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Subaru Couldn't Care Less If You Don’t Like The Same Old Styling On New Outback SUV

Subaru scores high in most areas of the new-generation 2020 Outback, but why didn’t they bring more dynamic exterior styling enhancements?


The all-new seventh-generation 2020 Subaru Outback arrives later this summer with a number of improvements that will benefit customers. The newly-redesigned Outback gets a new 2.4-liter turbo engine, improved safety, and a new interior, but dramatic styling enhancements are not one of them. Just like Forester and Legacy, the new Outback didn’t get much in the way of exterior design changes and it looks a lot like the previous generation model. Why didn’t Subaru bring bigger changes to the new Outback SUV for customers?

Like the new-generation Forester, Subaru doesn’t want to “confuse or disappoint the market” with their second-most popular model around the globe. Subaru Corporation is opting for what it calls a "keep-concept" idea. What this means for consumers is, the Japanese automaker wants to keep Outback’s design language similar to the sixth-generation model that launched in 2015. Subaru is keeping what they know works.

The big changes are underneath

The new 2020 Outback now rides on the Subaru Global Platform that improves driving dynamics, ride quality, there’s more room in the cabin and upgrades in safety. Subaru invests the majority of their money on Research and Development where they are developing new safety technology like EyeSight and the new DriverFocus with facial recognition. Subaru has a goal to be the overall safety leader, and all their new models are getting safer. This is where customers will see the most upgrades.

exteriorDon’t mess it up

Subaru Corporation is a conservative automaker and they aren’t going to take chances with radical new designs. It’s proven to be successful for them and they aren’t about to mess things up now. It’s hard to argue with the success they’ve had in the U.S. market where they’ve seen 10 years of consecutive year-over-year growth.

Watch our report of why Subaru didn't bring exterior changes to 2020 Outback

Subaru doesn’t want to mess with the success they’ve had with Outback as it’s been their number one selling all-wheel-drive vehicle the past few years in the U.S. market. Look for the 2020 Subaru Outback to remain their flagship U.S. model. If it’s not broke, why fix it?

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Photo credit: Subaru Corp


Chuck Twele (not verified)    June 3, 2019 - 2:13PM

I'm very happy with Subaru styling; more of a function over form person. The engineering that gets me there alive has always been my first consideration.

My brother, an engineer, introduced me to Subaru in mid 70s said they had the best engineering he'd ever seen in a vehicle.

I've followed his advise ever since.

Bryan (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 1:31AM

Subaru needs to fix the motor issue and redesign access to the front light bulbs. I've not heard of a fix for the oil burning boxer engine and I'm growing tired of putting in a quart of oil every few hundred to thousand miles or so. Please don't get me started on the painstaking process involved in replacing the front light bulbs when they burn out. Our 2014 Outback is our first and only Subaru.

Will (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 8:21AM

In reply to by Bryan (not verified)

The weird bulb replacement was just for.your gen outback. It's been fixed on the newer ones to a proper set up.
The newer engines are better about oil but not perfect. Unfortunately this is just a flaw with all boxer engines, sort of like how Mazda always had some sort of flaw with the rotary engine.
Subaru can only do so much with this engine style or just ditch the boxer all together

Josh (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 9:49AM

In reply to by Bryan (not verified)

My 2013 Impreza 2.0i also burns oil, about 1 quart every 3,000 miles. It was an issue for them around this time and I think it’s related to a problem with the piston rings or possibly the block. The local dealer tested oil consumption and said consuming this much oil is within Subaru’s guidelines. This will be my first and last Subaru, as well. Never heard of a modern engine burning this much oil, there was even a class action lawsuit over it. And Subaru acts like it’s no problem, they are not concerned with quality or customer service in my experience.

Tat (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 12:07PM

In reply to by Bryan (not verified)

I think you have not updated yourself whether oil consumption is still an issue after your Gen 4 2014 outback! I have a 2015 Outback and absolutely no oil consumption issue. Neither have so many others I know of the same generation Subaru or similar Forresters. Helps to update oneself whether a 10-year-old issue still exists!

G L Amara (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 3:15PM

In reply to by Tat (not verified)

I have 2013 outback burning oil every 1500 miles. I'm pretty ticked off for paying so much for a car that I have to monitor all the time. I've had used cars that never used a drop between changes. There should be a warning before purchase!!!!

Bryan (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 10:10PM

In reply to by Tat (not verified)

The oil burning issue is not fixed and that was after Subaru addressed it. It can't be fixed, it's a design issue. Buddy that is a top mechanic told me the only real fix is to sell or trade it. Any takers?

Mike (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 2:13PM

In reply to by Bryan (not verified)

The access for those headlights actually came the model year after yours with the new design in 2015, and being in subaru service i can tell you besides a few flukes, oil burning has been greatly reduced in the newer models, ive seen customers go as much as 20k on an oil change without losing much oil at all

Bryan (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 10:13PM

In reply to by Mike (not verified)

I'm not sure what Subaru you are talking about but all of the models I've seen at the annual car shows are the same. They even go so far to say you should take it to a dealer where they can remove the wheel and inner fender lining for access. I want to chang a light bulb, not replace the front suspension.

mgm (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 4:18PM

In reply to by Bryan (not verified)

I've had a 2009 Impreza 2.5, a 2012 Forester 2.5, a 2014 Forester XT as well as a 2017 Forester XT, and now a 2019 Outback 3.6R. Even with the more recent 6000 mile oil change intervals on my last three Subarus, none of these vehicles has ever used any oil whatsoever between oil changes, and I do rack up the mileage on my vehicles. I have several friends who have driven Subarus for years, and they haven't had any oil consumption issues either. While I am sure there are some unlucky people out there that do have these problems, and perhaps it is worse on older generation models, I am tired of hearing people spout off as though this was still an across-the-board issue with all Subaru boxer engines. From my experience, oil consumption and head gasket issues (of which I've never had any either) are largely a thing of the past, and are no longer any more of a concern with Subaru than with other brands...

mgm (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 5:11PM

In reply to by Bryan (not verified)

I should add to my previous post that Bryan, I am sorry hear about the oil consumption issues with your 2014. My reply was more a general one, since there seem to be many people out there who don't even own a Subaru, and just blindly repeat what they've heard elsewhere (oil use, head-gaskets, CVT hate), likely in order to just denigrate the brand. Typical Internet behaviour...

Bryan (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 10:07PM

In reply to by mgm (not verified)

It's interesting to see the variety of comments. I think it's great they fixed the bulb access issue, but while some have had great experiences with their Subaru, our experience has been anything but enjoyable. We've had to sacrifice space and features for what is a less than enjoyable and functional vehicle. The fit and finish is garbage, the audio is poor, the engine is wimpy, burns oil, you can't easily check or change the transmission fluid and the wacko wind noise vibration when using a cargo carrier nearly drove us nuts on long trips. How was I to know the fix was to take a bungie cord and wrap it around the front of the cargo rack to eliminate the oppressive noise! I guess we got spoiled with bigger vehicles. Having 3 kids in hockey (including 2 goalies) required a large vehicle and the Outback wasn't it. We thought we could downsize as the family shrunk but we went too far and got suckered by a bunch of golden retrievers. We will be going back to the blue oval for the wife's next vehicle as we should have done of stead of the Outback. I've had Fords all my life and they have never let me down. Nearly a million miles and great reliability whether it's our 1923 and 24 T's or the 3 trucks I've had since I was old enough to drive.

Steve (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 9:41AM

If you ever doubt why you bought a Subaru, go buy you a new Ford. After dealing with those oil leaking pieces of junk, it will make you appreciate your Subaru a lot more. I have owned all of the American Big 3 trucks and they have all let me down. The Fords leak oil. The Chevrolets have front end issues. The Rams surprisingly have held up the best, but they have a recall about once a month for software issues. My wife's little Subaru never has left us stranded. They are good vehicles and I can't say enough good things about them. They aren't over priced and as a consumer you get a lot of car for your money.

Bryan (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 10:26PM

In reply to by Steve (not verified)

Sorry to hear of your difficulties with Ford Steve. I've had nothing but great luck with the blue oval. I will take my Ford anyday over the Subaru. From my 72 F100 to my 91 Ranger, wife's 91 Taurus and 98 Windstar, my 97 F150 to my current 12 F350, we've racked up over a million miles and only had to do the routine maintenance. Heck I might still have my 91 Ranger if some knucklehead hadn't hit me and totaled it. Along the way we've also experimented with the Toyota (while stationed in Japan) and they were pretty much indestructible. Only issue was salt and rust on Okinawa. We also had a brainfart a while back and bought a Suburban to schlep the hockey players around and take advantage of the case lot sales at the commissary. But after pumping thousands into the bowtie we finally decided it was junk. Oh yeah, I replaced a ton of lights on the chevy which is a trademark of GMs, but the difference is you can get to all the bulbs easy. Comes in handy for the bulb that has to be replaced every 6 months or so.

Lou A (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 4:38PM

Can somebody tell me if they got rid of those useless set tabs (not the shift flippers) that take up so much real estate on the steering wheel and moved the mpg information to the drivers console instead of the clock. Never made any sense.

Tom (not verified)    June 4, 2019 - 9:10PM

I've had a 2013 and now a 2018. The car just works as is, but I always wanted more power and now it will have it. I will probably buy another one.

Ed B (not verified)    June 6, 2019 - 11:40AM

Denis, I'm going to stick with your initial question. Aesthetically, Subaru is very conservative and that's something we have to live with or until their customers change their preferences. Simply, there are other options if you don't like their direction or design language. Their formula works, so who am I to question their success. More importantly, I do see an evolution of their interior design language and was pleased they committed to new "turbos" on the Ascent, Outback and Legacy. I just hope they continue to make strides with their interior design, they're still behind their competitors - especially in the large SUV arena. I was pleasantly surprised by the interior/exterior and safety features of the new Kia Telluride - it's surpassed the Ascent in many areas in its first year of production. The large SUV segment is rapidly changing and Subaru has to respond quicker in that space. The Ascent is a great start, but I'd honestly buy the Telluride at that price point.

Dan (not verified)    June 10, 2019 - 1:29PM

Bring back 6MT and might be interested. Otherwise, my Gen3 Outback 5MT is going to have to last until the end of ICE cars.

Steven Liss (not verified)    November 19, 2019 - 4:44PM

Had a Subaru Outback in 2006, kept it for 6 years and though I would have purchased another, I just got tired of driving a car that looked the same. People here say that the styling is just fine even after all these years. But if that were true and if Subaru doesn't care, then why bother making concept cars that are beautiful designs, then introduce the same tired style over and over. And as for engineering, yes the car is super dependable, but having a car that burns oil at the rate it does, and then saying that it is acceptable, is just nonsense.