs, CO to the LA area and I've noticed that since then my 2000 Subaru Outback's mpg has noticeably decreased. It's still in the decent range (above 20mpg), but less than in CO. Could this be because of the drop in altitude (from ~6000' to sea level)? What (if anything) can I do about it?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Hmm, you do lose power at altitude, since the air is less dense. I'm surprised it had a noticeable effect on mileage when you started intaking denser air, though.

    Also, the octane is probably higher in LA, 87 vs. probably 85 I'd guess. That also should not cause a drop in mileage, though.

  • mjrossmjross Posts: 3
    I used 87 octane in Colorado too (it's "mid-grade" in CO, but regular here), because that's what the manual says to use.
  • I am guessing you are encountering a lot more conjested roads than in LA than in Colorado Springs. It also could be because the adaptive software that runs the ECU needs to be reset in order to compensate for the change in air density and driving style.
  • mjrossmjross Posts: 3
    The traffic actually isn't much worse here--I'm not in downtown LA or anything. I have a friend who told me I might have to reset the ECU, but I was hoping for some confirmation. He said all I would need to do is disconnect the battery for a while?
  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Posts: 464
    California has notoriously bad gas and is the likely culprit in your mysteriously lower mileage. I moved to Sacramento from Reno but continue to work in Reno, so after years of driving the same "loop" and filling up in different places, I can attest to getting 3-4mpg less on any tank of gas that I filled in CA versus one that I filled in Nevada. This has held true on both of my Subarus, my Honda, and my pickup. For whatever reason, the gas that is supplied to CA stations is apparently formulated differently and is known to cause drivability problems in some cars.

    COBB Tuning, for example, had different ECU maps for CA cars to factor in the crummy gas that we receive here...the original map that they were using on to reflash the computers on WRXs was causing some noticable drivability problems (stumbling, etc) in CA cars.

    It's ironic that in a state so obsessed with emmissions and efficiency that they would supply gas that routinely delivers *less* efficiency than neighboring states.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Could it be a partial mix of Ethanol in the gas?

    Here in MD most pumps have switched over to E10, i.e. 10% ethanol. There is less energy in ethanol so most people will get a slight drop in efficiency.
  • jay_24jay_24 Posts: 536
    Don't blame the ethanol. Minnesota has a 10% ethanol requirement and Wisconsin doesn't. I get nearly identical MPG. In fact I tend to fill-up in MN because
    #1- it costs 15 to 20 cents less per gallon.
    #2- I get the best MPG from a Shell station in MN with 10% ethanol(29mpg in a 2001 Outback with 110K miles).

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You should get a Shell credit card if you don't have one already. Get another 5% discount on that gas.

    Personally, I have not observed a noticeable change in MPG since MD went with E10.
  • subearusubearu Posts: 3,613
    Actually, several SE Wisconsin counties do have the 10% ethanol requirement thanks to being included in the Chicago metropolitan area which requires reformulated fuel.

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