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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This autumn, Nissan celebrates the 40th Anniversary of its Maxima flagship sedan with a milestone-marking model. The 2021 Nissan Maxima 40th Anniversary Edition joins the company's stable and builds on the Maxima Platinum grade.

The Maxima is the longest continuous running Nissan nameplate in the U.S. It made its debut on American shores in 1981 as the 1982 Datsun Maxima, replacing the Datsun 810. The original Maxima had the engine of the 240Z and a 5-speed manual transmission.

2021 Nissan Maxima 40th Anniversary Edition

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The Datsun brand's presence in North America was phased out just a few years later and for the 1985 model year, the Nissan Maxima emerged also sporting a new V6 engine and front-wheel drive. The 1988 model was the last to be offered in a wagon body style.

The third-generation Maxima was launched in 1989 with a 3.0-liter V6 that achieved 160 horsepower helping it keep up with the German cars of its time. By 1995 the model got larger and had a new engine, which resulted in a power boost.

Nissan's large car is now in its eighth generation. It debuted in 2016 sporting Nissan's fashionable V-motion grilled and a more aggressive design complete with a floating roof. The car received styling and safety updates for the 2020 model year.

A new Maxima 40th Anniversary Edition includes a unique two-tone Ruby Slate Gray Pearl exterior paint job with black roof, exclusive 19-inch gloss black aluminum-alloy wheels, black exterior finishers and trim badges, a 40th Anniversary badge, black exhaust finishers, red semi-aniline leather-appointed seating with 40th Anniversary embossing, red contrast interior stitching, Satin Dark Chrome interior faceted finishers, white speedometer and tachometer faces reminiscent of past Maxima models, and heated rear seats.

In addition to the 40th Anniversary Edition, the 2021 Maxima will be offered in SV, SR and Platinum grade levels. Every Maxima has a 3.5-liter V6 engine under the hood that is capable of achieving 300 horsepower. The engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Pricing and on-sale information will be revealed soon. The 2021 Nissan Maxima will arrive at dealership lots this autumn.

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The Genesis G90 has gotten a fresh face and interior enhancementns for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

People generally buy big, expensive luxury sedans for one of two reasons. Either they want to show everyone else how they've made it, or they want to reward themselves for how they've made it. Or, both.

Whether you're a lawyer or a doctor or a publishing magnate, plunking down the cash (or, more likely, signing a lease) for a Mercedes S-Class or BMW 7 Series shows that you are (or want to pretend like you are) at the top.

2020 Genesis G90 The Genesis G90 is a very large sedan that comfortably seats four adults.Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

But if you're more concerned about your personal comfort rather than brand cachet and what everyone else at the country club thinks — or you want everyone else at the country club to think you're clever and responsible with your money (showing off is complicated) — you have more choice. Like the 2020 Genesis G90, which is perhaps the best luxury sedan alternative to the Germans available today.

Most importantly, the G90 has presence. It's absolutely massive, with a huge grille up front with a winged Genesis badge atop the hood. I still find the badge a little lacking in panache but it works well on this car, especially at night when an illuminated version of it is beamed onto the ground by the doors.

And the G90 has luxury in spades. Every safety feature is here, including Hyundai's excellent active lane-keeping assist feature that I've praised before. It allows you to take your hands off the wheel for 10-15 seconds at a time (on well-marked roads with good visibility) and the car can maintain your place in the center of the lane and even handle corners for you.

2020 Genesis G90 Rear-seat legroom is akin to business class seating on an airplane - perhaps better.Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

There's also a particularly excellent 360-degree surround view camera so you can see everything going on around the car, which is roughly the size of a medium-size barge. Continuing the gargantuan theme, there's a 12.3-inch center-stack touch screen that is one of the best-looking I've seen on a car. And, perhaps more importantly, it's fast to respond and easy to navigate. It's basically a reskinned version of Hyundai's infotainment system, which isn't a bad thing but I might have hoped for something a little fancier.

Speaking of fancy, I have to spend a little time talking about the interior. The G90 is a flagship luxury sedan, and the inside is where those cars really shine. The 22-way power driver's seat deserves particular praise, with lovely quilted Nappa leather and a very interesting seating program.

The ergonomic seats in the Genesis are certified by the Aktion Gesunder Rücken — German for "Campaign for Healthier Backs" — an organization of back specialists and medical professionals that gives its seal of approval to back-friendly products after a rigorous evaluation. There's even a mode that will automatically adjust the driver's seat and steering wheel to the most ergonomic position for your height, weight, and inseam length. It was a modest change from my manually-adjusted position — tilted back a bit more and slightly further away than normal — but after an hour or so, I realized it actually was more comfortable, only now I wish I had this feature in every car as I can't quite replicate it exactly. Alas.

2020 Genesis G90 The seats in the most premium level of the G90 feature quilting. Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

The engine is the same 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 as the G70 sports sedan I drove a few months ago, making 365 horsepower sent through an 8-speed automatic to an all-wheel drive system. It's not a head-snapping amount of oomph, but it more than gets the job done. If you're looking to zip along even faster, there's a V8 engine option that's totally unnecessary. But then, most of this car is unnecessary.

That's what flagship luxury sedans are all about. Do you need rear seats that recline and first-class levels of footroom? Not really. What about screens on the back of the seats and three zones of climate control and a CO2 sensor that notices if the cabin doesn't have enough oxygen and will bring in more fresh air to compensate? I guess not, though that CO2 sensor thing sounds pretty cool.

2020 Gennesis G90 Seating for every passenger is abundantly comfortable. Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Your diminishing returns on an automobile purchase starts in earnest around $45,000, and by the time you get to the rarefied air of a $75,695 car like the Genesis G90, you're paying for many wildly unnecessary things. But that's the point. Even more the point, that's about $25k less than the competition in this segment and you'd never know it — more importantly, the Jones's down at the country club won't either. At least until they go to buy one.

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