Subaru has given its best-selling model a full redesign. On the surface, the 2020 Subaru Outback doesn’t look radically different from the model it replaces, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find major improvements under the sheetmetal and inside the cabin. Read on for eight things you need to know about the new Outback.
The design has been updated, but you might not notice
You may have to look closely to see the design changes on the new Outback. Gray cladding covers more of the front end and also takes on a bolder look at the side and rear. Subaru replaced the round foglamps of the previous model with vertical stacks on either side of the front fascia. One of the other few noticeable changes is the updated taillight design. The visual updates are relatively small, and outdoor adventurers will be glad to hear the Outback boasts the same 8.7 inches of ground clearance as the previous model.
You can get it with a turbo!
Once again, Subaru is offering a 2.5-liter flat-four as the base engine. But Subaru says 90 percent of the parts are new, and output increases 7 hp and 2 lb-ft over the previous unit. The automaker also claims you can travel more than 600 miles on a single tank with this engine.
Gone is the optional 3.6-liter flat-six. Instead, the Outback now offers a 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four as the upgrade engine. The turbo mill comes from the Ascent, allowing the Outback to produce the same 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque as its larger crossover sibling. All Outbacks come with a CVT with a simulated eight-speed manual mode function with paddle shifters.
It gets better gas mileage than before
No matter which engine you choose, expect improved efficiency. The 2.5-liter engine boasts a manufacturer-estimated 26/33 mpg city/highway, which is slightly better than the 25/32 mpg of the old base engine. The upgraded engine sees an even bigger improvement. The turbo unit is rated 23/30 mpg, up from 20/27 mpg with the old flat-six. Note that every Outback comes with all-wheel drive.
Sitting on a new platform, the Outback promises improved crash protection
The Outback moves to the new Subaru Global Platform, and the automaker says crash protection has improved over the outgoing model. According to Subaru, the new body can absorb over 40 percent more energy in front and side crashes compared to the old body. Although IIHS has not yet crash-tested the 2020 Subaru Outback, the automaker anticipates earning a Top Safety Pick+.
The new platform is 70 percent stiffer in both torsional and front-suspension rigidity, and it’s twice as stiff in front lateral flexural and rear subframe rigidity compared to the old architecture. Along with improved safety, the new platform promises better ride quality, sharper handling, and a quieter cabin.
Room for more stuff
The Outback is said to have a wider rear hatch to make it easier to load your gear. Plus, you can now open the rear gate by waving in front of the Subaru emblem with the new hands-free power gate. There is also a new single-touch lifting cargo cover. These features will be standard on most trims.
Subaru quotes 75.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats down—a small improvement from the old model’s 73.3 cubic feet.
The optional touchscreen is huge
The old Outback offered a screen that measured a mere 8.0 inches. For the new model, Subaru is offering the tabletlike 11.6-inch touchscreen that made its debut in the 2020 Legacy. Standard on all but the base trim, this unit is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. App icons on the screen can be moved just like on your phone.
Subaru paid extra attention to the seats
Nappa leather seats are among the available luxurious options on the new Outback. There are heated front and rear seats, and the seat heaters extend coverage up to the shoulders for added comfort. Ventilated seats are also available.
A lot of active safety features come standard
All trims come standard with Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist system. This suite includes adaptive cruise control with a lane centering feature. Other available safety features include reverse automatic braking, blind-spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, and EyeSight Assist Monitor with a head-up display.
A little more controversially, the Outback also offers an onboard camera pointed at the driver to monitor his or her condition. With facial recognition technology, the system can identify signs of fatigue or distraction and provide audio and visual warnings when needed.