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Five things to know about the 2020 Subaru Outback

2020 Subaru Outback Touring 38.JPG
2020 Subaru Outback Touring (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

The all-new 2020 Subaru Outback is designed to be a comfortable cruiser that can handle the daily commute as well as a moderate off-road weekend escape.

The sixth-generation Outback gets roomier interior dimensions, a lot of up-level amenities and standard EyeSight, Subaru’s safety suite.

Here are five other things you need to know about this new utility vehicle.



There are two available engines

For 2020, Subaru is offering two engines in the Outback lineup: a base 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder Boxer engine and an up-level 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine.

The base engine delivers 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque and is available in the base, Premium, Limited and Touring trims.

The turbo engine delivers 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque and is available in the Onyx XT, Limited XT and Touring XT trims

Both engines are powered well and designed to deliver excellent fuel efficiency to an all-wheel-drive-only vehicle. The target, according to Subaru, was to meet or beat its competitors in the mpg arena, and it came close in all but a couple of instances. Only the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 can boast better numbers.



DriverFocus remembers up to five drivers

One of the coolest new tech features on the Outback is Subaru’s DriverFocus. We first encountered this in the Subaru Forester and immediately fell in love.

This is facial recognition software that can remember up to five drivers, and will then adjust seating position, mirrors and HVAC controls based on who is sitting in the driver’s seat.

DriverFocus also monitors driver distraction and drowsiness, and it will sound an alert if it detects either.



The tablet-sized info screen is beautiful

Taking a cue from Tesla, overlarge info screens are all the rage these days, and automakers have implemented with varying degrees of finesse. For example, we are a huge fan of the large info screen in Volvos, but as we pointed out a couple weeks ago, the screen in the new Ford Explorer looks like a tacked-on afterthought.

The screen in the Outback is perfectly integrated into the center stack and uses both tuning and volume knobs – as well as a couple of HVAC buttons – to keep drivers from having to swipe through too many screens or depend on a touch screen for every function.

While we’ve often thought much of the digital technology in Subaru vehicles is two steps behind, this new screen says a big hello to 2020.



Yes, you can turn the auto stop/start off

Both new engines in the Outback have the auto stop/start feature. This is the hot new must-have for automakers because it gives them a miniscule bump in fuel economy ratings.

When this feature is engaged, every time the vehicle comes to a complete stop, the engine shuts off. As soon as the driver removes a foot from the brake, the engine turns back on.

We hate this feature in all vehicles, but at least you can turn it off in the Outback.

The downer, though, is that you must turn it off every time you start the vehicle, and the on/off switch is hidden behind two menu screens in the infotainment screen.



EyeSight is standard

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety habitually rates Subaru’s safety suite as one of the best in the industry. And now it’s standard on all trims of the Outback.

That’s a big deal considering the system includes all the forward-facing safety technology such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam assist and lane centering.

With the inclusion of EyeSight on every vehicle as well as some well-thought-out high-strength steel usage, Subaru is targeting IIHS’s coveted Top Safety Pick + award, and considering every other vehicle in its lineup, except BRZ, currently has this title, it’s a safe bet Outback will, too.



The Bottom Line

This all-new 2020 Subaru Outback is practically perfect in every way.

It affords good visibility out all windows, has a highly adjustable driver’s position, manages some mild to moderate off-roading with aplomb and has a nice balance of refinement and rugged versatility.

Now if Subaru could just work on that auto stop/start button, we could remove “practically” and insert “absolutely” in the above sentence.

For more information on the new Outback, be sure to check out our full first-look review.


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