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11 Things You Want In The New Subaru Forester, Outback And Ascent To Make Them The Best

The 2020 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and Ascent are good SUVs. Eleven things could make them even better.

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Subaru does listen to customers and will make changes to their all-wheel-drive lineup if you tell them what you want. A good example is when Tribeca owners complained about the SUV being too small, Subaru dropped the model and brought the new Ascent 3-Row family hauler and it’s been a hit.

An automaker doesn’t have to build an all-new model to make customers happy. It’s the little things and paying attention to detail to its current models that can win a customer over and make a big impression. Here are our top 11 things Subaru needs to do to make the best vehicles for customers.

2020 Subaru Outback, 2020 Subaru Forester, 2020 Subaru Crosstrek

1. Head up display in Forester, Outback, and Ascent

Many automakers like Hyundai are now offering a head up display on many of their models. It’s a great convenience feature and also offers another level of safety for drivers so they can keep their eyes on the road. So far, Subaru hasn’t offered it on any new model.

2. Push button start in lower trim models

It’s not a big thing but it’s annoying when you have to reach in your pocket or purse, get out the key and put it in the ignition to start the car. Subaru offers push button start on upper trims, but you shouldn’t have to buy the top trims or an option package to get it.

2020 Subaru Outback, 2020 Subaru Forester, 2020 Subaru Crosstrek

3. Heated steering wheel on more models

This is another feature that should be offered on more trim levels. You can’t even get a heated steering wheel on the new 2021 Subaru Crosstrek unless you buy the Hybrid. It’s an important cold weather feature to have that would make customers smile.

4. Fun accessories like an orange grille option

There are custom aftermarket grilles for Subaru Crosstrek in colors like orange that are available, that would also give Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and Ascent a unique appearance. Customers like to customize their cars so they don’t look like everyone else’s on the road. Subaru could also offer customers an aerodynamic package with a front lip spoiler, side under spoiler, aero garnish, rear under spoiler, and special wheels for a sporty appearance.

2020 Subaru Outback, 2020 Subaru Forester, 2020 Subaru Crosstrek

5. Special Edition Forester, Outback, Crosstrek and new Night Edition models

Subaru offered a Black Edition Forester for the 2018 model year but dropped the option when the 2019 Forester received a complete remodel. It’s time for Subaru to offer a Night Edition trim on Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and Ascent SUVs with black wheels, fog lights with black accent trim, black exterior badges and mirrors, and a front grille with blacked-out wing motif and chrome frame.

6. Put a new turbocharged engine in Forester

Subaru doesn’t need to bring back the higher-horsepower Forester XT trim, but they should offer the compact SUV with a smaller more fuel efficient turbocharged engine. Outback and Legacy now have the 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer, Crosstrek and Impreza are likely getting a new 1.5-liter engine, and WRX, STI, and BRZ are getting new direct-injection turbocharged engines. Why not Forster?

2020 Subaru Outback, 2020 Subaru Forester, 2020 Subaru Ascent

7. Make an Ascent-size pickup truck

The hottest segment in America is mid-size trucks and Subaru is missing out. They could use the Ascent platform and build an all-wheel-drive truck that would be a big hit with Subaru loyalists. There are renderings of what it would look like and it is the missing piece in the lineup. This Ascent pickup is from Neil de Vos Design.

8. BRZ convertible

The Subaru BRZ is getting a complete remodel and it would be a good time to bring in a new fun convertible BRZ sport coupe. The Mazda Miata MX-5 is a hot model and the BRZ would be a new offering that would excite sports car customers.

9. WRX and WRX STI Hatchback

Fans have asked Subaru to bring back the WRX and STI hatchback ever since the automaker dropped the model in 2015. The Subaru WRX and STI are getting a complete remodel for the 2022 model change and Subaru needs a hatchback body style to keep up with the Hyundai Veloster and Honda Civic Type R hot hatches.

2020 Subaru Outback

10. New colors on Forester and Outback

Subaru offers hot new colors on the Crosstrek like Cool Gray Khaki, Sunshine Orange and new Plasma Yellow Pearl, but Forester, and Outback get left out. Subaru knows who their demographic is for its Crosstrek SUV and the Japanese automaker doesn’t want to do anything that will mess up its formula for success with Outback and Forester. We love black on the Outback, but there are some customers who want new colors on the exterior besides black, white, silver, and gray.

11. Toyota reliability

Last, and maybe the most important thing Subaru could do, is tap into Toyota’s reliability. It’s not easy when the automaker is growing so fast they can’t keep up with demand. Subaru has the ability now to ramp up quality with Toyota’s increased stake in Subaru Corporation to 20 percent, which includes a strengthening of their ties.

Subaru could increase its emotional appeal with the 2020 Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and Ascent SUVs with customers by doing a few things. In the comment section below, let us know what you would like to see Subaru do to improve its all-wheel-drive SUVs and sports cars.

You Might Also Like: The New Subaru Forester, Outback, and Ascent models Aren’t Wowing You According To The Latest J.D. Power APEAL Study

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press and the founder of Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru, Neil de Vos, Adventure Subaru, Competition Subaru

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Gregory Iverson (not verified)    July 25, 2020 - 10:30PM

I've been waiting patiently to replace my 2014 Forester XT Touring with an equivalent new model, but neither 2019 nor 2020 offered the Outback/Legacy/Ascent 2.4 turbo in the Forester. Still hoping the 2021 will have this option, but I'm getting tired of waiting...strongly prefer Subaru, yet may have to try something else if 2021 doesn't come through.

Theresa F (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 2:23AM

I'm on my 3rd Subaru, 2 Outbacks, 1999 and 2015 and 1 Crosstrek 2016. My all-time favorite is handsdown, the '99 LL Bean signature Outback wagon. PLEASE bring that back as an option! I could do soooo much more with that than the current 2015 Outback. Don't get me wrong, I really love the 2015, but it just doesnt have the load storage capacity, not to mention, the 2-tone color options burgundy/gold trim for example).

And, I really want to tow and can't because the 4 cylinder doesn't have what I need to add a towing option to it. In fact, I'm considering trading to a 6 cylinder so I can tow a bass boat, a cargo trailer, and/or a motorcycle cycle on its own trailer.

Another small disappointment is the 2015 headlights can't be updated to the bright white lights the newer vehicles have-bummer. I have trim halogen around the headlamps, but just not enough. I run the foglamps nightly to see bright enough on dark highways and roads.

Costly satellite GPS radio updates- for the cost of this vehicle, this should be a discounted option for safety purposes. I've been in low-lying areas as well as mountains where the GPS just can't get a signal, or has outdated information, or just beeps between the towers and won't speak the information. It's a Harmon-Kardman system, so for price, should be better in this area.

Add a warning beep when backing up and getting close to hitting something. Just the camera isn't enough.

Adding a Front facing camera for tight parking would help too with a warning if you are too close and will hit something.

Other desirable items include Hlheads up display, better clock display, larger to see displays, anything to be able to not take eyes off the road is helpful. To make room, make the tachometer smaller- I can hear the guys groaning now, but really in an automatic not sure if it needs to be that big. And keep the numeric speedometer always displayed, even during paddle switches to see travel directions (again, a heads up display issue).

Finally, larger displays on the radio system area for maps, perhaps other road travel visual helps. Toyota has a terrific larger display one, crystal clear and closer to driver so easier to glance without completely taking eyes off road.

Having said all this, still love the Subaru, its quality, and its reliability. In fact, I'm a consumer promoter for the vehicle, people are ALWAYS asking me about how much I like it, is it worth it to own etc. I've gotten my parents to buy a 2018 Crosstrek and they really love it. I've converted several friends too. All in all probably have gotten 8+ people to look and buy. Anyway, thanks for opportunity to make suggestions.

Rebecca (not verified)    July 27, 2020 - 11:20AM

In reply to by Theresa F (not verified)

I completely agree with all your suggested upgrades. I’m on my first Outback and love it! My only real complaint is the sound system. An automatic volume equalizer is a must. I’ve been blasted off the road when changing from Bluetooth to SiriusXM radio and at startup when I am certain I deliberately turned it down before I turned it off. Thx again for all your ideas!

Timothy Spears (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 9:10AM

Need to add remote start to the Ascent
My wife and I have the 2019 Ascent and I also have a 2015 GMC truck that has remote start and it is a feature I like to use to start the vehicle and start cooling in the summer and heating in the winter

Lynn McCorkle (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 10:01AM

All US Model Subarus should come with rear fog lights as in Europe for those foggy and dark rainy days

Bruce Lane (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 10:07AM

One material we would like to see greater use of, particularly in the Forester, is Startex as seat upholstery instead of leather. Toyota has SofTex as their leather substitute in several of their models in certain trims. Subaru has Startex in the Outback Onyx edition.

Nil Raj (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 10:27AM

One item missing more related to accessories. The hitch for the 2020 forester has the pin hole close to the end of receiver. This makes all bike racks incompatible except for subaru oem bije rack. They should simply drill the hole further down the receiver.

Aaron (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 10:38AM

Concur with improving the reliability. Can we also make it easier to change the headlights? For the 2011 Outback and many other years/models, you have to go up, mostly blind, through the wheel well.

Dave (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 11:04AM

How about an automatic climate control system that works well? I'm speaking of a 2018 so maybe it's been improved, but doubtful. My 2006 Saab 93 was light-years better!

Bubba (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 11:12AM

It’s much simpler than this list. I want a manual transmission, turbocharged engine with avcs and Bilstien dampers. All available in JDM models since the early 2000’s. SOA hates us, this is why I’m glad to live in Canada where we can import these cars from Japan at 15 years old. To Subaru of America: I will never buy a new Subaru until you sell us the same tech as your Japanese counterpart.

Quentin (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 11:15AM

I have a 2020 Outback. Things that irritate me are:
No auto wipers. Surely with eyesight it could spot rain on the windshield. Would be easy to fix with software
No tire pressure monitor. The US model has it, why doesn't the Canadian model.
AVH is a useful feature, why do I have to reenable it from a setting deep in the menu every time I start the car.
I wanted to buy the Premier XT model but it only came in boring colors with an ugly interior color. So I paid less to have the blue paint and ivory leather. Surely by paying more I should get more choices, not less
The auto tailgate either doesn't open when I want it to, or opens when I don't want. There's a button on the dash that turns the auto tailgate off, but it has no light so you can't tell if it's been pressed accidentally
Other than these annoying niggles I really like the car

Rick G (not verified)    July 29, 2020 - 12:43PM

In reply to by Quentin (not verified)

You actually want them to add tire pressure monitors? Have you ever had a vehicle with these nuisance devices? I checked to make sure they were not on the Canadian 2020 Forester before I bought one. I have owned vehicles in the past with these horrible devices and they are nothing but trouble. Half the time the warning light would go on in error even when tire pressure was perfect. Also makes a big hassle and extra expense when you want to use a second set of rims for your winter tires. Subaru salesman told me he hopes they never add them in Canada and I definitely agree.

Garth Hetterly (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 11:26AM

I have an 2019 Ascent. Nice vehicle but ... I've had troubles with battery and the tires. Both are not up to Suby standards. Tires on gravel was a killer - lasted less than 8,000 Km and the 20" rims make it almost impossible to get a good gravel tire. A couple thousand dollars latter I have new rims and a good rock tire. Battery has needed a boost 4 times, Subaru says it is perfect, a few hundred dollars latter I have a new AGM battery (Subaru does not even offer an AGM battery).
Subaru please look after the little things, these will bite you in the butt, you will lose your quality reputation very very quickly. I still love the vehicle and say it is reliable although some around me ask how can I say that - good question.

James R Millard (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 12:30PM

I want the exterior combination lock to be able to access the interior without requiring the key fob to gain entry. Too many times I am working outside the house without the car keys and want to get something in the car without having to go in the house to get the keys. There are numerous other times having the combination entry is handy. I have it on the F150 Lariat and love it.

Joseph Ray (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 12:33PM

Except for 2&11, I don't really think these things are wanted by consumers. Sorry, but I feel like automotive journalism is a little bit arrogant in thinking you speak for us. The auto makers listen to everything... that's why we have ugly-ass Camrys and Highlanders, stupid grills on Lexus and Acura, a completely stupid looking civic hatchback, VWs with crappy base features, blind-spot warning systems featured on mid-line+ models, huge TV screens with crazy integration and wifi(really, who uses wifi when you have a cell phone), and driver safety systems which most people turn off parts of anyway and make the cost of windshield replacement $1200.
Really... there's lots of us eye-rolling at the design/features decisions.
Can we take out automatic climate control while we're at it? It hardly ever works right when you're windshield is foggy or when it's bitchin hot and humid with a hot sun.

Rick G (not verified)    July 31, 2020 - 10:19AM

In reply to by Joseph Ray (not verified)

Agree completely with your opinion here. When I was researching the 2020 Forester I was thinking about buying every automotive journalist review was only on the Top trim level, Premier here in Canada, which is called Touring in the USA. (Oddly enough Subaru in Canada calls the third from bottom of the six trim levels Touring which is a bit confusing). The journalists spend half the article talking about the Driver Focus Distraction Mitigation System which is only available on the top model and they complain about no longer being able to get the turbo engine from the old XT model, which only accounted for a very small percentage of sales and that's why it is no longer available. They seem to forget that, unlike auto journalists, the public actually has to pay for the vehicles and therefore doesn't want to shell out extra thousands of dollars for frivolous features. The Forester is a utility vehicle, not a sports or luxury car. I don't care if the brown leather in the Premier model looks like an Audi interior. Tell me about how the vehicle drives in normal real world use, fuel economy, leg room, cargo space, storage, build quality, etc. Thankfully these days you can find actual test drives on YouTube that are more reflective of the general public.

Danniela Miller (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 12:53PM

I miss the taillights on the older forester, 2003 that look like candy corn. Always knew a Forester was around. As dumb as it may sound, the forester was my dream car. On my third and thinking about another one. I'd never drive anything else, I just wish it wasn't startng ro look like everything else.

Bill Unger (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 1:38PM

i’d Like to have a level cargo floor with back seats down. Also a full size spare tire to include in tire rotation and for convenience of not having to shop around to replace a flat tire size.

Joyce (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 4:52PM

I'd like heated seats in forester touring. an upgrade to their tech system computer which works inconsistently and a cell phone pairing system that works.ALSO auto seat retraction when you turn off car and open door in touring edition.