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2010-2014 Subaru Outback

2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014

2010-14 Subaru Outback

In a nutshell: This article is an overview of your Outback's audio system and its upgrade options. Use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your Subaru. 

Overview of the Subaru Outback

In case you haven't noticed, the Subaru Outback has quietly become a very popular vehicle. Well, in certain parts of the country, anyway. We noticed because Crutchfield's headquarters are located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where hilly terrain is everywhere and recent winters have been rougher than usual. You'll find a lot of Outbacks in our parking lot, and it's nigh on impossible to drive anywhere in town without seeing at least one on the road.

But we're not the only ones buying (or really wanting to buy) this go-anywhere wagon. Now in its fourth generation, the Outback is much more than just a Legacy wagon with a lift kit. Sure-footed, luxurious, and big enough to handle your hauling duties, the Outback has carved out a niche as the utility vehicle of choice for people who wouldn't be caught dead in an SUV. Even if you don't live in the mountains, there's a lot to like in this comfortable, versatile car.

Subaru Outback radio

The Outback's factory radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Factory stereo system

In the not-too-distant past, it often seemed as though Subaru had an "Oh yeah, right, whatever…." approach to factory audio. They've been trying a lot harder in that area lately and those efforts showed on the Outback and its more genteel stablemate, the Legacy.

The standard AM/FM/CD system didn't blow anyone away, but the optional Harman Kardon system was a real step up and a navigation receiver was also available. All in all, the Outback's factory systems were reasonably okay, but if you're serious about sound and connectivity, you really need to install an aftermarket receiver and speakers.

Detailed stereo and speaker removal instructions

MasterSheet image
With step-by-step disassembly instructions and plenty of up-close, detailed photos, our exclusive Crutchfield MasterSheet™ takes the guesswork out of removing the factory stereo and speakers. It's free with your Crutchfield order, or you can purchase one separately for just $9.99.

When you replace the factory radio, you'll lose factory features (if present) like the AUX input connection and the hands-free cell phone interface. You can replace those features and add plenty of others with the right aftermarket stereo, so that shouldn't be a deal-breaker.  

A variety of single-DIN (2" tall) or double-DIN (4" tall) receivers will fit with the help of the dash kit that comes with your order (see below). The single-DIN kit will basically slide right in, but you'll have to modify the sub-dash when you install a double-DIN.  

Replacing the factory nav receiver, on the other hand, is a challenging job that involves fabricating a new dash kit. That's not a job for the average DIY-er, so you'll probably want to consult a car audio installation professional.

Replacing your factory radio

If you're starting with an Outback equipped with a factory AM/FM/CD receiver, you're in pretty good shape for an uncomplicated installation. To remove the old one, start at bottom edge and pry out the receiver trim panel to release the retaining clips. Remove the panel, then remove the four Phillips screws securing the receiver to the dash. Disconnect the harness, remove the receiver, and you're ready to install the new one.

When you buy your stereo at Crutchfield, you'll get a deep discount on both the dash kit you'll need to fit a new receiver into the dashboard, and the wiring harness adapter you'll need to connect the new stereo to the car's factory wiring. You'll also get our Crutchfield MasterSheet, which includes detailed, illustrated disassembly instructions.

Removing the big-screen factory nav receiver is a bit more complicated and it's covered extensively in your MasterSheet. As noted earlier, you'll probably want to leave the replacement part to your neighborhood installer. Unless, of course, your skill set includes some serious fabrication skills, in which case, have at it. When you're done, send pictures to our Customer Car Showroom, because we'd love to see your work.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver

Shop for car stereos that fit your Subaru Outback

Steering wheel audio controls

It's relatively easy to retain your Outback's steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with your new receiver.

Subaru Outback front door speaker

The Outback's front door speaker (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Replacing your factory speakers

Your Outback has speakers in the front and rear doors, and, in the case of the Harman Kardon system, the dash. The HK cars also have a subwoofer behind the right rear panel in the cargo area.

Subaru Outback dash tweeter

Harman Kardon systems include dash tweeters (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Dash tweeters

The Harman Kardon dash tweeters are located underneath grilles in either dash corner. The tweeters measure 2.772", so same-size aftermarket replacements are not available. This is, however, a great place to put the tweeters if you're installing a set of component speakers.

Removing them is easy – just pry up the grilles, remove the Phillips screws holding them in place, and disconnect the speakers. You can cut and bend a set of our universal backstraps to hold the new ones in place.

Your new speakers (here and elsewhere in the car) might not come with mounting screws, so check before you start working. It's always best to hit the hardware store before you tear the car apart.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver

Subaru Outback front door

A variety of speakers will fit in the front doors (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Front door speakers

A variety of 6-3/4", 6-1/2", or 5-1/4" speakers will work in the Outback's front doors. You'll need to remove the door panel, which is easy enough, and removing the stock speakers is a simple procedure, too.

Installing aftermarket 6-1/2" or 5-1/4" speakers is pretty straightforward. Just secure the speaker to the mounting bracket included with your order, then hook up the harnesses and secure the bracket to the speaker location.

Installing 6-3/4" speakers is a bit more complicated, because you'll need to drill new mounting holes for the speakers. If you have any experience at all with a power drill, this isn't hard, but you're still drilling into your car, which can be a bit stressful. Relax, take your time, and make sure you're aware of everything that's around the area where you're drilling the new holes. And definitely be sure to wear eye protection. 

The stock Harman Kardon speakers are 2-ohm models, while the base speakers are rated at 4 ohms. Replacing 2-ohm factory speakers with higher-impedance models will result in lower volume levels, so be sure to match your speakers properly.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, drill with 1/8" bit

Subaru Outback rear door

The rear doors are easy to work with, too. (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Rear door speakers

Replacing the rear door speakers involves a lot of the same techniques you used up front. The same 2-ohm/4-ohm differences apply, so make sure you order the right speakers for your application. And, whether you're installing 5-1/4" or 6-1/2" speakers, you'll need to drill new mounting holes for your new speakers, so be careful and wear eye protection.

The Outback isn't exactly monster truck-noisy, but we still recommend a set of foam speaker baffles for the rear doors. These inexpensive waterproof baffles will not only improve speaker performance, they'll also protect the speakers from dust and moisture. Outbacks are rarely used for hard-core off-roading, but they tend to get dirtier than the average wagon or SUV, so these baffles are a wise investment. You might want to get a set for the front speakers, too.

Before you button up these doors (or the front doors, of course), test to make sure the speakers are working, check to see that the wires do not interfere with window operation, and test the door lock and release operation.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, drill with 1/8" bit

Shop for speakers that fit your Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback factory sub

The factory sub looks easy to replace, but there's more to it than you think. (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Bass in your Subaru Outback

The factory subwoofer that's part of the Harman Kardon system is an 8" model located in the right rear corner of the Outback's cargo area. It looks easy to get to, but removing it and replacing it takes more work than you'd think. It's not hard work, but you'll need to remove some panels and drill new mounting screw holes for the aftermarket sub. Not tough, but not exactly "plug and play," either.

This dual 2-ohm voice coil sub only receives bass frequencies from the factory amp, and the same will hold true for the new one. If you install an aftermarket dual voice coil sub, you'll need two speaker wiring harnesses to connect it properly. All the disassembly instructions you need can be found in your Crutchfield MasterSheet, of course. And your new sub might not come with mounting screws, so check before you start working.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, 1/4" socket, ratchet, and extension, small flat blade screwdriver

Subaru Outback cargo area

Plenty of room for bass if you need it (Crutchfield Research Photo)

The average Outback stays pretty busy ferrying people, dogs, and/or stuff over hill and dale in all sorts of weather. This usually doesn't leave time for the average Outback driver to ponder the need for rump-shaking bass. But why be average? If you're in the mood to rock out in your Outback, you can and you should. The spacious rear cargo area offers a 42" W x 15" H x 38"/28" D space for a sub enclosure stuffed with subwoofers, so go for it. If you need more cargo space, that's what the roof rack is for, right?

Should practical concerns remain a factor in your life, you can still add plenty of bass with a compact powered subwoofer. You'll get the rich, full sound you want, plus you'll still have room for groceries, camping gear, and just about anything else you need.

Shop for vehicle-specific subwoofers for your Subaru Outback

Thule Force

Available in four sizes, the Thule Force carrier features dual door openings that allow you to load or unload from either side.

Other options for your Outback

With a popular, versatile vehicle like the Outback, there are lots of ways to upgrade your in-car experience. Here are some of the ways Crutchfield can help.

Roof-mounted storage

Outback owners tend to have a certain affinity for outdoor adventures. Recreational pursuits such hunting, fishing, and camping require a lot of gear, so sometimes you need even more space than this wagon can offer. Lightweight cargo carriers, bike racks, and other travel storage gear from Thule will give you the extra space you need.

iPod® adapters and satellite radio

If you don't want to (or in the case of the nav model, can't) replace your Outback's factory receiver, you can still improve the performance of your car's stereo system. We offer several adapters that will allow you to use an iPod, MP3 player with the factory receiver. Another great option is a SiriusXM satellite radio subscription. We have all the gear you need to enjoy their vast array of music, sports, news, and entertainment programming.

Floor mats

The Outback combines luxury and utility in a uniquely Subaru kind of way, which means it's easier than you think to mess up the comfy interior while going about your daily business. Floor mats and cargo mats from WeatherTech will help protect your floors from dirt and damage. 


Installing a security system in your Outback isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's less complicated than it could be. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and new gear to a professional security system installer.

Shop for car security systems for your Subaru Outback

Find the audio gear that fits your car or truck

Visit our Outfit My Car page and enter your vehicle information to see stereos, speakers, subs, and other audio accessories that will work in your vehicle.

  • chris from Houston

    Posted on 7/3/2019

    is there an article like this for a 2015 otback

  • Matt from Manchester, NH

    Posted on 7/2/2019

    I have a 2011 Outback with the HK sound system (but no nav) and I've always been disappointed with the sound. I plan to buy a new Sony deck with Apple CarPlay, and I have two questions about my Subaru: 1. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the HK system was designed to work differently than your typical system. That the dash tweeters, for example, were designed to bounce sound off the windshield. Is this true, or just BS? 2. How important or good is the under-seat amplifier? Like I said, I've always found the sound lacking, so it doesn't seem like the amp is really helping. My previous car, FWIW, was a '97 Camry with an Alpine deck.

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield on 7/3/2019
    Matt, The Harman Kardon system was certainly tuned for the car, but it's not all that different from similar factory systems. An aftermarket upgrade can definitely give you better sound, so you're on the right track. I've sent your question to our sales team, and they'll be contacting you via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.
  • John Dutkiewicz from Buffalo NY

    Posted on 3/13/2019

    have a 2013 Outback with the factory navigation screen and Harmon Kardon radio, because I travel alot I miss SCAN on the radio, any way of just replacing the radio with one with scan? and leaving the navigation and sreering wheel controls intact, looks just like your pic of the Outback radio but with the center big BIG button radio.

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield on 3/15/2019
    John, OEM-for-OEM swaps usually don't work, alas. If you want to install an aftermarket navigation receiver, we can help you with that and we'll even give you a very nice discount on the wiring harness adapter you'll need for the new one. Give us a call!
  • Andrew

    Posted on 2/22/2019

    '13 Outback Limited with HK Audio I plan to replace head unit with JVC and want to add my own powered subwoofer. I want to disable stock HK amp and subwoofer. I have harness that came with my crutchfield order but can't find instructions on how to disable stock amp and subwoofer.

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield on 2/25/2019
    Andrew, Since you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. But even if you'd purchased your equipment elsewhere, you could still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.
  • Mark from Lancaster PA

    Posted on 1/16/2019

    Do you have any experience with someone adding a subwoofer or dash speakers to a 2013 outback when the car didn't have those speakers installed from the factory?

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield on 1/17/2019
    Mark, With questions like that, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. Give us a call and talk to one of our advisors. We can help you choose the right gear for your Soobie and give you some good advice on how to install it.
  • Karen from St Charles

    Posted on 12/10/2018

    Having a problem with static coming from my audio system when I start the car when it's cold outside. It happens with all audio functions, radio or CD and will gradually go away as the car warms up. What seems to be the problem and can it be fixed? One shop says it's a corroded ground wire and is a tedious time consuming repair especially as it is an intermittent problem. Thoughts?

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield on 12/11/2018
    Karen, It could be the receiver, it could be the speakers, it could be a bad connection, and, if your car has the Harman Kardon system, it could be an expiring amplifier. It could also be the ground wire or even a dirty battery post. Clean the posts and see if that helps. If it doesn't, it could be the ground or you could need some new gear. Hope this helps!
  • John Puskar from Parma, OH

    Posted on 12/9/2018

    I'd like to find a connector for the tweeters so I don't need to splice the cable, but I'm having trouble locating the correct part. You guys recommended the connector for the 6.5" door speakers when I checked out, but the tweeter connector is slightly different. Also, if I want to avoid cutting into the factory wiring harness to install the component speaker crossover -- is there a connector that's like an extension cable I can hook on the back of the radio, and just cut the couple wires I need?

    Jon Paul from Crutchfield on 12/10/2018
    John, If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.
  • Steve Watilo from Spokane Valley

    Posted on 7/26/2018

    I have a 2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited with the Navigation System. I would like to upgrade the speakers, rear subwoofer and add some punch to the sound. What are my options?

    Jon Paulette from Crutchfield on 7/26/2018
    Steve, You have lots of great options, actually. It all depends on the music you like and how you like to listen to that music. I've sent your question to our sales team, and they'll be contacting you via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.
  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/1/2018

    Kenny, I've sent your question to our sales team, and they'll be contacting you via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.

  • Kenny from Lakewood

    Posted on 3/1/2018

    I am trying to find a in dash screen that will act as both a radio control and screen for soon to be installed back up camera. What do I need to buy? - 2014 Subaru Outback - Base trim nothing fancy.

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/31/2017

    Thomas, You'll need 6-3/4" baffles for the front speakers and 6-1/2" baffles for the rears. For the fronts, make sure you choose the "slim-line" models, because there's not a ton of space back there. If you have any questions, give us a call and chat with one of our expert advisors.

  • Thomas

    Posted on 10/31/2017

    I want to install foam baffles for the stock speakers (front and rear) in a 2013 HK outback, do you know what size I should order? Thanks.

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/8/2017

    Aashish, With questions like that, it's always better to have a conversation with a real live human. Give us a call and talk to one of our advisors. We can help you choose the right gear and give you the right advice on how to install it.

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/8/2017

    Matt, Those tweeters can be replaced with most component system tweeters. Give us a call and let one of our advisors help you choose the right set of speakers for your Outback and your musical tastes.

  • Matt from Honolulu

    Posted on 8/8/2017

    I have a 2014 Subaru Outback that has the dash tweeters and front and rear door speakers, but I'm pretty sure it's not the Harmon Kardon edition and I know there isn't a sub in my trunk. Is it possible that there's another system, and what would you recommend for replacing the tweeters

  • Aashish Bharadwaj from Miamisburg

    Posted on 8/7/2017

    I'm trying to get new component speakers, but Crutchfield website says the mounting height is wrong. Does this matter, or is there any way around it? The Crutchfield website says my mounting height is .205, but the speaker mounting height is 0.5.

  • Sean U

    Posted on 5/3/2017

    Hi, I have a 2013 Outback with the backup camera that displays in the mirror. Is there an easy way to get the backup camera to display on a new aftermarket head unit, and the mirror at the same time? Is there an active connection already in the dash?

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/17/2017

    Steven, If you bought your gear from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.

  • Steven Ives from Manchester

    Posted on 4/13/2017

    I'm installing component speakers but I'm not sure how to run wire from the dash tweeters to the box I've mounted in the door.

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/31/2017

    Steven, The front door depth is just a tick over 2", while the rear doors are 4.37" deep. Those measurements were taken on a Harman-equipped car, but the depth should be the same on your Outback. When you enter your vehicle's info into our Outfit My Car tool, you'll see which speakers fit your car. If you have any questions, our advisors are available via phone or chat.

  • Steven Ives from Manchester

    Posted on 3/30/2017

    What's the maxgames depth for the front and rear door speakers? 2012 outback 6 speaker non-Harman. I know it's shallow but what's the exact measurement?

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 2/8/2017

    Sara, The 2017 Outback is available with a factory Harman Kardon system. If you're asking about swapping an older HK system into a new Outback, well, that's probably not a great idea. You'll get a lot more bang for your bucks from an aftermarket stereo and speakers.

  • Sara from Omaha

    Posted on 2/7/2017

    Can the Harmon kardon system with safety features be installed in the new 2017 out backs?

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 1/9/2017

    Charles, We do have some power antennae that should work with your Subaru, so give us a call and let one of our expert advisors help you find exactly what you need. You also get free tech support with your purchase, so if you run into any installation challenges, our tech team will be here to help. Good luck!


    Posted on 1/6/2017


  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 12/19/2016

    Kim, Missing buttons really are annoying, so we understand completely. You might be able to get some help from a dealership, but the online marketplace will probably be cheaper. If you can't find anything, though, it's worth noting that all of our aftermarket receivers come with a complete array of buttons -- and they sound great, too! Good luck with the search!

  • Kim Spangrude from Montrose, Colorado

    Posted on 12/18/2016

    Hello, I took my 2012 Subaru Outback to a car wash,and a day later I noticed that the button on the factory stereo with the little up-arrow on it on the upper left hand side (next to the CD slot) was missing. Of course, they don't know what happened. How do I order a replacement button?

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/24/2015

    Mark, Sounds like you need some new gear. I've sent your question to our sales team, and they'll be contacting you via email soon. For immediate help, you can contact them via phone or chat.

  • Mark from Madison, VA

    Posted on 8/23/2015

    I have a 1998 Ford Explorer. The radio is stock with a whip antenna but very few stations come in clear, the CD is broken and when I get a good station the speaker show their age. Any suggestions to fix this so I have good sound on my drive?

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/28/2015

    Michaela, Good question. Your Outback's factory radio doesn't have the preamp outputs you'd need to connect an amplifier. So, you can either replace the radio with an aftermarket stereo, OR make sure that your amplifier (or powered sub) has speaker-level inputs. Those are the inputs that let you connect the amp to a factory system. If you want to discuss your options, just give us a call. Our advisors can answer your questions and help you find what you need.

  • Michaela from United States

    Posted on 4/27/2015

    Do I need to replace my factory radio in my 2014 Subaru Outback, with the Harmon Kardon system, to hook up a subwoofer to it? Does it have the proper hook ups on the back of the radio to correctly hook that up?

  • Jon Paulette from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/27/2015

    Oman, Thanks for the comments. Adjustments made as needed!

  • Oman from PA

    Posted on 4/27/2015

    Note that if you have the Harmon Kardon system, you need to make sure to wire the radio to turn on the separate amp, which is under the front passenger seat, otherwise you'll have power to the radio, but no sound. Instructions typically don't make that clear. Also, all Subarus have AWD, including the Legacy, which I'd call a sister, not cousin, to the Outback. They're both identical, except one has a trunk, the other doesn't. The report said the Legacy was 2WD

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