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Subaru Is Giving 2020 Outback 5 Significant Upgrades

There are significant changes coming on the all-new 2020 Subaru Outback. Check out five reasons why you should wait for the new model.


The Subaru Outback wagon is still selling better than all other nameplates in the brand’s stable without a remodel. But changes are coming soon and the top-selling Outback gets a complete remodel for its fifth-generation model. Look for the all-new Outback to show up next summer 2019 as a 2020 model year. 
There are some significant changes coming on the newly-remodeled 2020 Outback SUV/Crossover.

A new modular chassis

When the sixth-generation 2020 Outback arrives next year, it will grow in the interior room because of the new Subaru Global Platform (SGP) offering a modular chassis. Like the new-generation Crosstrek and Forester underpinnings, the new SGP will come with increased rigidity in the body and chassis translating to improvements in ride quality and handling, in addition to less noise and vibration in the cabin. This could be a good reason to wait another year if you are considering the Outback.

Subaru will ax the 3.6R trim

When the new-generation Outback arrives next year, it will likely feature a new direct injection four-cylinder engine with improved power and fuel efficiency and look for Subaru to drop the 3.6R trim with a six-cylinder option. Why is the 3.6-liter engine in Outback going away? It’s because of the tighter fuel-mileage and emissions regulations around the globe. Automakers need to downsize engines and make them cleaner burning for the new California and European regs. But it’s not such a bad thing for consumers.

Subaru’s newly developed four-cylinder turbocharged direct-injection boxer engines will achieve smooth acceleration 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 new fifth-generation model could be powered by a new twin-scroll turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engine like the new 2019 Ascent. Look for fuel-mileage to increase to 33 mpg highway and 29 combined mpg.

Conservative design language

The exterior design language will remain conservative with Outback. It’s not surprising design changes will be minor for the new generation of Subaru's Outback because the Japanese automaker doesn’t like to take risks. The new Forester has been criticized for its conservative styling, and it will continue with Outback. The crossover will receive some updates, including a slightly redesigned front end and rear changes to the taillights resembling the new Forester and Ascent stablemates. Customers will benefit from Outback likely getting a wider tailgate opening.

New-generation safety tech

The fifth-generation Outback will likely get the next evolution of Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist system. Subaru says their advanced driver-assist technologies are scheduled for launch around 2020 which would coincide perfectly with the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Subaru will incorporate further enhancements to EyeSight driver-assist technology, including radar, and highly accurate GPS and navigation systems. The Japanese automaker claims this will allow for automated lane-changes in certain conditions.

Hybrid technology

Reports say the fifth-generation Outback could get hybrid technology. The e-BOXER hybrid system in the 2019 Forester e-Boxer could also be available in the new Outback within the next 18 to 24 months according to reports from Australia. Subaru is launching their first-ever new 2019 Crosstrek plug-in-hybrid this month in the U.S. market. The e-Boxer hybrid system could also be available in the new-generation Outback in early 2020. It’s unsure if it will make U.S. shores, and Subaru has not confirmed whether North American consumers will get these models.

What won’t change

The next-generation 2020 Subaru Outback will keep its core values with a Boxer engine, safety will be a strong point with EyeSight driver assist standard equipment, 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 Outback gets the new SGP and arrives next summer, look for the all-new model to be even more popular with active consumers looking for an SUV alternative all-wheel-drive vehicle.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


JGinNJ (not verified)    November 18, 2018 - 7:06AM

Sure a new 4 cylinder will out power an older larger 6 cylinder. But the same new technology applied to a larger 6 cylinder would really provide the power the Outback lacks, and would be smoother. Towing? You have to be kidding.

Stephen Crocker (not verified)    January 25, 2019 - 8:31PM

In reply to by JGinNJ (not verified)

I agree the 4 as it stands (the diesel also) are lacking when puling a full load, especially if overtaking in hilly terrain is called for, but the 3.6 certainly is not, especially if S# mode is engaged. However, markets now want better fuel consumption and fewer tail pipe emissions and the 3.6 would need to be thoroughly redesigned. That would cost megabucks for a small conservative company in a world where six and 8 cylinder engines are being dropped for turbo fours. A modern 2.5 litre turbo will be more fuel efficient, have the same HP and slightly more torque than the current 6.
I've had mine for 9 years now and love the 3.6, but the world is moving on

Ed B (not verified)    November 18, 2018 - 7:46AM

Thanks Denis, beyond the possibility of a new turbo engine, not much to get excited about for 2020. No one faults Subaru for not wanting to mess with success, but the exterior designs are becoming dated. Yeah, we know the drill, they'll still sell like hotcakes due to the value propostion. However, as an enthusiast, there's just nothing to really get excited about with Subaru's design language and direction.

DENNIS AGRAVIO… (not verified)    November 20, 2018 - 11:07AM


Andrew Jones (not verified)    November 21, 2018 - 9:16PM

In reply to by DENNIS AGRAVIO… (not verified)

The target market for the Outback is families interested in not driving an SUV or Sedan. Typical age is 30 and up.
Most of these customers choose the 2.5 engine as it has enough power to do what they want in a safe vehicle. The new WRX will be focused on younger, sports car enthusiasts. Not every car for every one. In the snow belt, too much power is a problem, not a benefit.

Subaru is a small manufacturer that knows who their market is based on.
You are free to buy any car you want, just don't expect every car to be focused on your idea of a perfect vehicle, they won't be. I find the Outback to be one of the easiest drives I've ever experienced and after a 500 mile day, I feel great even when weather hits. That's my idea of a good car. I don't blame anyone for having different opinions, that is the great thing about the wealth of options the car market offers.

Hector Cepeda (not verified)    January 2, 2019 - 8:03PM

In reply to by Andrew Jones (not verified)

Best car forum comment I've read in quite a while. Car-related topics tend to generate passion, and emotion-driven "why-can't-I-get-what-I-want" responses do tend to pop up. It's good to be reminded that car manufacturing is a business, and smart business decisions sometimes include having to narrow one's focus.

Jerry. (not verified)    January 24, 2019 - 10:29PM

In reply to by Andrew Jones (not verified)

Excellent comment! I feel the same. If he doesn’t want a wagon, then he should look somewhere else. I have a 17 legacy, but getting the outback in a year when my lease is up. Glad to hear so many people live the outbacks.

Doc Stickel (not verified)    January 26, 2019 - 6:49PM

In reply to by Jerry. (not verified)

Agreed! Is the outback "exciting"? Perhaps not. But, currently on my second one. It is a solid example of exactly the Swiss army knife I need here in the mountains of Western North Carolina. All day comfort, and totally reassuring in uncertain weather or even rain. Eyesight works well, and I usually achieve 33 or 34 mpg on the highway.
Huge cargo space is a joy for hauling, and both cars have been trouble free. What's not to like?
Had a 2015 Corvette. THAT was exciting, but it also sat in the garage most days. Versatility rules!

Tom R (not verified)    November 23, 2018 - 2:29PM

In reply to by DENNIS AGRAVIO… (not verified)

it was never a v6, Subaru uses boxer engines, and as their design goes, its Subaru, they don't do radical! As well, if they use a turbo 4 similar to the one in the Ascent, there won't be much of a power issue, as the Ascent engine has really good power & torque and does not drag at all.

steve crocker (not verified)    February 19, 2019 - 4:08PM

In reply to by Kookykutter (not verified)

no "V" shape anywhere to be seen.
I love that motor though - it's even economical on a trip (13.5 kms per litre best). That's 31.8 U.S mpg - certainly can get 30 on the highway any trip we take if I'm content to do the limit and just enjoy the drive.
And, of course, it uses the low octane fuel. A lot of people forget that when taking running costs in mind

Jerry (not verified)    January 24, 2019 - 10:25PM

In reply to by DENNIS AGRAVIO… (not verified)

Still wagon like? That’s because it is a wagon, because many of us family folk want a wagon. If you don’t want a wagon like vehicle, the buy a crosstrek or forester. We still have to have a full size go anywhere wagon for family’s that don’t want to pay $50,000 for a full size 4x4 SUV.

Jeff B (not verified)    December 14, 2018 - 7:27AM

The Outback doesn't need to tow. It does it's job and my wife loves her 2018. If I need to haul big items or tow that's what my Avalanche is for.

Evolver (not verified)    January 1, 2019 - 9:44PM

I'm currently riding a 2009 Outback special edition manual. It has been perfect for all the camping trips, hiking launches, bike races, etc while still doing well in the city, especially in snowy commutes. Waiting to see if the 2020 gets a turbo. If not, I'll switch to another awd vehicle with enough torque to take a Chicago on-ramp without resorting to prayer and voodoo chants.

Craig S (not verified)    January 24, 2019 - 12:29PM

Looking forward to seeing the new design. I hate this automotive trend of dropping 6 cylinder engines for turbo charged 4 cylinder engines. A 4 will never be as refined and smooth as a 6, even if it produces more torque.

The Subaru going with only a CVT sucks as well. Fairly, most of the Japanese manufacturers are going to CVT's as well but I'm not a fan of them at all.

Stephen Crocker (not verified)    January 25, 2019 - 8:40PM

In reply to by Craig S (not verified)

I must agree, Craig, that the 3.6 is a smooth and generally very nice motor. But that CVT has kept me in my older 5 speed auto for one car life more than we'd proposed for our 2010 Outback. Luckily it's never given a moment's trouble.
However, I am prepared to try the turbo 4 - and the CVT. I believe Subaru does CVTs better than anyone else atm.
I'm determined to keep an open mind and be objective - although buying a new car is a somewhat emotive decision

Mike mag (not verified)    January 24, 2019 - 8:15PM

We have the outbacks sister the 2018 legacy, we have the limited trim.
This car is beyond outstanding.
It is a pleasure to use the legacy.

mike mag (not verified)    January 25, 2019 - 3:05PM

not sure why people say anything bad about Subaru CVT's. we have two Subaru's and don't have any complaints about them
perhaps the people complaining actually don't OWN a Subaru ?

also note that Subaru is the top choice in several categories at consumer reports.

stephen crocker (not verified)    January 25, 2019 - 11:17PM

In reply to by mike mag (not verified)

that's why I'm prepared to at least try one on the upcoming Outback. I'm old enough to despise the feeling of a slipping clutch and I'm hoping a CVT won't remind me of that experience

Dan Jonathan (not verified)    February 14, 2019 - 2:11PM

Re: anxiety about the CVT, FWIW i'm in a similar boat, having held on to my 2006 Legacy GT wagon 5mt, hoping Subaru would finally introduce a worthy replacement. I test drove a Forester XT (with the 2.0T and CVT) a few years ago and, to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought the transmission/engine combo worked well, and I guess that's the rub with CVT's - they have their downsides, but paired with the right motor, they can work well. Such will be the case, I want to believe, with the upcoming Outback 2.4T.

Denis F Pisanello (not verified)    March 7, 2019 - 7:43PM

Have a 2018 Outback 3.5 Sport (Java Interior) This vehicle is a eye catcher, especially the interior. Just one complaint--why did Subaru over look the exhaust system? Beautiful sporty car with cheap looking pipes. Subaru could have put a few dollars into Stainless Steel extenders--I know they have the dual pipes for each muffler on some models. One last comment--bring back the manual transmission.

Vibrators (not verified)    May 17, 2019 - 8:13AM

The 2020 Outback gives you the all-weather, go-anywhere capability of standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive while still delivering on efficiency. The standard direct-injection SUBARU BOXER

Eden Fantasys (not verified)    June 10, 2019 - 4:06PM

In America, the new Subaru Outback will be on sale not earlier than the autumn of 2019, the new product will be brought to Ukraine and Russia at the end of this year or early 2020. 7 configurations will be offered to buyers: Base, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT and Touring XT. As for the pricing policy, at the moment it is known that in the US market for basic equipment will have to pay from 27,000 cu Prices for the CIS markets will be announced later.