2020 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT Review – Best Outback Yet is a Turbocharged Delight

By Steve & Tamami Laser

We just wrapped up a week behind the wheel of the all-new, sixth-generation 2020 Subaru Outback. So what did we think? Well, we liked it so much, that we’ve put it at the top of our list when it comes time to go new-car shopping next year.

We’ve had the good fortune to test-drive every generation of the Outback since its debut in the 1990s. We recently concluded a three-year lease of a 2016 Outback Limited. After that, we leased another Subaru, a 2019 Forester Touring that we still have in our garage.

This test-drive video from our CarNichiWa.com YouTube channel (above) highlights our seven-day adventure in the new 2020 Outback Onyx Edition XT and also takes a look at some of its key features.

While we pay for the cars that we lease out of our own pockets, the 2020 Outback featured in this review belongs to Subaru. It’s an early production press fleet vehicle that the automaker loans to journalists.

The 2020 Outback rides on the Subaru Global Platform that provides a stiffer structure. Our test car was the Onyx Edition XT, a new trim level, that features a number of exclusive elements, including a black grille, headlight bezels, and black silica finish mirrors. We really like the styling and design of the new Outback.

The Onyx Edition receives unique 18-inch black-finish alloy wheels that give it a sporty look. They’re wrapped with 225/60R18 Yokohama Avid GT tires. A full-size spare wheel and tire is also included. The tires have fairly tall sidewalls, keeping in mind that the Outback is designed for light-duty off-roading.

Under the hood, the new 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine makes the Outback a joy to drive. With 260 horsepower and a stout 277 lb.-ft. of torque on tap, it delivers excellent performance on hills, when merging onto freeways, and when passing slower moving traffic. The turbo engine is standard on the Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT.

A 2.5-liter naturally aspirated (non-turbo) engine with 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. is standard on the base, Premium, Limited, and Touring models. While we didn’t have a chance to drive a 2020 Outback equipped with this powerplant, Subaru says it’s been re-engineered with nearly 90 percent new parts.

All Outbacks are fitted with a Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with an “8-speed” manual shift mode and steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The CVT feels smooth and responsive and teams well with the turbo engine. We really like the added convenience of paddle shifters, especially when going up or down hills.

Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is a sophisticated standard traction-enhancing system with Active Torque Vectoring. In addition to providing an added sense of security on wet roads, it also delivers benefits on completely dry roads. X-Mode activation has been moved to the center touchscreen for convenience. The Onyx Edition is the only Outback at the moment with two modes: Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud.

This Walkaround video of the 2020 Outback Onyx Edition XT (above) goes into greater detail of our test car’s exterior, interior, cargo compartment, and engine room.

The Outback gains a new suspension that gives it an even smoother, sporty ride. Up front are MacPherson struts with a new internal rebound spring, aluminum lower L-arms, plus a new hollow stabilizer bar. The rear suspension features a double-wishbone design with subframe, coil springs and a hollow stabilizer bar.

We really liked the Outback’s completely redesigned interior with its futuristic, clutter-free appearance. Touch controls for features like the dual-zone climate control, X-Mode and vehicle settings are neatly integrated within the center display screen.

The Onyx Edition features very comfortable front seats wrapped with two-tone StarTex™ water-repellant upholstery. The steering wheel and shift knob are leather-wrapped, while the seats and outside mirrors are heated, plus there’s a de-icer system for the windshield wipers.

The rear seat area featured creature comforts including 60/40-split rear seats, outboard heated seats, handles in the cargo compartment that remotely fold down the seatbacks, and HVAC outlets and dual USB ports on the center rear floor console.

The Onyx Edition has a power tailgate with a new hands-free feature. With the rear seats up, there’s ample space for luggage or groceries. Fold the seat down and the Outback can carry a surfboard, plus three passengers and their gear.

The instrument cluster features an easy to read speedometer and tachometer. The multi-information display, controlled by buttons on the steering wheel, includes outside temperature, average MPG and miles to empty, a digital speedometer, tire pressure monitoring system, compass, audio station selection, navigation info, and more.

Our test car was fitted with the all-new Subaru Starlink multimedia system with tablet-style 11.6-inch touchscreen. As we demonstrated in our video, it features a wealth of easy to access information from the homescreen including radio, media, general settings, phone, car info, and apps.

Also included, as part of an option package, is navigation, SiriusXM® Traffic, and Travel Link®. We could get directions by pressing the voice control button on the steering wheel via the navigation system. Our tester was also equipped with Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™, HD Radio™ and Bluetooth®.

And, of course, the Outback was loaded with safety features. The list includes Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology with Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Centering, DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System, Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Reverse Automatic Braking, and Front View Monitor.

Our Outback Onyx Edition XT tester had a base MSRP of $34,895. Adding an option package that included a moonroof, navigation, and Rear Auto Braking, plus destination, brought the bottom line to $37,750. Outback MSRPs start at $26,645 for the base model with its 2.5-liter normally aspirated (non-turbo) engine.

So after driving the Outback Onyx Edition XT for a week, what did we think? We loved it! As we said at the top of this review, we’re considering buying or leasing an Outback when we go new-car shopping next year. And for now, the Onyx Edition XT is at the top of our list.

Outback press fleet vehicle reviewed in this story provided by Subaru of America, Inc. Prices and vehicle information applies to U.S. market models at the time of publication. All product information, including prices, features and specifications, is subject to change without notice.

Story, photos and videos © 2020 CarNichiWa.com