My 2007 Subaru Outback is in the shop for service and I was lucky enough to be sent home with a loaner car, the 2020 Subaru Outback, for a couple days. I was excited to try out the car until I started the engine.
Before I rag on Subaru, I will say that they know how to physically put together a car extremely well. This 2020 Outback has a good looking interior which is assembled with skill. Nothing gives off that cheap/plastic-y look or feeling. There are no panel gaps or other signs of shortcuts during assembly. The door closing sound is one of the best I’ve ever heard. When driving down the road, I notice a significant improvement in sound isolation compared to my 2007 Outback. At speeds 25 mph and under, the sound of the car on the road is almost inaudible. In summary, Subaru knows a lot about assembling a car well. However, that’s the only good quality of the 2020 Outback.
When I started the car’s engine, the first thing I noticed was the horrible infotainment screen. It looks like it was designed 10 years ago. The physical screen looks bad, the UI on the screen looks bad, and interacting with the UI is even worse. Most of the time the screen does not register my finger presses. When it does, the screen reacts with the slowness of a hungover DMV worker. It is absolutely frustrating. I won’t go into the Maps feature on this screen, but you can trust me when I say that it could not be much worse.
While driving, every input feels like it’s on a poorly designed drive-by-wire system. The brake and gas pedals are extremely soft and do not feel like they are directly connected to the brakes or engine. The steering wheel does not feel like it is connected to the wheels either. Driving the car provides a ghostly, electrical feel instead of a connected, mechanical feel.
Once I got home, opened the trunk just to have a peek around and found that the tailgate is motorized. This kind of thing just kills me. It’s completely and wholly unnecessary. Having this feature on your car means that you waste gas lugging around 20-40 lbs of motors, metal, and hydraulics every where you go simply so that you won’t need to use the fraction of a percent of a Calorie opening the trunk with your own muscles. What a fucking waste of resources. Opening the trunk by myself is not a problem. Motorized trunks are the worst.
While my 2007 Subaru Outback is starting to show its age, I have zero interest whatsoever in purchasing a new car. Subaru has ruined the Outback, partially through bad design and partially through absurd government mandates such as the requirement for all vehicles to have an infotainment system in order to display the image from a reverse camera. I sure hope I do not need to purchase a new car for at least another 10 years. If I do, I can tell you right now that it sure as hell will not be a Subaru Outback.