2020 Subaru Outback review (rental)

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2,667
Location
Kentucky
While on vacation had to take my van into the shop for repairs, the dealer gave me a 2020 Subaru Outback 2.5i premium with 4K miles as a loaner. Have had it for about a week now and put a couple hundred miles on it so far. Not sure of exact trim level but seems to me it has most every option except leather seats. These are my thoughts:

Engine performance from the 2.5L exceeded my expectations. It’s no rocket ship— there’s no mistaking that there’s a N/A four banger under the hood, but it’s rather smooth and capable in all driving conditions. It lacks the low end grunt you might find in a larger engine, but once the CVT gets it in the powerband (around 3k or higher) it really gets around for the type of vehicle and never feels strained. There’s a hint of 4-cylinder coarseness but it wouldn’t turn me off from buying one. Engine has a nice growl / throatiness to it when you get on it, but it still stays reasonably smooth.

The CVT works beautifully, but I dislike the artificial shift points especially at higher RPM and full throttle. I think they could tone that down a bit and create a smoother driving experience. I don’t notice it as much in regular driving.

Throttle tip-in is way too aggressive. We’re staying at an RV park that has a 5mph speed limit and it’s impossible to cruise around at 5-10mph without the car lurching forward at every tiny throttle application.

The car handles well and has great brakes, stopping power is excellent. Steering is responsive but the feel is a bit numb. The lane keep assist crap made for a couple scary moments at 75mph highway speeds when I didn’t realize why the wheel would move itself slightly. Once I figured out what it was doing it was predictable and didn’t really bother me. You can turn it onto fully assist and the car will basically drive itself so long as you have clear lane markers on each side.

Interior fit and finish seem just fine, good materials used throughout though I spotted cheap feeling plastic in a few places like around the door handles. I think the huge vertical touchscreen is awful from a ease-of-use perspective, I had to completely take my eyes off the road to make adjustments to HVAC and stereo, though there are standard buttons for the most basic functions like cabin temperature, but they are too close to the touchscreen and lack the tactile feel that allows you to use them blindly. Once familiar with the steering wheel audio controls this was less of an issue for controlling the stereo. There are probably people out there that feel everything should be controlled by a giant screen but I’m not one of them— I much prefer standard controls/buttons, at least for the most commonly used functions. Bizarrely they use a combination of LEDs and incandescents for interior lighting, they should pick one or the other because the color temperature is so different between the two. Instrument panel is too small, gauges too tightly packed together and the electronic display/trip computer is too small. I have to stop and look for a couple seconds to identify fuel level or coolant temperature, I think the whole gauge cluster needs to be made larger with gauges spaced further

Great car imo for people that need a capable AWD vehicle that sometimes need to go off the beaten path or used for winter driving. One nice thing I spotted was three windshield washer nozzles— two in the cowl and one mounted on the wiper itself. When I used the windshield washer there wasn’t a single square inch of windshield that had not gotten a spray— a welcome feature for winter driving.

Styling is a bit bland for my taste, but Subaru has always been one to stick with what works and not make their designs too polarizing. So not a bad looking car, just won’t turn many heads IMO.

If I needed an all season car with good storage, I’d definitely consider one.
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92saturnsl2

Thread starter
Messages
2,667
Location
Kentucky
One thing I didn’t highlight is just how comfortable the car is. I’m 6’2 and I fit in it like a glove. The seating positions seem endless, I can move it back so far I can’t reach the pedals. It’s just super comfortable driving it with a really good ride. Besides my complaints regarding the touchscreen, everything is laid out logically and easy to get to.
 
Messages
9,595
Location
Ontario, Canada
Good review! That's pretty much my review of our 2018, except the hvac has buttons still. And the steering wheel is slightly too small. I like to rest my arm on the window frame and I can't quite reach the wheel comfortably. We get 29-30mpg out of it, but we're mostly on 55mph roads. I also like the integrated roof rack bars which swing across. Good for the canoe or lumber.
 
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14,448
Location
Central NY
I had a 2020 Legacy premium as a loaner car. I wanted to keep that and give them my base model Forester! These are really nice driving cars! I love how they were able to modernize the interior over the previous gen cars but still kept it low key; I don't feel anxious like I do when I get in a Ford , for example, with so many buttons.

The tip in was crazy! I'm used to a 6MT subaru so I don't get to experience the lurch in the coffee drive-thru when I try to move ahead a bit.
 
Messages
9,595
Location
Ontario, Canada
I had a 2020 Legacy premium as a loaner car. I wanted to keep that and give them my base model Forester! These are really nice driving cars! I love how they were able to modernize the interior over the previous gen cars but still kept it low key; I don't feel anxious like I do when I get in a Ford , for example, with so many buttons.

The tip in was crazy! I'm used to a 6MT subaru so I don't get to experience the lurch in the coffee drive-thru when I try to move ahead a bit.
Yeah it is kind of stupid, you get used to it but I don't get why they keep it. After warranty I'll see what's available for changing it.
 

JTK

Messages
13,234
Location
Buffalo, NY
I didn't think the tip-in lurch on my 2012 Legacy 2.5 CVT or 2016 Forester 2.5 CVT was anything near as bad as the Toyota products I've driven.
 
Messages
678
Location
Arizona
Nice review! They have to do something about the gloss-black interior plastic. It's a magnet for dirt and fingerprints, something you would think would be higher on the list for such an "outback type" of vehicle. Otherwise... Subaru is on quite a roll here. I love how they don't follow the crowd.
 
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15,839
Location
...
Nice review! They have to do something about the gloss-black interior plastic. It's a magnet for dirt and fingerprints, something you would think would be higher on the list for such an "outback type" of vehicle. Otherwise... Subaru is on quite a roll here. I love how they don't follow the crowd.


I agree. That gloss black is horrible to maintain. Just looking at it makes it scratch.
 
Messages
1,480
Location
USA
The temp and gas gauges seem pretty normal to me. I wouldn’t like auto steering. So there’s a big pothole or other crack in the road etc I like to go around them. What are we supposed to be doing in the drivers seat anyway? I don’t like the big screen either. They can keep those.
 
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15,839
Location
...
The temp and gas gauges seem pretty normal to me. I wouldn’t like auto steering. So there’s a big pothole or other crack in the road etc I like to go around them. What are we supposed to be doing in the drivers seat anyway? I don’t like the big screen either. They can keep those.


You should be able to turn that off.
 
Messages
3,385
Location
Nashville, TN via Memphis
All Subaru’s have aggressive tip-in characteristics. You truly do get used to it after the first five years.

That's a fact. Well, at least, it was on my 2016 WRX. You called for 20% throttle opening and the engine room gave you 90%, it seemed. Along with the artificial rev hang that was programmed in ( I detested that and it was one of the reasons I sold the car), it made it a challenge to shift smoothly.
 

gathermewool

Site Donor
Messages
8,573
Location
New England
That's a fact. Well, at least, it was on my 2016 WRX. You called for 20% throttle opening and the engine room gave you 90%, it seemed. Along with the artificial rev hang that was programmed in ( I detested that and it was one of the reasons I sold the car), it made it a challenge to shift smoothly.

Subaru's are meant to be shifted @ WOT every single time!
 
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