2020 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT new car reviews

Sure, Subaru is touting the revised 2020 Outback as the "safest, most capable Outback ever," but perhaps the most exciting thing about the new model is the return of a turbocharged version.

The Limited XT, Touring XT and the Onyx Edition XT all come powered by a 2.4-liter, turbocharged Boxer engine. The rest of the lineup—the Base, Premium, Sport and Limited trims—are powered by a naturally aspirated, 2.5-liter flat-four.

Turbocharged models have 260 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque on tap, while the 2.5-equipped models make do with 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque. Regardless of trim, all models transmit their power to all four wheels through an "eight-speed" CVT transmission.

Another set of numbers that might be important to you if you are shopping in this category: 32.5 cubic-feet of space behind the rear seats, with 75.7 cubic-feet available if you fold down the rear seats. Perfect for Diet Coke overlanding trips or just picking up little Timmy and his weird friend from practice. (We won't judge.)

Even though many Outbacks won't see too much off-roading besides the occasion unimproved dirt road, the lifted wagon is capable of an angle of approach of up to 18.6 degrees, an angle of departure of up to 21.7 degrees, and a break over angle of up to 19.4 degrees. (For comparison, the Jeep Gladiator Mojave we recently reviewed is capable of 44.7 degrees, 25.5 degrees and 20.9 degrees, respectively.)

We were given the keys to a nicely optioned XT Onyx Edition. To find out what it's like to drive, keep reading below.

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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

There’s something familiar about holding a Subaru fob. Is a Subaru today’s automotive comfort food?

It’s like your favorite cliché: old jeans, broken-in sneakers, that salad bar with the really good potato salad.

The big thing: Unless you’re hauling a giant boat of a baseball team, this is likely all the SUV that you need.

Keep your crossovers and cute-utes, just give me an Outback. It’s the right size and the right package–not too big, not too small. It’s the right shape and it’s not trying to be something that it’s not.

If looking for a taller view of the road, this one sits at the right height. So, why can’t others capture this lightning? There have been attempts, yes, but nothing else feels like this.

More to enjoy. I dig the big, normal gauges. This should be the industry standard. There’s a big iPad in the middle of the dash, but everything’s there and usable. Wanna warm up your seat? Easy. So props to Subaru’s GUI team.

Great seats. Nicely bolstered. Bonus points for the green stitching. Good rear seat room, too, as I could easily sit behind myself.

Subaru has taken the Outback upmarket, but it doesn’t seem forced or fake. There are little things usually found on more upscale brands–like, not just a power liftgate, but the option to close and lock with one button. Or auto up/down windows at all positions. It sounds minor but does make the experience feel a bit more premium. Yet this still feels like a Subaru.

Is this a CVT? Doesn’t feel like one. Seriously. Don’t let those three letters scare you.

Really good power. Not overwhelming–it doesn’t feel explosive like an STI–but plenty for the mission at hand. And it's smooth.

Solid on the highway. Quiet regarding wind and road noise, especially impressive considering the roof rack. Not fatiguing to drive at all.

Our rather loaded tester stickered at $37,750, but if you don't need/want the turbo engine, the Outback line starts at $26,795. Interesting side note: You can spend more on a non-turbo Outback than a turbo, as the non-turbo Touring has a higher starting price than the turbo Onyx Edition XT.

If I had to take a road trip and didn’t know what was ahead, it’s very hard to go wrong here. And for a daily, yeah, it’s perfect.

And as I found, it’s also dog tested.

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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
9/22/20 4:06 p.m.

Come for the car review, stay for the dog content.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
9/22/20 4:26 p.m.

And the dog just went poopy (outside). 

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