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7 Things To Know Before You Buy New Subaru Outback

The new 2020 Subaru Outback arrives this fall with new improvements you should know about over the outgoing model.

The Outback is the flagship model here in the U.S. and is the brand’s best-selling all-wheel-drive vehicle in the stable. It’s coming with a number of new features for customers who have waited for the all-new sixth-generation SUV/Crossover. Here are seven new upgrades you don’t want to miss.

Fuel less

You won’t have to stop at the gas pump as often with the new 2020 Outback. Both engines have improved fuel-efficiency. The 2.5-liter engine has been upgraded featuring 90 percent new parts as well as direct injection and auto stop/start. It gets a manufacturer-estimated 26/33 mpg city/highway, which is one mpg better than the 25/32 mpg of the previous engine. The new 2.4-liter turbo Boxer sees an even bigger improvement. The turbo 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.

Ride it

Outback rides on the new Subaru Global Platform which is 70 percent stiffer in both torsional and front-suspension rigidity, and it's twice as stiff in front lateral flexural and rear subframe rigidity compared to the old architecture. The new platform promises better ride quality, sharper handling, a quieter cabin, and improved safety.

Safety away

All new 2020 Outback trims come standard with the Japanese automaker’s EyeSight driver assist system. This driver suite of safety features includes adaptive cruise control with a lane centering feature, reverse automatic braking, blind-spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, and EyeSight Assist Monitor with a head-up display.

Outback also comes with an available active safety feature called DriverFocus that is designed to prevent distracted driving. The safety system will give the driver “feedback” and let you know if you are doing any potentially harmful things while behind the wheel. It’s like having a buddy in the car to keep an eye on you and give you a little nudge when you need it.


Hands-free lift gates are the new thing, 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 model also comes with new larger roof rails with integrated and retractable cross bars and tie-downs.

Heated bum

You can’t go without heated seats and steering wheel if you live in a cold climate. Outback offers more pampering with the heated front seats (and rear in some trim levels) now offering three levels of warmth along with more coverage for your back. The top Touring trim level also has a heated steering wheel as well as ventilated front seats for summer.

Outback grows

It wouldn’t be a better version if it didn’t get bigger in most areas. For 2020, Outback measures 191.3 inches long, 66.1 inches tall, and 73 inches wide. That represents a growth of 1.4 inches in length over its predecessor. Width has increased by 0.6 inches, but the height stays the same. At 108.1 inches, the wheelbase is also unchanged. Front track width remains the same at 61.8 inches, but rear track increases 0.6 inches to 62.8 inches. Front overhang increases by just 0.1 inches, though rear overhang grows by 1.4 inches.

Cargo volume comes in at 75.7 cubic feet with the seats up, and increase from 73.3 cubes. The lift-over height, or the height you have to lift an item to get it into the back of the vehicle, has increased half an inch.

Passengers will find more space in the rear. Legroom has increased by 1.4 inches, and headroom has gone up 0.2 inches. Overall passenger volume has increased 0.9 cubic feet on models without the moonroof, and 1.1 cubic feet on models with the moonroof. Front headroom has decreased 0.7 inches on models without the moonroof, and 0.6 inches on models with the moonroof.

Tow up

For 2020, the Outback also gets increased towing capacity. The sixth-generation SUV now comes with a 3,500-lb tow rating, an increase from the previous generation’s 2,700-lb. rating. The new SUV/Crossover gets a newly developed rear differential gear when equipped with the new 260-hp FA24 2.4-liter direct injection turbocharged Boxer engine. Subaru bumps up the towing capacity on the new 2020 Subaru Outback for those wanting to tow a bigger camper, a trailer for pulling dirt bikes, or a small boat.

You May Also Like: Say Goodbye To The Subaru Outback 3.6R; Why Customers Won’t Miss It

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Photo credit: Subaru


Resident non expert (not verified)    May 7, 2019 - 3:20PM

Don't forget the oil use. I love our '13, but the amount of oil it burns is ridiculous. Service interval is 7500 miles, but we haven't made it to 5k without having to add oil since it was NEW. Unacceptable...our little Honda uses no noticeable oil over a 6k interval, and it has almost 200k.

Matt (not verified)    May 7, 2019 - 7:40PM

In reply to by Resident non expert (not verified)

I have a 13 outback as well and complain for the very same reason regarding oil burn. I add 2 quarts between 7500 changes... every time.

The difference in my case was that I bought mine used at the 90,000 mile mark and didn't find out about the class action lawsuit agreement for certain VINs until I was just over the hundred thousand mile cap.

According to that agreement if you went through the steps at the dealer to determine that you are in fact burning oil ... then you got a new engine.

That's remains my only complaint about the car. I like the car so much that I choose not to bitch about the fact that my backup camera dies and comes alive with no discernable reason. Oh well, I gave up trying to fix that problem after seeing multiple outback owners complaining of the same reason in service threads with nobody offering answers

Steve Scholtz (not verified)    May 7, 2019 - 10:08PM

In reply to by Resident non expert (not verified)

Subaru has a service order covering some 13 outback and forester boxer engines. Ours was burning oil and after failing a factory oil consumption test we received a replacement engine under warranty at no charge. The new engine has been flawless and has not burner a drop of oil.

Tom (not verified)    May 8, 2019 - 5:11AM

In reply to by Resident non expert (not verified)

That's because you broke the engine in the wrong way. Even when you do it according to manufacturer guidelines, it's wrong and you won't have gotten a good seal on the piston rings, thus leaking oil into the combustion chamber. Check out fortnine YouTube video on breaking in a new bike. Same principle. Use it next time you but a new car.

Bobby (not verified)    May 7, 2019 - 6:43PM

Im on my third subaru and none of them used to drink a single drop of oil between oil change and i can't wait to shop for another one !!!

Lee Taplinger (not verified)    May 8, 2019 - 9:00AM

Subaru is proof that common sense is anything but common. They were nice enough to give us blind spot monitoring but the warning is a flashing light on the outside mirrors. That's not so bad on the driver's side but on the right side, who wants to take their eyes off the road at 70 mph and then try to discern the small light outside the window?

Papa Soobie (not verified)    May 8, 2019 - 10:05AM

Let's not forget the possibility that the 2020 Subaru vehicles won't have the long list of issues related to the Harman head units that we've been plagued with since the 2017 Impreza. All 2018 and 2019 Subaru vehicles are affected by one or more audio problems, screen problems, etc. My 2019 Outback 3.6R skips when I use CarPlay. That is to say, I am one of the many drivers who has reported in online forums that my vehicle will not play music through a USB cable and Apple CarPlay without skipping every 15 seconds to 5 min. How is it possible that from the time the 2017 Impreza was released until today (5/8/2019), there is still no documented solution for this specific problem? A number of other issues are apparently improved with an update that has come out for the Harman head unit, but if you have this particular issue you are out of luck. I just got Outback last month, and part of me certainly wonders if I should have waited until the 2020s were available. I've seen photos of the 2020 dash and it looks extremely cool, with a large portrait touch screen built right into the center. With few traditional switches or knobs, the sleekness is palpable. It would be nice to imagine owning one of those in the future... if they would just devote some energy to getting their CarPlay performance up to snuff for the last couple model years.