New platform, updated engines, same great lifted wagon taste
The Subaru Outback is an enigma. Essentially a wagon variant of the Legacy sedan with the stance and off-road capability of a crossover, the Outback is a vehicle for people who don’t necessarily like crossovers. Despite its unusual position in the market, it’s Subaru’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S., and for good reason. We continue to praise the current model for its high-quality interior, comfortable ride, and communicative steering even as it enters old age. Fortunately, Subaru will soon introduce a next-generation Outback to keep it competitive with its rivals. Read below to learn more on what’s in store for the new Subaru Outback.
Every new model is destined to sit on the Subaru Global Platform, and the Outback and its Legacy stablemate are no exceptions. The new platform promises increased rigidity in the body and chassis as well as stronger joints between parts. These changes should translate to improvements in ride quality and handling, in addition to less noise and vibration in the cabin. This is exactly what we’ve been seeing in the new Impreza and Forester that recently moved to the new platform. So in short, the new Outback should drive and ride better than its predecessor.
If you’re looking for something a little more avant-garde than the current model, don’t hold your breath. The next Outback probably won’t be much bolder looking than the vehicle it replaces. Subaru is known for making minor design changes on its models from year to year, and that’s what we expect for the new Outback. That said, the crossover should receive some updates, including a slightly redesigned front end resembling other new Subarus like the Forester and Ascent. It’s also likely to grow bigger, allowing for more space inside the cabin.
Right now, Outback buyers can choose between two engines: a 2.5-liter boxer-four making 175 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque and a 3.6-liter boxer-six with 256 hp and 247 lb-ft. For the new generation, expect Subaru to get rid of the six-cylinder option in the name of fuel efficiency.
The Outback may continue to use the 2.5-liter engine, although it would produce more power than the current version. It would also come with direct injection, since Subaru aims to upgrade all its models with this technology. Consider the 2019 Forester, which received an updated 2.5-liter flat-four with direct injection, making 12 more hp and 2 more lb-ft of torque than its predecessor.
Subaru could replace the optional flat-six with the 2.4-liter turbocharged boxer-four from the new Ascent. That engine delivers 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque in the three-row crossover, or 4 hp and 30 lb-ft more than the Outback’s current naturally aspirated six. If the next Outback does adopt a turbo engine, fuel economy should improve slightly.
All-wheel drive will remain standard on the Outback. Also expect the model to come exclusively with a CVT.
How much, and when?
To give you a brief time line of recent Outbacks, we saw new generations debut for 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015. That means we should expect the next Outback to arrive for the 2020 model year. Subaru began selling 2019 models this summer, so the new generation should surface sometime next year.
Currently, the Outback starts at $27,320 USD, but prices will likely increase for the new generation. Take the 2019 Forester as a guide: The new base model starts at $25,270 USD, compared to $24,710 USD for the previous version equipped with a CVT.
Pictured is the current-generation Subaru Outback.