Car Review: Subaru Outback blurs the line between wagon and crossover

Useful station wagons aren’t very popular. That’s a shame, because they offer so much utility and usually at a lower price.

Part of the problem is they aren’t as macho-looking as crossovers. So, Subaru wisely gave their wagon a lift and all-wheel drive to mimic the better traits of a tall crossover.

But the Subaru Outback is more than just a taller wagon; it’s still easy to drive and there is a ton of space inside.

For 2020, the revised Outback sees a big upgrade inside that large cabin. The materials are much nicer than before, with a richer look and feel. Subaru seats are generally a bit more firm than the competition, but they seem softer for 2020. The NAV and touch screen are improved too. The 11.6-inch tablet-style screen has better resolution, and that large size makes it a snap to use.

The Outback Touring XT has good power, too, thanks to a new 2.4-liter turbocharged engine with 260 hp.

The CVT transmission works well with the turbo engine and acts like a normal transmission most of the time. The high ground clearance is good for snow, and even some off-roading. The all-wheel-drive system keeps the Outback very confident and the handling was surprisingly good, though there is some body lean in the faster corners.

Cost: $39,695; as tested, $40,705.

MPG: 23 mpg city, 30 mpg highway; I managed 21.3 mpg in 279 miles of mixed driving.

Safety: EyeSight assist monitor; EyeSight driver assistance technology; DriverFocus distraction mitigation system; blind spot detection; lane change assist; reverse automatic braking.

Things to know: The 2020 Subaru Outback has been redone to better compete in the market. More power and a better interior make a more pleasant car to drive for a long time. It can even tow 3,500 pounds!

Pros:

  • Turbo four-cylinder engine provides plenty of power
  • Better interior, with a lot of space that puts most crossovers to shame
  • AWD system handles most conditions without any fuss

Cons:

  • Fuel economy with the turbo engine is lacking
  • Pricey in top level trim
  • Climate controls are small and at the bottom of the touch screen

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