2020 Subaru Outback Touring XT: The Adventure Zone

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

The Outback from Subaru is as tough as nails and one of the most respected wagons on the market and has been for quite some time. The go-anywhere utility vehicle is suited for adventure seekers, nomads, pet owners, families, and active lifestylers alike. It’s resilient enough to hit trails and camps and much smarter inside to keep owners tuned to their connected habits. For the 2020 model year, Subaru has introduced an all-new Outback re-engineered from start to finish.

Externally, the cult classic is rough, rugged, and raw with body armor cladding involving the lower doors, bumper, and roof rails. And it is outfitted with chunky 225/60 R18 Yokohama AVID GT all-season tires with traction in light snow. Sitting high, you can see right away that the Outback’s 8.7” of ground clearance allows for some pretty nature-focused voyages. It is a wagon that won’t let you down. But I did have a few neighbors ask me what I was doing in a Subaru. I would whimsically reply, “about to go mountain bike riding!”

My weekly loaner arrived in a Cinnamon Brown Pearl hue enhanced with standard X-MODE for additional road capabilities such as reaching the campsite through a muddy path or utilizing Hill Descent Control to creep down steep slopes. Symmetrical all-wheel-drive with Active Torque vectoring is another standard attribute that works in unison with X-MODE to take the Outback’s vocation to another level. The 2020 Outback can be outfitted with either of two engines, including a 2.5-liter BOXER. My model rocked with the 260-horsepower / 277 lb-ft of torque 2.4-liter 4-cylinder direct-injected turbocharged BOXER. Paired with a Lineartronic CVT, this package was sufficient for onerous duties when loaded down and quick enough for entering highway ramps with excellent acceleration. For towing, the Outback with this unit can haul 3,500 pounds. Want more? Well, a new Onyx Edition XT trim is the answer with its dual-mode X-MODE, black alloy rims, black mirrors, and two-tone StarTex water-resistant upholstery with green contrast stitching.

Step inside the Outback to witness a new world of driver fascination from the Japanese automaker. Metaphorically, the cabin is a crown jewel.  It was unfathomable for my passengers to comprehend that they were cruising in a Subaru. A robust, leather-wrapped, and heated steering wheel with paddle shifters takes center stage. From there, you can operate various functions of the Outback. Steering is taut as expected. Sporty, Java Brown Nappa leather-trimmed seats (10-way power driver and 8-way power passenger) with full support and heating are comfortable and flow with the classy feel of the contrast-stitched interior.

Nonetheless, the nucleus of the vehicle is the 11.6” Subaru STARLINK multimedia navigation system with a swiping, color touchscreen. Similar in look and function to Volvo Sensus Connect, the vertical screen embeds touch controls for X-MODE, HVAC, smartphone pairing, navigation, and infotainment options. We were celebrating Bob Marley’s 75th born day this week, so cultural reggae melodies gracefully sounded out of the 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system. STARLINK also hosts the 180-degree Front View Camera and Rear Vision Camera, which chirped when people walked by while I was in reverse. Yet, the screen became blurry in the rain. STARLINK is effortless to manipulate and loads up each app hastily. I was also fond of the auto-folding side-view mirrors and automatic unlocking of the doors when the key was sensed. WiFi, sunroof, LED lights, single-touch lifting cargo cover, hands-free power rear gate, and a nifty storage holder atop the glove box are some other amenities of the 2020 Outback.

Subaru lined the Outback with a bevy of safety advancements to maintain and augment the company’s profound safety records. DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System, for example, sends indications to pay attention if it perceives driver distractions. This will come in handy if you become drowsy and need another voice of reasoning to rest. EyeSight Driver Assist Technology watches the roads ahead and scans for any dangers to warn of, and subsequently will apply the brakes if needed. I’m not a fan of cruise control, yet I did engage the Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering to evaluate its accuracy. Pretty thorough in my book.

My 2020 Outback Touring XT totaled $40,705, including the destination charge, achieves up to 30 highway MPG (33 for most other models), and is ideally suited for parents and single owners looking to traverse through the adventure zone. However, you can get in the door for $26,645 with an entry-level Outback.

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