The 2020 Outback Onyx Edition XT has plenty of power and capability, but are the pros enough to outweigh the cons?
Check out Mirinda Osmer’s video review of the Outback Onyx on our YouTube Channel.
You’ve seen Subaru Outbacks before. They’ve been around since 1994. Our 2020 Onyx Edition XT represents the sixth generation and was assembled in Lafayette, Indiana. We accepted ours with great anticipation.
The all-new Outback Onyx Edition XT is powered by a turbocharged 2.4-liter SUBARU BOXER® engine producing 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. Our test vehicle responded promptly when asked. Estimated EPA mileage comes in at 30 MPG on the highway. Coupled to an 18.5 gallon fuel tank and Lineartronic® CVT transmission, it would be an interesting experiment to see how close one could get to the math-induced 555 mile range.
Outback’s are best suited for locales with soft terrain, rough roads or seasonally icy conditions. The onboard dual functioning X-Mode optimizes the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system to grab the ground in all conditions. Thus Outbacks are very popular in Big Bear, Lake Tahoe, and Seattle for obvious reasons. All interior accoutrements are practical, well placed, and readily accessed. Plus you never knew how handy a front-view camera can be until you experience one.
Which brings us to the Subaru cult following. If you drive a Jeep, you are well aware of the comradery associated with the crowd. You are casually expected to grant a friendly wave to other Jeep drivers. Subaru has a quieter, though just as enthusiastic group of owners. Owning and driving a well-worn Outback indicates that you have an active, outdoorsy lifestyle that is experienced as opposed to simply read about. You’re more likely to spot them at Whole Foods than 7-11, if you catch my drift.
Which brings the next point. I found driving the Outback akin to having a backseat driver. Multiple corrective driving systems and physical/audible warnings are designed for safety yet were more intrusive and annoying than helpful. The engine start/start system is abrupt and while it can be selected OFF, it defaults to ON with every turn of the key (or push of the START button, if you will). The large 11.6-inch Multimedia Plus touchscreen system looks promising but provides a lot of glare and bothersome operational logic. For instance, it takes several button presses to activate seat heaters. Outback’s slightly high center of gravity gives a disconcerting feel when spiritedly cornering on dry roads — which most of Los Angeles is — though you can adjust your driving style to accommodate.
Our test vehicle is an attractive, sturdy machine that suits many people’s tastes at a reasonable price. It should also provide many years of reliable service and get you securely through most hazardous driving conditions without complaint. Subaru claims that 98% of Outback vehicles sold in the last 10 years are still on the road today and no one is poised to argue.
Base Outback Onyx Edition XT): $34,895
As tested: $37,750
Moonroof + NAV + Reverse Automatic Braking
Turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder DOHC
260hp @ 5,600 rpm
277 lb.-ft @ 2,000 – 4,800 rpm
All Wheel Drive
High-torque Lineartronic® CVT
4-wheel Independent raised suspension
Electric Power Assisted Steering
Wheels and Tires:
18″ Alloy Wheels; 225/60 R18 100H All-season
4-wheel ventilated disk
Brake Assist; Brake Override System; Auto Vehicle Hold
191.3 inches/108.1 inches
66.1 inches w/roof rails
EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway:
5 Year/60,000 miles Powertrain
3 Year/36,000 miles Limited Basic Warranty
5 Year/unlimited miles Rust Perforation