One of the Pacific Northwest’s most popular cars, the Subaru Outback, is all-new for 2020, for the sixth time in its 26-history. Exterior styling doesn’t stray much from the previous version, but this sixth-generation Outback adds new XT models with a turbocharged engine, and goes all in with safety and infotainment technology.
The 2020 Outback radiates enthusiasm for outdoor activities, accentuated by side cladding designed to resemble a hiking boot. It’s a rugged, SUV-like wagon with high ground clearance, highly capable on tough topography. In addition to Subaru’s tried-and-true all-wheel drive system, it has a driver selectable off-road setting.
There are seven trim levels: Base, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT. The first four trims come with a 182-horsepower four-cylinder boxer engine. The last three, the XT models, have the new four-cylinder turbo boxer engine generating 260 horsepower.
The transmission on all models is a continuously variable automatic (CVT).
Fuel economy is great: 26/33/29 mpg for the base engine and 23/30/26 mpg for the turbo. Regular grade gasoline is recommended for both.
Pricing for the 2020 Outback starts at $27,655 (including a $1,010 destination charge) for the Base model, which is decently equipped, not just the barest minimum.
For this review I drove the Outback Touring model. It has the base engine but is loaded with standard equipment, offering every special feature available. Getting the turbo engine means shelling out an extra $2,350 for the Touring XT.
The base engine is up to the task for everyday driving. If you enjoy taking carloads of large people and their gear up to Stevens Pass without ever having to move right during the passing zones, you’ll be happier with the turbo.
Handling is no problem no matter which engine. My tester was stable and sure on our wonderful winding backroads in Snohomish County. On the long stretch of I-5 from here to Portland, the new Outback performed with grace. Not only did the cabin stay quiet and comfortable, but Outback also rode over the worst of the rough patches with tremendous dignity.
Interior space has been increased for 2020, providing a generous amount of room for five passengers while simultaneously providing 32.5 cubic feet of cargo space in back. The rear gate opening has been widened to accommodate longer items, and a hands-free power liftgate is standard on most Outback models.
A vertical tablet-style 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen is the focal point of the 2020 Outback interior. It’s a beauty to behold, but requires more than the usual amount of self-tutoring in the driveway to become comfortably workable. With this one, you don’t want to do the learning on the fly, especially during freeway driving. Don’t ask me how I know that.
In keeping with its own tradition, the new Outback’s attractive interior is meticulously constructed and uses high-quality materials.
2020 SUBARU OUTBACK TOURING
Base price, including destination charge: $38,355
Price as driven: $38,355
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.