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New Rugged SUVs Are Coming To Battle Subaru Outback And Forester For Best AWD Vehicle

Subaru started the all-wheel-drive SUV craze and other automakers want in on the action. The 2020 Subaru Outback, Forester, and Crosstrek are getting new rugged competition.

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The Subaru brand started the small all-wheel-drive off-road SUV segment in 1975 with its subcompact 4WD Wagon, the first four-wheel drive passenger car sold in the U.S. The car established the Japanese automaker as the leading 4WD niche marketer. Subaru has been perfecting its Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system ever since and has sold over 14 million all-wheel-drive vehicles around the globe. When you are number one, there will always be new challengers trying to dethrone the champ.

It’s a niche market other automakers want a piece of. We reported the 2020 Subaru Outback is getting new competition from Ford who is bringing a new lifted “sport wagon” built on the Ford Fusion platform. The new model from Ford could be getting close as spy photos from AutoCar reveal a new model is already being tested in Europe.

2020 Subaru Outback
2020 Subaru Outback with an LP Aventure lift kit

CarBuzz reports Kia could be offering a new off-road-oriented Telluride model in the 3-Row market. Hyundai could also get in the hunt with the Palisade version of the same vehicle for active families. These two models would compete with Subaru’s all-new Ascent family hauler.

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The Forester already has completion from Toyota with the RAV4 Adventure and TRD Off-Road trims. And of course, Jeep offers the Compass, Renegade, and Cherokee, and Honda offers the all-new more rugged Passport. The Subaru Crosstrek, the brand’s Subcompact SUV doesn’t have much competition and rides alone in this space.

2020 Subaru Crosstrek2020 Subaru Crosstrek is ready for the trail

It won't be easy to dethrone the champ

The 2020 Subaru Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, and Ascent all come standard with the brand’s Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system perfected on rally stages around the globe. They also come with 8.7-inches of ground clearance from the factory in which no competitor exceeds.

Straight from the factory, the newly-redesigned 2020 Forester and new 2020 Outback are even more off-road capable with Dual-Function X-MODE on certain models that give the all-wheel-drive vehicles even more “go-anywhere” attitude and extreme off-road ability. The Subaru SUVs are also popular with families because of its all-weather capabilities and its utility.

2020 Subaru Forester2020 Subaru Forester is the brand’s top-selling vehicle around the globe

The Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, and Ascent models are all family vehicles that are ready for off-road weekend adventures but can all be turned into a more rugged off-road beast. Companies like LP Aventure offer even more extreme equipment for compact SUVs. Some Subaru dealers are now offering lift kits, all-terrain tires, and special underbody protection for customers with active lifestyles.

Subaru started the all-wheel-drive SUV niche and owned the market for many years, but that is changing. Look for more automakers to jump on the rugged all-wheel-drive SUV craze and bring new models. The 2020 Subaru Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, and Ascent are getting new competition but it won’t be easy to unseat Subaru as the leading 4WD niche marketer.

You Might Also Like: The Best AWD SUVs Are Still The New Subaru Outback, Forester, Crosstrek, And Ascent

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!

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Photo credit: LP Aventure

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Giobemo (not verified)    February 11, 2020 - 4:18PM

'Rugged Hyundai' and 'Rugged Kia' seem like oxymorons. The RAV4 is not 'rugged'- in any version. Jeeps may be 'rugged', but their unreliability is legend (and their fuel economy can't compare). We'll see what Ford can pull together, but somehow I don't think Subaru is in a panic.

Jason M McCune (not verified)    February 11, 2020 - 5:03PM

That is, not a 2020 outback look at the narrow vertical led fog lights missing and the old circle.

Jim Walsh (not verified)    February 11, 2020 - 6:01PM

This is old news. Tellurides and Pallisades have been rolling in the US for 5 months - and have already cut into the Ascent market beating Subaru at its own off-road game.
For most Subaru buyers, the all weather abilities are the selling point. 95% of Subarus in the US will never leave the pavement.

Rick yount (not verified)    February 12, 2020 - 6:26AM

With the vehicles noted in this article, I'm wondering why the new Honda Passport AWD is not even mentioned. most reviewers have indicated it is one of top vehicles in this growing class.