Test Drive: 2020 Subaru Outback (2022)

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  1. Car Ratings
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  3. Test Drive: 2020 Subaru Outback
  1. Car Ratings
  2. Expert Reviews
  3. Test Drive: 2020 Subaru Outback

Ron Sessions, Independent Expert | Aug 29, 2019

Test Drive: 2020 Subaru Outback (1)


The Outback is Subaru’s best-selling model. Two million have been sold since the model was first introduced in 1994. The 2020 version marks the debut of the 6th generation version. It’s a winning combination of sport-utility-like capabilities and all-wheel drive with carlike ride, handling and fuel economy drive characteristics.

For 2020, Subaru polishes the Outback’s apple with significantly upgraded interior materials, a new 11.6-inch tablet-style infotainment screen, two new engines and available DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation system. As it was in 2019, Subaru’s dual-camera Eyesight Driver Assist system is standard on all models and expands to include adaptive cruise control with lane centering.

Prices range from $27,655 to $40,705 including the $1,010 destination charge. The model lineup includes the $27,655 Base, $29,905 Premium, $34,455 Limited and $38,355 Touring models plus a new Onyx Edition XT. The $38,755 Limited XT and $40,705 Touring XT models with a new turbocharged engine round out the available trims.

The new $35,905 Onyx Edition XT is aimed at younger buyers looking for a dash of testosterone. It comes with black-out trim, black painted alloy wheels, all-weather gray synthetic seat coverings, Dual X-Mode (off-road traction control) with throttle mitigation, hill descent control, a full-size spare, a 180-degree camera and 3,500-lb towing ability.

Test Drive: 2020 Subaru Outback (2)

Styling and Design

To the casual observer, the 2020 Outback looks much the same as the outgoing 2019 model. The side windows and rearmost roof pillars have a more streamlined appearance and there’s a body-color roof spoiler as well. Otherwise, the new Outback maintains the “hiking boot” design theme that’s been so successful over its 25-year history, complete with black-out lower body cladding, more robust-looking front and rear fascias and a functional roof rack with tie-downs and retractable cross bars. It’s a 5-passenger wagon with 8.7 inches of ground clearance that can go places, still showing plenty of air between the tops of its 17- or 18-inch all-season tires and the fender wells.

While it rides on the same wheelbase as the 2019 model, the 2020 Outback gets stretched 1.4 inches behind the rear wheels, aiding rear seat legroom and cargo space. New for 2020 are standard LED low- and high-beam headlamps and boomerang tail lamps as well as stacked vertical LED running lamps.

The 2020 Outback’s cabin gets a significant upgrade with more extensive seat bolstering, more soft-touch materials and major infotainment system updates.

(Video) 2020 Subaru Outback Test Drive Review — More Capable Than Ever?

Test Drive: 2020 Subaru Outback (3)

Features and Controls

Standard on all Outback trims is set-and-forget automatic climate control, adaptive cruise control, high-beam assist, a backup camera with a washer, remote keyless entry, cloth seat trim, manual-adjusting front buckets with a driver’s side seat height adjuster, a 60/40 split folding rear seat, two USB ports in the center console, a tilt/telescopic steering column and power windows, mirrors and door locks. A new power-lockable push and pop gas filler door eliminates the remote release lever on the floor by the door sill.

Moving up to Premium trim adds a power driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar, dark tint privacy glass, heated front seats and a wiper de-icer, dual-zone automatic climate control, a cargo cover, LED fog lamps, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter and a pair of rear USB ports.

Limited trim brings perforated leather seats, extendable driver’s seat lower cushion, a power front passenger seat, 18-inch wheels, pushbutton start, one-touch up/down power windows, heated rear seats, steering-responsive and height-adjustable LED headlamps, reverse automatic braking and a garage-door opener. Also standard on Limited trim is a hand’s free lift gate; With the remote keyfob on your person, hover with an arm or some other free body part in front of the Subaru logo below the liftgate window to operate it. No one-legged foot waving under the bumper is necessary.

The all-in Touring model adds ventilated front seats with soft Nappa leather trim, a power moonroof, a heated steering wheel and upgraded trim throughout.

All 2020 Outbacks offer more room inside. Rear seat legroom is up 1.4 inches, thanks to the car’s extended length. Subaru also carved out more space between the rear wheel wells so the floor is wider and allows more items to fit flat. Total cargo space is also up marginally to 75.7 cubic feet with the rear seat folded flat.

Test Drive: 2020 Subaru Outback (4)

Safety and Technology

Subaru updates its Starlink infotainment systems for 2020. The base trim gets two 7-inch screens, the upper one to control the standard AM/FM/HD audio system and the lower one for the climate control, safety and all-wheel-drive systems.

The biggest update is the availability of an 11.6-inch tablet-style infotainment touchscreen, shared with the Legacy sedan and standard in the Outback’s Premium and higher trims. The big touchscreen dominates the center of the dash and sizewise is nearly on par with the big Ram 1500 pickup’s optional 12-inch vertical display and larger than the 2020 Ford Explorer’s available 10.1 inch unit. The big screen offers large on-screen tiles for infotainment functions as well as handy analog volume and tuning knobs that you can operate without taking your eyes off the road, even wearing gloves.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are standard with both systems as is SiriusXM. Also new is an available 4G LTE in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot for easy internet access for portable devices on the road. The available navigation system, standard in Limited models, is powered by TomTom. The infotainment system includes a quick reference guide for major owner’s manual topics. And for those buyers who still cherish their extensive collection of Eighties and Nineties tunes on compact discs, a console-mounted CD player is still available.

The standard adaptive cruise control system includes lane centering as well as stop and go features up to 90 mph. The lane centering system avoids the annoying pinball side-to-side motions experienced in some other vehicle’s systems.

Subaru’s two-camera Eyesight safety system continues as standard equipment in all Outback models. It includes a head-up display of safety system function in the windshield, automatic pre-collision emergency braking, as well as vehicle lane-departure and sway warnings. A blind-spot warning system with lane-change assist and rear cross-traffic alert is optional in Premium trims and standard on Limited and Touring models. Also new on Limited and Touring trims is reverse automatic braking.

A new Driver Focus Distraction Mitigation system available in the Outback Limited and standard in Touring (introduced last year in the Forester) checks driver alertness using an infra-red camera and facial recognition software. It sends audible and visual warnings if it senses that the driver is distracted. The system can also remember key settings for climate control, seat and mirror adjustments for up to five drivers.

There’s a 180-degree front camera (introduced last year in the Ascent) as well for negotiating tricky terrain off-road, which came in quite handy during the drive with the Outback’s nose pointed to the sky and the trail dropping off sharply.

NHTSA and IIHS crash ratings not yet available for the 2020 Subaru Outback. Keeping in mind future safety standards, the 2020 Outback features a revised front-end structure designed to protect occupants in an oblique-angle frontal collision, the testing for which NHTSA plans to implement starting in the 2023 model year.

Test Drive: 2020 Subaru Outback (5)

Driving Impressions

The first thing you notice the moment you start the engine is how much quieter the new Outback’s cabin is. Subaru doubled down on sound insulation and now uses acoustic front glass.

The next impression you get once the 2020 Outback is in motion is how solid and stiff the body feels, which you can really notice when taking the vehicle diagonally up a steep driveway ramp or negotiating uneven terrain. As with many other new vehicles these days, the Outback utilizes a high percentage of high-strength steel and lots of structural adhesives along seams and at weld joints—Subaru says 108 feet of it. Subaru also added structural reinforcements around the door openings and in the cargo bay as well.

There are two new engines. Base is the direct-injected, naturally aspirated 2.5-liter boxer-four from the Forester rated at 182 horsepower (up 7 percent from the output of the 2019 Outback’s base 2.5-liter) and 176 lb-ft of torque. The 2.5-liter is EPA estimated at 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway/29 mpg combined. The 2.5-liter four’s large-for-the-class 18.5 gallon fuel tank and 33-mpg EPA estimated highway rating give it an impressive 610-mile cruising range. With the base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, the Outback’s maximum tow rating is 2,700 lbs.

For Outback XT models, last year’s available 3.6-liter 6-cylinder engine is replaced by a turbocharged 2.4-liter boxer-four shared with the larger, heavier 3-row Ascent. Pumping a healthy 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque, it is EPA estimated at 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway/26 mpg combined, about 3-4 mpg more fuel-efficient than the Ascent 4-cylinder turbo and last year’s Outback with the 6-cylinder engine. Output of the Outback’s new turbo four is similar to that of last year’s six-cylinder but torque increases a significant 12 percent and maximum torque is available beginning at just 2000 rpm for good engine response across a broad bandwidth of driving situations. Maximum tow capacity with the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder turbo is 3,500 lbs, an 800-lb increase over last year’s Outback with the optional 3.6-liter 6-cylinder.

Both the 2.5-liter and 2.4-liter turbo engines use a fuel-saving stop/start system that shuts off the engine at stoplights and automatically restarts when the driver lifts a foot off the brake pdeal.

(Video) 2020 Subaru Outback Review - First Drive

A Lineartronic continuously variable automatic transmission is paired with both engines, seamlessly matching engine speed with the best gear ratio for power and efficiency based on throttle position and road load. The CVT features an 8-speed manual mode (up from six speeds last year) that allows the driver to upshift and downshift through the gears via a pair of standard steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Front visibility is excellent due to a relatively low dashboard and hood, thin windshield pillars, pedestal-mounted side mirrors and small front-quarter windows.

On the road, the new Outback offers slightly quicker steering for better turn-in response and reduced friction that results in less fatigue on long stints behind the wheel. The 2020 model’s dampers now have a new internal rebound spring that helps reduce body roll in corners. Active Torque Vectoring in the Outback’s standard Symmetrical all-wheel drive aids stability and helps reduce understeer when turning sharply. The Outback has the same ground clearance as a Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk.

Test Drive: 2020 Subaru Outback (6)


While most other carmakers have abandoned the wagon segment in favor of SUVs, Subaru continues to mine gold with its outdoorsy-looking, slightly lifted all-wheel drive Outback wagon. The nice thing about the Outback is its slightly elevated driving position, one that neither requires occupants to climb up nor skootch down to get in. Just open a door and slide your butt sideways. Also, because the Outback doesn’t have an SUV’s tall roof, you don’t need a ladder to mount bikes or rooftop carriers up there.

Additional Research

  • 2020 Subaru Outback Ratings and Reviews
  • 2020 Subaru Outback Preview
  • Subaru Ratings, Reviews and Awards
  • 2019 Subaru Buyer’s Guide

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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Is the 2020 Subaru Outback reliable? ›

How Reliable Is the 2020 Subaru Outback? The 2020 Subaru Outback has a predicted reliability score of 70 out of 100. A J.D. Power predicted reliability score of 91-100 is considered the Best, 81-90 is Great, 70-80 is Average, and 0-69 is Fair and considered below average.

What is the difference between 2020 and 2022 Subaru Outback? ›

Other versions of the 2022 Outback, which Subaru completely redesigned for the 2020 model year, get only minor tweaks. They include standard LED foglights for all trims and rear-seat climate vents for the Premium trim, along with small price increases across the board.

What is the recall on 2020 Subaru Outback? ›

The 2020 Subaru Outback, 2019-2020 Ascent, and 2020 Legacy have been recalled by Subaru of America and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a defective drive chain. The NHTSA says the drive chain may break, causing a loss of drive power and could result in an accident.

Who buys Subaru Outback? ›

2020 Subaru Outback at the New York Auto Show

The number one occupation buying the new Outback is educators followed by health-care workers (a lot of buyers are nurses), and the third group are people in technology fields.

How long does Subaru Outback last? ›

The Subaru Outback is a reliable, durable vehicle that can last between 250,000 to 300,000 miles when properly maintained and driven conservatively. Based on an annual mileage of 15,000 miles a year, this equates to 16 – 20 years of service before requiring expensive repairs or breaking down.

Which year Subaru Outback is the most reliable? ›

2019 is one of the best used Subaru Outback SUV years

The reliability and owner satisfaction scores were both above-average. Areas that are reliability trouble spots for some vehicles, such as the engine, transmission, and drive system, all received high marks as well.

Are Subaru Outbacks expensive to insure? ›

Key Takeaways. It costs an average of $1,121 per year to insure a Subaru Outback, compared to $1,427 for the average car model. The cost to insure a Subaru Outback can vary by $308 per year, depending on the insurer.

Which Subaru is the most reliable? ›

The Subaru Outback and Subaru Forester rank highly for long-term reliability, and the brand scores above average for value retention."

What is the most popular Subaru? ›

The Forester is Subaru of America's top-selling model and outsold the Outback by just 100 models. The 2022 Subaru Outback is technically a wagon, but with 8.7-inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel-drive, it is considered a midsize SUV.

How long does it take to get a 2022 Subaru Outback? ›

If a customer orders a 2022 Subaru Outback, they can take delivery in two to three months. The Outback Wilderness is taking about three months.

Is 2022 Subaru Outback reliable? ›

According to Consumer Reports' scores, the 2022 Subaru Outback has steadily improved in reliability since the redesign in 2020 and now gives it a perfect score of 100 in predicted reliability.

Do Subaru Outbacks have transmission problems? ›

Some of the most common transmission problems you'll face in a Subaru include slipping, stalling, overheating, and trouble regulating engine speed. Though most Subarus are super reliable, some of the newer models have had issues with their transmissions.

What year Subarus have transmission problems? ›

Subaru Corporation is offering consumers an extended warranty on the continuously variable transmission (CVT) on approximately 1.5 million vehicles after concerns were raised about transmission problems that may cause the vehicle to stall on model year 2012-2017 vehicles.

Is there a class action suit against Subaru? ›

The Subaru Engine Failure Defect Class Action Lawsuit is Aquino v. Subaru of America Inc., Case No. 1:22-cv-00990, in the US District Court for the District of New Jersey.

What type of person drives a Subaru? ›

There are real stats behind this one, too. According to data collected by a market research firm prior to the last election, Subaru drivers are more likely to lean Democratic.

How long is the wait for a new Subaru Outback? ›

MORE Top 20 models: Which new cars are delayed?
Subaru model wait times 2022.
ModelWait time
BRZ6-7 months
ForesterFour months
ImprezaFour months
OutbackFour months
2 more rows
17 Aug 2022

Why are Subarus called Scooby? ›

2 Answers. it's a general name for any subaru, subarus are called subies that then becomes scooby, someone decieded to do this and it caught on with other people simple as that. 3 people found this helpful.

Do Subarus last as long as Toyotas? ›

Overall, Toyotas are more reliable than Subarus. They have consistently won more distinctions and awards across all models and have higher scores with both Consumer Reports and J.D. Power.

Do Subarus cost a lot to repair? ›

Yes, Subarus are more costly to fix. At least when compared to domestic brands, they are. Since there are fewer Subarus on the market, it is more difficult to find a mechanic who is familiar with all the models. That means that many owners will be forced to pay the higher prices charged at dealerships.

What is the most reliable car brand? ›

Toyota earns the top spot as the best automaker for dependability. Toyota vehicles are known for their longevity, and they are proven to last longer than any other brand.
The Most Reliable Car Brands.
Longest-Lasting Car Brands to Reach 200,000 Miles- iSeeCars Study
RankModel% of Cars Over 200k Miles
8 more rows
20 Mar 2022

Is Subaru Outback fuel efficient? ›

The 2021 Outback XT turbocharged model gets an EPA estimated 23/30 city/highway mpg and 26 combined mpg.
7 SUVs With The Best Interior And Fuel Economy - Subaru Outback Scores High.
2020 Outback XTOutback cabin
Outback adventureAll-wheel-drive
17 Apr 2021

Which Subaru Outbacks have head gasket problems? ›

Subaru Head Gasket Problem Years – First Round

The first group is specific to the 1st gen EJ25D 2.5 liter engine found mainly in the Legacy, Legacy Outback, Forester and the Impreza from 1996 to 1999. These engines suffered from internal head gasket leaks.

How long will Subaru Outback 3.6 R last? ›

All this road-tripping takes a toll, but the Outback, if properly maintained, can last drivers even up to 300,000 miles. This means that the average driver could expect to get 15 to 20 years out of their Subaru.

What are common problems with Subarus? ›

Here's a look at some of the common problems that five of their most popular models have:
  • Fuel pump failure.
  • Battery draining rapidly.
  • Unintended acceleration.
  • Windshields cracking.
  • Subaru Starlink problems.
  • Subaru Ascent CVT issues.
  • Defective light switch.
  • Electrical failures.
16 May 2022

How much is a brand new 2022 Subaru? ›

The 2022 midsize sedan starts at $24,490 for the base trim, Premium ($26,740), Sport ($30,285), Limited ($31,440), Limited XT ($35,990), and Touring XT ($37,690). Destination and delivery fees are included in the pricing above ($995).

Is it cheaper to insure older cars? ›

Are older cars cheaper to insure? Car insurance premiums can be more expensive for an older car because they tend not to have the security features of a newer, more modern car. On the other hand, older cars are often less valuable, and they may be cheaper to repair, which can help to push premiums down.

Is Subaru owned by Toyota? ›

Toyota Motor Corp.

owns Lexus and Toyota. And it has a stake in Subaru and Suzuki.

Are Subarus good in snow? ›

Subaru SUVS were named the top vehicles for traveling in the snow in a recent article in Consumer Reports. The Magazine published its list of “10 best vehicles for snow,” and not surprisingly, the Outback was first, the Crosstrek was second and the Forester finished third.

Which is bigger the Subaru Outback or Forester? ›

The Outback is nearly eight inches longer and one inch wider. The Forester is about five and a half inches taller. When comparing maximum cargo volume, if you were to, say, put ping pong balls in both cars, you would have slightly more ping pong balls fitting into the Outback, with 75.7 cubic feet (vs. 70.9).

Where are Subarus sold the most? ›

In states like Vermont, for example, Subaru is over 11 percent of the state's overall automotive sales.
The 10 States Where Subarus Are Most Popular.
RankState% Subaru
3New Hampshire5.8%
6 more rows

Who is the largest Subaru dealer in US? ›

Heuberger Subaru Is Proud to be America's Largest Volume Subaru Dealer!

Are Subarus selling above MSRP? ›

A new report from Edmunds reveals that most Subaru retailers are charging $592 over MSRP across North America. It's less than the average for all U.S. automakers. The average difference between the MSRP and the actual transaction price is $782.

Where is Subaru Outback made? ›

The Outback is built at Subaru's Lafayette, Ind., manufacturing facility.

Is the Subaru Outback a reliable car? ›

Subaru Outback Reliability Rating Breakdown. The Subaru Outback Reliability Rating is 3.5 out of 5.0, which ranks it 10th out of 26 for midsize SUVs. The average annual repair cost is $607 which means it has average ownership costs.

Are there any problems with the 2021 Subaru Outback? ›

It turns out that Subaru is currently facing a class-action lawsuit because of defective safety equipment. Drivers of the 2021 Outback have complained about the automatic braking system engaging when it shouldn't, leading to on-road collisions.

Where are Subaru made? ›

While Toyota maintains dozens of factories throughout the world, Subaru has only two manufacturing plants, making it a smaller vehicle producer than some of the major players. The original plant is located in Gunma, Japan, and the other is in Lafayette, Indiana.

What does XT mean in Subaru Outback? ›

Aside from the WRX and WRX STI, Subarus simply aren't known for speed—but that changes with the turbocharged Outback XT models. The XT badge means a 260-hp turbo-four propels the lifted wagon to the top of the midsize SUV class in MotorTrend-tested acceleration.

Are there any problems with the 2021 Subaru Outback? ›

It turns out that Subaru is currently facing a class-action lawsuit because of defective safety equipment. Drivers of the 2021 Outback have complained about the automatic braking system engaging when it shouldn't, leading to on-road collisions.

Is the 2022 Subaru Outback reliable? ›

We expect the 2022 Outback will have about average reliability when compared to the average new car. This prediction is based on data from 2020, 2021 and 2022 models. Select the used car model year to see reported issues with those similar past models.

What's the difference between the 2019 and the 2020 Subaru Outback? ›

Subaru has introduced an all-new Outback for 2020. An optional turbocharged engine in the 2020 model replaces the 6-cylinder engine in the 2019 model. Subaru calls the new Outback the safest and most capable Outback ever.

Are Subaru turbocharged engines reliable? ›

What Subaru engines are the least reliable? Subaru Report has documented the EJ25 2.5-liter turbocharged Boxer engine has had reliability problems. Subaru had three lawsuits claiming an engine defect in 2012-2017 WRX and WRX STI models equipped with the EJ25 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

Is a Subaru Outback a reliable car? ›

The Subaru Outback is reliable and is one of the more reliable vehicles in its class and price range. Typical users can expect 16-20 years of use before the vehicle needs significant repairs or starts to break down.

Is Forester or Outback more expensive? ›

Price: At starting prices, the Outback is about $2000 more than the Forester. That difference gets you a slightly bigger vehicle with more standard equipment, including a slightly larger touch screen display and the SUBARU STARLINK system. Optional features are available for every variant at an additional charge.

Is a 2021 Subaru Outback a good car? ›

The 2021 Subaru Outback is a good wagon. It offers plenty of passenger and cargo space, a refined cabin, a wealth of standard features, and composed handling both on and off the pavement. Among the Outback's few cons is an infotainment system that might take some time to master.

Do Subaru Outbacks have transmission problems? ›

Some of the most common transmission problems you'll face in a Subaru include slipping, stalling, overheating, and trouble regulating engine speed. Though most Subarus are super reliable, some of the newer models have had issues with their transmissions.

Which Subaru is bigger Outback or Forester? ›

Both the Subaru Forester and Outback are similar in size. The Forester offers more passenger volume than the Outback does with 111.9 cubic feet compared to 105.6 in the Outback. The Outback, however, delivers more cargo space than the Forester does with 32.5 cubic feet compared to 31.1 cubic feet in the Forester.

Where is Subaru Outback made? ›

The Outback is built at Subaru's Lafayette, Ind., manufacturing facility.

Is Subaru Outback an SUV or crossover? ›

The Subaru Outback is kind of a compact SUV and kind of a station wagon with off-road bits. It's one of Subaru's most popular vehicles.

Does Subaru make good cars? ›

This Japanese automaker has long been synonymous with unpretentious, practical, and affordable all-wheel-drive vehicles. Subarus have done well in our testing, thanks to roomy interiors, easy access, great visibility, intuitive controls, good fuel economy, and a comfortable ride.

What are the Subaru Outback trim levels? ›

All-wheel drive (AWD) with X-Mode featuring hill-descent control and torque vectoring is standard for each of Outback's nine trim levels. They include base Outback, Premium, Onyx Edition, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Wilderness, Limited XT, and Touring XT.

Which Subaru not to buy? ›

With major redesigns leading to extensive safety recalls for multiple models, 2009 and 2013 are the top two Subaru years to avoid. The Subaru name is synonymous with reliability, robust performance, and the love that goes into each car.

Which Outback engine is best? ›

The standard 2.5-liter engine is adequate for daily use, but if you're looking to have a bit of fun in the Outback, the turbocharged 2.4-liter engine is the best choice. It's a closer match to the standard V6 options offered among rivals.

How long do Subaru turbos last? ›

But, in general, you can expect a Subaru to run for over 200,000 miles. That's good news for fans of the Subaru WRX, boasting a stunning new exterior design and a better turbocharged engine.


1. The 2020 Subaru Outback Gets an Update | MotorWeek Road Test
2. 2020 Subaru Outback Touring XT Driving Review
(Matt Maran Motoring)
3. 2020 Subaru Outback | First Drive
4. 2020 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT - POV Driving Impressions
5. 2020 Subaru Outback: First Drive Review
6. 2020 Subaru Outback - CarGurus First Drive

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