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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Review: 2020 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT | Hagerty Media

Around the Kroger parking lots and state park trailheads of southeast Michigan, one of the most familiar silhouettes is that of a Subaru Outback-often covered to the door handles in chalk-colored dust or splashed with winter sludge. What do the good people of the Midwest-and the Pacific Northwest, the Southeast, and most of America-love so much about this lifted wagon?
https://www.hagerty.com/media/new-car-reviews/review-2020-subaru-outback-onyx-edition-xt/
21 REPLIES 21
Firehawk2K2544
Pit Crew

I am on my fourth Outback, (2019) Premium w 3.6.
THey were giving great deals on them.
Originally bought the 2003 (#1) because it had a 5 spd, I do miss that but since I am 70, I have to consider old age. Our two boys learned to drive a stick, good life skill....
When its time for a new car, the big question is what color Outback.
Also had a 2006 WRX in the mix, most fun per dollar.
Sadly sold the WRX to buy a Dodge Caravan when my wife got into showing dogs.
Buying a Subie is like joining a cult, and I am in, though I dont think the Onyx is for me.
Yeah, I still have the Firehawk.
Hudson
Pit Crew

OK, but holding on to my 1996 and 1997 crank window, stick shift, beautiful green Subaru Brightons!
Jost
Intermediate Driver

I like the Hagerty road test reviews, they don't seem like blanket approval of every car and edition. I agree that this Onyx edition seems to be just an extra trim and not worth it. But I bet it will sell.  My only issue with Subies' is the CVT. I am not saying this to sound like an elites or to knock the car. I am hoping that some of you that have these cars give some feed back on how you like the cvt.  Other reviews that I've read are obviously not from the enthusiast community and you folks are enthusiasts. Let us know your thoughts. Thanks

Grace
Hagerty Employee

Appreciate the feedback, Jost. Agree that it'll probably sell well, on sporty image alone. Honestly, the CVT wasn't intrusive, unless you tried to take over shifting with the paddle shifters. Then it wanted to take back control as soon as possible. I'm very curious to test the six-speed manual in the Crosstrek ...
DavGreg
Pit Crew

It is not just a trim package.
There are plenty of people who do not want a base model but want cloth seats, no sunroof and a full sized spare tire. I will not buy a car that has no spare and hate mini spares.

The CVT is not my preference but Subaru is not likely to change that as EVs will be replacing most ICE models in the next decade or so. It makes little sense to invest in the expense of developing a new transmission at this point.
cdkrek
Intermediate Driver

"The Outback nameplate initially designated the sole wagon version of the Legacy sedan." In what world? Legacy has always had a wagon version-they just stopped selling it here in 2012 because we (not me) are so wagon adverse.
Grace
Hagerty Employee

Thanks for the close read, cdkrek. Have tweaked the reference to clarify that the Outback name was first a trim level on the Legacy wagon - the only Legacy-based wagon Subaru made at the time, though now it (globally) fields two.
DavGreg
Pit Crew

It was sold as the Brighton in the US.
cdkrek
Intermediate Driver

Outback been around for 25 years, not 15.
Grace
Hagerty Employee

I'm measuring that 15 years counting from 2005, when Subaru began the Outback's SUV-ification with the lift job. 

gdwriter
Pit Crew

My wife had an '05 Outback 3.0R and still has a '12 Outback 3.6R, but we may do some cross-shopping before buying another Outback. I'm not a fan of CVTs, although my direct experience with them has been in wretched Nissan rental cars. Supposedly, Honda and Subaru do a better job with their CVTs. I do have firsthand experience with the festival of beeps and flashes from driving my mother-in-law's '19 Forester. Car and Driver has also noted Subaru's hyperactive safety nannies, and they are annoying! I have a similar set of safety features in my '18 Mazda 6, and they're not nearly as intrusive.
DavGreg
Pit Crew

The Subaru CVT is much better than the horrid setup in Nissans but will never be mistaken for the DSG in my Golf Alltrack AWD Wagon. If you could put the engine and transmission from that (US discontinued) model into an Outback or Crosstrek there would be a line wrapped around the block at Subaru dealerships.

VW really messed up with the Alltrack. It was about the size of the older Outbacks and drove really well, but only had like a 1.6" lift to the ground clearance. It also has horrible headlights and was a bit overpriced in the US. But the ride and drive was amazing. The 1.8 Turbo and the DSG transmission was close to perfect. And Subaru could learn a few lessons about steering feel from the Mk 7 VW Golf.
sclin10
Detailer

My daughter owns a 2021 Forester Sport. It's a little smaller than the Outback, but it was $10,000. less. She loves it.
tommyjohns
New Driver

I believe all Gen 3 2005-09 were available as turbos. A buddy of mine owned a manual 09. These were recognizable by the WRX looking hood scoop.
Bertone780
Intermediate Driver

Remember back in the day when Crocodile Dundee used to be the Subaru pitch man.
Firehawk2K2544
Pit Crew

I remember the commercial where the other guy points to his obviously school bus
in a previous life rig and says, " Biggest SUV on the Planet...."
AirheadBeemer
New Driver

Our 2013 Outback is our 4th new Subaru. (And possibly our last! I hope Subaru is reading this!) Like 3 of our 4 previous Sooby's this one is now over 100K miles and is my wife's delight. Not so much myself. I miss the normally aspirated boxer 6 of our last Outback Sedan. I have logged several million miles with turbo diesels but I don't want a turbo in my family car. I also miss the much quieter conventional automatic transmission of that car. Between the CVT and poor soundproofing the cabin noise level makes this car undesirable for touring. Further, the nanny idiot mentality responsible for the unlikable "safety" traits of the Onyx, have made the navigation system unusable to the point where it was a total waste of money. The idea that they refuse to consider the possibility of a passenger/ navigator using the GPS while traveling is inane. The same seat switch that harasses the passenger into using a seatbelt could trigger the GPS to allow this. So while my wife who does most of the driving I am using the Garmin GPS suffering it's annoying wires but getting where I want to go by the route I choose. So to the Subaru engineers that might happen to read this--My wife and I generally prefer to tour in my much quieter Ram with it's hemi and 8-speed. So my wife and I are looking for an SUV with a V-6 and multi-speed automatic.
brb
Advanced Driver

Subaru seems to do infotainment and automation very badly. I have a 2015 Forester Touring. Love the turbo engine and find the CVT competent. The vehicle is very comfortable on long trips, which is why I still have it. It's downfall is the Eyesight system, "premium" stereo, and navigation system. None of these work well. The backup camera with it's separate screen is an absolute joke. It is disappointing to learn that Subaru has not improved any of these features.
brb
Advanced Driver

P.S. - Excellent review of the Outback. Keep them coming.
Grace
Hagerty Employee

much appreciated!
DavGreg
Pit Crew

I am the owner of a 2021Subaru Outback XT and beg to differ on a number of points.

1- The fabric does not feel cheap and foamy and is well suited to the purpose of the Outback. And many of us HATE leather and I am of that tribe. I see leather as expensive vinyl.
2- The sizing issue with the screen and CarPlay was fixed with an OTA SW update.
3- The start/stop system is not something I like, but it can be turned off easily.
4- One of the great differences in the Onyx XT and others is a full sized spare tire (++) and no sunroof. I am not a fan of sunroofs.
5- There is a problem with the equalization of media on the sound system. CarPlay content tends to be treble-y but the Sirius XM content does not. Adjusting the EQ in the center stack does not appear to work in CarPlay sourced audio. I am investigating speaker upgrade options for my Outback.
6- The EyeSight controlled lane centering needs work. I do not know if the SW is adaptive and improves over time, but it is nothing I want to depend upon and a heavy rain renders all the EyeSight technology useless.
7- Fussing about the alarms tells me you did not read the manual- those can be easily turned off or down.

I chose the Onyx XT as it was the only way to get the turbo engine (very necessary), avoid the driver distraction system, not get a sunroof, get a full sized tire and not have to suffer with leather. I prefer cloth over any kind of leather and the fabric seems fine to me. I am not crazy about the green stitching.