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Why The New Subaru Outback XT Turbo May Not Be The Best Pick For You

The 2020 Subaru Outback brings two engine choices and seven trim levels. See why the three new Outback XT turbocharged trims may not be your best choice.


If you are thinking about buying a newly-remodeled 2020 Subaru Outback wagon/SUV, it could be the best time. The Camden, N.J. automaker is offering no-interest financing and has other incentives to lower the price. But the 2020 Outback comes with two engine options and seven trim levels for you to choose from. Which is the best pick for you?

The all-new seventh-generation 2020 Subaru Outback is available in Base, Premium, Limited, Touring, and three new turbo models, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT models. With so many choices you may be wondering which is the best trim level?

2020 Subaru Outback 2.5i

You first need to determine which engine you want and then it narrows your choices. For the 2020 model year, Subaru brings a new 2.4-liter turbocharged engine in the Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT models. If you opt for the 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft torque engine, you will pay a premium of about $4,500 over the standard 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter engine producing 185 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque.

Why would you need the Outback XT?

If you are towing a trailer or boat, you’ll want the 2.4-liter turbocharged engine. The XT trims will tow up 3,500 lb vs 2,700 lb for the standard model. It has extra power for carrying cargo, five passengers, and pulling a small trailer or camper. If you live at altitude, the turbocharged engine will help pull a mountain pass without much effort.

2020 Subaru Outback XT trim

The Onyx Edition XT ($35,905 including destination) also comes with dual-function X-Mode for increased off-road capability. If you are using your vehicle for off-pavement adventures, the XT trims will get you there and back safely. If you are driving in the city and occasionally taking the wagon on light trails, the standard model has the all-weather capability you need.

The standard 2020 Subaru Outback comes in Base, Premium, Limited, and Touring trims. The 2020 Outback Premium ($29,905 including destination) is $6,000 less than the Onyx XT trim. It comes standard with all-wheel-drive, X-Mode, EyeSight driver assist safety tech, and cloth upholstery. It gets upgrades for families like the all-weather package with heated exterior mirrors and 10-way power-adjustable heated front seats and windshield wiper de-icer.

This Premium trim is powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter engine producing 185 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. It gets an EPA estimated 26/33 city/highway and 29 combined mpg. Many customers will likely opt for this trim level that fits a sweet spot for price, fuel mileage, and features.

If you want a bit more luxury, the Outback 2.5i Limited offers leather seats, an upgraded sound system, LED headlights, push-button start, and a hands-free tailgate. The Limited 2.5i is about $4,300 less than the Limited XT.

2020 Subaru Outback

The large majority of Outback buyers will never take their wagon off-road, tow a trailer, or need the extra power for hauling cargo and people over an 11,000-foot mountain pass on a regular basis. You will buy the newly-redesigned Outback for its all-weather capability, safety features, and utility.

The 2020 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium and Limited trim levels are where the majority of buyers will be landing. Unless you need the extra power and off-pavement capability of the Outback XT, you will pay around $4,000-$6,000 less for a comparably equipped 2.5i trim level. Check out our test drive of each trim below.

You Might Also Like: We Test Drive The New 2020 Outback XT And Outback 2.5i For You

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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Photo credit: Planet Subaru


Steve j (not verified)    June 18, 2020 - 8:56AM

I think Denis wrote this before he actually test drove the standard engine and tried to get on a busy highway. But keep up the good work Denis you’re right on most of the time.

Lee Neubauer (not verified)    May 29, 2021 - 11:10AM

I would only be hauling an enclosed motorcycle trailer(about 1200 lbs) with a 700 lb motorcycle a couple of times per year.

Would the basic Outback premium engine suffice or should I upgrade to the turbo?