Despite the rapid sales growth of SUV’s, the Subaru outback has soldiered on through 5 generations as the one station wagon that more and more Americans love, literally! As each redesign has grown, so has outback sales. It truly has been something of a throwback all-wheel drive phenomenon. So let’s see if fans are ready for even more.
Well, after years of staking a claim as the world’s first “sport utility wagon,” lo-and-behold, Subaru now considers the 2020 Outback a genuine SUV. Sport utility vehicle…station wagon…doesn’t really matter; whatever you call it, the Subaru Outback has been a major success for Subaru, and it’s likely the 6th generation will generate more of the same.
Subaru’s new global platform means more growth again, slightly. It’s about an inch and a half longer, though the 108.1-inch wheelbase, along with height, are unchanged.
The look is a tad more rugged than before, with wider fenders and large hexagonal grille; while body cladding on the sides, is made to resemble a hiking boot. Hey, we don’t come up with this stuff, but those are the kinds of things that Subaru owners are into.
Well, if they were into the optional 6-cylinder engine, they’ll be disappointed, as it’s no longer available.
In its place is the Ascent’s 2.4-liter boxer-4 turbo. At 260-horsepower, there’s a few less horsepower than the 3.6-liter, but there’s 30 more lb-ft. of torque, at 277. Towing capacity is now 3,500-lbs, the highest ever for an Outback; and yes, more than some SUVs.
The base 2.5-liter, gets updated as well; gaining 7-horsepower to 182; all-wheel-drive, still standard.
Current Outback owners who trade up will notice that this one feels bigger, and that the seats are much more comfortable.
The turbo will feel different as well, with its more aggressive power delivery; and the fact that it shuts off at red lights may take a while to get used to.
One thing that won’t feel much different is the way the Outback handles. It’s still sure footed and stable through turns. Steering has a bit more feel, with the feel of the brake pedal again familiar; along with the smooth but lazy CVT sensation.
It’s hard to miss the much larger Starlink touchscreen in the dash, now 11.6-inches and oriented in tablet-style fashion. It’s much less distracting to operate at speed, and fairly intuitive to figure out.
But it also means you must use it for most HVAC adjustments, and sun worshipers will find that having the available moon roof open can make the display hard to see.
Ventilated seats are now an appropriate part of Touring trim, but they’re also a little noisy.
Something only current owners would notice, is that the compass heading display in the rearview mirror has changed from green to an annoying red.
Open the hands free power lift-gate that comes with most trims, and you’ll find an additional2.4 cubic-ft. of space for a total of 32.5 cubic-ft.; more importantly, space between the wheel wells is much wider. Fold the seatbacks to get the maximum 75.7 cubic-ft.; and the whole area is rugged and ready to be abused as always.
Many owners will upgrade just for the added safety features, and they are comprehensive; with standard EyeSight now including Auto Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering.
We didn’t need such assistance at the test track, where we were off to a quick 0-60 of 6.3-seconds. Power builds, as does CVT-induced engine noise, as you work your way down the track with no drama or excitement to speak of; finishing the ¼ in 14.9-seconds at 96 miles-per-hour. Through the cones, only mild understeer and minimal body roll.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the 2.4-turbo are 23-City, 30-Highway, and 26–Combined. We averaged a fine 27.3 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Pricing is only up a couple hundred bucks over last year, starting at $27,655; XTs with the turbo engine start with the new Onyx Edition trim at $35,905.
The 2020 Subaru Outback delivers everything America’s favorite station wagon always has, only now it’s wrapped in SUV packaging, or SUV marketing rather. It’s all the same to us; it already offered the best of both worlds. And we’re guessing the Subaru faithful will clamor to head out in the new Outback.
Engine: 2.4 liter
Torque: 277 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.3 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.9 seconds @ 96 mph
EPA: 23 mpg city / 30 mpg highway