2018 Subaru Outback is heavy on capability, light on refresh

April 12, 2017

Subaru just revealed the 2018 Subaru Outback, lightly refreshed from last year's bestseller with a new grille, new headlights, and interior amenities. And we mean lightly—if it ain't broke, you know.

The same trim levels from last year will be available this year: standard, Premium, Limited and Touring. The last two trims are available with a 6-cylinder engine, but all four come standard with a 2.5-liter inline-4 and all-wheel drive.

Inside, an updated center console is highlighted by Subaru's latest and greatest Starlink infotainment system, which is upgraded to a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen on higher trim models. A 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard (up from 6.2 inches last year) and new climate controls round out the tech you can touch. Both systems feature standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, something the outgoing Outback lacked. 

Subaru also updated the interior parts you can feel with upgraded materials in Limited and Touring trims that include a stitched dashboard, leather seating with stitched details, piano black trim and silver-colored bezels for control knobs.

MORE: Read our full review of the 2017 Subaru Outback

2018 Subaru Outback

2018 Subaru Outback

The new Outback should be a more comfortable ride thanks to softer dampers, which are new for this year. Subaru also added acoustic glass in the front windows and windshield to cut down road noise up front, thicker rear wheel aprons in back should cut down on noise in back.

Under the hood will be the same 2.5-liter flat-4 and 3.6-liter flat-6 teamed to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The horsepower ratings haven't changed this year; 175 horsepower for the flat-4, and 256 hp for the flat-6. Subaru worked on the CVT to reduce "drone" noises from the transmission, which has seven simulated "gears" for a manual mode—only to appease our psyches.

All Outbacks have a standard rearview camera and offer active safety features that should help it retain its Top Safety Pick+ rating from last year. Subaru's EyeSight system, which bundles forward-facing cameras into a windshield-mounted nerve farm, adds adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking under 30 mph, and lane departure warning. EyeSight systems are equipped with blind-spot monitors, active lane control, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beams. New for 2018 are available adaptive headlights that help steer lights around corners and rear automatic emergency braking.

Subaru hasn't yet announced pricing for the Outback, but we expect it won't stray far from the $26,520 starting price for this year's model. We'll see the Outback in the flesh next week at the New York auto show. To learn about the other vehicles appearing at the show, head to our dedicated hub.

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