Thursday, January 26, 2023
News 2020 Subaru Outback Limited Review: The Shoe Will Always Fit

2020 Subaru Outback Limited Review: The Shoe Will Always Fit

As midsize SUVs struggle to find their place in the crowded segment, the Subaru Outback continues to march to the beat of its own drum.

  • Pricing for the 2020 Subaru Outback starts at $30,695 in Canada, $26,645 in the US.

  • The 6th generation Outback marks the return of the turbocharged XT version.

  • It’s a station wagon.

The Subaru Outback glides into its 6th generation with all the right features, versatility and comfort anyone could ever possibly want and need. It is very close to being the most well-rounded and agreeable midsize SUVs on the market today. And it’s a wagon.

2020 Subaru Outback | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

A Quarter Century Success Story

It was 25 years ago that Subaru decided to try something different. Mind you, the idea wasn’t entirely novel as AMC had already sold a beefed-up station with 4WD. Subaru had also put some small wagons together with far greater than expected capabilities but the Outback, unlike the Leone/GL cars, was meant for a far broader audience.

The gamble worked on a scale Subaru probably never imagined possible. In fact, in the US, 4 out of 5 new station wagons sold is an Outback. And, so far, they’ve sold well over 2 million examples of the car over the last 25 years. This is why they won’t mess with a good thing.

The 2020 Subaru Outback is true to the original formula which will guarantee continued success. Nothing was inherently wrong with the old Outback but Subaru still managed to improve on one or two key points. Let’s talk shop.

2020 Subaru Outback | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Extremely Cossetting and Capable

As with almost all other Subaru products including the Ascent, the all-new Outback is underpinned by Subaru’s Global Platform. Its highlights are nearly endless. The stronger architecture dials up refinement to a level never before thought possible for the rugged wagon.

As always, the Outback’s ride height is elevated and delivers 8.7 inches of ground clearance, more than many so-called SUVs. Despite being tall, the Outback’s chassis and dampening are perfectly tuned for all real-life scenarios. On the highway, the car is stable, in the broken strip-mall parking lot, it feels nothing, and it’ll cling to dear life if you choose to push it hard around a bend. Overall, the driving experience is impressively serene.

2020 Subaru Outback | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Serenity is omnipresent within the Outback’s quiet cabin. It’s immensely roomy thanks to its larger exterior dimensions, with decent storage and the seats are cushy and comfortable. The trunk is massive and can hold up to 920 litres (32.5 cubic feet) of stuff.

My only issue with the dashboard happens to be the piece de résistance: The 11.6-inch screen. More often than not, it was slow to respond to commands and many menus are far from intuitive to navigate. Thankfully, this can all be fixed with software and assumingly will be in the near future.

2020 Subaru Outback | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The 2.5-litre Is The Way To Go

The standard naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre boxer 4-cylinder engine produces 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque. For nearly as long as it’s been offered, this mill has proven to be a notch above adequate and that remains the case. The attached The Lineatronic Continuously Variable transmission (CVT) is mostly new and has never been more adept at transmitting power. Its eight programmed gears are amusing and believable.

Those who desire more power can always select the XT and its turbocharged 2.4-litre boxer 4-cylinder engine good for 260 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque. Frankly, in the real world, the 2.5-litre is the wiser choice.

2020 Subaru Outback | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The Price Of Choice

The base $30,695 ($26,645 in the US) Outback is equipped with SUBARU STARLINK Multimedia with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual 7-inch touch-screens, heated front seats (Canada), EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, symmetrical AWD and much more. Pricing and value are strong in the lowest grade Outbacks.

The tested $40,995 Premier (closest equivalent is the $37,345 Touring in the US) is the top-line version with the naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre engine. It features Nappa leather, cooled front seats, and DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System over the Limited, in both the US and Canada.

While the DriverFocus system is one of the most effective active safety systems I’ve ever experienced (a beep is sounded if the car judges you’re not looking in the right direction), this is not the version to get.

2020 Subaru Outback | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

In my opinion, the Canadian Limited spec Outback is the best option. Not only is Cinnamon Brown available, but the $38,995 Limited features the 11.6-inch screen with navigation, a heated steering wheel, a power hatch, and more. The least expensive XT is the Outdoor and retails for $300 less.

The Outback Shoe, Or Boot Fits

The Subaru has kept its Outback faithful to the original concept, which is a highly functional outdoor tool that still looks like a mountain boot, if you squint a little. Buyers know exactly what to expect and never need to fear that Subaru will mess with the formula. This is why Subaru customers are the most loyal in the industry.

They might be tempted by a Honda CR-V or Passport, a Toyota RAV4 Trail, or possibly a Jeep Cherokee or Grand Cherokee, but there’s comfort in what’s familiar. And so good is the Outback, and well-received, that this generation may actually conquer an SUV-lover or two.

2020 Subaru Outback | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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