Around The Bay Art Weekend Wheels

Weekend Wheels: There’s a lot to love with Subaru’s new Outback

Luxury Living Tampa Bay

To a multitude of loved-up, I-Heart, It’s Amore car buyers, love is, and always will be, a Subaru.

That ground-breaking “Love. It’s What Makes a Subaru A Subaru” ad campaign that kicked off in 2008 was a game-changer for the quirky brand. 

Those eight little words helped jump-start a 13-year run of consecutive, month-on-month sales increases that’s still going strong today.

The model that continues to get massive outpourings of love and affection is that mighty wagon-on-stilts, the Outback.

For 2020 it’s just had a full-body makeover that’s guaranteed to have existing Outback owners coming back for more.  

I know, I know, it looks pretty much the same as the last one. 

Seems that when Subaru researchers asked Outback owners what they’d like to see changed, they said as much as you want — but don’t change the shape. 

So while this new-for-2020, sixth-generation Outback may look the same, the big news is that underneath it comes with a stiffer, beefier platform that can absorb 40 per cent more energy in crashes than before.

That stiffer platform with its greater use of high-strength steel is also said to increase rigidity by 70 per cent. That’s huge. It makes for sharper handling and a smoother, quieter ride. Subaru claims that this is the quietest Outback ever.

It also stretches the Outback by 1.4 inches — doesn’t sound a lot, I know — but it goes into rear seat legroom, making the back feel more spacious.

Of course, Subaru is smart enough to know that some buyers might just prefer their new Outback to look a little different so the neighbors know you have a new ride in the driveway. 

Hence the fancy new Outback Onyx Edition XT model I’ve been driving this week. 

As the Onyx name suggests, it features a lot of black. Gloss black for the 28-inch alloys at each corner, black for the door mirrors, and black for the badging and grille. 

It all looks pretty cool, especially if you opt for black body paint, rather than the muddy-green of our tester [Editor’s Note: I kinda like the green.]

The Onyx spec also includes a new faux-leather upholstery that Subaru calls StarTex. With its contrast stitching and lovely texture, to me it looks more like leather than some leathers. But it’s water-repellent and wipes clean with a damp cloth. 

Perhaps what I like most about this new Onyx Edition XT — base price $36,005, or $37,750 loaded to the roof rack — is that it comes standard with Subaru’s hard-working 260-hp 2.4-liter turbo-four. 

That, and the fact that it’s now mated to an updated CVT continuously variable transmission that mimics an eight-speed gearbox rather than a six-speed before. 

Now when you stomp on the gas, the Outback lunges off the line, hits 60mph in 6.3 seconds, and has plenty of muscle for safe, zippy passing and relaxed cruising.

Fuel economy is still nothing to write home about. A 23-city and 30mpg highway average is average at best. But with gas prices plunging to the level of Perrier fizzy water, no one’s complaining too much.

But where the Outback still excels is in its Swiss Army knife practicality and versatility. 

Flip forward the split rear seat and you get up to 75.7 cubic feet of space for gear. Even with the back seat in place, there’s an ample 32.5 cubic feet. Loading stuff on the roof? The sky’s literally the limit.

Tech lovers will also love the Outback’s new Starlink multimedia  set-up, with its tablet-like 11.6-inch touchscreen that comes  standard with the Onyx Edition.

I found it surprisingly easy to navigate and pretty intuitive, though the controls for temperature and fan speed are way too small.

Pricewise, you can get into a new Outback for well under $30,000; even the top-of-the-line Touring XT stickers for less than $40,000. Lots a lot of adventure vehicle for the money.

Just one of the multitude of reasons to love a Subaru. 

Share the love and test drive a new 2020 Outback at Bert Smith Subaru in St. Pete, Reeves Subaru and Mastro Subaru in Tampa, and Lokey Subaru in Port Richey.

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