The 2020 Subaru Outback marks the debut of the sixth generation of this popular wagon. Or is it a crossover? Or maybe an SUV? Cars need labels, but this one sits in something of a middle zone where what you call it may very well depend on how you use the Outback.
A busy family with a couple of kids along the for the ride will likely see it as a wagon. It has plenty of room for five passengers and plenty of room for all their cargo. It can handle everything you need or think you need, for a day at the beach or a weekend’s camping expedition.
Those with more of an adventurous side will see it as an SUV with genuine off-road chops. Sure, there are a fair number of Outbacks that won’t ever handle anything more strenuous than the occasional unpaved country road or fairground, but if you want to take it someplace a little more off the beaten path, then it has the capability to make the trip.
And then there’s the ubiquitous crossover. The idea of a crossover is to be a vehicle that straddles the line. It has the on-road manners and creature comforts of the trusty family sedan combined with the cargo versatility of an SUV, just in a smaller footprint. This makes a crossover not only a more affordable, but easier to maneuver through the smaller streets of the average city.
5 Things You Need to Know About the 2020 Subaru Outback
Is this wagon/crossover/SUV the right choice for you? Here are 5 things to know about the all-new 2020 Subaru Outback.
1. All-Wheel Drive is a Standard Feature
While many vehicles offer all-wheel drive as an option, sometimes only on select trims, every 2020 Subaru Outback features Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive as a standard feature. There’s also standard X-Mode, which optimizes the all-wheel-drive system in challenging conditions to improve overall handling and give you more confidence behind the wheel.
Additionally, the Outback has 8.7-inches of ground clearance for driving over uneven off-road terrains like rocky trails with ruts and bumps. Whether you’re worried about making your way through muddy dirt roads or just making the daily trek to and from work in winter weather, all-wheel drive will help make that drive easier.
2. EyeSight Driver Assist Technology is Also Standard
The number of driver-assist technologies on today’s cars is growing by the minute. These features make us all safer, but often the bulk of a model’s safety features are reserved for the top trims. That can put them out of reach for those with more modest budgets.
Subaru eliminates this challenge by making EyeSight Driver Assist Technology a standard feature across the Outback lineup. It includes adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and sway warning, pre-collision braking, and pre-collision throttle management. You don’t have to jump all the way to the top trim in the lineup just to get an Outback with good safety features.
Additionally, the 2020 Subaru Outback scored high marks in crash tests. It received an overall 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) 2020 Top Safety Pick+.
3. The Return of the Turbocharged Engine
The Outback offers a choice of two engines, including the return of a turbocharged option for the first time since 2009. The standard engine is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. Those who want a more responsive drive experience can opt for a 2.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. Either choice comes paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission.
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the Outback is 26 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined with the 2.5-liter engine. As expected, fuel economy drops with the more powerful turbocharged engine, but only by 3 mpg across the board. This makes managing your fuel budget easier and helps make long-distance road trips more affordable.
4. Infotainment Includes an Optional 11.6-inch Touchscreen
The base trim of the Outback has dual 7-inch touchscreens, but top trims feature a huge 11.6-inch vertical touchscreen that’s like having a tablet on your dashboard. This is the largest infotainment screen ever on a Subaru and its size makes it easy to find what you’re looking for with just a glance.
It includes controls for multimedia, climate control, X-Mode, and apps and can be reconfigured depending on your preferences so the features you use most are always at the ready. There’s also available Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity and an available 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system for those who put a priority on sound quality.
5. It Has Room for All Your Stuff
The 2020 Subaru Outback has seating for up to five passengers along with everything they want to bring along for the drive with 32.5 cubic feet for storage behind the rear seats. When there aren’t passengers in the rear seats, fold those seats down to take advantage of 72.5 cubic feet for cargo. Even larger items are easier to stow thanks to a low load floor, wide rear hatch, and 75 inches of cargo floor length. Golf clubs, strollers, and supplies for that weekend project are no problem for the Outback to manage.
For those times when the things you need to take are simply too big to put inside the Outback, then you can take advantage of its towing capability. It can manage up to 3,500 pounds in select trims when properly equipped.
There’s also a new hands-free power liftgate that activates by waving your hand, elbow, or whatever in front of the Subaru badge on the center in the center of the liftgate. No need to awkwardly balance on one foot and wave it beneath the bumper to try and open this tailgate when your arms are full.
The all-new 2020 Subaru Outback has the features and capability you need to manage your busy life. It has a spacious and comfortable interior, plenty of room to hold cargo, and the capability to manage more challenging terrain for off-road adventures. It’s available in a range of seven well-equipped trims priced from $26,645 to $39,695.
Guest post: Nicole Wakelin is a freelance automotive journalist whose work appears online and in print at a variety of media outlets. She’s also a Women’s World Car of the Year juror.