2020 Subaru Outback, new Subaru Outback, engine specs, features, fuel mileage
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New Subaru Outback XT 2.4L Turbo Vs. Discontinued 3.6L Engine

The Subaru Outback 3.6R is out and the new Outback 2.4-liter turbo XT is in. How do they compare?

When Subaru announced the six-cylinder 3.6-liter Boxer in the Outback was going away, many fans were disappointed. But turbo power is back for the SUV. Powering the 2020 Outback is a newly-available turbocharged 2.4-liter Boxer. It’s sourced from the Ascent family hauler.

The all-new 2020 Outback 2.4 XT comes in Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT models and they are powered by the brand’s all-new direct-injected turbocharged 2.4-liter Boxer 4-cylinder that beats the current Outback 3.6R engine’s power specs. The 3.6R develops 256 horsepower and 247 lb. ft of torque. The new XT turbocharged 2.4-liter Boxer produces 260 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque.

More power at lower RPMs

Subaru says the outgoing six-cylinder 3.6R Boxer powerplant sustains just 225 lb-ft of torque from 2,000-6,000 rpm. The new XT turbocharged Outback models benefit from a less broad torque curve, with its 277 lb-ft. of torque achieved from 2,000 rpm through 4,800 rpm. The new Outback XT’s available torque should make a big difference for those pulling a high mountain pass loaded with cargo and people, when pulling a trailer, or climbing a steep mountain trail.

What about fuel economy

The 2019 Outback naturally aspirated six-cylinder 3.6R engine gets an EPA estimated 20/27 city/highway mpg and 22 combined mpg. The new 2020 Outback FA24 2.4-liter engine manufacturer’s estimated fuel economy is 23/30 mpg city/highway with the turbo. Recent reports say the bigger Ascent with the same FA24 2.4-liter turbo isn’t quite getting its 21/27 city highway estimated mpg in the real world.

Why did Subaru ditch the 6-cylinder?

The 3.6R’s demise is no surprise because Subaru Corporation spelled it out in their “Prominence 2020" plan. The plan outlines every Subaru boxer engine will come with the latest Direct Injection technology. Iy also said customers would see smaller turbo engines developing more power and with greater fuel efficiency in the new-generation Subaru vehicles. So far they have produced that in the new Legacy and now Outback.


Pulling power

When equipped with the turbocharged engine, the next-generation Outback is capable of towing 3,500 lbs. up from the 3.6R’s 2700 lb rating. This is a considerable jump due to all that extra available torque. More pulling power will be available from the 2.4-liter turbo with its peak torque at low rpms. If you are pulling a steep trail the 2.4XT will have plenty of low-rpm grunt to get the job done.

If there is a weak link in the Outback power train it’s the Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission. Subaru has made a commitment to the transmission for its fuel-saving characteristics. On the upside, it does feature an 8-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddle shifters. Subaru keeps improving their CVT, so we’ll see how it performs with the new turbo engine.

2.5-liter is improved

For those who don’t need more power, Subaru still offers the 2.5-liter normally aspirated Boxer engine in the new Outback. It now features nearly 90 percent new parts, as well as direct injection and auto stop/start, and increased output and fuel efficiency. The new engine produces 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque compared with the outgoing model with 175-hp and 174 lb-ft. of torque. Manufacturer’s estimated fuel economy is 26/33 mpg city/highway for the 2.5-liter.

You May Also Like: How New Subaru 2.4L Turbo Engine Compares To Competition’s V6 Power

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So when does the Forester get its turbo back? Subaru said it killed The XT option because only 5% of buyers went for it. But now the Outback gets a turbo. What's up, Subaru?
If it masks the shitty Cvt, as well as it does in the Levorg GT then it has real potential to be our next car, as long as the power stays the same. We seriously got close to buying Levorg GT but wanted higher clearance and easier entrance when getting in.
I have never put 87 gasoline in my Subaru 3.6 Have never read or been told to put in 87. Also real quick , these small engines putting out these high hp numbers is definitely gonna take a toll on these motors early in it's life . No replacement for displacement.
Of course, there's replacement for displacement. That is why a relative of mine has a Forester XT that reaches 60 mph in less than 6 seconds, and back then rivaled or beat many V8's on the road. It's also not necessarily true that it's hard on the engine. It depends on how well the engine is built. Also, keep in mind a V8 consumes a minimum amount of gas regardless of what it's doing. When the turbo car is at low rpm's the turbo is not spinning and therefore not putting additional air into the engine (such as at idle or deceleration). A small turbo engine has a huge advantage over a V8 in those situations. And most importantly, if you believe there's no replacement for displacement, why are you driving a V6 anyway?
You completely forgot to mention the 3.6r takes regular gas while the 2.4 turbo XL needs premium gas.
That's not true. The new turbo motors are designed for regular 87 octane.
Incorrect, the 2.4 turbo requires 87 octane regular gas just like the old 3.6r.
Ouch! So you gain mpg, but lose paying for premium (50+ cents per gallon here.
you skipped a few clarifying comments about which fuel octane you'll need - why?
Santa, the 2.4-liter turbocharged engine takes regular unleaded gas, NOT premium. Thanks for reading!
Will not purchase any vehicle with a CVT transmission. Unfortunately, the selections are getting less and less.
and I'm sure they'll miss you Ray. Thing is, you can't keep everyone happy - so be it!
"When Subaru announced the six-cylinder flat four 3.6-liter Boxer..." Its is a flat six, not four.
I think they will see there err in there ways in doing this. Chevy put a turbo 4 in their full-size truck boasting the same claims of more hp and tq with better fuel economy. Well they found out a turbo engine actually sucks down more fuel because you are always in the boost trying to make that hp. They along with most people who actually understand the dynamics of how n/a vs forced induction engines work will realize there is no replacement for displacement.
You are forgetting that while high displacement engines can put out consistent horsepower, at cruise (which is what engines spend most of their time doing) the smaller turbo will get better economy during that time. Anticipation of needing more power is feasible in most cases. It's a trip not a drag race.
Why not add a Turbo to the 3.6 Boxer? Does the engine have inherent vulnerabilities caused by higher RPM's & Compression? I'm not complaining - just curious. I know many 3.6's with over 250K miles. At end of day, why dump something that works? 2 MPG's doesn't motivate me or anyone else I know.
Here's my take familiar with turbos and the H6. I am a big fan of the H6 and cry much wish Subaru would make a H8 for their larger vehicles. Yes, turbo can be torquey. I have an EJ25 running E85, high boost and makes the same wtq as the bigger 6.4L in the Challenger. There's several problems though. To make power, you're stuck working the small engine harder more of the time. The H6 is a very mild engine, runs on 87, mundane compression, and mid-range tuned. It's an engine that'll run several thousand miles. For comparison, Nissan makes 100hp more with their VQ engine in the 370Z Nismo. The H6 has always been a slow engine because it's so mildly geared. There's a ton of hp left on the table that could have made these cars so much faster. You'll never match the peak torque of turbo setups, but the torque available is instant right off idle and more linear, responsive, and predictable throughout. The larger naturally aspirated engine is a nicer driving experience. It always was and always will be. I have a H4 turbo that makes about twice my H6, but I prefer the H6 for general driving. It's a better experience. You run into efficiency problems work turbos too. Turbos are not efficient. You have a low compression na engine when off boost, so you're not as optimized as a true NA engine. Once on boost, you need to run the engine very rich to prevent knock. Again, you're not as efficient an the NA engine. The only way to make it work is to make the engine tiny so you're working it some all the time and try and average around light boost where you can still stick near stoichiometric and be pretty efficient. Now you've got 1L to 1.4L turbos making around 200hp and are run hard almost all the time. The savings comes more from light weight and heavy optimization at highway cruising. But heaven forbid if you are a bit of a lead foot or drive a slightly different speed down the highway because mileage can drop like a rock. Turbo engines are extremely dependent on how you drive. Most people will get worse that rated, possibly considerably. NA engines are far less sensitive. Plus a big engine doesn't mean bad mileage. A big V8 Corvette gets 30mpg. Mpg has a lot more to do with low overall weight and minimizing losses during stop and go through the city and good aerodynamics when slicing though the air down the highway. Most often, the engine under the hood matters much less, unless it's inefficiently using the fuel or is running hot, both problems of turbos. I'm glad the 2.4L is coming to the Outback. I just wish the H6 stayed too or they think about a bigger H8. However, in the modern world, it's more like H4 turbo plus electric motors, battery packs, regen braking, and all that fun stuff. That's just where the world is going.
Your comment makes a lot more sense than the article itself :)
My 2011 Outback 3.6R shows a tow capacity of 3,000 lbs. All the documemtation shows this. The smaller 4 cylinder engines of this era aren't really rated for towing, hence the 3.6.
I'll be interested in seeing the real world city fuel economy numbers, when people start reporting in. While i would really like an Outback with the stronger engine option, city mpg is important to me as well. If the real world fuel economy is more or less the same as the 3.6r, I'd sooner be shopping for a pre-owned one and save the difference.
I made the change from Ford Escape for just this reason. I tow an enclosed trailer that totals 3000 pounds when loaded. Subaru had the 4 cylinder limited to 1500 pounds and now claim that the 4 cylinder can tow 3500? I fail to see the joke in this. I am also not sure of the CVT for hauling a trailer.
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It all sounds good on paper but...why don't be just make a turbo 1 cylinder engine and get it all over with? Let's face it, the more pressure you put on a smaller engine, the faster it will break down, leak oil, throw a rod, gasket leaks, so on. This way Subaru can make more money. Studies show that the extra cylinder not only give more consistent power, but the extra 2 cylinders balance the engine too. You can't tell me that a perfect running boxer 6 vs a perfect running turbo 4 will last the same before a breakdown. The "better" performance will not last because it is just to little engine for the weight of these vehicles. Very bad move by Subaru.
My main complain about my'17 Outback is the transmission, which is programmed to stay in lower "gears" while the engine warms up in winter. This wastes fuel-about 3MPG. If I turn the heater off, the car warms up at the same distance, but "upshifts" as in summer, using less fuel. Maybe the stop/start feature will help a little. It does for my friend's VW Skoda in the UK. I've asked Subaru for some more youthful, exciting colors. They sure have some brighter reds and blues.
The stop/start system is supposed to remain out of the loop until the engine warms up.
You state the out going 3.6 Outback is rated to tow 2,700 lbs. It is rated for 3,000 lbs and the standard 2.5 is rated for 2,700 lbs.