By on April 10, 2019

It is arguable that the original Subaru Outback was one of the vehicles that blazed trails for the whole “rugged wagon” movement that eventually morphed into the crossovers we see flooding driveways across America. Those of you with long memories will recall that “Outback” was originally a trim on Legacy wagons, before making the jump to being a standalone model.

Fast-forward to the 2020 model year and we find Subaru in an enviable position: taking advantage of market trends and posting a gob-smacking 88 consecutive months of year-over-year growth. Next week, the company will drop a new Outback at the New York Auto Show.

The current Outback sits, price-wise, one spot below the top-of-food-chain Ascent. Starting at $26,345 for a base 2.5i model, most Outbacks trade somewhere in the mid-thirties. All of ‘em, save for the top-dog 3.6R Limited, are powered by the company’s 175 hp 2.5-liter boxer four. The R makes 256 hp from its engine.

As usual, the teaser shot doesn’t give us a great deal to go on – which is why it’s called a teaser shot, I suppose. What can be discerned are a set of vertically stacked LED fog lamps instead of the current model’s round units, plus the now-expected grey cladding above the wheel wells and rocker panels. It is a safe bet the new turbocharged engine found in Ascent will make its way into the new Outback, perhaps supplanting both of the current mills.

The picture’s subject is wearing a set of Yokohama Avid GT tires. In a fit of reporting you’re unlikely to find on any other site, your author knows this is a new M+S tire from the company, replacing the old Avid Invigor. It doesn’t bear the three-peak winter seal of approval, but is marketed as a touring tire for tough weather. Fits the Subaru MO, then. The current Outback is shown in company materials fitted with Bridgestone Duelers.

March may be a cruel month for some, but it certainly wasn’t for Subaru. This past month marked the 61st consecutive month of 40,000+ vehicle sales for the automaker and the best March ever in company history. Outback is an incredibly important model for the company, as it is its best seller. They moved 41,808 of the things so far this year, compared to 40,656 Foresters and 26,197 Crosstreks. Those are the top three models at Subaru, by the way.

Subaru will reveal the all-new 2020 Outback at the New York International Auto Show on April 17th at 11:15am local time.

[Image: Subaru]

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26 Comments on “More ‘Crossover’ Than Many Crossovers, Subaru’s 2020 Outback Heads for New York...”


  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    My brother in Denver, quit using winters on his a4 in lieu of Nokian all seansonw with the 3 peak seal. He’s fairly impressed with them in the snow, and they’re quiet on the highway.I think they’d be a good choice for winters here in KC-with the exception of this past year, are mostly mild.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    I may be mistaken, but it appears that TTAC’s parent Torstar (VerticalScope) stopped trading today. I sure hope the TTAC masthead has their hands on their rip cords.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Looks promising. i would be a contender for an Outback.

    • 0 avatar
      make_light

      I’d be eyeing one in a few years as well, but I feel like I’ll be priced out of a turbo model, and the standard 4 might be too pokey. Ideal build would be a turbo with just heated cloth seats and a decent stereo. Sadly that will never happen.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Subaru engine+turbo+DI – sounds like disaster in making

      • 0 avatar
        stuntmonkey

        > Ideal build would be a turbo with just heated cloth seats and a decent stereo.

        Just comparing with people across the border, it feels to me that Americans in general get the short end of the stick for Subaru trims. In Canada, there are generally very good mid-tier trims in the line up (cloth, LED projectors, sunroof… but no leather or GPS) that don’t really force you all the way up if you want the better stuff.

    • 0 avatar

      I hope they’ve sorted the engine and NVH issues. A serious lack of refinement is the only issue I have with mine.

    • 0 avatar
      six42

      I’ve had two, and the current one is very useful and very comfortable. There are many vehicles that do some things better, but the outback checks all the boxes for us. If it was a Plug-in Hybrid, there would be no better vehicle for us.

      Cross shopped/test drove the RAV hybrid, highlander and hybrid, forester, terrain, escape, xc70 (prev version at the time), CRV, JGC, Cherokee,

      If there was no outback, I’d prob have JGC or Highlander hybrid. But don’t want to pay for the features those two have which I don’t value, so OB it is!

      It’s like the labrador retriever of cars.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    While the Nokian WR-series all-Weather tire is definitely better than regular all-seasons, they are a poor performer compared to dedicated winter tires.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      John and Jane Q Public aren’t largely going to worry about dedicated tires.

      The answer to the question “What’s the best all-season for winter conditions?” is a very important answer.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    For whatever reasons, Subaru is on fire with customers.

    Proposed tagline: “Outback – weighs slightly less than an F-150.”

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Well, ok. This is a bit misleading. It weights slightly less than smallest F150. But F150 can weight as much as 1700 pounds over heaviest outback

      Looking at Outback, I could say, it is very similar to Venza. And guess what – Outback and Venza weight numbers are identical. So, there is nothing special in its weight

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    having been there done that with separate winter tires when I was dailying RWD sports sedans,it became a hastle going to the tire store and worrying if they were going to scratch up my OEM wheels, or deal with outlay for separate TPS monitors etc on separate wheels/and storing them
    Now I just have an awd vehicle and just drive slower when it snows. I’ll not get stuck with AWD and crossover tires (although the OEM Conti cross-contiacts are fairly weak in the snow but otherwise great)
    Incidentally , I’m sure the new Outback will sell like hotcakes here, despite pretty much looking exactly the same as all the other Subaru products. It clearly ain’t broken

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Ok, I drove this car in premium trim. My thoughts – great size, elevated sitting position – all good. Here are some purchase blockers for me

    1. Horrible brakes. Beyond bad. Bad I saw in JGC. Outback – horrible. It feels like you just pushing through some substance and you have to push really deep before some braking occurs.
    2. Short front seat cushions. This is {curse here} big car. My Mazda6 has cushions nearly 2 inches longer than Outback
    3. It has no powah. Or it has too little power for its weight. I don’t know. But it feels very slow… because it is very slow. That CVT probably eats 50% between flywheel and wheels.

    Who knows, may be for 2020 they fixed some of these but for me – too late, Subaru

    • 0 avatar
      d4rksabre

      The bad seats are pretty much the only thing keeping me out of a Subaru. Every time I sit in one for more than a few minutes it feels like I’m being subjected to torture. The short seat cushions and weird lumbar support are just a total and complete deal breaker for me.

      • 0 avatar
        make_light

        Agreed, they’ve been inexcusably bad for awhile now, the reason why I didn’t buy one after my Forester XT lease was up last year. But it looks like the Ascent remedied that, so I’m hoping the Legacy/Outback follows suit.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Actually, speaking of other Subarus. I remember in the gen2 Outback, rear seats were really bad – setbacks were nearly vertical without recline.
        And then, I tried sitting in 2018 Crosstrek – short cushions, especially short in rear. It could only sit children in rear, really. So, I gave Subaru enough tries. Their fault.

  • avatar
    Bocatrip

    2014 was the best Outback to buy with the proven transmission with a real torque converter paired with the 6 cylinder. Then the downhill slide began with the introduction of the horrid CVT trasmission, but still was available with the best engine for Subaru, the 6 cylinder. Now it seems the end is nearing once the entire drivetrain will be reduced to a turbo 4 and a CVT. GOOD BYE SUBARU OUTBACK. You’ll have one less potential buyer from me!

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    As much as I like Subarus you can bet the new Outback will be kind of dull and kind of slow, because that’s what people like

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    My understanding is the 2.4 turbo is replacing the 3.6. No more flat 6 for Subaru.

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    Only the first and third generation Outbacks were attractive to my eyes. The rest have either been boring or some weird chimera demonstration of how to both over-style and under-style a station wagon at the same time. Given Subaru’s current blocky styling direction where only the Imprezza doesn’t look like a toy car, this new Outback probably won’t be a looker either.


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