For them, this is pretty out-there.
We often give Subaru a lot of flak because of their devotion to taking an evolutionary approach when renewing their cars and bringing them into a new generation. But for all their missed opportunities, the all-new Subaru Outback that’s just been unveiled in New York is an opportunity taken we feel, and we’re overjoyed that they’ve finally taken a (carefully-calculated) leap of faith.
The Outback remains, fundamentally, a higher and more rugged version of the Subaru Legacy, but where the last generation flexed itself slightly when it dropped the ‘Legacy’ suffix to the Outback name, the current one has filled out the space it inhabits as an independent proposition. There’s a boldness to the reworked design that spears off significantly from the restrained look that the previous generation pushed, and we have to say, we like it alot.
Despite its appearance as a jacked-up estate, the Legacy is touting an 8.7-inch ground clearance which is markedly more than a lot of modern SUVs today, though the approach- and departure-angles remain quite useless (not that anyone will really care anyway).
Under the recognisable skin lies a totally new skeleton. Subaru’s Global Platform is more rigid and lighter than before, and allows for the accommodation of the very latest technological & safety innovations from the brand. It also allows for the fitment of new engines and boy-oh-boy are we excited about that.
For the first time in a decade, the Outback will be available with a forced-induction petrol mill. The headlining engine is now a 2.4-litre blown flat-four with 194kW and 375Nm, with power going to all-four wheels via a Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system and a Lineartronic CVT. The non-turbo models use the same engine, though that now makes 135kW and 238Nm.
The Outback has always been a tidy handler, and it’s also always been one of the safest large estates to haul the family in. To that end, Subaru’s proprietary EyeSight ADAS system has been retuned and rejigged. It now offers advancements like active cruise control with active lane-keep assist, as well as ‘DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation’ which uses infrared cameras to monitor where drivers are placing their attention at any given moment.
Innovations like cornering beams, forward- and rearward-AEB, blind-spot monitoring with collision mitigation, rear cross-traffic alert, and heads-up display continue to feature on the new car.
Comfort and refinement are huge strong-points of the Outback, and the latest generation model builds on that already impressive capability. There are new weather strips, sound-insulated glass, sound-insulating inner film and thicker glass all round to reduce noise intrusion by some 3dB. Infotainment has also been given a major upgrade with headlining models offering an enormous 11.6-inch centre touchscreen, which is portrait-oriented to appear intuitive for the tablet-generation.
And don’t worry, it offers Apple & Android smartphone mirroring.
The 2020 Subaru Outback will be available in North America as a Base, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT, though the local lineup shouldn’t see too big a shakeup. To that end, Subaru Australia has yet to confirm an introduction timeline for the new car, but we’ll bet our shirts that we’ll not only see it, but see it soon.