The verdict: The new Subaru Outback may not look terribly new, but it is — and it’s the best one Subaru has ever made.
Versus the competition: It has some impressive SUV competitors, but when you factor in the Subaru’s value-leading pricing, it’s hard to find one that drives as well as the Outback, includes as much equipment and costs so little to own and operate.
Two decades ago, when Subaru took its Legacy wagon and jacked it up, slapped on plastic cladding and gave it an outdoorsy name, nobody imagined the Subaru Outback would become the automaker’s most beloved, best-selling model. I drove an all-new sixth-generation 2020 Outback in Northern California at a Subaru media event, and all I can say is this: If you’re a fan of the current Outback, wait till you get behind the wheel of this one — you’re going to absolutely love it. (Per our ethics policy, Cars.com pays for its own lodging and airfare at such automaker-sponsored events.)
Looks the Same, Feels Completely Different
The redesigned 2020 Outback barely looks different from the outgoing model, with just a few slightly updated, vaguely evolutionary design cues in its chunky, hiking-boot styling. But fiercely loyal Outback customers don’t care — they like the way the Outback looks just fine; the old one was still selling in record numbers even as the new one was just a few weeks away.
To be fair, the design works. Selective use of high-strength steel keeps the pillars thin for excellent outward visibility. The beltline remains low for a commanding view over the hood or to the sides. And the hiking boot analogy really does work for the Outback, with a chunky plastic lower portion and a sleek, colorful upper one, just like what its customers tend to wear on their feet. But the magic of the new 2020 Outback isn’t in the way it looks, it’s in how it drives.