Can Subaru Make the Outback Cool Again?

Illustration for article titled Can Subaru Make the Outback Cool Again?
Photo: Subaru

The Subaru Outback, Subaru’s biggest wagon and the default car for coastal elites who think of themselves as athletic, will be getting an update this year, probably at the New York Auto Show, though maybe at the Los Angeles Auto Show, who knows. But it’s definitely coming this year, according to Car and Driver. Maybe it’ll be, uh, cool?


Maybe! Maybe. Car and Driver speculated on what it might have.

The biggest change for the new Outback, then, will be its new underpinnings. It will shift to the same new global platform as the Legacy, which promises increased rigidity, sharper handling, and improved refinement. A turbocharged Outback also seems a sure bet to return to the lineup, replacing the old six-cylinder Legacy 3.6R; similar to the Legacy, it’s likely be called the Outback XT and use the same turbocharged 260-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine first introduced in the Ascent three-row SUV. A mostly carryover 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 182 horsepower will remain the base engine, and all-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) will be standard on all models.

So it’s basically the same specs, different platform, probably some updated styling. I regret to report that the 2020 Subaru Outback will probably not be cool. It’s a great car, and Subaru will continue to be at the top of my list of cars I recommend to 30-something friends who are (possibly) starting a family soon, but this thing will continue to be no Outback Sport. I’m guessing they’ll keep the hilariously unnecessary 6-gear manual mode on the CVT, though, if you want to try and relive the old days.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.



It’s not supposed to be cool. Cool things are either impractical or gimmicky based on current trends.

It’s formidable in all weather, has the space of the next size tier (Pilot/CX9/etc), the base engine is neither gutless nor overly thirsty (and it has a HUGE tank), it has responsive steering and handling. If you want to be cool, get a car with half the space at the same price like a CX-5 or spend twice as much on a Volvo or Audi /shrug. I’ll stick with a perfect car for most people’s needs.