As the midsize crossover segment becomes more crowded, Subaru Corp. is bolstering the Outback, the segment's sales leader, with a thorough redesign for 2020.
The sixth-generation Outback, introduced Wednesday at the New York auto show, is instantly recognizable as an Outback thanks to its wagonlike appearance, standard roof rails and a healthy amount of body cladding — all design staples for the nameplate.
But Subaru has also outfitted the Outback, now on the brand's global platform, with additional trims, a revamped infotainment system with a bigger touch screen and a turbocharged engine option.
Many of the changes to the crossover mirror the redesigned Legacy midsize sedan, which broke cover at the Chicago show in February.
“It’s our most innovative and capable Outback ever,” Subaru of America CEO Tom Doll said during the vehicle’s unveiling.
Sales of the Outback, Subaru's top-selling model in the U.S. and one of its oldest nameplates, are at 41,808 units through March, down 5.2% from the year-earlier period, but it still leads the Honda Pilot, Ford Edge and Hyundai Santa Fe, among others, including two resurrected nameplates, the Honda Passport and the Chevrolet Blazer.
U.S. sales of the Outback totaled 178,854 in 2018, down 5.3 percent.
The automaker's streak of year-over-year sales increases is at 88 months through March and the Outback has been a key contributor to Subaru's growth in the United States, its largest market.
The Outback will go on sale this fall and will be offered in seven trims: base, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT and Touring XT.
Return of turbo
When Subaru unveiled the redesigned 2019 Forester at the New York show last year, noticeably absent was the turbocharged engine and XT trim.
But as with the redesigned Legacy, Subaru will be offering a turbocharged engine on models designated the Outback XT.
The XT model's 2.4-liter turbocharged boxer engine, borrowed from the Ascent and upcoming Legacy, generates 260 hp and 277 pound-feet of torque. It is the first time since 2009 that the Outback will be offered with a turbo.
Customers who opt for a turbocharged Outback also get towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, which Subaru noted is the most ever for an Outback.
A 2.5-liter boxer engine remains the standard powerplant, but it now features 182 hp and 176 pound-feet of torque, up from 175 hp and 174 pound-feet of torque.
The 3.6R Limited trim and its 3.6-liter six-cylinder boxer engine will be dropped for the 2020 model year.
All Outbacks will have a continuously variable transmission and all-wheel drive.
Ground clearance, another Subaru hallmark, remains 8.7 inches, the same as Subaru's other crossovers.
The Onyx Edition XT, which is new with the redesign, is equipped with black exterior design touches, 18-inch wheels, a gray two-tone interior and water-repellent seats.
New infotainment, additional safety equipment
Inside, all Outbacks, except for the base trim, will get the 11.6-inch touch-screen infotainment system that was first seen in the 2020 Legacy.
Subaru also made Wi-Fi connectivity available on the Outback with the redesign.
Subaru's EyeSight safety suite remains standard on all Outbacks, which started for the 2019 model year. As with the redesigned Forester and Legacy, Subaru's DriverFocus monitoring system is now available on the Outback.
The automaker will also offer Front View Monitor on the crossover, a safety feature that will also be found on the redesigned Legacy. The monitor, Subaru says, captures images "within the driver's blind spots in front of the vehicle."
Outback pricing has not been released.