Subaru Outback review (2020)

22 Jul 2021, 16:38  •  Review  •  Door koen

The Outback is one of the most popular Subaru models. A completely new generation has recently been introduced in the US, but for Europe the current model will receive a model year update for 2020. Do you still like the car, or are we ready for the successor?

Subaru rally

I just belong to the generation that grew up with Subaru’s as rally cannons. When I hear the name ‘Subaru’ I immediately hear the nice, dark rumble of the boxer engine. The Subaru for me is a dark blue Impreza WRX STi of the second generation, with gold-coloured rims. With Colin McRae behind the wheel and blasting at full speed over dusty back roads, the picture is complete.

Although the name Impreza has been dropped, Subaru still supplies a WRX STi. The BRZ also fits into this picture, although both models are unfortunately no longer supplied in the Netherlands. In addition to the rally history, Subaru has also been a supplier of reliable, tough family cars for many years. This is why Subaru is a popular brand in the US in particular, and within Europe the brand is doing good business especially in the countries around the Alps.

Model update Subaru

The Forester is one of the most popular models, but the Outback is also in great demand. A completely new sixth generation has been introduced in the US for 2020. It will also come to Europe, but later. For the European model year 2020, the outgoing model has been updated on a number of points, the car received a so-called model year update.

Highlights Subaru Outback (2020) – AutoRAI TV

Model update Subaru

This fifth generation Outback came on the market in 2014. The model received a subtle facelift in 2018 and will now also receive an update for its (probably) last model year 2020. For model year 2020, the X-Mode off-road driving mode will be expanded with an even ‘heavier’ setting, which means that the car must be able to handle even more difficult terrain. Everything else remained unchanged. Let’s see if that outgoing model still likes a bit.

Analog experience Subaru

Time to go out with the car and actually we are soon to. This is another car that invites you to drive, preferably a long journey. Although all the digital tools are there, the Outback still feels wonderfully analog. A big plus for us.

For example, the handlebar offers just the right amount of resistance. Not too heavy, not too light. In addition: no electronics pushing or pulling the steering wheel. With Lane Departure Control enabled, of course it will if necessary, but in a natural, fluid way. So no rough interventions and we see that sometimes differently. The same applies to the adaptive cruise control: it drives just as smoothly as you would do yourself.

The Subaru responds smoothly to the accelerator pedal and when you release the gas you can endlessly roll out, so to speak. If you adjust your driving style to this, you can, for example, roll a considerable distance without consumption on a roundabout, intersection or bend. Without the car immediately slowing down in such a way that you hinder vehicles behind. Furthermore, the car is very easy to keep at a constant speed. You don’t even need the cruise control mentioned.

X-Mode Subaru

The Outback also features X-Mode. In this driving mode, everything is fine-tuned for maximum grip. There is a ‘light’ mode for unpaved surfaces or snow, but as mentioned, there is also a new ‘heavy’ mode. It is intended for even more difficult surfaces such as ice and mud. The average Dutch person will probably only need X-Mode for winter sports, but we did try it off the beaten track.

It soon becomes apparent that the Outback has very little trouble driving through loose sand, even if it is a bit up a slope. The difference between the two modes is noticeable. In the ‘light’ mode it sometimes takes some effort to get through the deep sand tracks, while the Outback in the ‘heavy’ X-Mode effortlessly crosses the sand hill. Handy to know if you live in the dunes or the woods.

Boxer engine

The Subaru Outback is always supplied in the Netherlands with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine, which is connected to the permanent four-wheel drive via a CVT automatic transmission with seven built-in stages. The engine produces 129 kW (175 hp) and 235 Nm of torque. That’s good for a 0-100 time of 10.2 seconds and a towing weight of a solid 2,000 kg. It is not for nothing that Subaru has long been very popular with, for example, caravan owners.

Practical consumption

In the end we managed to achieve an average consumption of 1 to 13.7. Neat, that’s exactly the manufacturer’s specification. On a ride with only B-roads, we even achieved an average consumption of 1 to 14.3. So that is even better than the manufacturer’s specification and we rarely see that. Well, these consumption figures may not be particularly economical for a modern station wagon, but for a hefty car with permanent four-wheel drive, they are still decent numbers.

Comfort Subaru Outback

When accelerating, the nice rumbling boxer engine makes some noise, once up to speed, it remains neatly in the background. Even on the highway it remains quiet on board: some wind noise is the only thing you hear. This way the beautiful sound of the Harman Kardon audio system (standard on the Premium version) comes into its own even better.

The rest of the comfort is also fine. Unevenness in the road surface is neatly smoothed out by the chassis. We also quickly find a good seating position on the 10-way adjustable driver’s seat. Left and right, on the door and center console, armrests are at the ideal height.

EyeSight Safety System

All Subaru are equipped with the EyeSight safety system as standard. That is a nice system. During the test week we hardly noticed that it is present and that is positive. This means that the system has not intervened unnecessarily for a moment. Even with more expensive brands, we still see things differently.

Furthermore, there is another good thought behind the EyeSight system. It works with two cameras, which are placed high behind the windshield. This means that expensive and vulnerable radar does not have to be incorporated into the front bumper. Not only does this look much nicer, it also makes a significant difference in repair costs in the event of a collision. Moreover, the field of view of the system is never disturbed, because the wipers also immediately keep the image clean for the cameras. You wonder why more brands don’t apply this principle.

Prices Subaru Outback 2020

The Outback is available in the Netherlands from € 50,195. Thanks in part to the bpm, that is a substantial amount, but you do get a lot in return. For example, the standard Comfort version is equipped with an extensive infotainment system with DAB+ radio and (partial) voice control, adaptive cruise control, seat and exterior mirror heating and extensive safety/assistance systems. All things that should be checked as an option for many brands.

The only other equipment level Premium adds for € 4,200 things such as larger rims, a sliding/tilting roof, navigation, a Harman Kardon audio system and a few more comfort things.

The list of options to be added separately is therefore only short. This is actually limited to the rims, body colors, upholstery and accessories such as roof racks, protective parts and luggage nets. Viewed in that way, the Outback is at the same price level as its competitors, or even below it. If you check all those options separately at the competition, you will soon be in the 50 mille.

Conclusion review subaru outback

As far as the starting price is concerned, the Outback may be a bit more expensive than the most direct competition, a lot of equipment is already standard and you get a very nice car in return. We understand that Subaru’s are so popular in the US and the Alps. Moreover, this outgoing model certainly does not look outdated. In that respect, the repayment by a new generation is actually not necessary at all.

Don’t be put off by the slightly higher base price, because that includes a very rich standard equipment. Are you looking for a cool, practical and reliable station wagon? Then consider the Outback. And order it in dark blue. With gold colored rims. And change your name to Colin.

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