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2020 Subaru Outback is fan service in the best possible way

The Ascent may be a surprisingly good three-row SUV, and the redesigned Forester has been selling well, but the Outback is still Subaru’s best-selling car and its best-known model. The 2020 Outback marks the sixth generation of Subaru’s venerable crossover. If you’re a long-time Subaru owner looking to upgrade, there’s plenty to like here. If you’re new to Subaru, the Outback has some selling points that make it stand out from the crowd of compact crossovers.

On the outside, not a lot has changed for the Outback. With 8.7 inches (22cm) of ground clearance, the Outback still rocks that classic let’s-go-off-roading-to-the-grocery-store look. Built on Subaru’s global platform, the sixth-generation Outback looks very similar to the previous year’s model. Unless you’re looking closely at the grille, which has black accents instead of chrome, or the taillights, you’ll be hard-pressed to spot any big differences. The biggest changes come under the hood and inside the cabin.

The 2020 Outback still comes standard with the naturally aspirated 2.5L boxer engine, but there’s now a turbocharged 2.4L power plant that comes with the XT model we tested. Available in an Outback for the first time since 2009, the turbocharged engine is capable of 260hp (191kW) at 5,600rpm and 277lb-ft (376Nm) of torque at 2,00rpm. The standard, horizontally mounted 2.5L engine sees some modest performance gains from last year: 182hp/134kW and 176lb-ft/237Nm, up from 175hp/129kW and 174lb-ft/235Nm—basically the same as the Forester. What hasn’t changed is an eight-speed Lineartronic continuously variable transmission, which has the same upside (fuel economy) and downside (noise) as always. The entire Outback lineup now comes equipped with paddle shifters and an eight-speed manual-mode function.

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