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?
That’s not true. The 2.4L turbo specs don’t even beat the normal passenger car engine specs like Fords 390 and even their 289. Plus late 60s muscle cars. Clocked low 5s in 0-60 time, the only reason why the forester even comes close is because of how many gears. Most muscle cars had 2-4 gears TOTAL, now these modern Subaru’s have 6-8, put a 5 or 6 speed transmission up to those V8s and any Subaru even with a turbo would be by far left in the dust
To add, the turbo engine will significantly outperform a normally aspirated (higher displacement) engine, while running at high altitudes. As stated, a properly designed and validated turbo engine can be very reliable and last well over 150k miles.
I guess because 3.6 litres is 50% greater displacement than 2.4 litres
they must have been all out of Outback V8s. And it's a horizontally opposed Boxer 6 ..... 180 degrees isn't a V configuration no matter how you construe it
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.
Are you sure about that? I've never heard of any turbo car that doesn't require premium fuel. Where did you get that from?
The beauty of direct injection is that you get more efficient combustion, more hp, and it does all this with standard 87 octane fuel.
I'd have to agree and disagree with you to some extent. Being and owner of a turbo engine vehicle which is a 2015 Lincoln MKC 2.0 AWD. Sure i can drive it around with 87 octane just fine. But you better believe i take a hit on torque using that low grade fuel on the highway and when i need to merge. And the same would apply for most any turbo engine. They are capable of taking regular gas but if you bought a turbo engine and want ALL of it's available torque then you should be using premium or at the very least mid grade fuel. Now you can compensate for this by using low grade fuel and adding in an octane booster additive into your gas tank. But your still not going to see the same numbers as using premium fuel. Therefore, the 3.6r Subaru engines using regular fuel are going to out perform these new turbo engines Subaru has decided to go with in the 2020 models. When i test drove a 2.5 vs 3.6r 2017 outback limited model the difference was quite literally night and day. Not to mention even though Subaru sold more 2.4 engines then 3.6r engines. The 4cyl had FAR FAR more engine problems and oil leak issues opposed to the 6cyl which is pretty much bullet proof. So if i were in the market for an Outback or Legacy i would DEFINITELY go with an older model 3.6r no doubt about it just for the sake of long-term reliability.
the 2.5 turbo in the Mazda CX9 and CX5 doesn't - the Germans all need high octane, the Japanese have several that don't
here's another then ... Mazda Signature 2.5 turbo. As a rule the Japanese seem to be able to do this and their cars can be used anywhere with poor octane fuel - whereas the Germans want top octane for their power producing turbo engines. Any possible mpg advantages are null and void when total cost of premium fuel is factored in
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!
Not sure about the new 2.4 turbo, but I've had two turbos (older one 2.5L; the more recent a 2.0L) and both "recommend" premium but grades of at least 87 octane will work. Caveat is that with lower octane, the power/torque is less plus I've found fuel economy drops with regular. I speak from experience. Premium is worth it if you want power with reasonable fuel economy. #Pay4Power.
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!
The 3.6 flat six mated with the CVT provides seamless power in my wife's 2017 Outback Touring. It's fast and very smooth. The flat 4 did not perform as smoothly with the CVT. This corresponds with CU's testing on the 2017 Outback models. I'm suspect of the longevity of a Surbaru turbo flat four. I had a fast Volvo turbo wagon, stick, in the 1990s, but Volvo overbuilt their strong engines and it was still going strong at 120,000 miles.
Subaru is not in the same class as the old Volvo built in Sweden, but Ford sold out to China and now there is a gap for a turbo with towing capacity and no CVT.
"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.
Huh that’s weird my name is also Aaron Collins but my middle name isn’t M
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.