The 2020 Subaru Outback is all new. This includes a new exterior, which doesn’t stray too far from the previous generation (except for even more exposed cladding). More substantial are the two new powertrains, which are hooked up to Subaru’s usual standard all-wheel-drive system. The new vehicle is a little more than an inch longer, although height and wheelbase stay the same.
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2020 Subaru Outback Overview
Choosing Your Subaru Outback
This Subaru comes in five basic trims: Outback, Premium, Limited, Onyx Edition XT, and Touring. Prices range from $27,655 including destination for the base Outback to $38,355 for the Touring.
The Outback comes with your choice of two engines, both employing four cylinders and a continuously variable transmission to power all four wheels. The more powerful engine is slightly smaller but adds a turbocharger. Subaru is designating models with the turbo engine with an "XT" moniker.
|Engine Type||Horsepower||Torque||Fuel Economy (Combined)|
|2.5L 4-Cylinder||182 hp||176 lb-ft||29 mpg|
|2.4L Turbo 4-Cylinder||260 hp||277 lb-ft||26 mpg|
Those fuel economy numbers are quite good for an all-wheel drive vehicle, whether you consider the Outback a crossover or a wagon. The turbocharged engine provides a substantial power boost for only a modest penalty in efficiency. The Limited and Touring can be had with the turbo engine for an extra $4,300 or $2,350, respectively, while it's standard on the Onyx Edition XT.
Passenger and Cargo Capacity
All Outbacks seat five adults comfortably. Despite the larger body, this year’s Outback lists slightly less cargo capacity at 32.5 cubic feet with the seats up. Subaru says that’s just because of changes in the official testing method, which should more accurately reflect real-world usage.
It’s still a good amount of room, even against crossover competition like the Hyundai Santa Fe. It’s even better with the rear seats down, as capacity expands to 75 cubic feet.
The new Outback comes with plenty of standard safety technologies, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist. The latter uses new software and sensors, resulting in an improved experience over the previous generation.
The Limited and higher also get blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist, and rear cross-traffic alert. These safety features are available on the Premium for $1,400, but the bundle also includes keyless entry, push button start, and a hands-free power liftgate.
All told, the active safety tech contributes to the Outback’s strong value proposition.
Infotainment is one of the biggest changes to the new Outback, which now wears a hefty 11.6-inch touchscreen on all but the base model. Base Outbacks get smaller 7-inch screen. The system is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and includes navigation on the Touring.
The cheapest Outback keeps things simple in both features and options. Twin 7-inch screens control infotainment and vehicle functions, while cloth upholstery decorates manual seats. The base model still gets 17-inch rims, two front USB charging ports, and LED lights.
The Premium trim adds the larger 11.6-inch infotainment screen, plus two more USB charging ports in the back seat, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and dual-zone automatic climate control. The cabin gets extra sound deadening, too.
Buyers can bundle a moonroof, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, keyless entry, push button start, and a hands-free power liftgate all for $2,995.
The Limited trim jumps up to 18-inch wheels and includes leather upholstery, the power liftgate, cornering LED headlights, and a power-adjustable front row. The driver’s seat gets memory settings.
At this trim, the moonroof is bundled with navigation, a heated steering wheel, and a driver attention monitor for $2,045.
The Onyx Edition XT is based on the Premium trim, but the XT addition means it comes with the more powerful engine. It also gets an exclusive interior trim called StarTex, which Subaru says is water repellent. It gets a few extra features over the Premium, including 18-inch wheels and the power liftgate.
This trim offers reverse automatic emergency braking, but it’s part of a bundle with moonroof and navigation that costs $1,845.
The Outback Touring is the king of the lineup, and it includes most of Subaru’s luxury features. This means the moonroof, Nappa leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, a front view camera, extra chrome exterior accents, and the driver attention monitor are all now standard.
The 2020 Subaru Outback Touring provides decent value against luxury cars, but we’d be satisfied with the Premium. It offers a nice balance of features (and the larger infotainment system) for less than $30,000, which makes it a solid value.
2020 Subaru Outback Review
Unlike other websites and magazines, our ratings are not based solely on a singular road test, but rather a more encompassing batch of criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value. When comparing vehicles using our Rating System, it's important to note that the rating earned by each vehicle correlates only to the models within its class. For example, a compact car cannot be compared to a SUV—They are different vehicles altogether.
You can interpret our ratings in the following way:
5-Star: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.
4-Star: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.
3-Star: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.
2-Star: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.
1-Star: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.
- Unmatched off-road capability
- Gigantic touchscreen
- Comfortable ride and seats
- Standard active safety features
- Optional turbo
- Underpowered base engine
- Unimaginative styling
- Average fuel economy
If it ain't broke. The 2020 Subaru Outback is all new, but casual observers wouldn’t know by looking at it. The new Outback sticks to the same tall-wagon styling that has defined an entire market niche, with tough-looking plastic cladding that's designed to evoke the aesthetics of a hiking boot. Overall, it’s handsome, but nobody will be turning their heads, mouths agape.
That said, the style of the Outback accomplishes exactly what it set out to do. Outside of the Subaru WRX and Subaru BRZ, the automaker has never really been a purveyor of flashy designs, and their continued sales success means they must be doing something right.
Go anywhere. Ever since the Subaru Outback debuted in 1995, it has enjoyed a well-earned reputation for its off-road prowess. Even though Subaru is no longer using Crocodile Dundee as their spokesperson, the new Outback remains fully capable of taking excursions beyond the purview of your average station wagon.
To that end, the Outback is equipped with standard full-time all-wheel drive, 8.7-inches of ground clearance, and an excellent suspension and chassis that inspires confidence in places without pavement.
The Onyx Edition trim level takes it even further, with more advanced off-road driving controls and durable water-repellent upholstery that can stand up to adverse conditions better than cloth or leather.
Overall, the Outback can beat out most crossovers off-road, while giving just about any SUV outside of the Jeep Wrangler a run for their money.
Adequate engines. The Subaru Outback is offered with a couple of engine options, but only one is worth getting excited about.
The naturally-aspirated base engine offers what should be considered the bare minimum for a car of the Outback’s stature. With only 182 horsepower, the 2.5-liter flat four-cylinder engine can feel downright anemic, especially at higher altitudes. For a vehicle that’s marketed as the gateway to adventure, that's rather unfortunate.
Thankfully, there’s an optional 260-hp turbocharged four-cylinder that can remedy any of these faults. The turbo’s forced induction makes it suck in more oxygen at higher altitudes while making the Outback feel much more at home at highway speeds. The trade-off is a few miles per gallon, but it may be worth the upgrade.
No nonsense interior. Subaru has never been known for its ability to craft a beautiful interior, but they're getting better. Still, the Outback’s interior remains largely utilitarian, with few embellishments or stylistic designs. That said, it's a comfortable vehicle with well-bolstered and supportive seats.
The biggest change to the Outback’s interior for 2020 is the inclusion of a massive 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen that dominates the center of the dashboard. The infotainment system comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it can feel sluggish or neglectful too often.
Standard active safety features. The Outback, like all Subaru models, comes standard with a suite of advanced safety features like automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane keeping assist. Additional features are available as a part of an option package on most models.
While the IIHS and NHTSA haven’t crashed the new Outback yet, we’ve been told that it's been built with an advanced new frame with high-strength steel reinforcements specifically designed to do very well in the most recent federal crash testing standards.
Final thoughts. The 2020 Subaru Outback is a fantastic vehicle for those who dream of adventure. It’s comfortable and spacious, while remaining rugged and highly capable. Few other vehicles can match its off-road prowess, and even fewer can claim such a high degree of everyday livability.
At the end of the day, the Outback continues to define the tall-wagon segment it created back in the mid-1990s, remaining unmatched in adventurous capability.
That said, the Buick Regal TourX is a similarly-priced competitor that follows the tall-wagon formula, albeit more focused on comfort and on-road manners. Additionally, European models like the Volvo V60 Cross Country and Audi Allroad exist in the strata above the Outback, but the upgrade may be worth considering over a fully-loaded Outback if you don’t see yourself regularly going off-road.
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