The Subaru Outback has been the best-selling model in Subaru of America's lineup since 2016. But there's a significant shift in the SUV lineup going on at Subaru now. Last year, the Subaru Outback was the Camden, N.J. automaker's number one selling car in the all-wheel-drive lineup. For the 2020 model year, Outback received a full remodel from the ground up, and it looked like the SUV-alternative wagon would be the best-selling model again.
The newly-redesigned Outback finished 2019 strong, and SOA delivered 181,178 Outback wagons, and the Forester compact SUV was a close second with 180,179 sales. But something happened this year. Through eight months of 2020, the hot Forester compact SUV is far ahead of Outback with 118,434 sales compared with Outback's 89,323.
Why has the all-new Subaru Outback slipped so far in 2020? Our guess is, many buyers are looking at the newly-redesigned Outback and picking the new Ascent 3-Row family hauler instead. The Japanese automaker built the most substantial vehicle in terms of size it has ever produced. Subaru designed the Ascent for North American families, and it's doing better than expected.
Through August, Subaru sold 44,091 Ascent family haulers, and it is likely taking some of those sales from the new Outback. The Subaru Ascent had the best month of 2020 in August.
Ascent and Outback are considered SUV/crossover vehicles, but the Outback carries five passengers. With Ascent, you can haul 7 or 8 depending on the middle-row selection of a bench seat or captain's chairs. Ascent has more passenger space, cargo volume, and towing capacity. You can read our Outback vs Ascent comparison here.
How does the Outback compare to the Ascent in pricing?
Customers can get an Outback Premium trim for $30,095 and a comparably equipped Ascent Premium for $35,845 ($5,750 more.) To get the Ascent's new 2.4-liter direct-injection turbocharged engine in the Outback, customers need to opt for the Outback Onyx Edition XT priced at $36,195, $350 more than Ascent Premium.
What made the Outback popular is also available in the Ascent. The 3-Row SUV comes with standard all-wheel-drive, 8.7-inches of ground clearance, safety features, X-Mode for off-pavement capability, and similar driving dynamics. But buyers get the third row and more cargo room.
Many SUV shoppers are looking at the new Outback, but they choose the more spacious 3-Row SUV over the smaller SUV-alternative wagon. The newly-redesigned Outback won't be replaced in the lineup by the larger Ascent, it's just a better choice for buyers who need the extra passenger space and cargo room.
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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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