Back in 2008, Melissa and I bought a Subaru Outback 2.5i wagon to serve as our rugged ‘family hauler.’ We had a tentative plan to keep it for our usual five- or six-year automotive cycle, which is quickly coming to an end now, before upgrading to something new. As of today, the Outback has been through about five years and 74,000 miles of wind and rain, snow and ice, work commutes and distant journeys, Ikea trips and art-show runs, moves and vacations. It has needed nothing more than a couple of minor repairs and its regular, scheduled maintenance. It’s still, pretty much, as good as new.

After thinking about it and weighing our options, we’ve decided that there is no real need to upgrade it now or any time soon (even though it is always tempting to get something new and shiny). Instead, we’re going to make a number of investments and improvements to keep it up-to-date and working for the indefinite future. Last week, I had its aging tires replaced with new Goodyear TripleTreds, and then spent some time on my own installing a new high-quality permanent (washable) engine air filter, upgrading the headlight and fog-light bulbs with new, brighter ones, and partially de-badging the tailgate (photos below).

I’ve also purchased a Haynes repair manual (which hasn’t arrived yet), and soon I’ll be replacing the stock stereo with an aftermarket head unit that supports Bluetooth calling and USB devices. I’m also entertaining suggestions for reasonably-priced ways to increase performance or add new, useful features to get my Subaru (and me) through the next 74,000 miles. So, dear gear-heads, let me know if you have any recommendations!