The 2020 Subaru Outback will go through any field, stream, trail, or two-track to tell you that it’s a crossover. The car’s loyal devotees will go just about as far to tell you it’s the wagon versatility that makes it the best kind of crossover—if they admit that it’s a crossover at all.
The tall-riding whatchamacallit is new for 2020, and it’s one of the best Subarus made since the idea was new in the 1990s and “Crocodile Dundee” was too.
The new Outback looks a lot like the old Outback, which isn’t a bad thing. It looks like a cross-trainer ready to hike—its roof is just begging for soft-sided bags, a cargo box and some stickers.
Inside, the Outback finds newer moves that send it straight uptown. The headline here is an 11.6-inch vertically oriented touchscreen on Premium and higher models (read: most Outbacks) that’s more tech-forward than we ever expected from Subaru. The cabin’s gotten a once-over in the fit-and-finish department and with a bucks-up feel and look, especially in top trims.
Most Outbacks get a 2.5-liter flat-4 that makes 182 horsepower and powers all four wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission. It’s hardly a screamer, but with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, it’s enough to scramble the Subaru up any mountainside that a Jeep would dare—trust us. The top shelf motor for the Outback this year is a 2.4-liter turbo-4 borrowed from the bigger Ascent crossover that makes 260 hp. It’s more confident for passes and features in our recommended Outback: the Outback Onyx Edition.
We’ll sing the praises of the Outback’s outward versatility and usability; it’ll tackle just about any terrain, we promise. We also sing out loud inside the Outback, too—it makes any road trip better, we promise. The Outback is comfortable for four or five adults, with room in the back for 32.5 cubic feet of cargo. The rear seats recline for better long-haul comfort and the front seats are all-day cozy. Most Outbacks will be shod in cloth upholstery, although some will opt for leather. About that Onyx? It gets a hard-wearing vinyl that’s not only neat and water-repellent but also vegan—bonus points in the Whole Foods parking lot.
The 2020 Subaru Outback features 32.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row. (Nathan Leach-Proffer/For The Car Connection)
The IIHS called the Outback a Top Safety Pick and automatic emergency braking is equipped on every model.
Base trims cost about $27,500, but Premiums with the showstopping touchscreen still cost less than $30,000. The Onyx Edition gets all our feels for less than $36,000 with the upholstery, uprated engine, big touchscreen, blacked-out trim, heated front seats, and dual-zone climate control.
Crossover, wagon, SUV, whatever. Will we call it our Best Car To Buy 2020?
Check back with us on Jan. 2 when we announce the winner of this year's award. We'll also announce the winners from our sister sites, Motor Authority and Green Car Reports. The Car Connection will also reveal the best vehicles in 15 categories to help you choose the best the cars, trucks, and SUVs for your needs. Finally, be sure to vote for our annual Driver’s Choice awards and tell us what you think is the best in every category.