Subaru has a history of building smaller four-cylinder turbocharged engines that offer power and fuel-efficiency, so why don’t they offer more of them in their all-wheel-drive vehicles? Subaru made a good move and brought back the turbocharged engine in the newly-redesigned 2020 Outback wagon after an 11-year hiatus. The last Outback to have a turbocharged powerplant was the 2009 Outback 2.5XT model.
More Subaru models come with naturally aspirated engines than turbocharged except for the Ascent family hauler, sport-tuned WRX, performance-tuned WRX STI, and now the new 2020 Legacy sedan. Subaru even dropped the Forester 2.0XT turbocharged model when it received its remodel in 2019.
2020 Subaru Forester doesn’t have a turbo engine option
Why doesn’t Subaru offer more turbocharged engine options?
The 2.4-liter Outback XT even pairs well with the CVT automatic. Subaru has made a commitment to the Lineartronic Continuously Variable automatic transmission (CVT) for its fuel-saving characteristics. But the CVT does not mate with Subaru’s 2.5-liter normally aspirated engine as well as it does with the turbocharged models.
The turbocharged engine pairs better with the CVT
In our recent test drive of both the 2020 Subaru Outback with the 2.5-liter engine versus the 2.4-liter turbocharged Outback XT trim, the CVT pairs better with the 2.4-liter XT model. The turbocharged Outback XT offers more low-end torque with its 277 lb-ft. of torque achieved from 2,000 RPMs through 4,800 RPMs, vs the 2.5-liter boxer engine that doesn't reach its peak torque of 176 lb-ft until 4,400 RPMs.
2020 Subaru Outback XT
The Outback CVT is programmed with eight virtual gears that don't come into play until you're already well underway in the 2.5-liter base engine. Because it takes so long for the engine to reach its torque peak, the CVT doesn’t shift from its first gear allowing the revs to drop until you're past 50 mph. The 2.4-liter turbocharged engine shifts much sooner and makes the best use of the CVT’s eight gears.
How fuel-efficient is the 2.4-liter vs the 2.5-liter engine?
Customers won't lose much fuel efficiency by opting for the new 2.4-liter turbo over the 2.5i non-turbo engine. The new 2020 Outback FA24 2.4-liter turbo engine EPA’s estimated fuel economy is 23/30 mpg city/highway. The EPA estimated fuel economy is 26/33 mpg city/highway for the 2.5-liter Boxer engine. Both engines take 87 octane fuel, so customers won’t need to put more expensive premium fuel in when they fill up the Outback XT.
Subaru has also recently developed a new smaller 1.8-liter turbocharged engine for the second-generation 2020 Levorg sport wagon sold in Japan, Europe, and Australia. Subaru has not released horsepower and torque specifications yet but rumors suggest the 1.8-liter engine will produce around 266 horsepower. This would be the perfect engine for the Impreza compact sedan and 5-Door hatch, Crosstrek compact SUV, and BRZ sport coupe.
Subaru Corporation spelled out in their “Prominence 2020" plan, that every Subaru boxer engine will come with the latest Direct Injection technology, and it also said customers would see smaller turbo engines developing more power and with greater fuel efficiency in the new-generation Subaru vehicles.
So far Subaru offers the newly-developed 2.4-liter turbocharged engine in the 2020 Outback wagon, 2020 Legacy sedan, and 2020 Ascent family hauler. With new turbocharged engines like the 1.8-liter Boxer being developed, will the Japanese automaker offer more turbocharged engine options in their lineup? Stay tuned.
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Denis Flierl has invested nearly 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!
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