Subaru Outback

The Subaru Outback can stake its claim as one of the industry’s original crossover SUVs, and it’s still thriving with good reason: It does just about everything well. More of a tall wagon than a boxy traditional SUV, the 2018 Subaru Outback is nevertheless one of the more capable models in its segment, thanks to a very generous 9 inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive.

Available with a 2.5-liter flat four or a 3.6-liter flat-six engine paired to a continuously variable transmission, the fifth-generation Outback is a pleasant daily driver with a good amount of space. Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system has made great strides, but still isn’t among our favorites, and Subaru’s well-calibrated EyeSight driver assist technologies aren’t standard on all models. Even so, the Outback is packed with intrinsic goodness, from the $25,895 base 2.5i model to the $35,395 3.6R Limited (all prices subject to taxes and destination fees).

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Editors' First Take

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Back in 1994, Subaru's engineers and product planners had the brilliant idea of taking the Legacy wagon, jacking it up on a raised suspension and calling it a crossover. Subie's hallmark Symmetrical all-wheel drive worked well with the tweaked ride height and put the so-called Subaru Outback in a sweet spot with a growing class of around 200,000 adventure-seeking buyers during its first generation. Two million units later, the Outback is Subaru's best-selling model.

The sixth-generation 2020 Subaru Outback's mission hasn't changed much, but the landscape it enters today is very different than it was 25 years ago. There's a lot more competition in the crossover space and buyers are getting a lot pickier. And so the Outback needs to evolve to keep its crown.

The new Outback is now based on Subaru's new Global Platform, just like the Forester. And as it's done with that vehicle, Subaru has largely avoided model year bloat with an overall length that is less than two inches longer than last year. The new Outback doesn't look all that different, either. The cladding has been changed, the roof rails get a redesign and the "Outback" logo has been moved from the front door to beneath the rear, but the broad strokes stick closely to the established tall-wagon formula. If you're a fan of prior Outbacks, you'll like this one, too. 

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