2020 Subaru Outback, new Subaru Outback, specs, features, fuel mileage
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Say Goodbye To The Subaru Outback 3.6R; Why Customers Won’t Miss It

The Subaru Outback is about to get a complete remodel and one trim is going away forever. If you want a 3.6R 6-cylinder, you better act quickly, but you might want to wait for the all-new 2020 model.
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Customers who want an Outback 3.6R six-cylinder model need to move quickly to get one. The 2020 Outback is coming later this year and Subaru Corporation will completely redesign the popular SUV/Crossover and will likely drop the 3.6R trim forever. The 2019 Subaru Outback comes in 3.6 Limited and 3.6R Touring trims that offer the 3.6-liter Boxer engine with 256-hp and 247 lb-ft of torque.

Right now, Subaru is offering special deals on all 2019 Outback trims. Customers can get 0% APR Financing on all 2019 Outback models now through April 1, 2019. Subaru wants to move all remaining Outback SUVs off their dealer lots before the all-new 2020 models arrive later this year.

Why you might want to wait

Here’s why customers wanting an Outback might want to wait for the 2020 model year. When the new-generation Outback arrives this year, it will likely feature a new turbocharged 2.4-liter direct injection four-cylinder engine replacing the old six-cylinder Outback 3.6R. Like the Legacy, it will likely be called the Outback XT and use the same Ascent-sourced turbocharged 2.4-liter 260-hp 277 lb-ft of torque Boxer engine. This will outperform the outgoing the 3.6-liter Boxer engine in power and fuel mileage.

The Outback 3.6R gets an EPA estimated 20/27 city/highway mpg and 22 combined mpg. The Ascent 2.4-liter turbo has more horsepower and torque and achieves 21/27 city/highway and 23 combined mpg and it’s a bigger vehicle than the Outback. Look for a new 2020 Outback 2.4L to have better fuel mileage numbers.

New 2.4-liter turbo will outperform competition with a V6

The new 2020 Outback FA24 2.4-liter boxer turbocharged direct-injection boxer engine will achieve acceleration and power equal to or better than that of competing vehicles with 3.5-liter 6-cylinder engines. That is accomplished by adding torque over horsepower because torque is what gets a vehicle moving from a stop and helps in pulling the vehicle up a hill, or when towing.

The next-generation Subaru Outback will lose the 3.6R trim but gain a new XT 2.4-liter turbo model. Outback will keep its core values with safety being a strong point with EyeSight driver assist standard equipment, and the SUV will keep its “go-anywhere” attitude with 8.7-inches of ground clearance, all-wheel drive will remain standard on the Outback, and it will retain X-Mode for off-road adventures.

When the all-new 2020 Subaru Outback with the new Global Platform arrives late this summer, look for the new SUV to be even more popular with active consumers looking for an all-weather all-wheel-drive vehicle. If you want the 3.6R trim you need to act quickly, but if you can wait, the new turbocharged XT trim will be worth it.

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Comments

I can hear the whiners complaining now. They believe that only the 3.6 is the way to go. Nothing will convince them otherwise. I'm happy with my 2.5 and the CVT. 100K since new in '11 and zero problems. Loving every minute of it with no plans on replacing it ever!
I own a 3.6R, and this engine is a marvel of smoothness and quiet, capable performance. Having driven the 2.4T in the Ascent, I can say that this engine still has the harsh, signature boxer engine sound. Secondarily, when you summon up the power of the turbo 4, your gas mileage will not be good. Thirdly, the turbo 4 gets no better than the mpg of the 3.6R because the turbo 4 has to work harder than a 6 at all times Lastly, the turbo 4 is considerably cheaper to manufacture than the flat six.
Not denying that the 3.6R is an elegant beast of a machine, but I don't think your point about the 2.4T not actually being more efficient is valid. Yes, it has to generate more torque per volume/stroke, but that's not really what determines MPGs. A smaller engine means less moving parts and less parasitic losses from friction, less weight to drag around, less coolant and oil to pump, etc. No matter what engine you're running, if you push it harder than necessary your MPGs will drop like a rock, that's not unique to turbo-4s. The 3.6R will always be less efficient than the 2.4, because only a certain amount of the power from each cylinder stroke can be harnessed, and the 3.6 is simply not able to harness quite as much as the new and improved model. You can't argue with physics, and the engineers have done their job with this new model. In my mind, a lighter, smaller, more powerful, cheaper engine is pretty clearly the way to go.
Also, the turbo motors usually require premium fuel to run without pinging or knocking. This further eats into the savings on mpg’s. Another reason to keep the larger NA motor.
Also, my concern is the actual turbo. Too many have had issues through time, though not necessarily those used by Subaru. Maybe those days are behind us, and turbos are as reliable and trouble free as you could hope. I do know the world is going to smaller turbocharged motors. All for better gas mileage. But hey, I’m still bummed that Subaru has all but eliminated manual transmissions (says the guy with a 2017 manual Forester).
I have only owned 6 cylinder Outback’s since 2001, 2007 and now my 2012. They are quite, reliable have the extra power on tap when needed. I would guess that the new turbo 4 pot will not match the quietness or smoothness of the 6 cylinder.
My 2018 Outback is the first car I have owned that the frame is not pre punched for a trailer hitch. The Subaru line markets to the outdoor enthusiast yet the trailering set up is weak. I tow a 750 lb kayak trailer with an 800 lb. load. I had to drill the frame and practically disassemble the rear of the car to install a wiring harness.
Simply incorrect David. Yes you need to take the rear facia off, but that's easy and no you don't need to drill a single hole! The wiring harness is a plug in and easy to access as well. I think you purchased the wrong hitch and wiring harness, there are a few available in the aftermarket and mine is almost completely hidden, strong, and easily bolted in. I regularly tow a small trailer to pick up building supplies, make trips to the dump, and for camping trips.
I purchased a hitch specifically for the vehicle and the wiring was simple, there is a connector in the back under the carpet. I had the hitch installed by Uhaul. I did the wiring.
I purchased a hitch specifically for the vehicle and the wiring was simple, there is a connector in the back under the carpet. I had the hitch installed by Uhaul. I did the wiring.
Not from Missouri, but you'll have to show me. For 13 years I drove a '05 Honda Pilot which was a great car but the best mileage I could get on the Interstates out of the 245 HP V-6 was 22 MPG. Bought a '18 3.6, 256 HP Outback, drove it from the W. Coast to Houston and back, 80 MPH on the TX, NM, AZ, CA Interstates and got 26, one tank 25 MPG, 20 around town. Smooth as silk, What's not to like?
I have owned two 3.6's and an XT the six is much smoother, but the turbos of course are faster. Both have their places it is sad that Subaru has terminated the XT line of Forester. The 3.6 is a wonderful engine and arguing that you get better fuel economy with the turbo is flawed logic.
they have bigger design issues. Like having to change a head light through the wheel well. Also the plastic bumper should not reach half way up the head lights. On a vehicle you market as a SUV. I hit a Raccoon and it is $1500 to fix. because half the bumper needs paint matched.
The 3.6R is a beautiful engine in every respect, which is why it has been around for so long. I love the subdued, low rumble as I drive through the neighborhood in the morning at an idle. I love being able to merge onto the highway going uphill at 70 MPH and not needing to break 2,000 RPM. My wife's Forester XT (which I drive frequently) makes a heck of a racket and provides a strange, sporadic acceleration profile doing the same highway merge -- whether trying to be gentle or aggressive. I think that's why the XT going away isn't that big a deal. I'll gladly purchase the electrified performance version, which hopefully will make it's way to the US shores before the lease is up. I'm tired of cleaning the constant coating of black soot from all over the back of her XT and who knows what the intake valves look like or what damage is being done by low-speed pre-ignition (LSPI). I also won't miss choking on the exhaust gasses in the morning from the overly rich, unburnt fuel as the car warms up and I'm cleaning off the windows. Conversely, my Outback with the 3.6R has the exhaust smell of a beautifully tuned muscle car (if you remember what those were and got to build and play with them as I did), and with the changes made to the 2018 Outback, the low speed drivability (over my 2016 that went like a bat out of hell no matter how you drove it) is much, much better (though they really screwed up the suspension, but adding a 19mm rear swaybar and $1,000 worth of decent tires helps a whole lot). Having had a few high performance cars that would generally get around 10-15 MPG, I am still amazed that I can drive in a fairly aggressive manner at 70-80 MPH and still get over 20 MPG. So to say customers won't miss the 3.6R is a misnomer. The performance option is there with the 2.4, and from the few times I've driven an Ascent the acceleration profile and drivability will be much better than that provided by the Forester XT (if you want to make that comparison). New buyers won't know the difference, but those that WILL miss the 3.6R will be the previous owners that won't have a similar option in a new Outback, years from now -- but by that time an electrified version that outperforms the 2.4 will probably be the performance option and we'll be having a whole new ICE versus PHEV versus BEV versus FCEV versus [maybe something new] argument.
New Outback comes on a new platform which is supposedly much better. The 2020 Legacy is also a lot quieter than older versions and that should should also carry over to the Outback
My family and I have owned 9 Subaru automobiles beginning in 1996. All driven over 100,000+ miles. All receiving scheduled maintenance and oil changes every 3500 miles. Five 2.5 NA engines; two 2.5 XT; one 3.0 H-6 and one 3.6 H-6. With out question, the 3.6 has been the superior engine and the one with the least amount of trouble. In addition, anyone who has driven the 2.5 vs 3.6 Outback will tell you of the superior driving characteristics of the 3.6 on the highway/freeway. The additional weight in the front "plants" the car to the road. Very minimal sway in crosswinds. The 2.4 Turbo will probably as fast as the 3.6, but Subaru will have to do their homework to match the driving dynamics of the 3.6 in the Outback.
Thinking back to why I bought my first 2001 Outback , I wanted the VDC feature. It was only available with the H6 engine back then. I also learned the engine had a timing chain and not the rubber timing belt used on the 4 pot. As an engineer, I also knew the H6's timing chain was a more reliable design, so paying extra for the H6 was worth it to me. Like me and as other H6 owners have noted, the H6 is quieter, reliable, quicker and still achieves decent mileage. Last year, Consumers Report also ranked the 3.6R Outback a couple of points higher/better than the 4 pot due to improved performance. I hope Subaru has a change of heart and keeps the 3.6R as an optional power plant going into the future.
I'm a little concerned about the switch subaru is going with. First, the 3.6r really is not that bad on gas( I get 24-28mpg in my 2011 legacy regularly). 2) all the extra piping for a turbo adds weight and more complication to an engine. 3) the 3.6r is on luxury car level smoothness where as the H4 engines are loud and not so smooth. 4) turbo + cvt + larger sized sedans and crossovers and a 3000lb tow rating sounds like a reliability nightmare. 5) subaru has already had major issues with the FA series engines. Hundreds of thousands have had recalls for valve spring problems. The 3.6r has really only had the timing cover leak issue which is not that invasive. So I'm all for keeping a smoother more reliable engine that is slightly more expensive than a smaller more complex cheapo one.
Having recently gone from a FA20DIT in a Wrx to a 3.6r Outback I can say the H6 is much smoother and has a much more refined feeling overall. I know an Outback is SUPPOSED to feel smoother than a Wrx going down the road, but there is something unique to the power delivery of this flat 6. You can tell there is a reason Subaru used the design for so long. I was disappointed that the ascent was only equipped with the 2.4 turbo and wasn’t offered with a 6. If I had my way I’d have Subaru revamp the 3.6R with forged internals, direct injection ect. Maybe bump the power up to around 300-330hp like gm’s V6? No turbo and extra intake/ exhaust plumbing needed. That would be a sweet ride, but i know it’s not really the brand’s m.o. to value performance over fuel economy. A guy can dream though.
We have a new Ascent (Touring model). The 2.4 Turbo has plenty of power but with only 500 miles on it, I haven't opened it up yet. The Ascent is a people hauler and, as such, I don't expect outstanding performance but so far I am pleased. My wife, however, prefers her 3.6R Limited 2015 Outback. She doesn't like the slight delay in acceleration when you press on the Ascent's gas pedal with a bit a vigor. We also had a 2011 Forester (until it sacrificed itself in a crash to save my wife). We both like the 6 cylinder much better than the 4 banger that was in the Forester. Smoother, quieter and still adequate power in the mountains.
I have the 6 cyclinder. It's great, my wife has the forester in 2.4. I have driven it and it can feel underpowered. The reason I bought the 3.6 was the six. In a 4 wheel vehicle it helps. I had a 6 in a Ford escape. It did not have as good mileage or pickup. Too many manufacturers have gone the 4 cyc.route. they appear to work but do not have the pickup or passing power of a 6 cyclinder. I am eager to go on a long ride with it due to its power and comfort.
I have the 6 cyclinder. It's great, my wife has the forester in 2.4. I have driven it and it can feel underpowered. The reason I bought the 3.6 was the six. In a 4 wheel vehicle it helps. I had a 6 in a Ford escape. It did not have as good mileage or pickup. Too many manufacturers have gone the 4 cyc.route. they appear to work but do not have the pickup or passing power of a 6 cyclinder. I am eager to go on a long ride with it due to its power and comfort.
I'm sorry, but I don't personally believe consumer level gas (not diesel) turbo engines are quite ready for primetime. I have two personal examples telling me so. One was a GM 2.0L turbo in our Cadillac ATS, and the other was a Ford 2.7L turbo in our Ford F150 (they call it Ecoboost). Have had turbo related issues with both vehicles. The Cadillac right before and after the warranty, and the Ford at 5,500 miles (total engine failure). I understand there is no avoiding turbos going forward. Consequently, I believe engineers will figure out the issues in short order. However, that doesn't mean they have them figured out right now. I would NEVER buy a first year gas turbo motor.
The 2.5 is a weak and underpowered engine. Squeezing more power out of a smaller engine at higher compression means it will not last as long as the 3.6R. The current almighty 3.6R is Subaru's overengineered engine and can be tweaked to get more juice out of it if you'd like. When it comes to passing power, more ccs mean it's easier on the engine. It also means that you're listening to that honda vtec smaller engine sound where you need to rev the life out od for you to be able to move in and out highway traffic. At the end of the day, bigger engine is where it's at. No way getting around that.
I wanted a 2020 with the six.(( But really if they came out with a flat 8 I would buy one today !!)) wooohoooo mile-age shmil-age !!
I have a new Ascent and like it very much. Wife has a 6cyl outback and that engine is powerful and very smooth. Expect the 6cyl to last forever and HOPE the 4cyl turbo lasts half as long!
Nice article and great discussion here. We are Subaru family, daughter drives 2007 Impreza, wife 2017 Legacy and I drive 2019 Outback 3.6. My previous 2015 Outback 2.5 was an awesome car. I put only 43000+ miles in 4 years with out any issues. I thought I will keep this car forever. When I heard, that 3.6 engine option is going away, I rushed to trade my 2015 Outback for new 2019 Outback 3.6. Being paid off my 2015 Outback brought me very good trade-in value, and dealer being motivated to move current inventory of the parking lot present great deal for me. So I ended up with brand new 2019 Outback 3.6 R fully loaded with less than $15k (+tax, title, license). Life is good. Subaru anyhow has the owner's lowest cost of ownership and keeps its resale value. Having one of the last Outbacks 3.6 will definitely be one of the reasons for keeping the resale value high. Adding a turbo to an engine adds another point of failure to an engine. Things like that have been seen in the past...Cheers...
The only customers who won’t miss the 3.6 are the ones who buy their new car off the spec sheet not from the driver’s seat. In 2017 I needed a new car and liked the Outback on paper. After my first test drive of a 4 cyl version I was favorably impressed but not convinced. The dealer didn’t have a demo 3.6 but had a used one with quite a few miles. About a quarter mile into my test drive I was hooked. There is no replacement for cubic inches (or cc’s). The smoothness, power, quiet, is what you pay extra for. Now after owning the Touring OB 3.6r for 2+ years I still smile whenever I get behind the wheel. My family includes a Forester and a Crosstreck as well as my OB. So, Subaru - LISTEN UP! Keep the stiffer 2020 OB but beef it up just a bit to handle 3500 pound towing. Take the 3.6 engine to 365 HP with a small torque bump. Now you have a car that will be perfect. The number of customers buying the 3.6 may be smaller but loyal. When or if I swap out my OB I will be looking for a NA 3.6. Those of you who are looking for a new car - drive a 3.6 and just try to keep the smile off your face.
Look, for subaru to bump to that power first of all would take at least 6k more out of the customers wallet. They would have to completely throw away what transmission they have because the CVTs and old automatics cant handle that power. Second you dont need horsepower... horsepower is all about top end speed and the outback doesnt need that. It needs torque and at least 320ft lbs of it if you want to tow anything. Best way to get that is forced induction and supercharging the 3.6r is the easiest layout for that. Turbocharging the 3.6r has been known to cause problems with the oil lines but supercharging is very easy being where the intake and drive belt is. So once that goes on they need to completely redo the internals with lower compression pistons because at 10.5:1 that the 3.6r is currently at and supercharging will kill the reliability. Another thing is due to it having such a high compression ratio it really should be tuned to use 91 octane. That is a very high compression for only using 87. No wonder their engines dont last what they use to cause they are using the wrong fuel. Because I said it should be using premium fuel does not mean you should. It needs to be tuned to get the benefits from it otherwise it's a waste of money. Long story short you need: stronger transmission and differentials, Forced induction to get that power, change internals to compensate and tune it for 91 octane to get that power figure. That is not easy to do and especially since 10% of outback owners are 3.6r owners and the rest are 2.5L. So it wont happen.
Our family has a 3.6 O/B & Forrester with 2.4. The O/B HAS MORE PEP, SPEED AND comfort. The O/B has nicer ride and handles long trips easily vs the 2.4. Sorry to see the 3.6 go think it will be a error in long run.

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