The Outback is killing it in sales, and the latest generation looks to continue that trend

Subaru just revealed the latest sixth-generation Outback, and it’s looking better than ever. The 2020 model year once again slots into a unique niche, straddling the line between high-riding wagon and full-fledged soft-roader crossover, offering loads of practicality and standard all-wheel grip. To this package, Subaru added in a new turbocharged engine option, as well as fresh styling, a new cabin, and the latest tech for infotainment and safety.

Small Updates Outside

2020 Subaru Outback Debuts as the Safest, Most Capable Outback Ever
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While we have yet to drive the 2020 Subaru Outback, initial impressions are positive. The latest sixth generation brings a few nips and tucks to the exterior styling, including wider fenders, a new hexagonal front grille, and vertical LED fog lights as standard across the line.

The headlights also look sharper, and the front fascia gets a bigger front intake.
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While the updates are noticeable, they definitely stay in sync with the styling of the outgoing model. The proportions, wagon-esque profile, and black plastic undercladding remain more or less identical to the 2019 model year, despite the slightly more aggressive front end.

Bigger Updates Under The Hood

2020 Subaru Outback Debuts as the Safest, Most Capable Outback Ever
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The revised styling is definitely a welcome change, but the bigger headline is under the hood, where the Outback gets its first turbo engine option since 2009.

The powerplant in question is the same boosted 2.4-liter four-cylinder found in the 2020 Subaru Legacy sedan, and is offered as standard on Outback XT trim levels. Output is rated at 260 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 277 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm.

2020 Subaru Outback drivetrain specifications
Engine 2.4-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower 260 HP @ 5,600 RPM
Torque 277 LB-FT @ 2,000 RPM
Fuel economy city/highway 23/30
0 to 60 mph less than 7 seconds
The extra muscle bumps the Outback’s towing capacity to 3,500 pounds, which is the highest towing capacity of any Outback ever produced.

Fuel mileage is rated at 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.

2020 Subaru Outback Debuts as the Safest, Most Capable Outback Ever
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The new four-banger arrives as a replacement for the outgoing Outback’s six-cylinder engine option, which produced 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. That’s a gain of 4 horsepower and 30 pound-feet with the new 2.4-liter unit. The new turbo engine should also lower the Outback’s 0-to-60 mph time to less than 7 seconds, besting the outgoing model’s time of 7.1 seconds.

More is definitely better here, especially when you consider just how slow the Outback is compared to its chief rivals. For reference, the Audi A4 Allroad posts a 0-to-60 mph time of 5.2 seconds.

2020 Subaru Outback Debuts as the Safest, Most Capable Outback Ever
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Lower in the line, you can get the Outback with a standard naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder producing 182 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 176 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. The new tune replaces the outgoing model’s 2.5-liter ‘four, which produced 175 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 174 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm, a gain of 7 horsepower and 2 pound-feet total. It’s not much, but we’ll take it. Fuel mileage for the new all-atmosphere ‘four comes to 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.

2020 Subaru Outback drivetrain specifications
Engine 2.5-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower 182 HP @ 5,800 RPM
Torque 176 LB-FT @ 4,400 RPM
Fuel economy city/highway 26/33
Transmission Lineartronic CVT

Just like the outgoing model, the 2020 Subaru Outback gets a Lineartronic CVT as standard across the line. However, unlike the six-speed shift pattern of the old CVT, the new unit mimics the feel of an eight-speed transmission, and once again includes a manual mode with steering wheel paddle shifters.

A standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system once again puts the power to the ground, while standard features like Active Torque Vectoring, Vehicle Dynamics Control, and X-Mode with Hill Descent Control help add to the Outback’s off-road cred.

Soft-Roading Adventures Await

2020 Subaru Outback Debuts as the Safest, Most Capable Outback Ever
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Complementing the all-wheel drive and off-roading tech is 8.7 inches of ground clearance, which matches that of the outgoing model. It also bests rivals like the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen (5.4 inches) and Audi A4 Allroad (6.5 inches), and it’s on par with dedicated off-roaders like the Jeep Cherokee (8.7 inches) and Toyota Land Cruiser (8.9 inches).

Speaking of the suspension, the 2020 Subaru Outback gets MacPherson struts in front paired with a 23 mm hollow stabilizer bar and aluminum lower L-arms, plus double wishbones in the rear with coil springs and a 19 mm hollow stabilizer bar.

Under the new body panels is the latest Subaru Global Platform, which the Subaru says “provides increased safety, dynamics, and quietness as well as reduced noise, vibration, and harshness.”

A Better Place To Sit

2020 Subaru Outback Debuts as the Safest, Most Capable Outback Ever
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Moving into the cabin, we find an interior design that looks nearly identical to the latest Legacy sedan. Average cabin noise is also reduced by 3 dB.

Trim levels include Base, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT

Higher trims are equipped with 10-way power front seats plus a heating function. Go for the Touring, and you’ll also get ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel as standard, as well as Nappa leather, glossy black pillar surrounds, and chrome trim for the door handles.

Meanwhile, the limited Onyx Edition XT is offered as an upgraded version of the Premium trim level, and comes with black exterior paint, 18-inch alloy wheels, unique badging, and a gray two-tone interior. The upholstery also gets a special water-repellant cover called StarTex, while that new turbo 2.4-liter engine provides motivation. Final details include a hands-Free Power Gate, a front View Monitor, and an exclusive Dual-Mode X-Mode.

2020 Subaru Outback Debuts as the Safest, Most Capable Outback Ever
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As expected, the 2020 Subaru Outback gets additional passenger room with this latest generation update, including more rear headroom, more shoulder room, and more legroom. Subaru didn’t provide exact figures, but for reference, the outgoing model offers 38.9 inches of rear headroom, 57.3 inches of rear shoulder room, and 38.1 inches of rear legroom.

2020 Subaru Outback Debuts as the Safest, Most Capable Outback Ever
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As for cargo room, the 2020 Outback offers 75.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. That’s 2.4 cubic-feet more than the outgoing model’s 73.3 cubic-feet.
2020 Subaru Outback Debuts as the Safest, Most Capable Outback Ever
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On the infotainment front, there’s an 11.6-inch touchscreen mounted in a vertical “tablet” style in the dash, which is standard on all but the Base model. The 11.6-inch unit replaces the outgoing model’s standard 6.5-inch unit.

Subaru’s Starlink Multimedia system runs it all, with standout features including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth support. There’s also optional Wi-Fi and 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio.

Safety stuff includes EyeSight Driver Assist Technology as standard across the range, featuring Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering, plus the DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System, which can identify when the driver is tired or distracted.

Options include:

  • LED Steering Responsive Headlamps
  • Reverse Automatic Braking
  • Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist
  • Rear Cross Traffic AlerT
  • a heads-up display

“Subaru expects the Outback to achieve top safety scores when it is tested later this year, including a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS),” the automaker says.

When Can I Get One?

2020 Subaru Outback Debuts as the Safest, Most Capable Outback Ever
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There’s nothing official quite yet, but we expect the 2020 Subaru Outback to come with a slight price increase over the current model’s MSRP of $26,345. Look for it in dealers this fall.

Further Reading

2020 Subaru Outback Debuts as the Safest, Most Capable Outback Ever
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Read our full review on the 2020 Subaru Outback.

2020 Subaru Outback Debuts as the Safest, Most Capable Outback Ever
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Everything We Know About The 2020 Subaru Outback

2020 Subaru Outback Debuts as the Safest, Most Capable Outback Ever
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The All-New 2020 Subaru Outback Is Coming To New York - Can It Take The Market By Storm?

2015 - 2017 Subaru Outback High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru Outback.

Subaru of America today introduced the all-new 2020 Outback offering the most advanced features, design and capability in its history. The sixth-generation SUV comes standard with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and Subaru’s award-winning EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. With an available tablet-style 11.6-inch SUBARU STARLINK™ Multimedia system with integrated center information display, DriverFocus™ Distraction Mitigation System and new XT models with 260 horsepower, the 2020 Outback delivers greater technology, safety and performance than ever before.

Built on the Subaru Global Platform, which provides increased safety, dynamics and quietness as well as reduced noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), the Outback will be available in Base, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT and Touring XT models.

The 2020 Outback delivers the optimal blend of SUV capability and car-like ride and handling with standard Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, Active Torque Vectoring, Vehicle Dynamics Control and X-MODE with Hill Descent Control. The 8.7 inches of ground clearance for all Outback models is greater than that in many SUVs, yet the Outback maintains a comfortably low step-in height for both front and rear passenger entry.

For the first time since 2009, the Outback lineup offers a turbocharged engine. Standard on XT models, the 2.4-liter turbocharged BOXER engine delivers robust all-around performance with 260 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 277 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm. Meanwhile, the standard naturally aspirated 2.5-liter BOXER, with direct injection and nearly 90 percent of its parts new, delivers 182 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 176 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm.

All 2020 Outback models are paired with a Lineartronic CVT featuring an 8-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddle shifters. The 2.4-liter turbo delivers a 3,500-lb. towing capacity, the most of any Outback in history, while the 2.5-liter provides more than a 600-mile range on a single tank. Manufacturer’s estimated fuel economy is 26/33 mpg city/highway for the 2.5-liter and 23/30 mpg city/highway for the turbo.

Complementing the more refined powertrains is an all-new suspension that is lighter and more responsive. The front suspension utilizes MacPherson struts with new internal rebound spring, aluminum lower L-arms and new 23mm hollow stabilizer bar. The rear suspension renders a double-wishbone layout with subframe, coil springs and new 19mm hollow stabilizer bar.

Introduced for 2017, the Subaru Global Platform has been optimized for the Outback, boasting a structure that is 70-percent stiffer in both torsional and front-suspension rigidity and 100-percent stiffer in both front lateral flexural and rear subframe rigidity compared to the previous Outback’s platform. Crash protection is improved, as the new body absorbs over 40-percent more energy in front/side crashes than the current model. When a crash is unavoidable, the Outback protects with eight standard airbags, including a driver knee airbag. Subaru expects the Outback to achieve top safety scores when it is tested later this year, including a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Standard on all trims is Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology that now includes Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering, which provides steering assist when the vehicle veers outside its lane, helping the driver maintain a direct path. Segment-exclusive DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System uses a dedicated infrared camera and facial recognition technology to identify signs of driver fatigue or distraction and provides audio and visual warnings to alert the driver and passengers. Additional available driver-assist technologies include LED Steering Responsive Headlamps; Reverse Automatic Braking; Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert; and EyeSight Assist Monitor with head-up display.

In another Outback first, the 2020 model offers a Front View Monitor, which captures images within the driver’s blind spots in front of the vehicle and displays a 180-degree view on the 11.6-inch display, providing safety and assistance when checking road conditions ahead or parking.

The new 2020 Onyx Edition XT features black-finish exterior elements, 18-inch alloy wheels and badging, and an exclusive gray two-tone interior. Further, the seats are wrapped in a new water-repellant durable StarTex™ material. The Onyx Edition XT builds on the Premium trim and adds the 2.4-liter turbo BOXER, Hands-Free Power Gate, Front View Monitor and, for increased capability in a wider range of environmental conditions, exclusive Dual-Mode X-MODE and full-size spare tire.

The 2020 Outback offers a peaceful cabin that is almost 3 dB quieter at highway speeds. Subaru engineers worked extensively to find ways to reduce unwanted noise coming into the cabin, fitting the Outback with new door weather strips that feature a baffle in the mid-section and dual lips on the roof side for improved quietness. Sound-insulated glass, which uses a sound-insulating inner film for the windshield and front-door glass, has been adopted, while glass thickness all around has been increased for quietness.

Limited and Touring models feature 10-way power front seats with lumbar support, adjustable cushion length (driver only) and heated front/rear seats. For 2020, seat heaters come with three levels of temperature adjustment as well as extended coverage up to the shoulders for improved comfort. Touring models add ventilated front seats and a heated steering wheel to their roster of standard features. Comfort and convenience in the Outback have been optimized for passengers with increases in rear head, shoulder and leg room. For powering and pairing personal devices, up to four USB ports and two 12-volt DC power sockets are available.

With a cargo floor length of 78 inches with the rear seatbacks folded, the 2020 Outback offers up to 75.7 cu ft of cargo space. And with a wider rear gate opening, the Outback can comfortably accommodate long items such as camping gear, golf clubs or strollers. For added convenience while loading the vehicle, a new Hands-Free Power Gate allows the owner to open the rear gate by simply waving in front of the Subaru emblem (positioned in the center of the rear gate) as well as a new single-touch lifting cargo cover. Both features are a first for Subaru and are standard on most 2020 Outback models. For additional cargo versatility, the Outback offers standard roof rails with integrated and retractable cross bars and tie-downs.

Following a “Dynamic x Solid” philosophy, the all-new Outback is anchored to an “Active x Tough” concept. The result is a rugged and functional design that inspires wanderlust and enables active lifestyles. The 2020 Outback projects a large presence from thicker profile panel surfaces and raised rear gate as well as a sense of speed from its dynamic silhouette. Wider fenders, large hexagonal grille, front cladding and LED fog lights on the corners (standard on all trims except Base) emphasize the SUV’s capability. Cladding on the side of the Outback is meant to resemble a hiking boot that further enhances this concept.

The interior design uses a widened windshield and long lines from the center of the instrument panel to the door panels to create an open environment. The Outback Touring leverages luxurious appointments inside and out, including Nappa leather, high-gloss black molding for the pillars, chrome plating decorated door handles and satin tone plated side mirrors.

SUBARU STARLINK In-Vehicle Technology offers an integrated cockpit experience by allowing the driver to control entertainment and vehicle settings through a large touchscreen display. All STARLINK multimedia systems for the 2020 Outback feature a high-resolution touchscreen; new on-screen controls for audio, HVAC, X-MODE and vehicle features; combination meter integration; smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay™, Android™ Auto and new STARLINK SmartDeviceLink™ apps; Bluetooth® hands-free phone and audio streaming connectivity; AM/FM stereo; Rear Vision Camera; SiriusXM® All Access Radio (4-month free subscription) and SiriusXM Travel Link® (3-year free subscription); HD Radio® and over-the-air updates.

Front and center, and highlighting Outback’s upscale interior, is an all-new tablet-style 11.6-inch Full HD multimedia display, the largest, most advanced infotainment screen ever in a Subaru. Standard on all but the Base trim, the 11.6-inch Multimedia display offers direct touch controls for multimedia, HVAC, X-MODE and vehicle settings, and includes Near Field Communication to its list of features. Like with a smartphone, app icons can be moved and configured based on personal preference. The 2020 Outback will be the first vehicle to offer the new Chimani app, which provides a comprehensive guide to more than 400 national parks in the U.S. and includes park history and highlights written by local traveler experts. The top-of-the-line 11.6-inch Multimedia with Navigation adds navigation powered by TomTom® and voice activated navigation.

For the first time in Outback, available in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot provides smooth internet access via high-speed LTE™ communications. Framing the large multimedia screen is a new multilayer instrument panel featuring a soft-touch wrapped surface with available real double-stitching for a high-quality appearance. The wrapped surface material and stitching employ the same color combination as the seats and door trim for a uniform look and feel. An available 12-speaker Harman Kardon® audio system, with Clari-Fi™ compressed audio restoration technology and GreenEdge™ high-efficiency speakers and amplifier, delivers premium sound.

Pricing for the 2020 Outback will be announced closer to this fall’s on-sale date.

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