2020 Subaru Outback: why it’s better than the outgoing model

The 2020 Subaru Outback is regarded by many as the most capable and practical vehicle outside of an SUV. In fact, 2 million U.S. buyers can’t be wrong as the Outback remains the best selling vehicle in Subaru America’s lineup.

The first-generation Outback was released in 1994. Back then, the Outback was merely a lifted Legacy station wagon with rugged body cladding. And to be honest, not much has changed since then. The new sixth-generation Outback is still based on the current Legacy sedan, but Subaru is not about to rest on its laurels.  

Here are the top features that make the 2020 Subaru Outback better than the outgoing model.

The new Subaru Outback has a more powerful engine

The people have spoken. Thankfully, Subaru is a great listener. The new Outback gets a more powerful version of the base 2.5-liter Boxer four. Subaru claims the new engine produces 182-horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. This should be enough to address the lack of oomph from the previous 175-horsepower motor. The updated motor also delivers 26/33 mpg.

But for those who want more, Subaru has you covered. The Subaru Outback XT is new for 2020 and comes standard with a 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer four with 260-horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. This spanking motor produces more horsepower and torque than the existing 3.6-liter inline-six despite having fewer cylinders and less displacement. This also means less weight and better fuel economy. The new turbo motor achieves a respectable 23/30 mpg, which is a far cry from the 20/27 mpg of the inline-six.

Both motors are connected to a Lineartronic CVT with eight simulated gears, which you can toggle using the standard paddle shifters. Of course, the new Outback is fitted with Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system for better handling whether on or off-road.

It’s riding on a new platform

Similar to the new Legacy sedan and Ascent SUV, the 2020 Subaru Outback is riding on a new Subaru Global Platform. Without gorging on the technical details, this new platform is lighter and more rigid. It combines all the years of technical innovations to come up with a safer, more comfortable, and more responsive driving experience. Having a stiffer platform also means a quieter and more stable ride. In fact, the new Outback’s cabin is 3 dB quieter in the highway than the outgoing model.

The new Outback gets a front view monitor

The longish hood of the Outback takes some getting used to when off-roading. Sure, it’s fine when you’re driving in the streets, but it’s a different story when the roads turn rough. It’s hard to see what you’re running over, especially on those tricky inclines. In order to address this issue, the 2020 Subaru Outback is now fitted with a front view monitor camera. This system displays a 180-degree view of the terrain ahead so you can forge with confidence.

It’s the safest Outback ever

The 2020 Subaru Outback is naturally fitted with Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist system. This system utilizes lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, front collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control to keep a steady eye on the road. However, the new Outback adds a driver focus system. This new system uses facial recognition software and an infrared camera to alert the driver for signs of sleepiness or fatigue. Optional safety features include steering-responsive front headlights, blind spot detection, lane change assist, and rear cross traffic alert.

It remains practical to a fault

Practicality is one of the strongest attributes of the Subaru Outback. But the new Outback is more practical, still. There’s up to 75.7 cubic feet (2,143 liters) of storage space in the back if you fold the rear seats. And if you do, you also get 78-inches of cargo floor length to carry skis, planks of wood, or whatever you need on your next expedition. The new Outback also comes with a wider rear hatch for easier loading and unloading. Higher trim models also get a standard hands-free power liftgate.

The new Subaru Outback has a huge touchscreen

And when I say huge, I mean it. I’ve seen this before in the new Subaru Legacy, and I’m glad Subaru did the same in the new Outback. The massive 11.6-inch touchscreen is standard on all but the base model and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The controls for the HVAC and multimedia system are all integrated into the new touchscreen as well.

The 2020 Subaru Outback remains the perfect compromise between a station wagon and SUV. It’s the ideal vehicle for people with active and rugged lifestyles. It rides like a luxury car and offers the everyday usability of a family sedan. But with 8.7-inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel-drive, the Outback can attack harsher terrain like no other car you’ve seen before.

The new Subaru Outback arrives at Subaru dealerships this fall.