Back in 1994, Subaru’s engineers and product planners had the sensible thought of taking the Legacy wagon, jacking it up on a raised suspension and calling it a crossover. Subie’s hallmark Symmetrical all-wheel drive labored nicely with the tweaked experience peak and put the so-called Subaru Outback in a candy spot with a rising class of round 200,000 adventure-seeking consumers throughout its first era. Two million models later, the Outback is Subaru’s best-selling mannequin.The seventh-generation 2020 Subaru Outback’s mission hasn’t modified a lot, however the panorama it enters right now could be very completely different than it was 25 years in the past. There’s much more competitors within the crossover house and consumers are getting lots pickier. And so the Outback must evolve to maintain its crown.
The new Outback is now primarily based on Subaru’s new Global Platform, identical to the Forester. And because it’s performed with that car, Subaru has largely averted mannequin 12 months bloat with a wheelbase that’s solely a fraction of an inch longer than final 12 months. The new Outback would not look all that completely different, both. The cladding has been modified, the roof rails get a redesign and the “Outback” emblem has been moved from the entrance door to beneath the rear, however the broad strokes stick intently to the established tall-wagon components. If you are a fan of prior Outbacks, you may like this one, too. Another huge a part of the Outback’s components is its off-road functionality. The 2020 mannequin nonetheless boasts 8.7 inches of floor clearance due to its elevated suspension and beneficiant strategy, departure, and break-over angles. Standard all-wheel drive remains to be in full impact, nevertheless it’s now augmented by an accessible X-Mode terrain management system that enhances traction off-road with exact utility of brake strain and throttle management. During my testing on a reasonably gnarly ATV path, I used to be impressed at how the Outback discovered traction when tackling some difficult climbs with all-season road tires on free grime. The massive tall wagon isn’t any rock crawler, however I feel the off-road capabilities far exceed what the common weekend warrior might want to get to a campsite or mountain bike path.Providing torque for all of that path using is a brand new normal engine: A 2.5-liter Boxer four-cylinder engine — borrowed from the Forester — that makes 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. That’s an satisfactory quantity of energy; not overwhelming, however the Outback additionally by no means felt underpowered, even off-road. That engine is mated with a constantly variable transmission and, in superb situations, delivers an EPA estimated 26 miles per gallon metropolis and 33 mpg freeway. The CVT is a clean operator, if perhaps not probably the most enjoyable, and did a very good job balancing economic system and torque supply throughout my day of testing on the highway and on the path.The Outback’s up to date design makes enhancements to the platform and particulars however sticks intently to the profitable components of its predecessors.
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For 2020, the six-cylinder possibility isn’t any extra, so drivers on the lookout for a bit extra oomph behind the correct pedal might want to improve to the brand new, 2.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder possibility, which we first noticed in the bigger Ascent. At this XT trim degree, it makes 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque — an enchancment by each metrics over the outdated 3.6R mannequin. Speed demons and the heavy-footed will really feel a marked enchancment in response and acceleration between the bottom 2.5 and turbocharged 2.4. However, for extra relaxed driving kinds, the CVT mutes a lot of the distinction in off enhance efficiency.The 2020 lineup good points a brand new Onyx XT mannequin that mixes that turbocharged powertrain with blacked-out trim and distinctive 18-inch wheels. Inside, the Onyx will get a particular weather-repellant, two-tone gray inside. Aiding off-road functionality is a dual-mode model of the X-Mode system with a particular Sand and Mud program, in addition to a full-size spare tire, options distinctive to the Onyx mannequin.For drivers who spend most of their miles on the tarmac — most of us, if I’m trustworthy — Subaru has made enhancements to the Outback’s on-road efficiency. There’s a revised double-wishbone suspension upfront, which improves grip and stability when cornering and helps with consolation over bumps. Brake-based torque vectoring reigns in understeer and helps the crossover deal with bend with extra impartial, predictable steering. Revisions to the rear suspension and improved chassis noise discount end result within the Outback being far more snug and quiet, which helps make longer freeway hauls much less fatiguing.The most dramatic change to the cockpit is the huge 11.6-inch vertical show that is accessible at higher trim ranges. This portrait orientation signifies that the TomTom-powered navigation maps can stretch out to offer a view additional down the highway. (However, the usual Android Auto or Apple CarPlay do not stretch vertically, so each applied sciences look a bit awkwardly cramped on the big display.)New for 2020 is that this 11.6-inch vertical model of Subaru’s Starlink infotainment and telematics system.
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Powering this show is Subaru’s new Starlink infotainment and telematics software program, which makes good use of the interface with a design that’s fairly simple after a reasonably simple studying curve. The structure is mainly break up into three stacked tiers with the big middle part being the place your whole navigation, audio supply alternatives, Starlink apps, and different essential infotainment capabilities dwell.At the highest is a slim part that mainly echoes the Subaru data display that you just’d discover atop of the present Subaru Crosstrek’s dashboard, and may be swiped between climate, site visitors, car and different at-a-glance data. The decrease part is devoted to multi-zone local weather controls and seat heater toggles, although Subaru additionally has devoted {hardware} buttons for temperature management and quantity and tuning knobs that flank the display to be used when carrying gloves. I principally like this new setup, however I’m not in love with the touchscreen’s digitizer — the precise contact floor that registers tapped and swiped inputs. Looking intently, it seems that the digitizer sits a millimeter or so above the precise show, as a substitute of flush, and has a plasticky really feel that flexes a bit underneath my fingertips once I contact it. This is extraordinarily nitpicky, I do know, and I’m certain there is a motive Subaru selected this {hardware} (maybe it really works higher with heavy gloves than a glass capacitive floor). Thankfully, the software program appeared responsive sufficient to my contact inputs throughout testing.The EyeSight driver support suite needs to be acquainted to Subie-philes by now, because it’s the identical setup that you will discover throughout many of the automaker’s lineup from the Impreza to the Ascent. This stereoscopic camera-based system powers options like adaptive cruise management, pedestrian and animal detection, lane-keeping help and extra.Stereoscopic cameras energy Subie’s EyeSight suite of driver support options.
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New for 2020 is a front-view digital camera possibility that offers a large angle view of the world forward of the automotive at low speeds, in addition to a freeway lane-centering operate for the steering help that retains the Outback from ping-ponging between the lane strains. The latter is a pleasant get on a large sufficient freeway, however my drive consisted of slender B-roads and trails, I did not have a lot of a chance to attempt it out.The Outback can also be the second mannequin in Subaru’s lineup to get the automaker’s new Driver Focus monitoring system. This locations an infrared digital camera on the dashboard that watches the motive force’s face to ensure they don’t seem to be distracted or drowsy. The system can see the motive force’s eyes via most sun shades and at evening and responds with more and more pressing alerts when you spend an excessive amount of time not trying forward. As a pleasant bonus characteristic, the Driver Focus system additionally powers a facial recognition system that may recall seat and mirror place and different preferences for as much as 5 completely different profiles.Value has additionally been an integral a part of the Outback’s components and that is not going to alter an excessive amount of for the 2020 mannequin 12 months. Expect the Outback to begin at round $27,655 for the bottom mannequin — solely $335 greater than final 12 months — and tops out at round $40,075 for the highest Touring XT with the turbocharged engine and many of the accessible bells and whistles. Drivers within the blacked-out Onyx Edition will discover it at a candy spot within the lineup at $35,905. All of these costs, after all, exclude a $1,010 vacation spot cost, so preserve that in thoughts.What I like most concerning the 2020 Subaru Outback is how the automaker took a really shut take a look at the DNA of the car and did not change what folks already cherished. At the identical time, it is made the remainder of the car a lot simpler to dwell with, with good functions of know-how. Better security tech makes it extra interesting to households and, whereas not excellent, the brand new Starlink dashboard tech is an enormous step in the direction of holding the king of this area of interest aggressive and related.Value ought to proceed to be one of many Outback’s robust factors.
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Editors’ observe: Travel prices associated to this characteristic had been lined by the producer. This is frequent within the auto business, as it’s miles extra economical to ship journalists to automobiles than to ship automobiles to journalists. While Roadshow accepts multi-day car loans from producers with a view to present scored editorial evaluations, all scored car evaluations are accomplished on our turf and on our phrases.The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s editorial staff are our personal and we don’t settle for paid editorial content material.

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