Subaru Legacy/Outback: MPG-Real World Numbers

PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Member Posts: 9,372
With the price of gas being what it is, your real world mileage is becoming more important than the estimates on the sticker. This is the place to talk about your real world on the road results!


  • fibber2fibber2 Member Posts: 3,786
    2002 Outback, base model with H4 & 4 spd automatic, 40,200 miles. OEM Bridgestone RE-92 tires.

    Rural/Suburban driving: a daily mix of hilly backroads, a bit of highway, and some stop-sign & traffic light in-town travel.

    Driving style: slightly leadfoot

    Recently changed to 5w-30 Mobil 1, on Mid-Hudson NY 'Summer' reformulated gas (10% ethanol, 87 octane). Last few fillups slightly topped 24 mpg.

    Wintertime / early Spring driving with snow tires ran around the 21-22 mpg range.

  • mountnman4umountnman4u Member Posts: 10
    I have a 2005 Legacy 2.5GT Limited wagon 5 speed manual. I confess, although I bought the car because of what's under the hood, I drive like an old woman in order to get the best fuel economy. Although on occassion I will call upon the rocket power of this fine turbo engine, I'm usually very, very light footed with the accelerator. However, I don't corner like an old lady, and I do take advantage of my powerplant's torque in some aggressive cornering.

    I drive mostly country/rural driving and interstate highway (I live in the Northern Catskills/Mid-Hudson Valley region of New York). I rarely exceed 65 MPH on the interstate in an effort to increase fuel economy. On long downhill sections of roadways, I often shift into neutral to lessen the engine speed and gas consumption.

    My old lady habits pay off with good fuel economy. My vehicle is EPA rated 19 MPG city/25 MPG highway. I tend to average 25-26.5 MPG with 90% rural/country/highway driving. The remaining 10% of mileage per tank is often stop-and-go traffic in suburban New Jersey and driving in evening rush hour traffic in Manhattan/NYC. If my driving excludes NJ/NYC rush hours and is completely rural driving, I can get 26-27 MPG. On long highway stretches of non-stop driving using cruise control, I can usually get 28-29 MPG, once even 30 MPG, as long as I don't exceed 65 MPH. All of these figures are mathematically calculated. I find the car's computer is usually overly optimistic by 0.8-1.5 MPG.

    My car, in non-winter months, is equipped with Pirelli PZero Nero M+S tires which I usually have pumped up 2-3 PSI above what Subaru recommends, which for my car is 35 PSI front and 33 PSI rear. These tires have a fairly high rolling resistance, especially in comparison to the OEM Potenza RE92 tires (but they handle so much better!). I normally travel alone in the car without any passengers with the exception of my dogs. My winter fuel economy tends to be lower, attributable to the use of winter tires, winter fuel composition, and colder operating temperatures.

    I fuel my car with 93 octane fuel mostly, but when 91 octane is available (most Sunoco stations) I will often purchase that if it saves me a couple of cents per gallon (my turbo engine requires 91+ octane).
  • occkingoccking Member Posts: 346
    I have 2.5 ltd 2005 outback with basic 4 cylinder, AT. Now have almost 48k on the vehicle, slightly less than 18 month.

    Mostly highway driving -- go from Prov, RI area to Montreal every few weeks. At the beginning was averaging perhaps 26 - 27 on these trips, but then beginning last November gas mileage dropped by a few miles per gallon, and remained lower until just a month or so ago. Was it the winter fuel they use here in New England, or because I got new tires last November (Goodyear Triple Treads)?

    My gas consumption figures are fairly accurate as they are based on actual usage. The trip computer, as it is in most cars I have owned, overly "optomistic" on gas consumption. I would estimate that it is almost always higher than actual by 1.5 to 2 mpg.

    My driving habits are quite conservative. On long trips rarely over 75 mpg, usually more like 70 on the turnpike. If I do little long distance travel for a few weeks & mostly short stuff, actual mileage more like 22 - 23. Can't complain for a AWD vehicle.
  • kbourdeaukbourdeau Member Posts: 2
    I have a brand new 2006 Outback that hasn't even cracked 2k miles yet, but I am pleased to say that so far I've gotten nearly 30mpg on a 300 mile trip and around 22-23 around town (lots of errands included). Hopefully, I will do even better with a few more miles on the engine. I decided on the 4 cylinder because I didn't want to have to buy premium gas and I am a bit of a tree-hugger and didn't feel enviromentally correct buying the turbo or the 6 cyl. I have always owned at least a 3liter V6, but found the 4cyl. to be quite peppy and perfectly adequate for my needs. The only drawback to the Subaru experience thus far is the fact that if I had only waited about 10 days to purchase the vehicle, I could have had 0% financing. I haven't even made my first payment yet! Is there a way I can get in on the 0% deal or am I just s--- out of luck?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    It's probably not worth re-doing all the paperwork. Isn't the financing in lieu of rebates and discounts? I bet it's not a significant difference.

    Enjoy the vehicle and congrats.

  • kbourdeaukbourdeau Member Posts: 2
    According to the Subaru commercial, the deal includes the rebate and the financing, but the financing is probably only for two years. I do love my Outback, though. Thanks for your reply, Juice!
  • occkingoccking Member Posts: 346
    Just got back from two day trip, Prov RI area to Montreal.Approx 800 miles, gas mileage per computer 27.9. Actual gas mileage based on starting full tank (I fill it to the brim) and filling when I return so I know it is accurate) was 26.7 mpg. The computer is almost always higher than actual, usually by 1.5 to 2 mpg.

    I sure wish I could get better mileage as I made a big sacrafice getting the 168 hp 6. My driving habits are quite conservative, but on the highway, run around 70. Suppose if I dropped it down to 60 or 65 mpg would improve a bit.
  • rcegglrceggl Member Posts: 31
    Is this the H-6? What fuel do you use?
  • occkingoccking Member Posts: 346
    No, just the little 4 banger!
  • subahondasubahonda Member Posts: 75
    I have the non-turbo 4 spd auto wagon. It does 31 mpg on the highway and in country driving. In the city, it's about 20 mpg. I had the 1995 version and it was poorer - getting about 25 on the highway and 18 in the city.
  • kat95kat95 Member Posts: 49
    I've had my car 2weeks and have only used 1/2 tank of gas and it has 172 miles. Roughly, 22miles/gal all city stop and go. :shades:
  • nazdarnazdar Member Posts: 1
    I've got 950 miles on my new Legacy Sedan. Usually, doing 80 highway/ 20 city driving, the trip computer says 32.7, but it seems to be averaging about 1-1.5 lower than that calculated by hand. Quite surprised that the mileage has been this good on a new engine. I was expecting a break-in with averages in the low 20s. I seem to be above average...I'm in Utah, does higher elevation and dry air make for better fuel economy?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    That's great, indeed. Maybe they took your engine off the assembly line and blue-printed it. :shades:

    Lemme know if you ever want to sell that bad boy!

  • orangelebaronorangelebaron Member Posts: 435
    32,000 miles on my 2005 OB 2.5 Ltd AUTO. Only averaging 21.3 mpg with mostly suburban driving, maybe 25 percent smooth highway driving.
    Last summer I was averaging 22.2 mpg with a little more highway.
  • orangelebaronorangelebaron Member Posts: 435
    I filled up yesterday with 142 miles on the trip. Exactly 7 gallons equals 20 MPG.
    My computer said 21.9..... so I'm a bit disappointed since a good portion of those 142 miles were highway. :(:(
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Were you going 80? ;)

    I drove with Bob to the NY show and I think we got 28 mpg in a WRX turbo, and it was the 2.5l turbo.

  • thallbergthallberg Member Posts: 18
    I recently returned from a 500+ mile trip to Colorado.
    My highway mileage in the H-6 automatic was 25.5 mpg travelling between 80 and 85 mph on the interstate.
    In all city driving it varies between 17 and 19 depending on the season (winter being the lowest).
    I alternate between 89 Octane (10% ethanol) and 92 Octane BP gasoline.
    I notice lower fuel economy after resetting the ECU, but better driveability (acceleration, throttle response, shift points).
  • mpansare1mpansare1 Member Posts: 29
    New wagon, only 700 miles on it so far. Averaging 28.0 mpg with 83 regular, mix of 60/40 hwy/city, A/C on. Average hwy speed is 70...the car is so quiet with the new Yokohamas that one does not realize how fast you're going unless you're looking at the speedo all the time. I have exceeded 80 at times without realizing it. No 'lead foot' starts so far...;) I'm sure my fuel average will increase since it is just getting broken in. I used Exxon regular both fillups. I will provide more updates after the odometer passes the 2500 mark and I take a long highway trip. Cheers! :shades:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    That's great. Our '02 gets about 25mpg, so that makes me want to upgrade. Ours is a manual, too.

  • orangelebaronorangelebaron Member Posts: 435
    I'm talking about average real world fuel useage with suburban driving. Not about one long highway trip. I never averaged more than 22.2 since owning this car for 33,000 miles.
    My average is in line with Consumer Reports and other car magazines like Popular Mechanics. They all say about 21 mpg.
  • mikela78mikela78 Member Posts: 1
    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).
  • bobny57bobny57 Member Posts: 30
    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 Member 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:

  • tdennentdennen Member Posts: 4
    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.
  • mpansare1mpansare1 Member Posts: 29
    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 Member 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.

  • mpansare1mpansare1 Member Posts: 29
    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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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.
  • shrinermonkeyshrinermonkey Member Posts: 58
    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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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.

  • grahampetersgrahampeters Member Posts: 1,786

    There arer a fair number of possibilites. Try running the tank right down and then refill through several cycles using a good quality branded (eg Shell etc) fuel rather than supermarket or discount chain. The ethanol mix should not change economy much.

    Also consciously think about driving habits of those around you. I find my fuel economy changes between cities although ostensibly the traffic is about the same. This is probaby because of the need to drive differently in differnt traffic conditions. For example, here in Australia, the traffic in Melbourne is solid but fairly calm. Sydney is more aggressive although congestion is probably about the same at present. I find my usage leaps when I drive in Sydney because you have to be more pushy to retaing your place in traffic


  • hypovhypov Member Posts: 3,068
    altitude and climate change between CO and CA.

    You're running leaner in CO due to the altitude and richer in CA as the ECU adjust for condition.
    The ECU should settle in to CA conditions after a few hundred miles.

  • happerhapper Member Posts: 2
    Looking for an idea of the all around mileage I should expect from a Outback 3.0 6 cylinder.

    I am looking at a 2008 Outback and like the 6 cylinder but might just buy the 2.5 if there is a huge difference in MPG.
  • snowbeltersnowbelter Member Posts: 288
    I have an 07 LLBean. Averaging around 21, mostly suburban. Averaged 25 on a recent mostly highway trip. Using 89 octane. Tried 87 and it doesn't work well. Does run smoother on 93.
  • happerhapper Member Posts: 2
    About what I expected. It wouldn't be too bad if you could get away with 89 Octane.

    Thanks for the info!
  • discopetediscopete Member Posts: 21
    I've had an Outback XT with 5sp.MT and 11,900 miles on it for about 6 weeks.

    The one road trip so far (190 miles) yielded 22.9 MPG :(, mostly using the cruise control.

    Around town it gets 13 to 15 MPG :cry: , but I've been experimenting with the turbocharger's effect on acceleration :).

    I'm hoping that the engine will loosen over the next few thousand miles and the highway mileage will improve.
  • jfljfl Member Posts: 1,396
    Just a note: if you reset the ECU, I find the first tank or two gives very poor gas mileage as the computer re-learns your driving style.

    A battery failed on me just before a long highway trip, resetting the ECU. :cry:

  • 10years10years Member Posts: 48
    I live in Reno and of course have noticed the same MPG differences of going back an forth "over the hill" with my 03 Forester. I've attributed some of the difference to be the drive from Reno to Sac is mostly downhill. Conversely, Sac to Reno is mostly uphill.

    FYI everyone, Reno sits at an altitude of 4,500 feet while Sac is virtually a sea level. In between is Donner Pass that rises to about 7,200 feet. The trip is about 120 miles depending on the exact door to door locations.

    Just my 1.5 cents.
  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,466
    That is a very likely reason for the difference. I even notice better mileage driving to Anchorage from Fairbanks than the other way around. The difference between the two is a total of about 500 feet elevation with, obviously, some dramatic increases between. We usually see 1 mpg better on the way down.
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • cptpltcptplt Member Posts: 1,075
    first 2 tankfulls of gas on my 08 OB Ltd/PZEV 25mpg calculated and displayed, thats about 2 better than my 98 Legacy
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