Monday, 28 November 2022

2020 Subaru Outback boasts exciting new tech, strong redesign  Featured

Posted On Monday, 02 March 2020 02:23 Written by
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The Subaru Outback is the best affordable wagon on the U.S. market, and it gets even better with the 2020 redesign. The Subaru Outback is the best affordable wagon on the U.S. market, and it gets even better with the 2020 redesign. Photo courtesy of Subaru

The numbers don’t lie.

While wagons represent just 1.4 percent of vehicle sales in the U.S., the Subaru Outback owns the segment, representing nearly 80 percent of those sales.

But it’s not resting on its laurels, and the Outback — one of the few truly affordable options in the wagon category — is back with a brand new design for 2020. 
 
I recently spent some time in a 2020 Outback, and I’m back with a report on how well it measures up against the myriad SUV and wagon options available.

LOOKS 

Built on Subaru’s Global Platform, the 2020 Subaru Outback offers a very spacious cabin that is very comfortable for all passengers.

The vehicle is 191.3 inches long, and features excellent cargo space: specifically 32.5 cubic feet with rear seats up, and 75.7 cubic feet with the seats down.
For 2020, the passenger volume and maximum cargo value both see slight increases. There is also a 60/40 split in the rear seat to boost versatility.

Another benefit of the wagon design vs. an SUV is that loading up the roof or cargo areas offers an easier experience than most SUVs.

Among other helpful design features on the Outback I tested (an Outback Touring edition) included:
• Perforated Nappa leather-trimmed upholstery (very comfy)
• Power moonroof
• Roof rails with tie-down points and integrated retractable cross bars
• Leather-wrapped shifter handle; Leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel
• 18-inch alloy wheels
• Cargo area tie-down hooks
• Dark tint privacy glass
• Standard LED headlights (low and high beams) with High Beam Assist

The only downside to the design was the limited amount of storage space up front for small items (keys, etc.), caused in part by the large infotainment screen.

HOW’S THE RIDE?
The Outback I tested featured a four-cylinder, 2.5-liter engine offering 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque, featuring direct injection and paired with a Lineartronic CVT. An 8-speed manual mode was also available via paddle shifters.

The ride in the Outback is not overly powerful, but not weak either. You get a decent overall driving experience in regard to power and handling. Symmetrical All-Wheel drive comes standard on all Outback models, and you’ll have a mostly quiet ride, in part due to its sound-insulation windshield.

A second engine option offered on the 2020 Outback is a turbocharged 2.4-liter, four-cylinder option that boasts 260 horsepower. This engine has received rave reviews.

The Outback can handle some light off-road excursions, but don't get overly brave. Towing capacity ranges from 2,700 to 3,500 pounds.

TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY
The Outback’s steering wheel includes controls for audio and cruise control, all easily controlled by the driver without distraction.

The big news on the technology side is a new Subaru Starlink 11.6-inch tablet-style interface for the infotainment system. It’s very large, and designed well for drivers of all ages and levels of comfort with technology, offering a fast learning curve.

The screen looks more like a Volvo or Tesla screen, and is a big change from the old Subaru look, which was a bit outdated. 

The screen's main menu features buttons for navigation, radio, media, phone, apps, car info and more. A large home button is always accessible. The Outback also features smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

One downside is the small climate-control touchscreen buttons in the bottom of the large screen can be hard to use. 

Voice commands also work very well, to control climate, radio, phone and navigation, including locating POIs along your route.

In terms of music options, you get Bluetooth for hands-free phone and audio streaming; as well as AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite radio with Traffic and TravelLink and HD Radio.

Subaru always kicks some serious butt in the safety arena. For example, the EyeSight Assist Monitor comes standard on all trim levels. It offers a head-up display on the windshield for EyeSight warnings and EyeSight status information.

The exclusive DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System can identify signs of driver fatigue or distraction, which can be beneficial. However, I did notice that the system was too sensitive on multiple occasions, telling me to keep my eyes on the road when they were already there. 

The Eyesight Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering is easy to use and worked well in my experience. It kept me in my lane, but warned if I went too long without touching the steering wheel.

Those seeking in-vehicle Wi-Fi are also in luck, as the Outback offers a Wi-Fi hotspot.

It’s also worth noting that many of the advanced safety features can be turned off if you are in a situation where they will overreact. 

MPG
The 2020 Subaru Outback features an 18.5 gallon tank, and decent but unspectacular mileage. Its official numbers are 26 city/33 highway/29 combined. I averaged closer to 22 mpg in my driving experience, though.

PRICE
The Outback I tested was priced just over $38,000; but its base price starts about $27K. 

If you’re looking for a wagon, this is excellent pricing, as most of the wagons available are in the luxury category and cost much, much more.

BOTTOM LINE

Subaru essentially owns almost the entire wagon market in the U.S. with the Outback, so they didn’t have to give us a new version for 2020. But it’s a good thing they did, as it’s new technology, power plant options and overall design are top-notch. Outside of a few overly sensitive safety systems, there’s very little that can be said about the 2020 Outback that is not positive.

While wagons will continue to be a small sector of the U.S. market, look for Subaru to keep tight control of that segment going forward for years to come, thanks in large part to this new Outback. 

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AutoTechReviews.com can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook pageMatt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2020 Subaru Outback  
  • Price as tested: $38,355 (starts around $27K)  
  • Best feature: Spacious design and cargo space, one of the best remaining affordable wagons, strong tech upgrades
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Those who want more than a sedan, but don’t want to join the SUV bandwagon, have a great option in the Outback  
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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