One-Day Drive

First Drive Review: 2020 Subaru Outback checks all the boxes it needs to

Subaru has completely redesigned the Outback for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Subaru

Subaru owners love their vehicle nearly as much as they love the pets they take in them. That's part of the reason Subaru didn't stay too far from the design path with the next-gen Outback. For the company, this new model is an evolution of the vehicle that simply packs more of what its customers are looking for into a great package.

The Outback is a wagon that is bigger than the Subaru Crosstrek but differently proportioned and stanced than the Subaru Forester and Ascent. The Outback is for nearly every buying demographic but does especially well among well-educated crowds who can afford to spend more for a different vehicle but choose not to.

2020 Subaru Outback Front Off-Roading Off Road Grille Lights The Outback has been completely redesigned for the 2020 model year, complete with additional lower body cladding inspired by hiking boots.Photo courtesy of Subaru

The redesign of the Outback was inspired by a hiking boot. You'll see the parallels if you look at the plastic cladding on the lower third of the vehicle and the painted, more stylish top parts. Its front is a bit beefier in this generation and the Outback looks more capable on the road. Underpinning the sixth-generation Outback, which took five years to develop, is the Subaru Global Platform, which delivers a smoother and quieter ride as well as added strength and capability.

Buyers have two engines to choose from. The base engine (in Premium, Limited, Touring models) is a capable but uninspiring 2.5-liter four-cylinder BOXER engine that generates 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. Limited and Touring models are also able to be equipped with the turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that gets 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. It is by far the zippiest power plant and makes the Outback easily able to conquer steep climbs and get off the line quickly. Both engines are paired with a continuously variable transmission and the Outback can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

2020 Subaru Outback Engine The new Outback comes with two engine options, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder or a turbo 2.4-liter four-cylinder.Photo courtesy of Subaru

The in-cabin experience has gotten a big upgrade in the new Outback. Its materials and design are worlds better than the previous generation's, including the buttery soft Nappa leather in high trim levels.

Front and center is the car's infotainment system, which in the base model is a set of two 7-inch touch screens, one to display audio controls and one for climate controls. The setup isn't the most attractive but still includes standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a rearview camera. In Premium and above grades, there's an 11.6-inch head unit, which houses radio, climate, X-Mode (off-roading, torque vectoring) technology, and additional controls. The larger screen is very responsive and easy to navigate.

2020 Subaru Outback Interior Screen Shifter Wheel Most Outback trim levels come with a new 11.6-inch infotainment touch screen that is easy to navigate and quick to respond.Photo courtesy of Subaru

Every Outback comes standard with EyeSight, Subaru's suite of safety technology that includes the new Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering, a technology that modifies a vehicle's set cruise control speed to the same as the vehicle in front of them to help create proper distance between the vehicles and works to keep the Outback in its lane. The technology works best on straight roads and, because it's driver assistive, still requires a driver's hands on the wheel at all times.

Subaru has repositioned the seatbelt latch point in the Outback to reduce pressure on the hips and chest in the event of a collision. There are bigger, faster deploying airbags. Subaru has taken the extra step to crash test the vehicle's performance in the oblique overlap test, something the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration won't require until 2023.

The 2020 Subaru Outback is on sale now. It will starts at $26,645 and top out at $39,645.

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Buying guide

How to buy a modified car: Three tips

This is a clean modified truck, but they don't all end up this way.

Bring a Trailer

Modified cars are a mixed bag. Sometimes, they're incredibly well built and better than the original, but too many times they're only partially finished or end up being rushed as their owners get late-project anxiety. Whatever the case, buying a modified car can be a stressful process if you haven't done your homework ahead of time. The good news is that you can get a good deal on a reasonably well sorted project or modified car, but you'll need to be careful. Looking at used Lexus LXs earlier today, it became clear that there are as many modified vehicles for sale as there are clean examples.

This LX got me thinking about the breakdown between buying a rig and building one. The modifications made by this Lexus' seller are almost exactly what I would do if I were building a light overlanding rig. What could go wrong? I'm still on the fence about the Lexus, but the three topics below will help you make the right decision on buying a modified car.

2004 Lexus LX 470 Even if the mods are well done, you'll want to have the vehicle inspected before you buy.Bring a Trailer

Understand your personal taste

I mentioned the LX470 and how the owner's updates were pretty close to what I'd do with the truck. That's an exception to the rule, because 90 percent of the time I walking away from a sales listing because of modifications, rather than the other way around. If you're hoping to find a tastefully modified car that matches your exact tastes, you could be waiting a while. If you're hoping to sell a modified car, the same is true in reverse. Finding a buyer for your extremely personalized project car may not be the easiest thing you've ever done.

2004 Lexus LX 470 It's a good idea to seek out vehicles in solid shape, regardless of mods.Bring a Trailer

Be aware of condition and quality

This Lexus looks to be well maintained and in good shape. It also doesn't hurt that the LX is one of the most reliable vehicles built by one of the world's most quality-conscious automakers. Even so, it's hard to know what you're getting with this, or any other, modified vehicle. There's a little rust in this image, but the lift kit, wheels, and bumper mods all look good. However, even if the truck looked brand-new, you'd want to get a pre-purchase inspection. An independent mechanic can tell you if there are potential issues that are unrelated to mods, and you'll want to be sure that any modifications are installed properly.

2004 Lexus LX 470 Some mods are more useful than others.Bring a Trailer

Keep an eye on the price

Most people are reasonable when it comes to selling their modified cars, but there are hundreds of "I know what I got" memes on the internet for a reason. Some sellers want to recover every penny of the money they spent customizing their cars. They're convinced that the mods drastically increased the car's value and can't understand why the customized car isn't as attractive to you as it is to them. Tread lightly and be careful not to insult the owner, but it's your job to work toward a reasonable, fair price.

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New AWD performance car

The Subaru WRX is all-new for 2022

The new WRX's body cladding is already stirring up controversy.

Subaru

The Subaru WRX is a rally-bred performance car that offers a unique mix of rowdy all-wheel drive fun, a value price, and youthful styling. The car is long overdue for an update, though, and Subaru is doing just that for the 2022 model year. The fifth-generation WRX is all-new, and features a more powerful engine, along with several go-fast upgrades.

2022 Subaru WRX Both a manual and an automatic transmission will be offered.Subaru

A new GT trim joins the WRX lineup for 2022. It features a new automatic transmission, adaptive dampers, and drive mode selections. With various customization options available to the driver, the system offers up to 430 different settings combinations. The GT's interior adds Recaro seats wrapped in Ultrasuede with red stitching. The GT also gets exclusive 18-inch wheels.

Though still a Boxer engine, the 2022 WRX's powerplant is new and more powerful than before. It delivers 271 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, as well as a broader torque curve. Subaru says that the larger engine plus an electronically controlled turbo wastegate and air bypass valves improve responsiveness and acceleration.

2022 Subaru WRX A larger 11.6-inch infotainment screen is on board. Subaru

All WRX models come with Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel drive system and active torque vectoring, which can shift power to individual wheels that need the most traction. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but a new Subaru Performance Transmission is available, which features faster shifts and other features to improve performance.

The 2022 WRX also gets a tech upgrade that brings a large 11.6-inch tablet-style touchscreen. It runs Subaru Starlink infotainment, handles HVAC and vehicle controls, and offers split-screen functionality for two apps to run simultaneously. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is Bluetooth, SiriusXM radio, and HD radio. An upgraded version of the system also offers navigation with three years of free map updates.

2022 Subaru WRX Subaru will offer a new GT trim with upgraded suspension and finishes.Subaru

As it has done with many of its other vehicles, Subaru is equipping every WRX with its EyeSight suite of advanced driver aids. The packge includes lane departure prevention, adaptive cruise control with lane centering, and more. A new available automatic emergency steering system works with the car's pre-collision braking feature to help avoid collisions at speeds under 50 mph.

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