Really? Really. Subaru Outback nav system proves difficult


I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent person. And I can usually figure something out if I stick with it long enough. But there are those cases, occasionally, that I just can’t figure it out. In those few instances I have to RTFM.

So, when I couldn’t figure out how to deal with the navigation in the Subaru Outback, I was supremely ticked off to find out there wasn’t a manual in the glove box.

Problem No. 1

I couldn’t figure out how to switch the “zone” in the setup. It was stuck on the Pacific Coast. So, while I could get a current map of where I was traveling, I could not set a destination in Chicago. I got to the point where I could see the zones, and I could switch between Washington, Oregon and California … but there was no option to switch to anywhere in the Midwest or East Coast.

Which is when I checked for the manual and saw DVDs that had to be switched out for each zone. Really? Hasn’t technology gotten beyond that? Audi can do it. BMW can do it. Ford Can do it. Even GM can do it. Subaru, apparently, can’t do it.

Problem No. 2

OK. So, I figured it’d get easier from here. Swap out the DVD, and I’m good to go.

Not so much.
I couldn’t figure out where the DVD was supposed to go. I know. It may seem to be logical. But it’s not. I tried to put it in the slot under the nav screen. That didn’t do it. I looked in the glove box. Not there. I looked in the center console. Nope. Oh, I know! Under the driver’s seat. Uh, uh.

So, I tweeted and facebooked about it when, apparently, I just should have googled it.


Thanks to my facebook friend, Sue H., I found the solution to my problem: That shiny plate under the CD slot pops off to reveal a DVD player for the navigation. And the removal process wasn’t obvious or easy. And contrary to what the website said, you can’t get the plate off with your fingernail.

Luckily I had tweezers.

So, I got the plate off, swapped the DVDs, and figured NOW the system would work properly.

Um. Not quite.

Problem No. 3

Finally able to set the state to Illinois and punch in a destination in Chicago, I figured I’d be good to go. Until I actually tried it.

Luckily, I knew where I was going and only set the navigation to test it. Otherwise I’d have taken a 3-hour detour. As you can see in the photo series below, for whatever reason, the nav system was trying to send me in the exact opposite direction of where i needed to be. And when I was in front of my destination, it was still trying to make me keep going!


As I was on Western, needing to head east, the system tried to send me west. You can clearly see my destination on the left.



I figured once I turned in the direction of my destination, the system would straighten out and recalculate. Hmmmm.


Here I am in front of my destination. Shouldn’t I be done now?

This could have been an aberration, so I tried to set and reset my destination several times. Each time, it did the same thing.


And that is just plain disappointing as I really liked this vehicle otherwise. I’m hoping this was a glitch in this car alone.

Any Subaru owners/dealers out there want to give a solution to this problem? Anyone else out there experience the same thing? Was this a glitch?

Filed under: Funny stuff, Reviews

Tags: navigation, outback, Subaru


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  • Thanks for the heads up. I'm thinking about getting one of these cars, especially if they make it with say, a 3.0 turbo diesel next year. I would hate to fork out big time for a navisystem with these issues.

  • In reply to RMNixon:

    definitely ask about this when you're buying. there's always a chance i was driving a lemon. but i could do nothing right with this nav system. and the fact that you need to swap out DVDs for different areas of the country is just antiquated. i think you'd be much better off buying the car and getting a $200 garmin ...

  • In reply to RMNixon:

    I have a 2011 Subaru Outback 2.5L Limited with nav. I have the same problem. The computer tells me to take the first exit when I have started on the correct highway in the correct direction. It will continue to tell me to turn around and go back while I drive 305 miles to Davis, CA from my house. Then, when I have taken the correct exit to get to her house and I am in her neighborhood within 1 mile of her house, it begins to tell me the correct sequence of turns. One out of five destinations it works correctly. The rest of the time, it is less than useless as it takes you in circles. I will video its performance with my iPhone on the way home today and send that to Subaru. If they can't fix it, I will demand my $2K back then pursue any legal options available. Perhaps we can circle the wagons and file a class action suit if Subaru doesn't make good. Thanks.

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    Absolute worst navigation system ever. Extremely complicated to use, gives horrible directions (sends you in circles) and you can't set a destination or change any functions while driving even if you have a passenger. Would never buy again. Much better off saving $2500 and buying a $150 Garmin or using the navigation on your phone.

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