Subaru has done an incredible job building a loyal following. Owners are faithful and often purchase the same model, a few years newer, when it is time to upgrade. Outback owners are in for a nice surprise when it is time to trade up. The new for 2020 model offers more power, better technology and enhanced rear seating and cargo space.
Two More Powerful Engines, One Transmission
We’ve always appreciated the Outback formula. Subaru’s mid-size SUV looks and handles more like an oversized station wagon than a traditional SUV, mini-van or truck. However, we often found the outgoing engines, including the top-trim V6 to be a bit lacking in terms of power. Fuel economy was great, but the energy that the exterior design evokes always felt a bit betrayed by the power.
Apparently we weren’t alone; the new for 2020 powerplants address the need for more muscle while simultaneously offering superior fuel economy. Both engines send power to all four wheels through a CVT transmission. Subaru’s reputation for offering all-wheel-drive all-weather ready vehicles is only strengthened by the new model.
The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine offers surprisingly good fuel economy. The Outback stands out in the mid-size crossover SUV crowd by delivering an impressive 26/33/20 mpg city/highway/combined. Perhaps even more exciting is the range. On the highway the Outback is good for more than 600 miles before you need to be dreadfully aware of the next exit with a gas station.
Our Onyx XT review vehicle was fit with the all-new 2.4-liter turbocharged engine that creates an impressive 260 horsepower and 277 ft-lbs. of torque. The additional torque really helps the Outback shine, providing stronger acceleration and more immediate highway passing. While we aren’t fans of any CVT, Subaru has done an excellent job with this one. The manufacturer’s transmission choice also helps yield fantastic fuel economy with 23/30/26 mpg (city/highway/combined).
A Huge Infotainment Screen Anchors the Updated Interior
A more powerful turbocharged engine is always going to peak our interest, but the Onyx trim’s 11.5-inch infotainment touch screen probably gets the most attention. Subaru’s implementation looks like a tablet-style computer has been grafted into the dashboard and center console. The system is fairly intuitive and goes beyond traditional infotainment, encompassing climate control functions and many other important vehicle controls. While we found the software and hardware to be fast and faultless, the resolution of the screen needs refinement. The new front-view camera and backup camera in particular seem dated compared to the competition from a visual standpoint.
Both the driver and front seat passenger are provided with comfortable accommodations. Subaru favors long-lasting materials and excellent fit and finish over trendy fashions. It is apparent that the cabin will age well and still seem contemporary to the brand even in a decade or so. Rear seat passengers have more room than ever and the cargo space is not only bigger, but more user friendly than the outgoing model.
Spending a week with the Outback proves the family friendliness of the vehicle. From car pooling to weekend errands, the crossover simply does what you ask and uses very little fuel in the process.
Enhanced Safety Technology
Subaru’s “EyeSight Driver Assist Technology” is standard on all models. The set of active safety technology includes adaptive cruise control and active lane centering. Both features are helpful on long highway trips, giving the Outback a great chance to show off the vehicles range. Subaru’s “DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System” uses an infrared camera and facial recognition technology to help identify driver fatigue or distraction.
Additional features available include LED steering responsive headlights, head-up display, reverse automatic braking, blind spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.
The base model 2020 Outback starts at at $27,655, including a destination charge of $1,010. The Premium trim is $29,905, Limited is $34,455 and the Touring trim starts at $38,355.
The Outback XT models, with the turbocharged engine, include the Onyx Edition XT at $35,905, Limited XT $38,755, and Touring XT at $40,705.
Images courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.