If there was an "official" car for the Pacific Northwest, it would have to be the Subaru Outback. We see them everywhere, and there are good reasons why Subaru's mid-size SUV-style wagon has remained a consistent favorite with Northwest families for over 20 years. The Outback has always offered go-anywhere capability in a convenient, economical, and easy-to-drive package.
Now for 2020, Subaru has released the sixth generation Outback. It's built on an entirely new chassis platform and has a bunch of new features, but Outback owners will find that Subaru has maintained everything that was attractive about the old Outback. The new model is simply a better Outback.
The 2020 Outback starts with an upgraded chassis that is much stronger than the old framework. Subaru estimates a 40% improvement in crash safety, and expects this new Outback to win the same five-star and Top Safety Pick + ratings that the outgoing model has. Subaru also includes the advanced Eyesight safety system on every Outback as standard equipment. With a few years of experience, Subaru has found that Eyesight reduces rear-end collisions by a whopping 85%, and reduces pedestrian impacts by 35%.
Under the hood, Subaru has borrowed the 2.4-liter turbocharged engine from the larger Ascent SUV, or you can get the 2.5-liter normally aspirated engine that powers most of Subaru's lineup. Both engines are paired with a continuously variable transmission and Subaru's legendary symmetrical all-wheel-drive system.
Driving the Outback on and off-pavement, the 2.4-liter turbo engine is definitely a step up from the standard drivetrain. However, the base engine works just fine for all practical purposes. Be sure to test drive both and you'll know right away which one you prefer.
The other thing to notice on your test drive is the new suspension in the Outback. Subaru redesigned everything, and the new Outback includes extra internal rebound springs in the front suspension. These fight the tendency to "nosedive" under hard braking, and help keep the vehicle level in cornering. Together with the upgraded chassis platform, the new suspension makes a Outback a delight to drive in the mountains or the city.
Inside, Subaru has dramatically upgraded the dashboard technology. Most trims include an 11.6-inch tablet-style infotainment interface. You can get this with or without navigation, but since both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported, you'll always have navigation of some kind. The large screen makes GPS navigation clear and useful. There's an optional Harman Kardon audio system, and it sounds great.
The 2020 Subaru Outback is due at dealers in September, and will start at $26,645. If you've been thinking about a new Subaru, the Outback could be just what you've been dreaming about.
2020 Subaru Outback
Base price: $26,645
Price as tested: $34,895
Type: Mid-size crossover
Engine: 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (260 hp, 277 lbs-ft)
Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission
EPA estimated mileage: 26/33
Overall length: 191.3 inches
Curb weight: 3,500 pounds
Final assembly: Lafayette, Indiana
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