NEW YORK – Subaru dramatically and pseudo-seismically introduces its sixth-generation 2020 Outback at the New York International Auto show.
For the debut, the midsize CUV rises from the opening of a scaled-down faux crater in a staging area that resembles a U.S. National Park setting, including a “welcome center” canopy made from hewn logs.
“It’s a one-of-a-kind display,” says Subaru of America President Tom Doll.
Of the sixth-generation vehicle itself, he calls it, “the most adventurous, most reliable and most technologically advanced Outback ever.”
The Japanese brand introduced the CUV 25 years ago. Since then it has caught on with outdoors enthusiasts. Subaru has both promoted and plugged into that customer segment, donating $68 million over the years to the National Parks Service.
For the first time since 2009, the Outback lineup offers a turbocharged engine. Standard on XT models, the 2.4L turbocharged Boxer engine delivers 260 hp at 5,600 rpm and 277 lb.-ft. (374 Nm) of torque at 2,000 rpm.
The standard naturally aspirated 2.5-liter Boxer with direct injection (and nearly 90% of its parts new) delivers 182 hp at 5,800 rpm and 176 lb.-ft. (237 Nm) of torque at 4,400 rpm.
The vehicle comes standard with Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive as well as EyeSight Driver Assist Technology designed to combat driver distraction.
All models are paired with a Lineartronic CVT featuring an 8-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddle shifters.
The 2.4-liter turbo delivers a 3,500-lb. (1,522 kg) towing capacity, the most ever for an Outback.
Built at Subaru’s Lafayette, IN, plant on the Subaru Global Platform, the Outback will be available in Base, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT and Touring XT models.
The platform is designed to provide a car-like drive with reduced noise, vibration and harshness.
Subaru says ground clearance of 8.7 in. (221 mm) is more than many CUVs, yet at the same time maintains a low step-in height. That feature attracts many consumers to CUVs overall.
The Outback follows a Subaru-dubbed “Dynamic x Solid” philosophy and is anchored to an “Active x Tough” concept. The automaker calls it a rugged and functional design that appeals to people with active lifestyles.
The new model includes thicker profile panel surfaces, wider fenders, a hexagonal grille, front cladding and LED fog lights. Side cladding is meant to resemble a hiking boot.
Pricing will be announced closer to when dealers start selling the vehicle this fall.
Wards Intelligence data shows Subaru delivered 178,854 Outbacks last year, a 5.3% decrease from 2018.
Doll says the drop partly is due to a manufacturing build-down to make way for the new model and partly to the automaker introducing its redone Forester CUV last year.