2020 Subaru Outback
Denis Flierl's picture

Subaru Outback Has A New Fuel-Saving Feature But You Don’t Like it

The 2020 Subaru Outback and other models get a new turbocharged engine and a fuel-saving Auto Stop-Start feature, but many customers don’t like it.

Automakers are improving fuel mileage on new vehicles and customers like the upgrades they make to the engines that make cars more fuel-efficient.

Subaru is bringing smaller turbocharged engines to its lineup of all-wheel-drive cars, and the 2020 Outback wagon now has the FA24 2.4-liter four-cylinder turbocharged Boxer engine that replaces the 3.6-liter naturally-aspirated six-cylinder powerplant. You can read the full comparison here.

But the newly-redesigned 2020 Outback also features a new Auto Stop-Start system that also comes on all-new Subaru Forester, Legacy, and Crosstrek models. It’s one of the most controversial gas-saving features of the newest Subaru vehicles. Many automakers are using the system that automatically stops the engine when you come to a complete stop for more than a few seconds. It’s designed to save a little fuel every time the car stops at a light, or wait at a stop sign.

2020 Subaru Outback
2020 Subaru Outback uses Auto Stop-Start

The frequent starting and stopping of the engine become tiresome to some drivers who live in urban areas and especially if you drive in heavy stop-and-go traffic every day. Some drivers say they don’t like the car stopping and starting because they fear the system could fail and the engine won’t restart and leave them stranded. They also consider the extra wear on the starter.

Automakers use the system to bump up gas mileage numbers but do they really save enough fuel to be worthwhile? According to a study conducted by the Society of American Engineers, it is beneficial to turn your car’s engine off if it is going to be idling for at least seven seconds.

2020 Subaru Outback
2020 Subaru Forester also comes with the fuel-saving system

Within that range of time, enough fuel is saved to restart the car. So any time the engine is shut off over seven seconds, fuel will be saved. I know of one stoplight on my commute where I can sit as long as two minutes. After a period of time, the fuel savings add up.

Can I disable my Auto Stop-Start?

The Auto Stop-Start can be disabled on your new 2020 Subaru Outback, Forester, Legacy, and Crosstrek. It’s different for each model, and the problem is, on some models like Forester, you cannot permanently disable it. The system will always default to an on position once you turn the car off. So every time you get back in your car, you have to manually disable the system again.

The new Outback and Legacy, does have a feature on its new 11.6-inch touchscreen menu and you can disable the system. When you are on the home screen, push the car icon button to change the settings and then click on “Others” allowing you to turn off the Auto Stop-Start system. The Auto Stop-Start on the new 2020 Subaru Outback, Legacy, Forester, and Crosstrek can be annoying but it will save fuel if you live in an urban area.

You Might Also Like: Subaru’s 5-10 Year Cost Of Ownership Is Higher Than All But One Other Mainstream Brand

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!

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I agree, it's annoying and will likely lead to higher maintenance costs. Knowing that the Forester resets, and can't be disabled, would be a major deal breaker, for me.
Also know that the '20 Outback resets to Start/Stop on each time you turn on the engine.
Subaru must focus on quality rather these features. My 2010 Outback has failed in struts l leaks, suspensions, exhaust system and windshields. This is too expensive to maintain. I'm done with Subarus. I bought two and that's the end of it. Bye-bye Subaru
Car is ten years old! How long do you expect it to last? What kind of driving do you do? I'm on my eleventh Subaru since 1983 - much of the time have had two at a time. Have had very few problems and none very serious. Drove one sedan for almost 300k miles. Many long trips and country roads. Subaru has had some problems in 2015 - 2017 but has corrected them. hard to beat a Subaru.
My husband and I have owned five Subarus I Presley now own a 2016 Subaru outback I have been looking at the new ascent 2021 but I'm done with the Subaru also I will not buy another one bye-bye Subaru too..
On my 2020 outback you still have to turn off start/stop every time you start the car.
True, it doesn't stay disabled.
Auto SS reverts back on after the engine is turned off on All Subarus that have it, Not just Forester. Worse, on previous Foresters SS turned back on when brake was applied hard! The mileage rating on vehicles the years Before SS came was the same as the next year when SS was introduced. You failed to discuss the need for heavy duty batteries that are much more expensive to replace, or that car makers receive funds from EPA for having SS and more for making it impossible to permanently disable. Congress never voted for SS, Obama’s EPA just did it. Trump has tried to decrease the onerously high mileage requirement but it takes Years to do.
Test drove 2020 XT Wagon, and 2019 3.6R Wagon. Start/Stop on 2020 XT was really dangerous when pulling into traffic from a full stop. Turbo engine has horrible power lag from auto start/stop. Now own 2019 3.6R wagon.
I LOVE that feature on my 2020 Outback XT. It's start up is super quick. You barely notice it and it's already saved a gallon of burned gas.
I had a '93 Legacy turbo wagon.It was a great car sold it at 220k never had the head done .The owners manual said to not let it idle for long periods so maybe autoshutoff might not be a bad idea although newer turbos might not have that problem
I love the auto stop start feature on my 2020 Outback. I drove another vehicle with this feature and it takes a minute to get comfortable with the reliabilty aspect. Once you realize it works reliably there's no reason not to love it.
A shortcut to turn off this feature - turn on the rear window heater. It's a one click action (again, every time you start the car). Because it uses some battery power, it will not allow the engine to turn off at stopping.
My 2020 Outback XT's start-stop is horrible, perhaps the worse in the industry. Bad enough that it's always on by default but every time it restarts it feels like I've just thrown a cat in my garbage disposal. To add insult to injury, under many conditions it restarts automatically after only 20 seconds or so, presumably to maintain cabin temperature. After more than four months of ownership, I've haven't saved enough in fuel to buy a cup of 7-11 coffee and I certainly haven't made a dent in global warming! Give me a break.As a comparison, I own a 2019 MINI Cooper S convertible. Auto start/stop on the MINI is optional. I flip a switch and it's forever off but the (in comparison) buttery smooth auto start encourages me to leave the feature on all of the time. Subaru, it's a big MISS on your auto start/stop. You should do better than this and OBTW, please make your windshields a bit less crack/shatter prone and, oh yeah, how about making that massive 11.6 inch infotainment screen a little more productive.
I have that feature on my 2019 Forester . It is a real headache I have to turn it off each time I start the car And my case the car is hard to restart and seems to add extra stress on the engine The car maker really dropped the ball on this one
Go full electric and bypass all this clap-trap.125 MPGe.
I have that feature on my 2019 Forester . It is a real headache I have to turn it off each time I start the car And my case the car is hard to restart and seems to add extra stress on the engine The car maker really dropped the ball on this one
I own the new 2020 outback onyx and I like the fact that it turns off during stops. I traded up from a 1996 ford truck that got 12 mpg and I appreciate the efficiency this is the nicest car I have ever owned and fast too !
A note to Subaru: I am sorry I bought my 2020 Outback solely because of this “feature”. My friends and family call my car the “golf cart”. It starts with such a wrenching shudder when the A/C is running that you feel like the car has been hit in the rear. And I can’t permanently turn it off! Please know that every time I get a chance I give this car a one star rating and I will complete this year’s Consumer Reports survey accordingly.
Fear not Bud! My '16 Tacoma has a sport mode for the AT, many drivers like to have it on all the time, Toyota made "off" the default so you have to turn it on each time you start the truck. However, in no time at all there appeared on eBay a simple over-ride switch that leaves it on all the time. I'm sure the same will happen for the stop-start off switch on Subarus. It's also worth asking your friendly dealer if they have a way to disable it, it cost nothing to try.
Trade it in.
Another thing hated is the CVT transmission, get rid of it Subaru. Many cars get similar MPG without one!
Love the CVT. We had a 2011 Forester with 4 speed automatic and a 2014 Forester with CVT. The 2014 gets 4-5 mpg better and the cruise control is smother. When going up a hill in cruise control the engine just increases rpm rather than transmission down sifting.
Subaru is at its worst when it decides to be your nanny. Making stop-start the default is one example. Another is making it impossible to set navigation while the car is moving. They don't want the driver to set it while driving, I get that, but they could let the navigation know that there's someone sitting in the passenger seat and then enable it while driving.
2020 Outback Touring owner here. Everyone has an opinion. What gets me is that why wouldn't Subaru just add it to your profile set up to turn on or off. After talking to many people in my Subaru community, this feature is a total deal breaker! Too bad for Subaru. Maybe it'll be on one of their upcoming firmware updates. If they cared about their customers and sales, they would. In fact, there is a lot more Subaru can do with their software in these vehicles. With the exception of essential function, you should be able to tailor everything for your profile. If my wife wants the start stop off she can add to her profile. If I want it on, I can do the same. Subaru still has a lot to learn, or they need better focus groups....
I like the idea of start stop when you are in a Drive-Thru, they should rename it drive through mode and only have a switch for it, not make it the default setting
Had A/S/S on my last two BMWs, at least it can be permanently turned off. I can't see how this saves any appreciable amount of gas relative to the annoyance it creates. Plus added wear/tear on the starter and battery - it's just a stupid solution looking for a problem that really doesn't exist.
There is a product available which eliminates autostop annoyances on some Forester models (those with RAB). It does exactly what you want it to do.
Especially annoying is the cold weather behavior of this. Stopping the engine for 7 seconds and then restarting with your foot on the brake makex for a sudden lurch. It does get better the next time, it waits 9 seconds, then 11, 14, etc. Dealer response? Normal behavior.
I LOVE the auto start-stop feature on my new 2020 Outback! I'm just confused about why it works sometimes and not others. I wish my wife's car had it. I wish my 3500 Suburban had it, too!