2020 Subaru Outback Touring XT evaluation: Sensible engineering
“The 2020 Subaru Outback is a rugged, sensible wagon that does not skimp on tech.”
Highly effective turbocharged engine
A giant display that justifies its dimension
Effectively-executed driver-assist tech
Worth climbs rapidly with choices
The Subaru Outback has thrived by embracing the motto “should you can’t beat ‘em, be part of ‘em.” Within the 1990s, Subaru took one in all its all-wheel drive station wagons and added some SUV-like styling particulars to create the Outback. The mannequin has remained common whilst different wagons have been squeezed out of the market by SUVs.
The Outback stays a compelling SUV various, thanks partially to a capacious cargo space and all-wheel drive traction. Redesigned for the 2020 mannequin yr, the Outback provides extra tech to the combination. The wagon is obtainable with an 11.6-inch touchscreen and Subaru’s DriverFocus system, which makes use of a driver-facing digital camera to detect distractions.
Pricing for the 2020 Outback begins at $27,655, however our check automobile was a range-topping Touring XT mannequin priced at $40,705. It had each bell and whistle, together with the massive touchscreen, DriverFocus, and a extra highly effective turbocharged engine.
Design and inside
As earlier than, the 2020 Subaru Outback is basically a wagon model of the Subaru Legacy sedan (which was additionally redesigned for the 2020 mannequin yr). Moreover getting a rear hatch as an alternative of a trunk, the Outback dons plastic physique cladding for a extra SUV-like look. The Outback additionally rides pretty excessive for a automobile, once more, to make it really feel extra like an SUV. Its eight.7 inches of floor clearance is definitely greater than a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4.
The inside is typical Subaru, with a easy but smart structure.
Regardless of being redesigned, you’d be hard-pressed to inform the 2020 Outback other than its predecessor. The brand new mannequin can be fairly shut in dimension to the 2019 Outback. It’s barely wider and longer, however with an equivalent wheelbase. Beneath the pores and skin, the 2020 Outback rides on the Subaru World Platform that underpins many of the automaker’s different fashions. Subaru claims the 2020 Outback is 70% stiffer in torsional rigidity than its predecessor, which helps enhance dealing with and creates a extra strong really feel. The brand new mannequin can even take up greater than 40% extra power in entrance and aspect impacts, in keeping with Subaru.
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The inside is typical Subaru, with a easy but smart structure. Our Touring check automobile was totally decked out with leather-based upholstery, however the supplies didn’t really feel worthy of this automobile’s $40,000 price ticket. Like many different automakers, Subaru additionally selected to make use of piano black plastic trim, which scratches and smudges simply and, in our expertise, produces numerous glare on sunny days.
By way of inside house, the Outback compares favorably to the compact crossovers you should buy for related cash. It has extra entrance legroom than a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 and, with its rear seats folded, extra cargo house than a Ford Escape. The Outback trails Subaru’s personal Forester, nonetheless, due to the latter’s taller, boxier physique.
Tech, infotainment, and driver help
The large tech information for 2020 is an out there 11.6-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen. The display is customary on all Outback trim ranges besides the bottom mannequin (which will get a 7.Zero-inch touchscreen), whereas Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are customary throughout the board.
Many automakers have put in huge screens, however most don’t appear to know what to do with all of that actual property. Subaru has finished one thing good and easy — it simply made the menu icons larger. You don’t must squint to see something on this display, and the massive icons are simpler to search out whereas driving. Subaru additionally positioned icons for local weather management on the backside of the display — about the place analog controls would usually be — and included an analog quantity knob, which continues to be the most effective device for that job.
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The 2020 Outback additionally will get Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist tech, which makes use of forward-facing cameras mounted close to the rearview mirror, relatively than the radar models utilized by most different automakers. Adaptive cruise management with lane centering is customary, whereas blind spot monitoring, lane change help, and rear cross visitors alert are optionally available extras. The Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 additionally get customary adaptive cruise management. It prices additional on the Ford Escape, however Ford’s system features a stop-and-go operate.
Subaru did one thing good and easy — it simply made the menu icons larger.
On the freeway, adaptive cruise management excelled at sustaining a gradual tempo, however was sluggish to react when vehicles lower in abruptly. In a straight line, the lane-centering function did its job with solely the gentlest of steering inputs, however had hassle with even the slightest of curves. These are points we’ve seen with most competitor techniques, nonetheless, and total efficiency was good for a automobile on this worth vary that lacks the extra elaborate sensor suites of high-end fashions.
Subaru is one in all a handful of automakers (together with BMW and Cadillac) to make use of a driver-facing digital camera to make sure that individuals don’t use these tech options irresponsibly. The DriverFocus system, which debuted within the Forester, sends audio and video alerts if drivers take their eyes off the highway. As with the Forester, we discovered DriverFocus to be pretty unobtrusive, with no false alarms.
One other huge change for 2020 is underneath the hood. For the primary time since 2009, the Outback is obtainable with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Like all Subaru engines, a “boxer” configuration permits this engine to take a seat decrease within the chassis, serving to to enhance dealing with. Shared with the Ascent, the turbo engine produces 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. It’s a must to pay additional for that energy. Base Outbacks get a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter boxer-four from the Forester, making 182 hp and 176 lb-ft.
The bottom engine boasts aggressive numbers for this section, however the optionally available turbo engine is the Outback’s occasion piece. Solely the Jeep Cherokee, which is obtainable with a 270hp 2.Zero-liter turbo-four, affords an identical mixture of energy and utility in a automobile of this dimension.
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No matter engine, the Outback will get a repeatedly variable transmission (CVT) and all-wheel drive. Just like the Ascent and Forester, the all-wheel drive system additionally will get an “X-Mode” designed for mild off-roading. This doesn’t rework the Outback right into a hardcore off-roader, however it’s useful for grime roads and deep snow.
The optionally available turbo engine is the Outback’s occasion piece.
On the highway, the turbocharged engine’s additional energy was a godsend when overtaking different autos. Nevertheless, the engine and transmission didn’t all the time appear to be on the identical web page, yielding uneven energy supply that we didn’t recall from the identical mixture within the bigger Ascent. Regardless of being smaller and having a decrease heart of gravity, the Outback additionally didn’t have the Ascent’s cornering prowess. Dealing with wasn’t unhealthy, however the Outback’s limits felt a lot decrease than these of its huge sibling.
Subaru additionally struck steadiness between dealing with and trip high quality. The Outback felt downright luxurious, absorbing bumps with out feeling floaty and disconnected from the highway. A cushty trip will doubtless be extra vital to the person who buys this automobile than a couple of additional levels of dealing with sharpness. In order for you a sporty Subaru, purchase a WRX STI.
Gasoline mileage and security
Our turbo check automobile is rated at 26 mpg mixed (23 mpg metropolis, 30 mpg freeway). That’s a big enchancment over the previous six-cylinder Outback, which may solely muster 22 mpg mixed, and a bit bit behind a turbocharged Honda CR-V (29 mpg mixed) and non-hybrid Toyota RAV4 (28 mpg mixed). Over every week of driving, we averaged 22 mpg, in keeping with the automobile’s journey laptop.
The 2020 Outback acquired the best High Security Decide+ ranking from the Insurance coverage Institute for Freeway Security, and a five-star total ranking from the Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration.
Subaru affords a three-year, 36,000-mile, fundamental guarantee and a five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain guarantee. That’s about common for a mainstream model, though Hyundai and Kia supply longer guarantee phrases. Subaru additionally has a wonderful popularity for reliability.
How DT would configure this automobile
Our perfect Outback could be outfitted similarly because the automobile we examined. It might be a big step up in worth, however if you need tech, the Touring trim degree is the one to get. The Touring is the one trim degree to get the DriverFocus anti-distraction function as customary gear. It additionally will get the 11.6-inch touchscreen, in addition to leather-based upholstery, heated and ventilated entrance seats, and an influence moonroof.
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We might additionally shell out for the turbocharged engine. Whereas we didn’t get a possibility to attempt the bottom engine, our expertise with it within the Forester signifies that it could be the fallacious alternative. The Forester felt sluggish with that engine, and it’s unlikely that issues could be totally different within the heavier Outback.
The Subaru Outback is a well-known sight on roads within the Northeast and Northwest, however the newest model goals for a lot broader attraction. The Outback nonetheless affords nice utility and all-wheel drive traction in an understated package deal, however now with extra tech and a greater, turbocharged engine.
With the last-generation Outback, consumers had select between a cost-effective however underpowered four-cylinder engine, and a strong however thirsty six-cylinder. The 2020 Outback’s turbo-four splits the distinction, providing a much-needed enhance in energy with out destroying gasoline mileage.
Nobody purchased a 2019 Outback for its infotainment system, however the 2020 mannequin will get one of many greatest screens in a mainstream automobile. Not like rivals Ford and Toyota, Subaru additionally made efficient use of that huge display. Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist tech continues to be among the many finest on this worth vary, and the DriverFocus function helps guarantee it received’t be misused.
As the one wagon from a mainstream model nonetheless available on the market, the Outback primarily competes towards SUVs just like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Ford Escape. The Subaru is near these opponents on inside house and gasoline mileage, displaying simply how shut they’re to traditional vehicles. The Outback additionally has a a lot stronger tech sport, due to its 11.6-inch touchscreen and EyeSight and DriverFocus driver aids, and its 260hp engine provides a enjoyable issue most different small SUVs lack.
Do you have to get one?
Sure. The Outback affords a formidable mixture of tech and utility.