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2020 Subaru Outback Test Drive Review - More Capable Than Ever?

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Editor Travis Langness gets behind the wheel of the redesigned 2020 Subaru Outback for a test drive. On the outside, the Outback is updated with fresh new looks in the form of new headlights and taillights, a new front grille, wider fenders, and a bigger opening for loading items in the back. The engines have changed, too, with a reworked version of the standard 2.5-liter engine still powering the base Outback and a new turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder available if you want to upgrade.

It may look like a wagon, but the Subaru is classified as a midsize SUV by our standards, which means it's spacious inside and has a serious amount of ground clearance. It also comes with all-wheel drive as standard.

Subaru has added a tablet-style 11.6-inch touchscreen, with crisp graphics and quick responses to user commands. This screen also employs Subaru's Starlink system, which we've been big fans of in the past and we expect it to perform well here, too.

2020 Subaru Outback Review:

The redesigned 2020 Outback features updated powertrains, more standard features, and more capability than ever before.

For starters, the Outback gets a new look — sort of. The wagon-like profile is still distinctively Outbackian. But there are new headlights and taillights, a larger front grille, wider fenders, and a wider opening at the rear hatch. It all sits on a new platform that Subaru says decreases road noise and improves structural rigidity.

Subaru says it reworked the Outback's base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Power is up from last year's 175 horsepower to 182 ponies in the 2020 model. Torque gets a similarly modest increase from 174 lb-ft to 176 lb-ft, as does fuel economy, which Subaru expects to be 26 mpg city/33 mpg highway.

The base powertrain, the non-turbocharged 2.5-liter boxer engine, gets a small increase in power and it now puts out 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. That's a healthy amount of power, but the optional engine is even better. The turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder replaces the old six-cylinder, and it produces 260 hp and 277 lb-ft.

The new 2020 Outback will be available in seven trim levels: base, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT and Touring XT. The base, Premium, Limited and Touring models all get the 2.5-liter engine, while XT models get the turbocharged 2.4-liter engine. Standard on all models is Subaru's EyeSight driver assist technology — a suite of active and passive driver aids. That suite includes adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist (plus lane centering), and DriverFocus, an infrared camera with facial recognition capabilities that can spot driver fatigue or distraction.

Standard on all but the base model is an 11.6-inch touchscreen display, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with Bluetooth connectivity and satellite radio. On upper trim levels, available features include LED headlights, blind-spot monitoring, reverse automatic braking, a head-up display, a 180-degree front-view camera, heated and ventilated front seats, four USB ports, and a power rear liftgate. There's also plenty of available soft-touch materials and leather all around inside the cabin — enough to make long road trips comfortable.

Off-road, the Subaru Outback is just as trail-friendly as it has ever been. The 8.7 inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel-drive system mean that gravel and dirt roads are no issue. You can even take on the tougher stuff by using the Outback's X-Mode system that operates hill descent control and selectable traction-control modes for snowy or muddy conditions.

2020 Subaru Outback Pricing and Release Date:
The 2020 Subaru Outback is slated for release in summer 2019.

Read more about the Subaru Outback: https://www.edmunds.com/subaru/outback/2020/

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