- Sticks to its formula
- High-tech interior
- Lots of safety gear
- Turbo intrigues
- LED fog lights look like an afterthought
- Too much touchscreen?
- Base engine may underwhelm
The 2020 Subaru Outback delivers newly optional turbo power and a high-tech interior wrapped in a familiar package.
Set to go on sale this fall in base, Premium, Onyx Edition, Limited, and Touring trim levels, the 2020 Outback boasts an exceptionally wide lineup. The Outback is still a station wagon version of the Subaru Legacy with a lift kit and standard all-wheel drive that feels more like a crossover SUV. The Outback and Legacy share many body panels, an interior design forward of the rear seatbacks, and flat-4 and turbo-4 engines.
The base Outback engine is a 2.5-liter flat-4 rated at 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. Gone is last year’s thirsty flat-6. Instead, a version of the Subaru Ascent’s 2.4-liter turbo-4 puts out 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque and is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds in the Outback.
Power is shuttled to all four wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission regardless of what’s underhood.
Subaru estimates the 2020 Outback’s fuel economy at 26 mpg city, 33 highway with the base engine and 23/30 mpg with the turbo. The flat-4 Outback is road-trip ready thanks to its 600-mile range.
The Outback rides on Subaru’s latest modular architecture, which means it’s a twin to nearly all of the automaker’s other cars underneath. Additional sound deadening makes the new Outback as much as 3 decibels quieter than the outgoing model.
Between the raised suspension that offers 8.7 inches of running ground clearance and an off-road traction control mode, the Outback will likely remain a surprisingly formidable four-wheeler.
Overall, the new Outback stretches 191.3 inches, 1.7 inches longer than last year’s model, and rides on a 108.3-inch wheelbase.
Its bones may be new, but the redesigned Outback’s face and profile are familiar. Gray side cladding and a raised ride height compared to the related Legacy give the Outback a tougher look. All but the base trim include stacked LED fog lights integrated into the front bumper.
The new Outback’s interior can hold 75.7 cubic feet of cargo with the rear seat folded, making it about 2.5 cubes more spacious than last year’s model. With the rear seat upright, the Outback is rated to lug 32.5 cubic feet. Most versions of the 2020 Outback include a hands-free power liftgate that can be opened by waving a hand in front of the Subaru badge on the tailgate.
Rear-seat leg room grows to 39.5 inches, about 1.5 inches more than last year’s car.
2020 Subaru Outback features and safety
Subaru hasn’t said how much the 2020 Outback will cost when it goes on sale in the fall. All versions include a suite of active safety tech including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. The options list includes blind-spot monitors, a driver-attention monitor that uses an infrared camera to watch the driver and issue an admonishing beep if it detects distracted eyes, and rear cross-traffic alerts.
All Outbacks but the base trim have a vertical, tablet-like 11.6-inch touchscreen that handles audio, climate, and optional navigation functions. Redundant volume and tuning knobs are located next to the screen. Base models use a 7.0-inch touchscreen, although all Outbacks can come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility. High-trim versions pump sound through 12 Harman Kardon speakers and the Outback can be optioned with up to four USB ports.
A new Onxy Edition trim level available for Outback XTs adds water-repellant gray/black two-tone upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, a power liftgate, and a full-size spare tire.
Both base and turbocharged Outbacks can be fitted with the Limited and Touring trim levels. The Outback Limited adds 10-way power-adjustable and heated front seats and leather upholstery, while the Touring trim tosses in nappa leather upholstery, cooled front seats and a heated steering wheel.