Let’s start with looks. From the front end, well it’s hard to say it’s the all-new model. Sure it’s different but it’s not revolutionary, it’s not bold like the new Sonata is but that’s fine. Subaru buyers aren’t looking for something bold. Last time they did something bold like the SVX, it didn’t go too well.
This outdoor model is the off-road-ready version so we get blacked-out bumpers, grille, wheels, and mirrors to go with that rugged look. In this Autumn Green metallic I think the color combo goes well. On top of the Outback, we have the standard roof rack. It allows us to put our Yakima or Thule box on and it even comes with the crossbars. Around back is where we see the biggest change. Beautiful led taillights protrude all the way to the corners and a large powered liftgate for you to throw whatever you want in there.
In total, we get 33 cu-ft and 75 cu-ft with the rear seats folded by handy pulls off to the side. this is actually bigger than that of the Forester. Great for hauling all sorts of Cargo and there’s more. Under the floor on this trim, we get a full-size spare aiding our off-road adventures while others get a space saver.
Hopping in the back seats and we find a generous amount of space, there’s plenty of head, knee, and legroom. The windows are large so kids have great visibly out. If they want to stare at their phones, that wouldn’t be a problem as there are charging USB ports for all their charging needs. If they’re a bit cold, we can activate the heated seats and even recline the seat back for maximum comfort.
For the front occupants, we get heated seats and this material that’s used on all the seats is actually very nice. Subaru calls it StarTex but it’s basically a water-repellant tougher material built to withstand the great outdoors. I find the seats superbly comfortable and supportive. Unlike some other SUVs getting in and out of the Outback is easy. The low sills help ingress and egress but the roofline is a bit lower than the typical SUV, for taller drivers you may have to duck just a bit.
As for the rest of the cabin, Subaru has done a great job of entering into 2020. Materials on the dash and door cards are outstanding. There’s plenty of soft-touch materials throughout, and if opt of top trim you can get this really high-end brown leather interior that looks quite exquisite. But even on this trim, we get green stitching across the panels and some silver trim pieces to brighten things up. Subaru also prides themselves on visibility and with the Outback, it’s no different. The windows are large with little corner windows by the A-pillar so you can see upcoming pedestrians. There’s even a forward-facing camera to view pedestrians, rocks, or whatever comes in the way.
In terms of shortfalls, there are two things. First the steering wheel then the infotainment. The steering wheel just has too many buttons on it, while the buttons on the left and right are pretty standard there are three additional buttons at the 7-8 o clock region which are a bit hidden. After a while, it would be something an owner would get used to but can be jarring at first. As for the infotainment this screen is lovely, the menu works and I like the ability to have CarPlay up while still able to switch my XM radio stations. It’s just that full digital displays are a bit clunky to use and when starting up from cold you need to wait before you can adjust interior temps or activate the seat heaters. There’s just not enough physical buttons to make it seamless. That said, for most people once you get used to it. It’s not that bad.
As said right from the beginning, this is an XT model. This means under the hood I have a 2.4L Turbocharged 4 cylinder boxer engine. While the base engine is still a 2.5L 4 cylinder that makes 182 hp, this turbocharged motor puts down 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. It even returns respectable mileage at 26mpg combined.
On the road the Outback XT is quick, 0-60 mph comes in at 6.3 seconds. Comparing to the base engine it’s two and a half seconds faster. Now some may think since they don’t participate in drag racing this stat is useless. However, that’s where you’ll be wrong. Hard acceleration happens often. It can even become a safety concern when merging on the highway and we can’t get beyond a semi. In any case, the new turbocharged motor is great. Paired with the new CVT which can imitate an 8-speed auto during hard acceleration.
What’s surprising is even with 8.7″ of ground clearance, there’s minimal body roll. Sure there’s some pitch and dive but it’s a great handling SUV. It almost handles like a taller wagon. Best yet no matter the trim, every Outback comes with standard EyeSight. It’s obvious that Subaru wants to be the leader when it comes to safety and it really shows.
Overall the new outback is quite a capable wagon… I mean SUV. It kinda sucks that you can’t get a legacy wagon or outback sedan anymore but it seems Subaru has made a good choice of keeping the outback to its roots. It’s not flashy but overtime it’s going to be the reliable capable vehicle that will take you where you need to go.