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With its 2020 Outback, Subaru bets on turbo engines and big screens

But it's still the rugged tank of a wagon people have come to love.
Chris Velazco, @chrisvelazco
April 17, 2019
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Chris Velazco / Engadget

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It didn't take long after walking through the faux-wood gates Subaru erected at the New York Auto Show before I saw the 2020 Outback. I couldn't miss it. Perched atop a large outcropping of fake rock, the Outback looked somewhat regal as its headlights seemingly peered off into the distance.

Alright, fine: it looked as regal as a sporty utility wagon can, which is to say "not very." But this elaborate setup does suit the fan-favorite Outback, which returns for the 2020 model year with either a normally aspirated 2.5L boxer engine or a 2.4L turbo boxer, the standard symmetrical all-wheel drive, and some traditionally rugged looks.

Gallery: 2020 Subaru Outback | 5 Photos

The fact that people can buy an Outback with a turbo engine for the first time in years might be enough to sway some car shoppers, but that might not be the most important feature here. Subaru has confirmed that -- just like last year -- all versions of the 2020 Outback will come with the automaker's EyeSight driver assist system. That means you'll find a pair of road-facing cameras on either side of the rear view mirror, constantly monitoring the road in front of you to optimize cruise control and automatically apply the brakes when the worst nearly happens.

While it probably won't help keep you alive the EyeSight can, it is worth noting that Subaru took a surprisingly big step forward with its infotainment system this year. With its 2019 models, Outbacks had touchscreen displays that topped out at 8-inches diagonal -- functional, certainly, but nothing to really write home about.

This year, though, Subaru made an 11.6-inch vertical touch panel standard on all Outback models save for the most basic. If nothing else, fiddling with the podcasts and saved tracks on your phone via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto just got a lot easier. And since we're talking about Subaru -- a company that seems to persist because of folksy charm as much as technical ingenuity -- it's little surprise that the big screen can also run an app called Chimani that lets you read up on all 417 of the country's national parks. Granted, this app partnership isn't anything hugely new, but just tell me that isn't the most Subaru thing this touchscreen could be used for.

Catch up on all the latest news from New York Auto Show 2019 here!

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