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Subaru Outback Was Born Out Of Desperation, Now 7 New Models Make It The Brand's Best-Seller

The 2020 Subaru Outback has arrived and it will stay Subaru’s best selling model. See how it was born out of desperation.


The new 2020 Subaru Outback gets a complete remodel and it’s Subaru of America’s best-selling model in its all-wheel-drive stable of vehicles. But 25 years ago, Outback was born out of desperation. The small Japanese automaker was struggling to gain traction with U.S. buyers and they needed to make something happen. Enter the 1995 Outback.

WardsAuto talked with Peter Tenn, Subaru's planning manager for the new 2020 Outback at its launch and revealed what happened in 1994. Subaru of America didn't enjoy a long sales streak like they do today, and the Crosstrek compact SUV had not even been built yet. Tenn says vehicles were backing up at the port and the Japanese automaker went into desperation mode.

1995 Subaru Outback

Subaru needed to do something quickly to turn things around or risk becoming irrelevant with American car buyers, so they spun off a version of the Legacy sedan. The new Outback was built on the same platform as Legacy but it was a wagon body style that offered more utility than a sedan. On August 7, 1995, the Subaru Outback was first launched in the U.S. market.

The Outback was not like anything else

The 1995 Outback was a different kind of vehicle, something that caught on quickly in the US. It featured a unique balance of sporty driving dynamics, flexible interior space that the Legacy wagon delivered on-road, combined in a practical wagon package. The model was given a 7.87-inch ground clearance for off-road excursions.

A premium yet tough looking exterior was designed with an exclusive front façade and bumper, large fog lamps with stone guards, large-diameter all-season tires, 2-tone body color, and oversized side protectors. Since then the all-wheel-drive model enjoyed a steady climb to become Subaru of America's most successful vehicle.

2020 Subaru Outback Limited

Today, the 2020 Subaru Outback has grown in size outside and customers can now get the SUV/Crossover in seven different trim levels. The 2020 model change is now available in Base, Premium, Limited, Touring, and three new turbo models, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT.

What customers still get today is versatility, an all-wheel-drive platform with all-weather capability, and utility. Some owners even take it off-pavement and use it to get away from civilization.


While you can still take the 2020 Subaru Outback off-road, the SUV-alternative vehicle comes with more luxury on the inside and lots of high-tech features for customers. The Outback was born out of desperation and is now Subaru of America’s best-selling model.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA