When automakers refresh existing models, updates can at times fell perfunctory. But when you have a solid model, often times tweaks are all you need.
This is the case with the 2020 Subaru Outback, which may be the most nuanced generational update of the year. The Outback is entering its sixth generation, and you notice it when you approach it. The rear is more squared off — the bumper seems to jut out a bit more. It turns out the vehicle grows only slightly — by 1.4 inches in length to 191.3 and 0.6 inch wide. The wheelbase (108.1 inches) remains the same.
This year, the Outback has surpassed the Forester as Subaru's top-seller to commercial fleets such as insurance, pharmaceutical, healthcare, sales, and service fleets. The 2020 Outback will be available in six trims, including Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT.
More Than Incremental Updates
Subaru has shifted the 2020 Outback to its global vehicle platform, and the difference can immediately be felt. This Outback reduces noise, vibration, and harshness in ordinary city driving, especially on the pockmarked streets of Long Beach, Calif., as well as higher-speed highway handling. This Outback is a much quieter vehicle.
The Outback, which feels more wagon-like, really excells at low-speed turning and cornering. Subaru gives more play in its steering, but I had no trouble controlling it as I weaved around the hairpin corners of State Route 18 on my way to Lake Arrowhead.
The engine that powers the lower-trim models remains a 2.5-liter Boxer inline-four cylinder that has been reworked with 90% new parts, according to Subaru. It makes 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of peak torque. All XT models recieve a new 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine that also powers the Legacy XT models.
Additional Safety Technology in the Mix
The 2020 Outback, as well as the Legacy, both now offer the new DriverFocus distraction mitigation system that scans your eyes to make sure they're on the road. We didn't test this tech on the Outback, but we liked the implementation on the Legacy. Fleet managers will have to decide whether it's worth the extra cost.
Standard safety equipment now includes lane-keeping technology on all grades. Subaru has seem to perfected safety alerts with visual indicators and modest audible chirps that alert rather than annoy.
The Outback also adds a tablet-style 11.6-inch touchscreen on all trims, which is a welcome boost in screen real estate from the outgoing model.
We tested the Premium trim that would retail for $29,905.
2020 Subaru Outback Specs
- Engine: 2.5L I-4 (182 hp, 176 lb.-ft.) or 2.4L turbocharged Boxer (260 hp, 277 lb.-ft.)
- Transmission: Lineartronic CVT
- All-Wheel Drive: Standard
- Cargo Space: 32.5 cu.-ft., 75.7 cu.-ft. with seats folded
- Fuel Economy (2.5L): 26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway