The 2018 Subaru Outback comes in six different configurations, 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 3.6R Limited and 3.6R Touring. The 2.5i models are powered by a 4-cylinder "boxer" engine that makes 175 horsepower, while the 3.6R Limited is powered by a 6-cylinder boxer making 256 horsepower, providing plenty of extra power for those who need it. Across the entire range, power is sent to all four wheels via an ultra-efficient continuously variable transmission. Rather than having set gears like a traditional manual or automatic, a continuously variable transmissions (CVT) is able to infinitely vary the gear ratio, leaving the Outback in a perfect position for maximizing power and efficiency. With the 2.5i, owners can expect to get around 28 mpg in combined city and highway driving.
The base 2.5i comes nicely equipped with 17-inch wheels, paddle shifters, a rearview camera, an off-road mode dubbed "x-mode," an active grille shutter to help improve fuel economy, a 6.5-inch high-resolution touchscreen and a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD player with auxiliary input and USB jacks, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth streaming.
2.5i Premium models offer significantly more amenities, including a 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, dual-zone automatic temperature control, heated front seats and heated mirrors, fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an 8-inch touchscreen, incorporating SMS text messaging capabilities and a vehicle information display. The stereo is also improved for the Premium trim, it is a 6-speaker unit with satellite radio functionality.
Limited trim includes a 12-speaker, 576-watt Harman/Kardon sound system, leather seating surfaces, Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, integrated turn signals in the mirrors, wood accents around the interior and a power rear lift gate.
The top of the line Touring trim benefits from moderate exterior enhancements including a dark grey grill insert, 18-inch wheels with dark grey accents and low profile roof rails. Inside, Touring models get Java Brown leather-trimmed seating surfaces with contrasting stitching, woodgrain interior accents, a heated steering wheel and nicer materials around the dashboard.
Titanium Gray is now also an available interior color option.
Safety features across the Outback line include a rollover sensor for the side curtain airbags as well as front seat cushion airbags designed to keep occupants secure in the event of an accident. Additionally, Subaru's Starlink infotainment system includes crash notification and stolen vehicle recovery assistance, adding an extra layer of security to the car.
Standard All-wheel Drive
Good Ground Clearance
The 2018 Outback is the latest vehicle in the Subaru lineup to receive a series of updates this year. The revised front end and lower paneling appears more capable and buttoned up aiding in ground clearance. New headlamps that include LED running lights and re-tuned suspension round out a familiar go anywhere exterior theme. Meanwhile the center console has been reworked to fit around a new infotainment system that now includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. This year Subaru implemented higher quality materials for the interior as well that include a stitched dash and available door trims, sound-insulated glass and thicker wheel well trim to stop excess ambient noise. The CVT transmission now includes a 7-speed manual mode via column mounted paddle shifters.
The genius of the Outback has always been its ability to straddle classifications; it helped create the crossover segment in the 1990s. As such, the Outback competes with family cars, SUVs and, of course, other crossover vehicles. With a base price just short of $27,000, the Outback should be affordable enough for families considering a new Camry or Accord. With better off-road credentials and a more usable luggage compartment, the Outback offers increased versatility over plain Jane family sedans. At the same time, the Subaru Outback offers the kind of fuel economy that most mid-sized SUVs struggle to match.