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The 2020 Subaru Outback Onyx is a real winner

Executive Wheels: If everyone on the road drove a Subaru, the roads would be safer


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2020 SUBARU OUTBACK ONYX EDITION XT

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: If everyone on the road drove a Subaru, the roads would be safer at any time of the year, not to mention, the people driving the vehicles would feel great behind the wheel. Subarus (most of them) are just that good.

I received the 2020 Subaru Outback at the perfect time. Colorado temperatures had just dipped to 9 degrees and the snow was flying in (the perfect weather to put the vehicle to the test) and I had recently ridden in my daughter’s 2017 Outback, so it was fresh in my mind for comparison.

It’s comforting, really, that the 2020 Outback felt very much like the 2017 model – Subaru makes subtle, not wholesale changes because, why fix what isn’t broken? They have, however, made the new model slightly larger.

The extensive sticker than comes with a Subaru says that on the 2020 model the maximum cargo volume has been increased by 2.4 cubic feet, the passenger volume bumped by 1 cubic foot and the width between wheel wells increased by nearly one inch over the previous model. There’s no question that, like almost every car on the market, the Outback has gotten larger over the years, but it remains a relatively manageable larger wagon – it remains nimble and solid.  

The Outback is a highly popular vehicle, especially in Colorado because of its all-wheel drive heritage. In 2018, U.S. sales of the Outback approached 179,000 units, topping a host of recognizable SUV brands and just barely missing the Top Ten in SUV sales.

That popularity starts, of course, with Subaru having AWD on every model in its lineup except for the BRZ, which is a sports car co-made with Toyota. Its popularity continues with a deserved reputation for durability and longevity, and it helps that you can get an Outback for a base price of $26,645. There are five Outback models, four of which – the Basic, Premium, Limited and Touring – come equipped with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine putting out some 182 horsepower that is powerful enough for everything Colorado can throw at you. These four are priced up to $37,345 on base price, with most of the differences coming in the options-as-standards and luxury amenities.

The people in charge of the press pool who brought me this test-drive model made a big deal about this one being the “Onyx” edition, and I figured it would just be a more-fancy iteration of the lineup with special badging. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The Onyx Edition of the Outback is different.

The difference begins with the engine. On this Onyx edition, the engine is boosted to a turbo-charged 2.4 liters with a whopping 260 hp – and take it from me, this engine is powerful yet smooth, quick without jerking and fast without any turbo lag.

Then to round out the Onyx differences: It includes a Subaru Starlink 11.6-inch multimedia plus high-res touchscreen with controls for audio, HVAC, X-mode driving (switchable driving modes; mud, dirt, snow), all of the apps, Bluetooth and SmartDevice Link, which allows you to control things like doors locks and remote starting from your smart phone. You can also check vehicle settings on the phone, too. Onyx also has a high-torque Lineartronic Continuously Variable automatic transmission (very smooth), 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels in black finish, Onyx badging, water-repellant upholstery, a hands-free power liftgate, power outlets and a few more things.

The bottom line is that the Onyx edition of the Outback is a special vehicle – and priced amazingly well vis-à-vis the other trims available. In other words, you get the specials in an Onyx base price of $34,895. On the test-drive vehicle, the company added $1,845 for a package including a standard moonroof, navigation and reverse automatic braking. Then there’s $1,010 for destination charges, for a bottom-line cost of $37,750. For all that’s here that is a great price for this great car.

Of course, this Outback has all the technology people demand these days. This includes safety features – blind spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alerts, etc., etc. – and all the hookups. The car has a wonderful (and quick) heater and everything operates so intuitively that anyone can operate all the systems after fiddling with it for a very short time. That, in and of itself, is an innovation these days.

I really enjoyed driving this car as it is fast and responsive, with excellent handling to top it off. Plus, operating all the systems is so easy that even that large screen is less distracting than it would be in other vehicles. It is also comfortable and spaciously roomy, even in the back seat. This is a very well-thought-out vehicle.

As I said in the beginning, if everyone drove a Subaru Outback – or any Subaru except the BRZ – the roads would be a safer place – and everyone would feel safe and secure and warm and fussy about the vehicle they were driving.  I can’t recommend this car highly enough.

RATING: 4 WHEELS PLUS THE SPARE (OUT OF FOUR).       

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Jeff Rundles

Jeff Rundles is a former editor of ColoradoBiz and a regular columnist. Email him at jrundles@cobizmag.com.

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