Few products are more closely associated with a brand than the Subaru Outback. It arguably could be claimed that original model, launched in 1994, helped save what was then a deeply troubled brand.
So, there’s good reason to pay attention whenever a new or significantly updated version of the Outback comes rolling out, even as Subaru continues to expand its line-up of crossover models.
The automaker isn’t sharing much about the new Outback, beyond the teaser image shown here. But, considering Subaru just remade the Legacy sedan, which shares much of the same underpinnings as the Outback, we’re expecting some big news when the crossover rolls out at the New York International Auto Show next week.
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In its original incarnation, the Outback was little more than a tall version of the Legacy wagon. In recent years, however, it has carved out a more unique identity, and from what we can see here, Subaru wants to put even more room between the two nameplates.
There’s a vertical array of LED lamps along the Outback’s lower fascia, according to the teaser image, a different layout that on the new Legacy. And there’s plenty of black cladding on bumpers, fenders and sills that you don’t see on the sedan.
There’s also a bit more chrome-covered bling, a revised mirror design, and new headlights that don’t stretch as deeply into the fenders as the outgoing Outback.
We’ll have to wait to see if a couple other features shown here are standard fare or options, both the black wheels and the roof rack.
Like the new Legacy, meanwhile, the 2020 Subaru Outback will ride on the brand’s new global architecture that will underpin the majority of future models. The platform is said to be stiffer, offering better ride dynamics, and it is expected to have a better layout for future moves into electrification.
We’d be surprised if Subaru doesn’t come up with some form of battery drive over the life of the new Outback, even if just in “mild” hybrid form, but, for now, it is widely expected to mirror the drivetrain strategy of the Legacy since the two models have traditionally shared engines.
In that case, the 2020 Subaru Outback would feature a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder boxer engine making 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. The performance upgrade would be a 2.4-liter boxer four making 260 hp and 277 lb-ft. A CVT will be paired to both engines and, as is the case on every model but the BRZ, all-wheel-drive will be standard.
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The Outback is expected to share much the same interior as the Legacy, with a large, 11.6-inch, portrait-oriented touchscreen controlling its infotainment system and topping the center stack. The latest Legacy continued Subaru’s trend of improving overall material choices and adding more soft-touchpoints.
Also on tap will be the latest version of the Subaru EyeSight Driver Assist package which now features lane centering, as well as advanced driver assistance systems like forward collision with automatic emergency braking, driver distraction mitigation, blind spot detection and more.
Look for the 2020 Subaru Legacy Outback to reach U.S. showrooms late this year.
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