Are Subarus Expensive Cars To Own?

For many car enthusiasts and potential buyers, the decision to purchase a vehicle goes beyond the initial price tag. It’s crucial to consider the total cost of ownership, which includes factors like fuel efficiency, maintenance, and resale value. 

Subaru has long been a popular choice in America, known for its safety, reliability, and all-wheel-drive capabilities. But are these rugged and versatile vehicles costly to own in the long run? In this article, we’ll delve into the financial aspects of owning a Subaru, helping you make an informed decision about whether a Subaru is the right fit for your budget and lifestyle.

Subarus cost more to own than most other cars, as repairing them is typically more expensive. However, they usually retail at similar prices as other cars and require fewer repairs overall.

If you’re in the market for a Subaru, you’re in the right place. In this article, I’ll talk about why Subarus costs so much to maintain, how much you can expect to spend on yearly maintenance and give you some pros and cons that might tip the scales. Let’s get started!

man calculating Subaru cost

How Much Does It Cost to Maintain A Subaru? 

Most Subarus actually cost less to maintain than other car brands within the first five years of use. On average, you’ll spend around $200-$300 on maintaining a Subaru during this time. 

This number can vary depending on the model and how often you do routine maintenance. Most new cars also rarely develop faults in the first few years, so you might end up spending even less.

The problem with maintaining Subarus comes roughly after the five-year mark when maintenance starts to ramp up as parts fail more often. 

There’s little consensus on exactly how much you’ll spend each year, but on average, Subaru owners spend at least $1,000 more than most other car owners over ten years. This makes it particularly important to find a trustworthy mechanic.

Considering that Subarus are known to be well-made cars, what causes such a difference in cost?


Why Are Subarus So Expensive To Own?

There are four main reasons why Subarus cost so much to maintain:

  • Build 
  • Fuel efficiency
  • Specialized parts
  • Higher initial costs


Subaru has carved out a niche in the automotive world with its distinct combination of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) systems and horizontally-opposed boxer engines. 

While these features provide numerous advantages, such as enhanced traction, stability, and handling, they can also contribute to the overall maintenance costs of owning a Subaru.

AWD Drivetrain

Most Subaru cars are AWD (All-Wheel Drive) and have been for decades. AWD refers to the drivetrain beneath the vehicle that transfers energy from the engine to the tire. 

Most people are familiar with the FWD (Foward-Wheel Drive) drivetrain as it’s common to many passenger vehicles. In this system, power is mainly sent to the front wheels.

Subaru vehicles come standard with all-wheel-drive systems, which can be more complex and expensive to maintain compared to front-wheel-drive systems. While this feature provides better traction and handling in various conditions, it can lead to increased wear on certain components, which might require more frequent maintenance or replacement.

Boxer Engines

In addition to a more complicated AWD drivetrain, Subarus also feature boxer engines which are more challenging to fix than traditional inline engines. Similar to the drivetrain problem, boxer engines usually offer much better performance and fuel economy, but this comes with increased complexity.

Fuel Efficiency

Although Subarus have made strides in improving fuel efficiency in recent years, their all-wheel-drive systems can still result in slightly lower fuel economy compared to similarly-sized front-wheel-drive vehicles. This could lead to higher fuel expenses over the life of the vehicle.

Specialized Parts

Some Subaru parts, especially those related to their all-wheel-drive systems and boxer engines, may be more specialized than those found in more common vehicles. As a result, the cost of these parts might be slightly higher, leading to increased maintenance costs.

Higher Initial Cost

Depending on the model and trim level, Subarus can sometimes have a higher initial purchase price compared to other vehicles in their respective segments. While this doesn’t necessarily translate to higher ownership costs, it can be a factor to consider when comparing vehicles.

women trading in a car at the dealer

The Trade-off: Are Subarus Worth It? 

Before you make your decision, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons associated with this popular brand.There are unique benefits and potential drawbacks of owning a Subaru. Understanding the nuance between these two extremes is vital to make a proper choice.

Subaru Ownership Pros

Subarus have many things to recommend them. Whether you’re buying used or new, you will likely find a few advantages to tip the scales in their favor. Here are a few:

Better Features

Subarus are very well-made cars. Although every manufacturer strives for a good middle ground between affordability and performance, Subaru toes this line better than most. 

For one, its AWD drivetrain brings a level of control that is rare in cars in its price range. Advanced features like AWD are usually reserved for higher-end cars and larger vehicles like SUVs.

This isn’t a new feature, either. The Subaru Impreza, which is one of the cheapest Subaru models on the market, has had AWD as a built-in feature for decades. In comparison, Toyota’s Camry model did not ship with AWD until 2019. The less expensive Corolla model did not get AWD until 2021. 

So, even if you go for a used ten-year-old Subaru model, you’d still get a feature you wouldn’t find on most newer vehicles in the same (and even higher) price ranges.

Fewer Repairs and Higher Resale value

One significant upside of such a durable and well-thought-out build is reliability. While Subarus may cost more per visit  to maintain overall due to their build, it’s still important to note that you’ll visit the mechanic less often.

A less-talked-about upside of this is that Subarus tend to hold value much better than cars of the same age. So, if you plan to resell your car, a Subaru will be a great investment as you’ll get better returns.

Cons Of Owning A Subaru

As with any car, Subarus also have downsides. Although it’s important to know why they’re good cars, it’s also crucial to understand the potential downsides of owning a Subaru so you can make a truly informed decision when buying.

Here are the most significant downsides of owning a Subaru:

More Expensive Repairs

The trade-off of having high-end parts in your car is that it’s more expensive to fix. So, while you’ll visit the mechanic less overall, you’ll typically end up paying more per repair. 

For many people, this can be a deal breaker, especially if you live outside major metropolitan areas where there are fewer options when your car breaks down.

More Expensive After Five Years

Within the first few years of owning a Subaru, repairs are typically few and far apart— even less so than other new cars. This means that over the first five years of owning a Subaru, the reduced frequency of mechanic visits usually reduces the overall cost of owning the car.

However, this cost rises as required repairs become more frequent, and specialty parts begin to fail due to normal wear and tear.

Should You Buy a Subaru?

Now that you know the good and the bad of Subarus, it’s time to make an informed decision. It would be impossible to give a definitive general answer here as customer requirements and finances are vastly different. 

However, there are a few niches Subarus fill that make them excellent choices for certain people:

  • Subarus are great if you plan to resell
  • Subaru has a much more robust customer community than most other vehicles. This means you’re much more likely to get help for a minor issue.
  • Their durability makes them a better choice if you have poor roads or need a daily car that will occasionally be used offroad.
  • They’re a great choice for a long-term car. If you plan to pass your vehicle on to a friend or family member in the future, Subarus could be your best bet.

Owning any car is never going to be cheap and proper servicing is important regardless of brand. Thankfully, there are many specialists online that streamline the process. With the right person for the job, getting a repair started is as easy as submitting a quote.

It’s also vital to know how to spot problems before they become serious. For example, spotting a faulty transmission in time can save you hundreds in repair costs.

The Verdict

Subarus cost more to own than comparable cars after the first five years of ownership, especially if they haven’t been maintained properly. This problem is primarily due to some especially parts, along with the difficulty of fixing specific problems in the car.

Still, Subaru’s are very well-built cars with durable engines. Many of them also feature AWD for better control. This can make them a good buy if you frequently travel bad roads or you’re looking for a car that will last.

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