An updated 2018 Subaru Outback arrives soon, and while it’s not dramatically different, it is expected to be an improvement over the 2017 model.
When the new Outback goes on sale it will continue in 2.5i and 3.6R model series. The Outback 2.5i is offered in standard, Premium, Limited, and Touring trim, while the 3.6R model comes only in Limited and Touring specification.
Minor styling updates are most evident up front. The 2018 Outback has new headlights with C-shaped LED running lights, redesigned grille and bumper, and revised front cladding for improved paint protection.
Base and Premium trim levels have standard 17-in. aluminum wheels, while the Limited and Touring are equipped with 18-in. aluminum wheels. The wheel design for the Limited is new for 2018.
Steps have been taken to quiet the 2018 Outback’s interior, from installing reshaped exterior mirrors to adding new sound-insulated front window glass. Subaru has also made revisions to the 2.5i model’s transmission in order to quell racket and has installed thicker rear wheel-well trim to suppress ambient noise.
Additionally, Subaru says it has improved the Outback’s interior materials. All but the base model have a stitched dashboard, while Limited and Touring versions add stitching to the seats and door panels. The latter version also gains silver and high-gloss black interior trim. The center console is redesigned, and a new steering wheel is installed.
Subaru says the air conditioning system cools the cabin faster than before, and the climate controls are revised for easier use and reference. A redesigned clock is new, along with automatic locking doors and interior power that remains on for a short time after the driver turns the engine off.
Finally, for 2018, Titanium Gray is a new interior color, joining Warm Ivory and Slate Black.
Under the Hood
For 2018, the Outback’s engines carry over. That means the Outback 2.5i has a 175-horsepower, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine while the Outback 3.6R has a 256-horsepower, 3.6-liter 6-cylinder engine. Notably, the 3.6R’s engine makes 90% of its 247 lb.-ft. of torque continuously between 2,000 rpm and 6,000 rpm.
Both engines are paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which gains a 7-speed manual shift mode this year as well as paddle shifters. The CVT is also designed to provide smoother response for 2018, according to Subaru.
All-wheel drive is standard for every 2018 Outback and features both active torque vectoring and an X-Mode driving mode. Push the X-Mode button and it calibrates the engine and transmission for more rugged adventuring, revises the way the traction and stability control systems work, and activates hill-descent control. The Outback supplies 8.7 ins. of ground clearance, besting nearly all crossovers and coming close to matching the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s minimum clearance.
For 2018, Subaru re-tuned the Outback’s suspension for a smoother ride. The automaker also revised the braking system for enhanced feel, and the steering is claimed to deliver smoother and more linear response to driver inputs.
For 2018, the Outback’s standard reversing camera includes guidelines that curve with the car’s steering, the car’s tire-pressure monitoring system is improved to show individual tire pressures, and the child safety seat LATCH anchors are revised for easier use.
New steering-responsive LED headlights are also available in the new Outback, and the EyeSight package of driver-assistance and collision-avoidance technologies now includes high-beam assist technology. EyeSight continues to offer adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist systems.
For the Outback 2.5i Premium, the optional EyeSight upgrade also adds a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change assist. The blind-spot warning system is standard for Limited and Touring versions, and for 2018 the warning light is larger and moved to a more visible location.
Starlink subscription services returns for 2018, offering automatic collision notification, SOS emergency assistance, remote vehicle locator, and more.
The debut of the new 2018 Outback means the vehicle is equipped with the latest version of Subaru’s Starlink infotainment systems, which the company says will supply quicker performance than before.
The standard version of Starlink has a larger 6.5-in. display, up from 6.2 ins. It provides a USB port, Bluetooth audio streaming, and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone-projection systems.
The upgrade version of Starlink has a new 8-in. display that works like a smartphone. A new Nuance voice-recognition system with two microphones debuts, making it easier to use Siri or OK Google, and it works in multiple languages. This version also adds an additional USB port as well as access to Aha and Pandora.
Subaru’s menu of Starlink apps expands for 2018. New apps include Magellan Navi, Best Parking, Yelp, Glympse, and more. Additional highlights include eBird, which advises about local bird sightings and locations, and RightTrack driver-monitoring technology.