This last week I received a Subaru to test, a 2020 Outback with the four-cylinder turbocharged engine and continuously variable transmission (CVT). It was the Onyx edition in Abyss Blue Pearl with two-toned gray StarTex interior. This car is made by Fuji Heavy Industries, a Japanese firm, with final assembly taking place in Lafayette, Indiana. The Onyx is one of the the top-line Outbacks out of seven models offered in both turbo and non-turbo configurations. This one had an option package that included Starlink 11.6” multimedia navigation infotainment system, moon roof, and reverse automatic braking. This $1,845.00 package, plus $245.00 for wireless charger, brought the total M.S.R.P. to $37,995.00, including freight. I really enjoyed the charger in the console for keeping my flip phone charged up.
The Outback is a derivative of the Subaru Legacy wagon, introduced in 1994. It was originally called the Legacy Outback, and the Legacy name was dropped in 2003. Subaru in the 1990s did not want to spend the money for a new design for its crossover SUV to be produced, so simply modified an existing offering. They added side body cladding, raised the ground clearance, and added a rugged-looking rack on the top. In 2009, the second generation Outback was introduced, and sales since then have been brisk – over 181,000 in 2019. Crossover SUVs are quite popular nowadays, and a large part it is the result of the Subaru Outback.
Power for the Outback is supplied by a turbocharged 2.4 liter, boxer four-cylinder, DOHC, all-aluminum engine with 260 horsepower and 277 lb. ft. of torque. The boxer designation refers to its horizontally-opposed configuration, like a Corvair or Porsche. Think of a boxer, throwing punches. The weight of the engine, although modest, is kept at a lower center-of-gravity with this design. Ground clearance, however, is a category-best 8.7 inches. The transmission is a Lineartronic continuously variable automatic with Hill Holder feature and eight-speed manual mode – paddle shifters are behind the steering wheel. Symmetrical all-wheel drive, is, of course, standard equipment. Fuel economy is rated at 23-city and 30-highway for the car, and the fuel tank holds 18.5 gallons of regular gasoline. Acceleration from zero to sixty is reportedly 7.37 seconds. Wheelbase/length/weight are 108.1”, 191.3”, and 3,915 lbs., respectively.
The front buckets in the Outback are nice, and the three-passenger rear seat is split and reclines somewhat. Cargo space is 34 cubic feet with the back seats up and 75.7 cubic feet with the back seats dropped down. The center passenger in the rear has a shoulder belt, adding to the Outback safety reputation. Both of the front seats are power-adjustable, and the driver ergonomics are fine.
The ten-spoke black 18” alloy wheels on the Onyx are attractive, and they are surrounded by 225/60R18 all-season radials. The blue paint was offset with the dark cladding and bumpers, and the black roof rack gave the car an off-road look. I did not go off-road, but took some bumpy dirt roads with satisfactory results. I like the hefty, solid feel of the car both in town and out on the highway.
A few days with the Subaru Outback, and this reviewer can see the reason that these Outbacks are so popular, particularly in our home state of Colorado, where they outsell everything else. Crossover shoppers would be well-advised to consider an Outback at purchase time.