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2020 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Subaru, SUV, Test Drives

2020 subaru outback onyx edition xt

The Subaru Outback has a long-standing in a unique crowd that looks for a good value in a vehicle that proudly wears many hats. For the 2020 model year, the Subaru Outback is redesigned, but most will be hard-pressed to notice as it retains most of its expected looks and theme that is now classified as a crossover utility vehicle, a midsized one. Being in such a segment the new redesigned Outback has its work cut out to run amongst some stiff competition, and after a week of enjoying the Outback in its unique Onyx Edition XT trim level, I’m certain that the Outback has not lost its unique character that buyers look for in such a vehicle.

>> Get the best price on the Subaru Outback from a network of local dealers now. <<

All aspects of what the Subaru Outback is known for have been improved upon in the 2020 model. One notable change is the use of a new 2.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder boxer engine, a power unit that is good for 260 horsepower and 277 ft-lbs. of torque. The horizontally opposed turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in the Outback XT models is an upgrade over the standard naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter 4-cylinder boxer engine with 182 horsepower and 176 ft-lbs. of torque. Both engines get paired to a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). Subaru is known to make decent CVTs with programming in the 2020 model to closely mimic the shifts of a traditionally automatic transmission with virtual ratio steps.

2020 subaru outback side

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Driving the new 2020 Outback Onyx Edition XT out on the road takes an act of throttle modulation, much more than I like due to a feeling that you’re controlling the CVT transmission more so than the throttle body of the robust turbocharged 2.4-liter engine. To further explain, I noticed that a good portion of the throttle doesn’t respond as I expect, leaving you wanting more power. However, when you push too hard, close to full throttle, the engine gives you a bit too much than you called for with abrupt thrusts of the engine and CVT leaving no choice but to back off of the throttle. Fundamentally, the CVT makes the power delivery inconsistent and sometimes a lumpy. For the most part, the Outback XT has ample power and does well to get up to speed quickly, sometimes surprisingly quick. I expect the new Outback XT to reach 60 mph in about 6 seconds.

2020 subaru outback side off-road

Fuel economy has always been a bonus with the Subaru Outback with the one exception of the outgoing model’s no-longer-offered V6 engine option. Moving to forced induction for the top-trim engine choice is a good move to provide respectable power yet still have the EPA estimates of 23 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined. Those are good figures for a 260-hp all-wheel-drive midsized crossover.

The driving dynamics of the Outback XT match its looks – if that makes any sense. It’s high ground clearance, 8.7 inches, and somewhat soft tuning of the suspension system, is more on the side of handing light off-roading duties better than navigating twisty back roads. The noticeable body roll, dive, and pitch of the Outback XT is always there to remind you of its high-statured wagon-esq design. The turbocharged engine, which is a good one, has enough power to induce quite a bit of body pitch, and committing to sharp turns at speed doesn’t inspire much confidence until you’re halfway into the turn, and you find out you’re going to be just fine. All of what I said is to not bash the Outback on its handling abilities, it’s just to confirm that this is far from a sports car or even a somewhat sporty CUV – it feels more “planted” on off-roading surfaces than it does on the road.

2020 subaru outback dashboard

The new 2020 Outback has an all-new interior where the central focus is on the upper trim level’s 11.6-inch tablet-style infotainment touch screen. The new system, from a summarized glance into its features, seems like something directly out of a Tesla. However, after having some one-on-one time with the system, there’s a lot more to be desired. There are a few on-screen functions, such as the climate controls, that are cumbersome to access where I found myself missing the button and pressing the wrong thing. While the system has good response, most of the menu sets and main functions leading to other options don’t flow well, adding unnecessary steps to enter a desired area. It shouldn’t take three button presses on the screen just to turn off the engine auto stop/start features. Probably the worst aspect of the unit is the backup camera display, which is rather fuzzy-looking and almost to the point that you can’t tell if your backing into a garage door or an open garage with an extra-bright floor. The contrast and detail of the camera are way off and cannot be fixed much with on-screen adjustments. In all, the tablet-style infotainment system offers a neat way of customizing icon order and adding quick-access shortcuts. Again, it has a good initial execution but falls short in many ways after digging into what it really offers. The Outback could also use additional physical buttons apart from the climate temp and defrost buttons. Thankfully, there is a physical volume and tuning knob.

2020 subaru outback infotainment 11-inch screen

The cabin of the 2020 Outback Onyx Edition XT is much improved over the outgoing model. Many of the Subaru traits are still there with the expected good fit and finish. Oddly enough, the 11.6-inch infotainment screen seems to take up a good amount of space where it seems to intrude on front seat storage, making you feel more cramped than it actually is. There are many soft-touch surfaces to enjoy with a nice stand-out green stitching throughout unique to my Onyx Edition XT test vehicle. There is also more cargo space to use, and it remains easy to access through the power rear liftgate and a floor at just the right height.

2020 subaru outback front seats

Retaining Subaru’s position at the forefront of safety, the new 2020 Outback XT has a plethora of active safety features that literally keep an eye on the road for you through its latest EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. The EyeSight system combines adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, forward collision warning, and a sometimes overly intrusive (depending on the sensitivity setting) emergency braking system.

Subaru’s hopes to compete directly with the vast and ultra-popular crossover segment is a goal of the new 2020 Outback. The Outback XT rises above competitors in its value position and retaining more of a car-like design that may appeal to those who may not be quite ready to have their crossover ever called a truck.

2020 subaru outback cargo

The new 2020 Subaru Outback in its base trim starts at $26,645, and my near-top-trim Outback Onyx Edition XT test vehicle comes to an estimated price of $38,000.

>> Get the best price on the Subaru Outback from a network of local dealers now. <<

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