I drove a $41,000 Subaru Outback to see if the ultimate SUV alternative is still the king of suburban wagons - here's the verdict
- I tested a $40,705 Subaru Outback Touring XT, nicely equipped and sporting a snappy 2.4-liter, turbocharged, 260-horsepower engine and a surprisingly capable continuously variable transmission.
- Subaru has been steadily perfecting its mighty wagon since the mid-1990s.
- The sixth generation is the best yet.
- I was delighted by the Outback's versatility and comfort - but also thrilled by how much fun it was to drive.
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While the Subaru Outback might seem like a default option for families who just aren't ready (or willing) to buy an SUV, the bestselling wagon in the US brings a bit more to table than it initially lets on.
For one thing, the redesigned Outback is quite fun to drive. But more on that later.
The Outback first hit the streets in the mid 1990s, and for most of its existence, has been seen as an anti-SUV, offering much of the practicality of that segment, but without the jacked-up ride height (although the Outback does ride on a slightly lifted suspension) and the negative impressions that SUVs can deliver.
With crossover SUVs gobbling up market share, the Outback's viability is downright impressive. It doesn't just exist; it's popular in a segment that isn't in America. Subaru, after all, sold more than 180,000 Outbacks in the US last year.
Effectively, the wagon market in America is a Subaru Outback market - hence the importance of getting the sixth generation of the vehicle right.
The Outback has always been one of my personal favorites, so I was delighted when Subaru flipped me the keys to a 2020 Touring XT version, which I spent a week piloting through its natural habitat: the suburbs of New Jersey.
Here's how it went: