Since it first hit the scene almost thirty years ago, the Subaru Outback has amassed plenty of fans who appreciate its rugged capability and comfortable interior. In-person and online, Subaru Outback sales are still going strong decades later, even as drivers’ tastes have shifted significantly. Of course, the Outback hasn’t stayed static since its debut: it’s had plenty of different generations and upgrades, each bringing something new to the table.
If you look at the Subaru logo, you will notice that it consists of six stars against a blue background. This is because, in Japanese, the word “Subaru” can mean “unite” or refer to a cluster of six stars known as the Pleiades, part of the Taurus constellation. Subaru was formed when five Japanese auto companies united (forming a sixth company in the process), so that name seemed fitting. In honor of this magic number, let’s take a look at six interesting facts about the brand’s iconic Outback SUV.
#1 – The Outback Started as a Trim of the Legacy
The Subaru Legacy debuted for the 1989 model year as a midsize family car available as either a four-door sedan or a five-door wagon. In 1994, the wagon version received a package with outdoor-ready features like splash guards, all-wheel drive, and adjustable-height suspension. For the 1995 model year, this popular package became a trim known as the Legacy Outback, and it came with even more rugged extras, like protective side body cladding and a raised roof.
By the 1996 model year, the Outback was officially being marketed as a separate model, and even more adventure-ready features were added. The ground clearance was increased to prevent uneven surfaces from damaging the undercarriage and to make the vehicle better at tackling inclines. Large front fog lights were also added to improve visibility in adverse weather, especially in remote areas far from the street lights that line city roads.
#2 – The Record for “Largest Parade of Subaru Cars” Was Set in 2020
On October 4th, 2020, Subaru Tecnica International Subiefest, one of the largest yearly gatherings of Subaru enthusiasts in the United States, held a COVID-safe alternative to its usual festivities. It organized a parade that would both ensure the safety of all participants and make history by setting a Guinness World Record. This might seem like a highly specific category, but there was already a record on the books for the “largest parade of Subaru cars,” set in 2015 with a total of 549 Subarus.
The 2020 event more than tripled that figure: 1,751 Subaru vehicles, including Outbacks, Foresters, Crosstreks, and more, were involved in the parade. Not only was this an exciting day for Subaru fans, but it was also used to help those in need. Instead of ticket sales, Subaru of America asked participants to donate to Feeding America, a nonprofit network of food banks throughout the US. Subaru then matched each donation to double the impact. Thanks to the event, half a million meals were provided to those in need.
#3 – The Outback Is No Stranger to the Big Screen
The Subaru Outback can be found in the background of all kinds of movies and TV shows. Some of these are smaller films, while others are box office sensations. Joseph Gordon-Levitt even drove an Outback during a scene in the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman film The Dark Knight Rises, commandeering the wagon to get on the scene quickly and help save the day.
While it’s often relegated to a role as an extra, the Outback stepped into the spotlight in the Oscar-nominated 2013 film Nebraska. The film, which also featured human stars such as Bruce Dern, Will Forte, and Bob Odenkirk, centers around a road trip from Montana to the titular Nebraska. That means the Subaru Outback the characters take their journey in gets plenty of screen time and is crucial to (literally) driving the plot forward.
#4 – The Outback Has Always Come Standard With AWD
With most automakers, all-wheel drive is something that you have to pay extra for. Even on SUVs, AWD is often a feature that’s either relegated to higher trim levels, optional, or not available at all. But Subaru is an outlier, offering AWD as a standard feature on nearly all of its models, including the Outback. This is not only true of recent models; all-wheel drive has come standard on the Outback since it first launched.
Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is different from what most other car companies provide. Many vehicles that have all-wheel drive actually use front-wheel or rear-wheel drive most of the time, with the AWD only kicking in when extra traction is necessary. Subaru’s AWD, by contrast, is always sending power to all four wheels at once. If weather or road conditions change suddenly, you don’t need to worry about any potential lag before the system activates. Since the Outback and other adventurous Subaru vehicles are designed to be ready for anything, this makes a lot of sense.
#5 – Crocodile Dundee Has Promoted the Outback
The Outback takes its name from the Australian wilderness, so it seems only natural for Subaru to partner with Paul Hogan, star of the classic action comedy Crocodile Dundee, for an ad campaign. Several commercials were released throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, highlighting the ways in which the sport-utility wagon is able to tackle harsh environments ranging from open desert sands to snowy Alaskan forests.
Between these ads and the very name of the Outback, Australia and Subaru have become linked in the minds of many. Coincidentally, the flag of Australia also features six stars against a blue background, much like the Subaru logo. However, while Subaru is a global company that does operate in the land down under, the company was founded and is headquartered in Japan.
Subaru has had plenty of other celebrity spokespeople throughout the years. Bruce Willis starred in a series of Japanese commercials about the Legacy. Ruth Gordon, star of Harold and Maude, endorsed the Subaru Brat. Martina Navratilova, a professional tennis player who won four US Open Singles Championships over her career, was also a spokesperson for the brand, appearing in several TV commercials and print ads. Subaru’s decision to work with an openly gay female athlete was groundbreaking for the time and is often lauded as an early example of marketing directly to the LGBTQ+ community.
#6 – The Outback Wilderness Is Even More Capable
The Outback has long been known as a great vehicle for outdoor adventures, but a trim level that debuted for the 2022 model year takes that reputation to the next level. Just looking at the exterior, you can tell the Outback Wilderness is ready for anything, with its bold front grille, athletic body shape, and exclusive Wilderness badges. But looks aren’t everything, and Subaru has backed up that rugged image with a truly capable vehicle.
The Wilderness offers more ground clearance than other Outback trims, features an upgraded suspension system that keeps drives smooth over the roughest terrain, and has redesigned front and rear bumpers built to keep the vehicle and its occupants safe from any obstacles they might encounter. The transmission was even revised for added torque, and there is a full-size spare tire to get you out of sticky situations. Though it’s even more rough and tumble than a standard Outback, the Wilderness still has the car-like handling that differentiates it from larger SUVs, making it responsive and fun to drive both on the highway and on an OHV trail.