This is the 2020 Subaru Outback and it is the most popular station wagon in America. In fact, the outback is so popular that it sells twenty percent more units than the next most popular station wagon, which is also a Subaru.
The Outback has been completely redesigned for the 2020 model year and today I’m gonna try to find out why people love it so much. I’ve borrowed this 2020 out back from Subaru Orange Coast, which is a Subaru dealership.
Here in Orange County in Southern California, that has all of the latest Subaru models, including all the new ones, and for subaru there are a lot of them. You have the new forester, the new cross track, the new ascent, and now this the new outback.
Now, even though the new outback looks a lot like the old outback, it’s been fully redesigned for 2020, so it’s a completely new car. The new model is a little bit bigger than the old outback, but all the other basics are the same.
All-Wheel drive is standard. The base engine is a 2.5 liter four-cylinder that makes about 180 horsepower or you can step up to a turbo four-cylinder that makes about 260 horsepower, like this. Car prices start around twenty-seven thousand five hundred dollars for the base model, and if you get every option and choose the highest trim level, you can go a little bit over forty thousand dollars.
So what exactly does the Outback compete against? Well, SUVs, mainly if you want SUV practicality, but a more car like driving experience, you may choose the Outback over SUVs, like the Toyota Highlander, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Ford Explorer or the Honda CRV, and many people do just that.
It’s worth noting, though, that the Outback only has two row seating, unlike some of its rivals, which offer three rows of seats. But anyway, today I’m going to review the new Outback and I’m gonna try to figure out why people love this thing so much.
First, I’m, going to take you on a tour of the new outback and I’m going to show all of its interesting quirks and features. Then I’m gonna get it out on the road and drive it and then I’m going to give it a dug score and four more of my thoughts on the new outback click.
The link below to visit autotrader.com, slash oversteer, where I’ve, also rounded up a list of my favorite old wagons currently listed for sale on auto trader. Alright, I’m gonna start. The quirks and features of the Outback.
By talking about an interesting quirk of this outback, you have it on the mirrors, specifically the fact that there’s a little light in here now to you. It just looks like a light, but if you look closer you can see it’s.
Actually the Subaru logo lit up. So you’re thinking. Well, that’s. The blind spot and monitor that lets. You know if a car is in your blind spot, but it isn’t. The blind spot monitor is on the inside of the mirror.
It’s completely separate from this thing. So what is this light in Subaru logo? The answer is its just decoration: some cars will turn on like they’re running lights, to help you find them in a parking lot or various other exterior marker lights, Subarus turn on the little Subaru logo in the mirrors.
It just goes on when you unlock the car when you open the door so that you know that you have a Subaru, I guess, and next up in the outside of the outback. I want to talk about exterior styling now I personally never really thought the last two generations of the outback were particularly attractive cars, but if consumers agree with me, they clearly didn’t seem to mind because they still bought out backs in absolutely massive Numbers now Subaru is a smart company.
They’re, also a conservative company, and that means they like to keep things the same. If it’s working, and so you can tell the exterior styling in this car very similar to the outgoing Outback from a glance you might not even realize that it’s changed.
I had to look it up a second time just to make sure this is redesigned right and indeed it is, but they’re, keeping the look pretty similar because it’s been successful. So why change it? But while the exterior of the Outback looks pretty similar to the outgoing model, the biggest change is in the interior and specifically with the infotainment screen, which is now vertical now.
This is a change that I’m, seeing more and more in new cars. The new Ford Explorer the new Ram trucks, Volvo McLaren Tesla – they’ve – all got vertical screens now now there are some benefits to doing the screen.
This way for one. This is how everyone’s. Smartphone is oriented, so we are all already kind of used to looking at screens from a vertical perspective like this one. So it makes some sense, and obviously the centre control stack in the car shaped vertically between the two seats, and so that also helps make it make sense, and Subarus system takes full advantage of its vertical space.
The biggest advantage of this system is that it’s really easy to see everything, because the screen is now so large and it’s really intuitive. To use most of the controls pretty much. Everything is where you think it would be, and everything fits on the big screen that you would want to be there, so this is Subarus new infotainment technology as an example of the benefit of the big screen.
Just take a look at this home screen all the apps and icons are there very easy to see where they all are same deal go to the radio again, everything very easy to see very large, very intuitive. You just push it.
Everything is simple same thing with the map. Again, a very large map screen allowed by this vertical screen, which can get bigger than a lot of horizontal screens, can because it just has more space to go down into the center console it works really well, but for all the benefits of Subarus new infotainment system.
There are also a few drawbacks. I can think of two that are especially worth mentioning. One is the fact that the system can be pretty slow to respond when you’re just pressing on apps it’s. Pretty quick, but take a look here in the map you can see.
I move my finger around the map. Does not follow very quickly nowhere near as fast as a smartphone. There’s, a big delay and a big lag as you move your finger around the screen. This is not something you have in a lot of other new cars, but this is a drawback that this system has just not quite as fast as systems in some rivals and another drawback of Subarus infotainment system.
They’ve, moved to many climate controls into the screen. You can see the only hard buttons for climate controls are adjusting the temperature and then the front and rear defroster and defogger. That’s it, and that means, if you want to change the amount of air flow, you have to go into the screen and you can see it’s really tiny.
You have this huge new screen, but changing the amount of air coming out. Is this tiny little button at the very bottom, not very well thought-out, but even worse, are the heated seats which are no longer buttons.
I hate when automakers get rid of heated seat buttons because it’s just so simple and it’s, something you want to turn on instantly. But in this car you have to first press the heated seat that doesn ‘
T turn them on: it just pulls up a menu, and then you can turn them on and it’s. Just too many steps, it’s too frustrating that is not how heated seats should be. It should be a lot simpler than that.
Those are my big two drawbacks of an otherwise very good, very useful and very large infotainment screen and next up. I want to move on to some of the interesting quirks and features of the Subaru infotainment system which, by the way, they call star link, because I haven’t played with this system.
Yet one interesting quirk. It allows you to configure the cruise control acceleration. So when you have adaptive cruise control on the car in front of you takes off, you can configure how fast your car follows it you can choose eco and then you ‘
Ll have very slow acceleration or you can choose dynamic and it will speed up very quickly to fill each gap and you can configure that most adaptive cruise control systems there’s, just one setting, not configurable, but in this one there’S four settings: you can choose how fast your car accelerates when you’re, not driving, and next up another interesting quirk of this infotainment system.
You turn on the car and you can see it’s. Pretty normal. A little star link logo appears there’s, some disclaimer that you have to accept that’s, pretty standard in most cars. But when you turn off this car, the infotainment system goes dark and then it says CU which i think is an odd way to say goodbye.
Not goodbye, not see you later see you thanks. Subaru see you next up another interesting quirk in this infotainment system. There’s, a feature that you could turn on called lead vehicle moving, monitor and it’s kind of an interesting one.
Basically, the way it works is you pull up to a stoplight, and then you start texting or eating, or whatever people do the car in front of you drives away now in a normal car, you just sit there and you don’t realize it Until you look up, but if you have the lead vehicle moving monitor on in a Subaru, it will actually beep and let you know hey traffic is moving.
You better get going and that allows you to see if traffic has pulled away and you can get going faster. Even if you’re distracted, it’s, a good idea, and next up, when you turn on the Outback, you can see at the top of the dashboard and the drivers feel the view there.
These lights that come on green, yellow and red sort of randomly those are the eyesight monitor lights. And if you’re about to hit something, they will blink green, yellow or red, and let you know hey, you’re about to hit something and, of course, that’s, accompanied by a sound and that’S not particularly interesting several automakers do that.
The strange thing here is the fact that you can turn off certain colors of those lights individually. So if you don’t want to see the green lights light up, you can turn off green. If you don’t want to see the red lights light up when you’re about to hit something, you can turn off red you can configure which lights you want to come on by using the infotainment system kind of strange and Next up, we move on to the gauge cluster in the new outback and specifically to this screen in the middle of the gauge cluster, which has a few interesting quirks.
Now it’s, always showing this image of your car, like from behind with a road out in front of it, and that image is showing basically your safety systems, whether they’re active, whether they’re, currently being used.
The interesting thing here, though, is when you put on the brakes that little car on the screen, its brake lights, turn on, which is so interesting. You press the brakes. The screen car brake lights turn on.
Why do they do that? Why do you have to see the little representation of your car on the screen brake lights, go on when your brake lights go on? I’m, not really sure, but they do and next up one other interesting item in this engage cluster screen.
If you scroll through all the information screens, one of them shows you your auto start/stop statistics, so that’s. The system that turns the car off at traffic lights to save fuel. It will actually show you how many minutes it ‘
S spent off and how many gallons you’ve saved as a result, as you can see, this car has been off for four minutes in one second, and in a save point: Oh 3-2 gallons. Now a lot of people tell me they don’t love.
The auto start/stop feature turning off all the time, but maybe if you show people exactly how much more efficient and environmentally friendly it makes them, they will be more inclined to use it, and I guess that Subarus theory by giving you your auto start/stop stats now next, I’m moving around the cabin in the front, a couple of other interesting quirks and features.
One is this little button to the right of the gear selector in the center console that says view if you press that instantly a front camera appears in the infotainment screen. I love this idea that it’s, so easy to get a front camera to show up in case you’re like pulling into a parking spot.
You’re, not sure where the line is or the parking curb or the car in front of you. It just shows right up instantly. I think more cars should have like an easily accessible front camera like this one.
Now, unfortunately, I have to say as much as I love that bit of camera technology, the camera itself is not particularly high quality. You can see. The resolution is really not all that great and it’s.
The same deal with the backup camera. You put that on and again the resolution just really could be better, considering how far car camera systems have come and how devoted Subaru is to safety. You’d, really think they would improve those cameras.
I also personally think that a car at this price point should probably have a top-down 360-degree camera system, or at least a few more camera angles, particularly a family car that has so many other safety features.
I think Subaru kind of drops the ball with the camera technology, but I like the idea of that front facing camera when you just tap a little button and next up another interesting item in the Outback interior is the center console storage area.
You can open it up, just like a normal centre, console storage and you can put stuff in there. It’s reasonably large or you can see at the latch there’s actually two handles. You can also open up the upper part and there is a tiny storage area in there for just like papers.
You could keep your registration in there or something simple, but you have two different options when it comes to center console storage and speaking of storage in the new Outback, you obviously have a glove box like all cars like this, but above the glove box and above The green stitching there’s, a neat little party trick.
You actually have a storage tray in there. So if you want to keep a pen there or something simple that you don’t have to open the glove box to access it. Can sit right there in this sort of additional storage area and next up another item worth noting in the front near the rear-view mirror you can see there are these two, like things jutting out from the ceiling, that sort of impede your visibility just a little.
If you plan to look up to the sky, so what exactly are these things? Why are they here? Those are actually the cameras for Subarus eyesight system that’s, always monitoring cars ahead of you to make sure you don’t smash into them adaptive cruise control, all that stuff is up there, and so, as a result, you can see There’s, this little decal that says don’t put your hand here, because if you do, you’ll, be blocking the camera system, that’s, where they’re, always looking out from and Surveying the world and next step we move on to the back seat of the new outback, where I have to say it’s, a little bit tighter than I expected.
I said it because the Outback is not a small car. It’s actually fairly large, so sitting back here, I expected to have really generous legroom, but I don’t really the front passenger seat is exactly where I would put it and you can see my knees touch right up against it.
Now I don’t think that it’s tight back here. I’m, not like squished into place. It’s, just a little smaller than I was thinking it would be, and if you’re considering one of these instead of a mid-sized SUV, I have to say that the back seat is a little bit more rav4 than Highlander.
A little bit more CRV than pilot smaller, rather than midsize with that said, the back seat is otherwise excellent, which is to say fairly unremarkable. Nothing particularly crazy back here, but you have everything that you want and need.
You have to climate vents back here to blow air on the rear passengers. You also have two different USB ports so that you can charge devices back here, good for kids. Obviously – and this particular Outback has heated rear seats and you can see you can press the buttons and turn that on which is also a nice feature to have since a lot of these get sold in cold weather climates again.
Nothing particularly remarkable, but nice features back here, a very competent well executed, backseat, if just maybe a little bit on the tight side. And finally, we move on to the cargo area in the new outback, which is actually quite large.
The complaints I had about the rear seats being a little tight, exact opposite, is going on back here. This is a very large cargo area, considering the size of this vehicle and it’s. Pretty impressive back here now.
One interesting feature in the cargo area of the new Outback. You can see on the sides of the cargo area. You have these little door handle looking things, you pull those and they will drop the rear seats, but one of the right drops the right rear seats.
The one on the left obviously does the left rear seat and that’s, a really good feature. If you’re trying to load something big into your cargo area, the last thing you want to do once you realize you’re gonna have to put the seats down, is go around to the door open or not put the Seat down go around to the other side, open the door, put the seat down it’s, just a bit cumbersome, but here you pull these latches and the seats fold right down now, unlike in some kind of high-end luxury vehicles, you cannot fold the Seats back up using these latches, it’s, all mechanical.
So if you want to fold them back up, you will have to go around to each individual door, individual seat and fold them up that way and next up. One other interesting item in the cargo area is the fact that you have a power outlet back here over on the right side.
You can see it’s a little cigarette, lighter style power outlet, which is a nice useful feature, although personally, I think it would be even more useful if they gave us like a household style power outlet with traditional prongs, so you could plug something In back here, a phone charger, a toaster, but this is cool.
It’s better than nothing. And finally, we move under the hood in the new Outback, and you can see the engine under here. Like I mentioned before, this is the Outback XT, which means it has a turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 260 horsepower at about 275 pound feet of torque.
This engine is also used in the larger Subaru ascent, and so it’s, pretty healthy numbers for this car. In fact, those numbers are pretty strong. If you compare the Outback to compact crossovers, like the Honda CRV, which maxes out at about 190 horsepower, but if you compare the Outback to midsize crossovers like the Toyota Highlander, its power numbers are pretty standard.
Now, like I mentioned, there is also a base engine in this car. It’s, a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder, with about 180 horsepower, so you can choose which one you’d, prefer one interesting thing under the hood in this car is the fact that there’s, no plastic engine cover.
So many modern cars have so much stuff completely covered by plastic, but not this thing: there’s, no giant plastic cover that says Subaru on it in huge letters. In fact, you’d, be hard-pressed to find the word Subaru or a subaru logo anywhere in this engine compartment.
It’s all just exposed parts. The new Toyota Supra has more BMW logos under the hood than this. Subaru has Subaru logos, and so those are the crooks and features of the 2020 Subaru Outback. Now it’s time to get it out on the road and see how it drives alright driving the outback.
Now my first impression this powertrain is it’s, pretty good for the size of the cars it’s fairly, reasonable, no complaints, although I do think that the base powertrain, I haven’t driven the new Outback with the Base powertrain, but I imagine it must feel a little strained.
The Outback is sort of a midsize SUV in terms of sizing and a standard all-wheel drive and that powertrain and only 180 horsepower, probably not all that much power. The thing about this car is that, ultimately, it’s, not particularly exciting or thrilling or wool, that’s crazy, and in this case that’s, actually a good thing.
You know when you get into an expensive luxury car. You want it to wow you, you wanted to have some features that are special and unique and that you’re. Nobody else has, but the buyers for this car are not like that.
They prefer sort of a durable, tried and true and tested car, and it doesn’t need to have all this like cutting edge stuff to make them happy and Subaru knows that, and they know that formula and they stick with that and this car Is just another great example of it in terms of the driving position it’s very nice and comfortable sitting in here.
The seat feels very good. You will not get the high up driving position that you do in an SUV and that’s. Opinion splitting the people who buy these they don’t want that they don’t. They specifically don’t want an SUV.
They don’t want to deal with all that. They think it’s too big. The people who do drive this car and end up in an SUV. They want to sit up higher and I think that’s, one of the distinctive things about the outback that people kind of have to decide whether they like.
But one thing is for absolute certain. It definitely drives more car, like than an SUV. The steering feels a little more comfortable car feels a little bit more compact to me frankly than most SUVs when you’re driving it along and obviously being closer to the ground.
You don’t. You don’t feel that body roll. It definitely is more of a car in terms of driving experience sitting inside the car you don’t, hear a lot of exterior noisy here’s. Some, maybe a little bit more than I was expecting, but generally it’s.
Pretty muted does a good job kind of blocking that out. Ultimately, it’s, not a car. With a lot of light crazy stuff, you’re gonna end up saying about it. If you’ve driven prior out back, so I suspect most Outback owners have or most prospective outback customers have.
Then it’s. Just more of the same, you got better technology in this one. You know a little bit more interior room a little bit more comfortable, but, generally speaking, it’s, exactly what you’re used to, which is a good car, a good, durable, excellent car again, nothing that’s gonna Wow you or send you over the edge or oh, my god.
This is amazing, but it’s, just a good car and that’s. Why 250,000 people here buy these things and really that’s? Sort of the the the whole story about the outback it drives decently. It’s, a it’s, a car that won’t.
Surprise, you won’t really value all that much. But if you want a car to own for a long period of time and a lot of super owners keep their cars for a while, if you want a car that sort of tried and tested and durable and simple, this is a good car for that, and So that’s, the 2020 Subaru Outback.
The outback is America’s favourite wagon, and it’s, easy to see why you get SUV practicality, but without the SUV, and although SUVs are really really hot right now, some people would just rather have a wagon and in overwhelmingly large Numbers those people get the outback, and now it’s time to give the Outback a dug score, starting with the weekend categories and styling.
The Outback is fine about average. Nothing special like it’s. A 5 out of 10 acceleration 0 to 60, with the turbo engine is 6.1 seconds and it gets a 3 out of 10 handling is average for the segment and it gets a 3 out of 10.
Fun factor is low, it’s, an automatic family station wagon and it’s, not much fun by design, and it gets a 1 out of 10 finally cool factor and it just isn’t. This is like the suburban parent car in a lot of the country, and nobody ever bought one of these because it’s, cool, which is good because it gets a 1 out of 10 for a total weekend score of 13 out of 50 X.
Tup are the daily categories and features it’s except ibly well-equipped, but nothing crazy and it gets a 6 out of 10. Comfort is average for the segment and it gets a 7 out of 10. Quality is good. The insurers only average or a bit above, but reliability is strong and it gets a 7 out of 10.
Practicality is good with a roomy interior and standard all-wheel drive, but no third-row bumps it down a bit and it gets an 8 out of 10. Finally, value – and it does well but not really excellent. My test car is around $ 40,000 and that’s.
Big money, considering the Outback, still lacks a few important features. Like a 360 camera, it gets a 7 out of 10 for a total daily score of 35 out of 50. Add it up and the Doug score is 48 out of 100, which places the Outback here against other family vehicles.
I’ve tested, it ties the ascent, but only because the Outback has a higher weekend score due to better acceleration. The ascent has a higher daily score due to its larger interior. Overall, though, the Outback holds its own here and beats out the Toyota rav4, which is probably the Subarus closest competition on this list.