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Steve Tested The Outback And Knew It Was Meant For, Well, The Outback

The Outback and Crosstrek are Subaru’s all-stars; a pair of all-wheel drive wagons that have carved out a niche among granolas and those living in the sticks. And this week I’m testing their all-new Paul Hogan mobile – updated but very familiar. 

Ok, so I’m dating myself with the Crocodile Dundee reference.  But I still think of throwing a shrimp on the barbie whenever I see an Outback; an image I much prefer to drooling dogs and dancing barefoot around a tree.  But let’s talk about what’s new here.  The Outback’s built upon a new platform that’s stiffer than before so it communicates a tighter overall package.  It’s longer and a little wider and feels so from behind the wheel.  A turbo engine option is back on the menu and my tester has it; a more powerful 2.4-liter Boxer that replaces the 3.6R model.  A CVT remains the only transmission regardless of motor. And lastly, Subaru has gone all fancy with a tablet-style touchscreen that’s vivid and very simple to use.  Those are the major items for this 2020 model but of course there are a lot of nuances to discuss.  

Subaru rarely provides their top-of-the-line trim for evaluation but in fact that’s what I have here: the Touring XT priced at $40,705. So if you want these satin finish power folding mirrors, chrome inserts on the door handles, ventilated front seats, and softer nappa leather the XT is where you’ll land.  And if you want none of those things and far less of everything including the turbo, a base Outback starts at under $28,000.  

Faith Based Events

Let’s be real – no one buys an Outback for the way it drives. That being said this new turbo is definitely punchy – it’s got real kick but in a juvenile kind of way that’s mismatched with this Touring’s $40,000 persona. NVH levels aren’t simpatico with the price tag. The Outback feels taller and bigger now from behind the wheel like you’re driving an SUV and no longer just a tall wagon. And because this car will see a lot of twisty back roads I wish it had even a modicum of handling ability. These tires don’t do it any justice as they resist turning. All that being said, with its world class all-wheel drive system and versatility I can understand the appeal.

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A premiere automotive resource featuring video reviews by America’s top automotive critic Steve Hammes. Having road tested more than 2,000 new vehicles, Hammes, known as “The Go-to-Guy Before You Buy”, delivers at least two new reviews of his first-hand test drive experiences each week.