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New Subaru Outback - Should You Buy the 2020 Model Or Wait For 2021?

Should you buy a 2020 Subaru Outback? It could be best to wait for the 2021 models.


The 2020 Subaru Outback wagon is still the best-selling wagon in America and it’s turning 25 years old this summer. Is the Subaru Outback a good vehicle for you to buy? The multi-purpose wagon is different than any vehicle in America and falls in the wagon category but it also fits in the SUV/Crossover segment because it doesn’t ride low to the ground like a typical wagon or sedan.

The Outback is made in America at the Subaru plant in Lafayette, Indiana, and was completely redesigned for the 2020 model year and rides on the Subaru Global Platform. That translates to the new models having improved ride quality and it rides like a car but has the best characteristics of an SUV.

2020 Subaru Outback

It sits 8.7-inches off the ground so it’s easy to slide in to, it comes standard with Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel-drive for all-weather performance, it has a stellar safety rating with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and it gets better fuel mileage than most SUVs.

You can get two engine options in the 2020 Outback. The standard model is powered by a 2.5-liter engine and you can also get an Outback XT trim with a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine. Which model is best? For most buyers, the standard 2.5i trim will meet your needs. What Outback engine is best for me?

2020 Subaru Outback

Unless you need the extra power to haul cargo and people over an 11,000-foot mountain pass or pull a trailer, the standard 2.5i trim will have all the power you need for commuting and power to enter the highway. It gets an EPA estimated 26/33 city/highway and 29 combined mpg.

What is the best Outback model to buy?

The 2020 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium and Limited trim levels are where the majority of buyers will be landing. Unless you need the extra power and off-pavement capability of the Outback XT, you will pay around $4,000-$6,000 less for a comparably equipped 2.5i trim level.

How dependable is the Subaru Outback?

The Subaru brand is dependable and according to Consumer Reports the Outback scores high in “predicted reliability” according to a recent report. You can read the report we've included below.

Are there problems with the 2020 Subaru Outback?

As with any newly-redesigned car, the automaker hasn’t had time to work out all the “bugs” as many parts are all-new on the model. The 2020 Subaru Outback is covered by Subaru’s 3 yr/36,000 mi basic and 5 yr/60,000 mi powertrain warranty. There has been one recall so far on the 2020 Outback for a brake pedal mounting bracket that affected 3,450 vehicles.

Should I buy the 2020 Subaru Outback? We would recommend waiting for the 2021 Outback models coming out later this summer. Subaru will likely add a new rear-seat reminder to the new models, it will get a modest price increase and the automaker will have worked out most of the new model’s defects.

You Might Also LikeWho Makes The Best Cars? Subaru Is Consumer Reports Top Mainstream Brand

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, Competition Subaru


Russell Casey (not verified)    June 22, 2020 - 3:22PM

One paragraph on the proposed changes and really nothing about the wait or not wait until 2021. I am waiting for 2021 and hope they have implemented the oft upcoming software interface revamp.

Victoria shumate (not verified)    June 22, 2020 - 5:04PM

Hi, we just bought the 2020 outback xl mainly for the 3500 towing capacity. Well, we got dealer installed trailer hitch and they put a 4 prong wiring harness on it! We can't use the wiring to pull our teardrop camper! When asked if we could get a 7prong wiring harness the dealer says that they don't offer this and won't install it. Even though they do give the choice for the Ascent! If we would have known we can't get the 7 prong wiring harness we would NOT get the dealer installed hitch and gone to a hitch shop(which we will need to do to switch the 4 to 7) think you should do an article on this issue and maybe Subaru will wake up! We contacted SOA and their reply was "design flaw" What does that mean? Also, the 2020 brochure shows an outback pulling a teardrop camper! Dealer says their hands are tied?

Judy Weatherhead (not verified)    June 22, 2020 - 9:28PM

We were planning to trade in our 2016 Outback for a 2021 Outback. Due to COVID shut downs, will the 2021 be available in September?

Michael Breaux (not verified)    June 23, 2020 - 1:18AM

My first one was 2014 forester I love it but it has oil consumption problems and trade in for 2017 outback touring packages with eyesight and I love it. New 2020 outback touring xt touring packages nice. 2021 new one coming out soon I can’t wait see it! It’s time for new outback style and new body! My mom bought her first Subaru Ascent 2020 xt touring packages nice!

STIFTW (not verified)    June 23, 2020 - 3:59AM

How is the Outback still considered a wagon? This Outback is literally dimensionally bigger with more ground clearance than most of the SUV/CUVs it competes against. They stopped making the Legacy Wagon a few generations ago which it used to be based off of. The Outback is no longer wagon.

Diana Welch (not verified)    June 23, 2020 - 6:52AM

Unless you need the extra power to haul cargo and people over an 11,000-foot mountain pass or pull a trailer, the standard 2.5i trim will have all the power you need for commuting and power to enter the highway. To produce mor power, you will need a quality wheels which you can find at 4WheelsOnline

Adam (not verified)    June 23, 2020 - 8:09AM

In reply to by Diana Welch (not verified)

Thanks, Donna!

How much horsepower does changing the wheels and tires of a vehicle typically add? This whole time I thought horsepower and torque were based on engine output...but 4WheelsOnline has shown me the light!

Pierre Clement (not verified)    June 23, 2020 - 8:08AM

I’ve had my 2020 Outback Limited XT for about 6 months now. Car runs well and no problems other than some quirky head unit issues at times (slow and black outs, both are temporary and settle back to normal after a couple of minutes). There is apparently an update that I have not had time to get done due to the Covid thing. One thing thought, the head unit is not intuitive, too many screens to flip through to get to what you want, an example is that heated seats are individual, you have to open two different screens to adjust the heated seats. I think that the layout needs work. A pet peeve is that the start/stop disable function is buried. To disable it takes five different touches to disable and return to your original screen. For all the safety items, the head unit is very distracting and becomes a safety issue.

Steve (not verified)    June 23, 2020 - 10:45AM

In reply to by Pierre Clement (not verified)

agreed. had my xt for about 2 months and 1) as noted the auto off disable is infuriating 2) climate controls are litterally a safety hazard as it is very difficult to change temp/fan/etc. without taking your eyes off the road 3) head unit gets confused if you try do too many things at once (i.e. dont turn the engine on adjust your radio volume, throw it into reverse and then expect a will catch up after 20-30 seconds 4) cruise control...quick tap of the acc/dec button moves at increments of 5 mph...hold it down to tweak it my 1 mph increments (this is backwards imo). All real head scratching you're fighting with the screens, you really have to wonder who thought this would be a good idea?

Jim (not verified)    July 17, 2020 - 3:52PM

In reply to by Steve (not verified)

Completely agree. The touchscreen controls are dangerous. Also, I don’t think my XT touring has a very good ride, possibly because the turbo charger seems to add a lot of weight near the front wheels.

Mike Spencer (not verified)    June 23, 2020 - 8:51AM

If the 2021 goes back to being a WAGON then I'd buy one, not a fan of the current SUV they're offering in place of an actual Outback.

Josh Watson (not verified)    June 23, 2020 - 9:32AM

Subaru Outback windshields for 2020 aren't cracked up to what the rest of the car is. Or rather they are cracked up. We have 2 2020s in the family and both of them have awful cracks in the windshields. This is because of thin/cheap glass. I love my outback and will have it for 20 years but outback quoted me over $700 to replace their proprietary glass. Something about eyesight and making sure its calibrated. They don't even care that nothing hit the windshield and yet there is cracks started on both sides of the glass. The only flaw I have with my onyx x/t.

Roger Maltby (not verified)    June 23, 2020 - 12:02PM

My wife bought a new 2020 Outback recently - great car but we both dislike the confusing dashboard screen. Also the center console has only one small storage space, difficult to access, and there's no "tray" atop the dashboard. Needs a rethink, especially the screen menus

John (not verified)    August 2, 2020 - 12:48AM

In reply to by Roger Maltby (not verified)

I was interested in the 2020 model and also did not like the dashboard screen. Too many functions (including the heater) running through it. Do you know of any reliability (or other) issues with this "command center" approach?

Rich F (not verified)    June 23, 2020 - 1:56PM

My wife has the 2019 Outback and we both think it is great. No bugs left in that version. I have the 2020 Outback. Really good car, but a fair number of problems with environmental, radio control center. I would wait till 2021 and hope some of that is fixed.

Gina (not verified)    June 23, 2020 - 3:26PM

My daughter bought the 2020 outback, fully loaded in February. The windshield has broke 2x, cost $900 the first time, the second time, safe light said they won’t replace it because it will just break again. Subaru won’t do anything. I think it’s dangerous to drive with a broken windshield, that by the way, broke 2 days after getting the new one, just sitting in the garage. Subaru has a class action suit against them on the windshields, they say their not responsible because they get windshields from more than one company. Have they ever stopped to think that it’s actually the frame around the windshield? Very upsetting

A Gilmore (not verified)    June 23, 2020 - 5:02PM

No hybrid in the 2030/2021 Outback?!? Won’t buy....
My 1997 V6 Town and Country only got 3 miles less mpg, than my 2012 4 cyl Outback gets - that’s unacceptable-