2020 Subaru Outback Test Drive Review — More Capable Than Ever?
TRAVIS LANGNESS: Is it a wagon? Is it a lifted hatchback? Is it a crossover, or is it an SUV? I don't really know. But I do know is this is the
Outback. And we're here, Northern California, taking it out for a first
drive. We're going to show you what's new about it, what's new under the hood, and all the cool tech and safety features that you can get. And we're going to take it off road. But before we do that, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and go to Edmonds.com for
moreinformation. So what's new about the
Outback? Well, pretty much
everything. Under the hood, the base model gets a 2.5 liter four cylinder, which is the same as the last generation. But it's actually a new engine, same size, new engine. This one, how
ever, has the turbo charged 2.4 liter engine, which replaces the old six cylinder. And this one gets
moretorque, and better fuel economy-- all great things for a new car. There's different sheet metal, different styling up front and in the back-- different set of roof rack systems with tie-down sections. It's also got the same tent weight rating as the previous generation got. So you can put a 700-pound tent on here while this thing is parked, or a 176 pounds while moving. As you go down the side of the vehicle, you notice some
Subarustyling. They've styled it they said to look kind of like a hiking boot with the rubber on the bottom but a little bit nicer up top. Then you come...
around back, different tail lights, different rear fascia. And if you get the option, you can have a power lift tailgate with the hands-free section. But it doesn't use a foot swipe, like some other manufacturers do-- just uses a little sensor here in the tailgate. On the inside of the new
Outback, there's a lot to like. For starters is the big party piece-- this optional 11.6 inch tablet style touchscreen. Now, there are a couple of things to note about this. First, it's really high quality. It's high resolution. The touch screen moves easily. It responds to touch mode stuff well to your inputs well. But it is a little bit small. If you look up, like, Apple CarPlay player Android Auto, that seems a little kind of shrunken, because width-wise, it's not very large. Otherwise, though, the nav map shows up really cool. It's powered by TomTom. So it's got good directions in here. This is a really nice system. It does, though, intrude a little bit on storage space. You can't really put much down here. There's two USB plugs here. And there's an option for dealer accessory, charging wireless pad. Now, over here on the passenger side, there is some
moresmartphone storage space. But it's not a lot. There are some nice soft touch points on the side for your elbows here. It really feels good to
driveand relax in. And the center console here has this nice little top section and then a larger section below for
moreof your gear. Now, you...
can't put a smartphone here in the center console. And there's a nice little addition for cup holders. These are nice and deep. And also on the passenger side here, there's another bit for storage. So small item storage, it seems like they're kind of making due with the space. When you go down into the touch screen, there are a couple of things worth noting. It's got all of the controls for the
driver aids in here. You've got systems, like, auto stop, start are integrated into the touch screen. The climate control also integrated into the touch screen. Sure, you can do the heat and cooling buttons here. But the fan buttons are here. And they're small and don't always respond to your touch inputs. It's kind of annoying. And when you get deeper into the screen settings, you can go into things that have to deal with the car and driving its distance. So you can look at the pre-braking collision, turn that on or off. Or you can going into lane departure warnings and see which ones you want to turn on and off. One of the coolest parts, though, is you can go into the cruise control acceleration characteristics on the menu and change it from level one, eco, two, comfort, three, standard to four, dynamic. Now, what this means is you can adjust the level of speed that the car picks up when someone gets out of your way on the highway, and you've got adaptive cruise control engaged. This is a complaint we have on tons of cars that when someone gets...
out of your way, and the adaptive cruise control re-engages, the car kind of takes some time to pick up. But on this one, it can adjust it yourself. Steering wheel is great. It's pretty much the same as the previous generation, got heff to it. And while at first glance, it seems like it's kind of crowded with buttons, and you get a little overwhelmed, things fall the hand easily. And once you got it figured out on the road a couple hours behind the wheel, you're not going to have a problem with these buttons. It's also nice that there is still a volume knob here, despite there being one over here. And the
driver display system, it's bright. It's got a good font, good contrast. And it doesn't distract you from the road. There's not a lot of extra information going on there. This is, all in all, a great place to be. We're out on the road. Moving to the back seat, I have the seat set for me, and I'm 5 foot 9. There's definitely enough knee room here for somebody who's even taller. If I sit all the way back and upright, there's plenty of space here. A lot of foot room underneath. And there's plenty a head room up top. There's also a couple of nice features back here for passengers, like your two USB charging ports and outboard heated seats. So it's a little cold. People sitting on the outboard seats-- be nice and warm. And then the center here, obviously, you've got the full data center console with cup holders....
You have the 40/60 split seats. And if you sit in the middle, it's not entirely uncomfortable. Now, I wouldn't want to be here for a long road trip. But a trip to the store, no problem. We've got a hands-free tailgate and a couple of cool features in the back here. For instance, let's say you do have a bunch of stuff. Your hands are full. And you want to load it in. But it's too large for this cargo cover-- simply push down on it, slides right up. It's pretty awesome. Now, back here, you've got 32.5 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats, which may seem smaller than the previous generation because it's a smaller number. But it's just a difference in the way the ratings work out. This is actually
morespace than the previous generation car. And you've got the folding seats there with the handles. And you get, now, over 75 cubic feet of cargo space, which is
morethan enough for two adults to lay down in a camping trip or just enough to put a lot of lumber in. Either way, it's a spacious SUV. A lot of people are going to buy this car with the base engine-- the 2.5 liter naturally aspirated boxer four cylinder. And I would tell them not to, because this 2.4 liter turbocharged engine is definitely the one to have. It's got a ton of get up and go, 260 horsepower, 277 pound feet of torque. And it's honestly a really nice engine to
drive. Even with the CVT, it feels like it's got down shifts. It feels like it's got...
some real get up and go. I'm just a fan of it. It's not grading either. It's not wheezy or loud. And even when you're going up grades, it seems to have a good low tone to it, unlike some other turbo-charged four cylinder engines, especially when they're paired with CVTs. You don't get that with this 2.4 liter engine. And this is the same engine that you get in the
SubaruAscent, their big three-row crossover. Oh, it's got some power. It feels good, especially on a straight away like that. Brakes are good too. Turn in is good. Really, it feels kind of sporty, which is something I didn't think I'd find myself saying after driving this car for a few hours. But it feels like something that I could definitely go on, like a canyon run in, which is weird for a midsize SUV/crossover. Now, there are a couple of competitors in the class that give you that same vibe. The Passport is very similar. We just did a video with the Passport and the Blazer. And while I'm not a huge fan of the Blazer myself, I do agree that it's got a very sporty vibe. But despite this
outback's outdoorsy looks, it's a car that really holds its own when it comes to curvy roads and getting around and having a little bit of fun. This is definitely not something you would think is an SUV. It kind of lends to the idea that this feels
morelike a wagon or a car, which in my opinion is a good thing. Yeah, I know
everybody likes SUVs. They're really popular....
Subaruhas made this car bigger and
capableover the years. But the party trick that it's kept is the fact that it's still really
capablearound corners. Steering has a good on-center field, returns the center really easily in your hands. It's got good weight to it. And where you don't get all this body roll and heave to and fro. And on the highway, it's really comfortable-- good ride quality, good seats. It's a little bit noisy in here. You can probably hear kind of that low hum of the tires. But it's not too bad. You turn on the music, and it drowns out real easily, especially with the optional Harman Kardon sound system that this trim level has. There's a lot of passive, active-- all kinds of safety features available-- optional standard on this
Subaru. And some of those, like, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring-- those are across the board in a lot of different vehicles. You can get them pretty much
everywhere. But this car has a system that's very unique. It's called
driver focus. And there are actually infrared radar systems here that read my face and can tell if I'm looking down too long or getting drowsy. It also knows who I am. You can store up to five
driver profiles in here that greet you when you get into the car. And well, it seems kind of Skynetty. I do like it. It's fun. And it sets up your seat based on your face. It's definitely a new and interesting system but one I'm happy...
to get used to. So what I'll do here is, I'll look up at the road. I'll put my head down. And in a second, the car should figure out-- yep, you hear that beep? The car just figured out that I wasn't paying attention-- told me to keep my eyes on the road. So if you're looking at your cell phone, which you absolutely shouldn't be doing, it will make that noise as well. One of the great features too about the inside of this car is that
everything is kind of down and away. It's out of my line of sight. It's a great flat dashboard, tons of forward visibility. And there aren't really any appreciable blind spots in the
Outback. But there's an optional 180-degree front-view camera helpful when you're out on the trails. And there's a nice big rear-view camera display in this 11.6 inch tablet. Now, these seats-- these are pretty comfortable too. From the second you get at them, you realize that you don't really have to adjust much when you're out on the road. There's good bolster support. There's adjustable lumbar support. That was lane departure. I got out of the way of a truck that was oncoming. Now, when it comes to this
driver aids, they can be a little bit sensitive. But honestly, it's probably still one of my favorite systems on the market. There are other systems, like, for example, the Honda One that's a little bit
moresensitive, and I'm not a huge fan. But this
Subarusystem is, it's really...
intuitive. And you can adjust things, like, how fast it pulls away from adaptive cruise. And someone gets out of your way. And you can just turn off some of the systems entirely. And it goes around corners pretty well-- look at that. So what's the
Outbacklike on the road? Honestly, it's really good. Same as last generation. It handles well. It steers well. Sure, it's no sports car. This steering is a little bit vague. But it's definitely
moreconnected than somebody on frame SUV competitors. And it's got a good heft in your hands, good return to center field here. And I would enjoy driving this on any back road. So now that we've done some on-road stuff, we're going to do some off-roading in this
Outback. And really, there is a difference between this kind of off-roading and the kind of stuff you might see on Jeep commercials. We're going over a few water crossings here through some ruts. And there's plenty of ground clearance, because this
Subaru, just like all its
SubaruSUV brethren, has 8.7 inches of ground clearance at the lowest places. It's got OK approach and departure angles. But it has dual X-Mode. So it's the upgraded version of the base X-Mode. This is deep mud engage X-Mode. OK, so let's go into the system here. X-Mode is on. And I will move forward for deep mud. I did just fine. Honestly, that wasn't really that deep. So we'll ignore that part. But the X-Modes come in two available software...
systems. There's the base X-Mode, which allows you to do hill, descent control-- things like that-- kind of manages the traction of the all wheel
drivesystem. And then there's the dual X-Mode, which is on this car and which allows for sand, snow, rocky areas. It gives you some wheel slip so you can get out of kind of hairy situations. So if you live in an area where there's a lot of snow, or you know you're going to be traversing trails
moreoften, than maybe go for one of the
Outbacks with the dual X-Mode. Now, as we go through this section, you can see that I'm going between a cut down tree. And it is really precarious-- find something maybe two, three inches wider-- wouldn't make it through there. And one of the nice things about this vehicle is that it does have kind of smaller dimensions than some of its bigger competitors, like the forerunner. Out here on the trails too, most of the stuff you're going to find isn't Moab. Look, I know jeeps are good. I know forerunners are good. I know a Raptor can go anywhere and do jumps in the desert. But vehicles you want to live with on a daily basis are ones like the
Outback. OK, I'm not a huge fan of CVTs. But this one is really well-tuned. And the 2.4 liter turbo-charged engine has plenty of power. It's also got plenty of space in the back. And as opposed to a high-riding SUV, it's got a nice low load floor. So you can get big heavy items, your camping totes, your kid's strollers,...