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7 Cool Features You’ll Find On The New Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT - And One It's Missing

This week we drive the 2020 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT. Check out its numerous added features and one it needs to make it even better.

The Subaru Outback gets a complete remodel for the 2020 model year change and a new trim level for active families. We drove the wagon in the high altitude west of Denver, Colorado to see how the new turbocharged engine handles the rarified air. Make sure you read to the end to see the seven best features and one we wish it had.

What’s new for the 2020 Outback?

The sixth-generation Outback rides on the new Subaru Global Platform that improves ride quality, and handling. It comes with a new tablet-style 11.6-inch touch screen that controls audio and climate control, and EyeSight driver assist technology is standard on all trims. The Onyx Edition XT has been added to the all-wheel-drive lineup that comes with a new dual-function X-Mode for added off-pavement capabilities.

2020 Subaru Outback, Onyx Edition XT, specs, features, fuel mileage

The seventh-generation Subaru Outback comes with improved safety over the outgoing model. EyeSight driver assist now comes with a new lane-centering function and advanced adaptive cruise control.

Features and Options

Our Onyx Edition XT tester ($37,750 including destination) comes with unique finish exterior elements, 18-inch alloy wheels and badging, and a gray two-tone interior. For active customers, seats are wrapped in a new water-repellant durable StarTex material for weekend off-road adventures.

2020 Subaru Outback, Onyx Edition XT, specs, features, fuel mileage

The sporty trim also gets a hands-free power gate, front view monitor and, for increased capability in a wider range of off-pavement and environmental conditions, exclusive Dual-Mode X-Mode, and a full-size spare tire. It also comes with push-button start, keyless access, and exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals.

Other adventure-focused offerings include LED fog lights, roof rails with tie-downs, and integrated retractable crossbars, and a rear vision camera with washer. As with all Subaru models, it comes standard with all-wheel-drive.

Engine and fuel mileage specs

The more adventurous XT trim is powered with the new FA24 Ascent-sourced 2.4-liter turbocharged engine producing 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. The XT 2.4-liter Boxer engine comes mated with a high-torque Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission with 8-speed manual control and steering wheel paddle shifters. A new auto-stop-start feature helps improve fuel efficiency.

2020 Subaru Outback, Onyx Edition XT, specs, features, fuel mileage

Subaru dropped the six-cylinder 3.6R model in favor of the more powerful XT with improved fuel mileage. EPA estimated fuel economy is 23/30 mpg city/highway and 26 combined mpg using regular unleaded fuel.

The Outback Onyx Edition XT now comes with 3,500-lb. towing capacity, an increase from all other trims that have a 2,700-lb. rating.

Interior Features

The big advantage of buying the Outback is it’s a wagon and not an SUV. It drives and handles more like a car, but it has 8.7-inches of ground clearance so you are not sitting down to get in. We slid right in and didn’t have to step up or climb in.

The first thing you see is the new high-resolution 11.6-inch touchscreen. The seats are comfortable and outward visibility is better than many cars, and the 10-way power driver's seat allowed us to find the perfect driving position. The Onyx Edition XT has all the winter comfort features you are looking for like three levels of heated front seats, heated mirrors, and a windshield wiper de-icer.

Subaru also upgraded the features to keep you connected. It comes with 2 USB ports and a 12V outlet in the rear center console, and now has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

There’s ample legroom in the back seat for adults and they won’t feel claustrophobic as in most sedans. Rear passengers will stay cooler in the summer with the rear dark tint privacy glass and rear A/C control vents.

Passenger volume in the new seventh-generation Outback has an increase of nearly 1 cubic foot, and cargo volume improved by 2.4 cubic feet. The width between the rear wheel wells increased by nearly 1 inch.

2020 Subaru Outback, Onyx Edition XT, specs, features, fuel mileage

Outback offers 32.5 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats and 75.7 cubes with the seats folded down. The Outback offers plenty of utility for hauling extra cargo for camping and long road trips.

Driving dynamics

The Outback XT 2.4-liter turbo engine has all the power you will need and more if you do take it on a road trip. The new engine is extremely responsive. We test drove the Onyx XT up I-70 west of Denver at altitude and the vehicle passed slower traffic with ease and the 260 horsepower Boxer turbocharged engine had us up to 80 mph before we knew it. It has extra power for carrying cargo, five passengers and, a small trailer or camper. 

The Lineartronic CVT was a surprise that comes mated to the new turbo powerplant. We felt no lag and the gearbox shifts more like a conventional automatic transmission. It pulled the steep grade and never had to hunt for the right gear. We also like the steering wheel paddle shifters if you want to manually up-or-down shift. This was an engaging model to drive, and a must if you live in the higher elevations.

As we said above, the Outback has the driving dynamics of a car, but the all-weather all-terrain capability that surpasses many SUVs. The all-purposed wagon is ideal for those who need to get to work in all-weather conditions and not worry about getting stuck in a snow storm. Subaru vehicles are built for extreme weather conditions, and the Outback offers a full-time all-wheel-drive system that you don’t have to engage.

7 cool features you’ll find on the 2021 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT. And one that's missing

StarTex water-repellent upholstery

Subaru developed a durable, water-repellent upholstery named StarTex to stand up to a customer’s active lifestyle. StarTex is a polyurethane material that prevents moisture from soaking into the seats. After a day of hiking, biking, mountain climbing, or kayaking, the car seats won’t get ruined from moisture. The best part is it feels soft but it’s durable and will stand up to hard use.

Dual-function X-Mode w/ Hill Descent Control

This upgraded X-Mode version allows the driver to select between two different settings tailored to adverse driving conditions; snow/dirt and deep snow/mud. This will be valuable for those going farther off the trail needing the extra level of off-road capability. It’s only available on the Outback Onyx Edition XT trim.

2020 Subaru Outback, Onyx Edition XT, specs, features, fuel mileage

Hands-free, single touch, and large roof rails

Hands-free lift gates are convenient, and the new Outback requires just an elbow close to the big logo in the center of the liftgate to make life easier when loading cargo. It also comes with a new single-touch lifting cargo cover. The new Outback features new larger roof rails with integrated and retractable crossbars and tie-downs. This makes it easy to carry a cargo carrier, mountain bikes, or kayak up top.

Fuel-efficient turbocharged engine

Subaru designed its best Boxer engine yet and it gets the latest direct-injection technology. Without getting too technical, the new 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine can produce more power and still be fuel-efficient. The turbocharged engine is rated 23/30 mpg, up from 20/27 mpg with the old 3.6R flat-six. Read our comparison of the new 2.4-Liter turbo vs. the naturally aspirated 3.6R engine here.

New Driver Assist Features

The standard EyeSight driver assist is a standout feature. It acts as a second pair of eyes, with a new Lane Centering function that warns you when you sway outside your lane and new Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control that applies full braking force in emergencies helping you avoid a rear-end collision.

The Blind-Spot Detection system warns you with a visual indicator in each side mirror if it senses a vehicle in your blind spots. Rear Cross-Traffic Alert helps warn you of traffic approaching from the side as you are backing up. And, with the optional Reverse Automatic Braking, it could keep you from running over something or backing into an object.

The Outback also comes with a 180-degree front view monitor. It puts a 180-degree front view on the screen to spot any unseen hazards, whether off the road or when you are parking and can’t see ahead.

One feature we wish the Outback offered

Subaru does offer a head-up display on the windshield that gives the driver EyeSight warnings and status information, but it doesn't show the car’s speed. A head-up display helps the driver keep both eyes on the road by putting key information directly in your line of sight. It's the one feature we wish the new Outback had.

2020 Subaru Outback, Onyx Edition XT, specs, features, fuel mileage


The 2020 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT offers all the things customer's with an active lifestyle are looking for. If you don’t want a big SUV, but want the all-weather capability and utility of a hatchback, the Outback wagon is a perfect choice. It drives more like a car but sits higher and has the ground clearance for driving in adverse weather and getting off the beaten path. The 2021 Outback will be arriving this fall. Check out the new features it brings below.

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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 USA


Guy Woloszyn (not verified)    August 11, 2020 - 10:24AM

What is the real word about towing with a cvt? Since it is not meant to require routine maintenance, I shudder to think what $$$ ripoff the dealers will try and charge to change the lifetime fluid should you tow heavily, thereby necessitating a yearly fluid change. Anything on that sir? thanks for your informative articles.