Subaru of America debuted the latest generation of its popular Outback station wagon at the New York International Auto Show on Wednesday, adding a turbocharged engine, adaptive cruise control and standard safety equipment on all trim levels.
The 2020 Outback retains the rugged nature that makes it a hit with outdoorsy drivers.
“It’s delivering exactly what needed to be delivered with Outback, nothing more and nothing less,” said Eric Noble, president of the Car Lab automotive consulting firm. “The Subaru brand and buyer are this really unique combination of practicality and pursuit of outdoor adventure together.”
The Subaru Outback comes with spacious cargo room, good ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive – all of which encourage owners to take the vehicle on adventures. The 2020 version includes a lighter suspension, quieter cabin and off-road features such as hill-descent control.
The 2020 Subaru Outback goes on sale in fall 2019. Pricing will be available closer to launch.
Subaru sold 179,000 Outbacks in 2018, a drop of 5.3 percent compared with the year prior. However, it remains the brand’s top-selling vehicle. The Outback accounted for more than one-quarter of all Subarus sold last year. The new model will challenge more expensive competitors such as the Volvo V60 and Audi A4 Allroad for market share.
Subaru added major changes to the 2020 Outback, beginning with its structure. The new wagon rides on the Subaru Global Platform, the architecture shared by most vehicles across the brand’s lineup including the compact Forester and three-row Ascent SUVs.
The entry engine for the 2020 Outback is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. While the engine is a carryover from the previous generation, engineers updated or replaced 90 percent of its parts.
Subaru also offers a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, the first turbocharged engine available in an Outback since 2009. It produces up to 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. It delivers a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, the highest rating ever for an Outback.
The 2.5-liter engine is available on the Outback Base, Premium and Touring models. The turbocharged 2.4-liter engine comes on the Onyx XT, Limited XT and Touring XT. The only transmission is a continuously variable transmission, or CVT, with an eight-speed manual mode operated through paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel.
The 2020 Outback retains its standard roof rails and integrated cross bars to which owners can attach various racks and cargo carriers. The new wagon has a wider rear loading area and up to 75.7 cubic feet of cargo space with the second row of seats folded down. Ground clearance for all Outback trims is 8.7 inches – higher than most compact SUVs.
The all-wheel-drive system in the 2020 Outback also comes with torque vectoring to apply power to the appropriate wheel. X-Mode helps drivers choose the appropriate driving mode for various terrain conditions including dirt, mud and snow. Hill-descent control is included.
One of the biggest changes to the 2020 Outback is the addition of an optional 11.6-inch touch screen, mounted vertically in the center of the driver’s cabin. It uses the Subaru Starlink system that controls multimedia, climate control and vehicle settings. For the first time Outback buyers can opt to include a Wi-Fi hotspot. Subaru Starlink also includes Chimani, an app with guides to all 417 national parks in the U.S.
The highest version of Starlink includes TomTom navigation with voice activation. A 12-speaker audio system from Harman Kardon is also available.
Subaru’s suite of advanced safety equipment, called Eyesight, is again standard on all Outback trims. For the 2020 Outback the system gains adaptive cruise control with lane centering. Additional features include automatic emergency braking and DriverFocus, which uses infrared cameras and facial-recognition technology to issue alerts if the driver appears distracted or fatigued.
Adaptive LED headlamps, blind-spot detection and reverse automatic emergency braking are also available.