The Outback is more popular than ever, and it’s now Subaru of America’s best-selling model. The new model coming this summer gets numerous upgrades over the outgoing model. Subaru announced the 2018 model gets at least 33 new improvements for consumers that should keep it the best-selling model in the lineup. It’s not due for a complete remodel for 2 more years, so it doesn’t get the new Subaru Global Platform yet. But the 2018 Outback wagon, built in Lafayette, Indiana, does get significant improvements to interior comfort, driving dynamics, safety technology, and multimedia capability over the outgoing model. It starts on the outside.
Refreshed outside design language
For 2018, the SUV-alternative Outback features refreshed front styling and gets wider, lower grille openings and a new bumper. Many owners take the wagon off-road, and Subaru redesigned the front cladding to provide extra protection from mud and stones when the vehicle is driven off pavement. The headlights have also been redesigned with “Konoji” daytime LED running lights. The top-of-the-line Limited model will feature a new high-contrast wheel design to highlight the luxury-class trim for the 2018 Outback.
The 2018 Outback gets more comfort on the inside. All 2018 Outback trims will get new premium materials, a redesigned center console, and an available 8-inch display screen for enhanced multimedia capabilities. Mid-trims will now feature stitching detail on the dashboard, and upper Limited and Touring models add stitching detail to the seats and door panels along with high-gloss black trim and silver-color bezels on the controls. A new Titanium Gray interior is now available for the first time, a new steering wheel has a “more luxurious” look and feel, and the clock is larger and easier to read.
For added comfort, Subaru engineers revised the air conditioning system to cool the cabin quicker and says it provides more uniform temperature throughout the interior. The temperature setting indicator was located inside the control dial for more intuitive operation, and interior power is retained for a short time after the ignition has been switched off for added convenience.
A quieter cabin
Consumers should also notice a difference in cabin noise, as Subaru made improvements to the Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission for 2.5i models. The CVT now uses a quieter short-pitch chain, and adjustments to engine timing under acceleration should reduce powertrain noise. Subaru also reshaped exterior mirrors to further reduce wind noise, and new sound-insulating glass for the front side windows, and thicker rear wheel well aprons should also contribute to a quieter cabin.
More on Page 2 Improved driving dynamics
The 2018 Outback is still powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine, or a 3.6-liter six-cylinder in the 3.6R model, and all models come standard with Symmetrical AWD and Active Torque Vectoring for all-weather capability. Both engines come mated with a newly-upgraded Lineartronic CVT automatic (continuously variable transmission) featuring a seven-speed manual mode and steering wheel paddle shifters. Subaru says the CVT offers smoother response, thanks to a retuned electronic control unit (ECU).
Subaru engineers also made upgrades to the Outback chassis that include retuned suspension dampers for a smoother ride, along with retuned steering and brakes that should improve the Outback’s ride quality. Subaru says the Electric Power Steering (EPS) now yields a smoother, more linear response to driver input.
New Safety Tech
The Subaru brand is all about safety and the 2018 Outback gets safer for consumers. The Japanese automaker added new driver-assist features for 2018, including available Steering Responsive Headlights (SRH) that aim the lights into turns as the driver steers. New High Beam Assist comes on Limited and Touring models with EyeSight driver assist technology which automatically turns the high beams on and off depending on traffic conditions.
All Outback trims come standard with a rear-view camera, and new for 2018 when reversing, guidelines are now displayed on the screen moving in sync with the steering to show the driver where the vehicle is positioned. Reverse Automatic Braking (RAB) is also new for 2018 along with larger repositioned indicator lamps for the Blind Spot Detection/Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Upper trims get redesigned LED turn signals in the mirrors that are easier to see, automatic locking doors are new, improved LATCH anchors make child seat installation easier, and a new tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) now detects pressure changes at individual tires.
Last but not least, Subaru’s multimedia has been upgraded for 2018. The refreshed Outback offers the brand’s latest STARLINK Multimedia system with Bluetooth wireless capability, iPod control, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The 2018 Outback 2.5i will be available in standard, Premium, Limited and top-of-the-line Touring trims; the 3.6R will offer Limited and Touring trims. The newly-refreshed 2018 Subaru Outback will make its global debut at the New York International Auto Show on April 12. Consumers will see at least 33 improvements to the popular SUV-alternative Outback when it arrives in showrooms this summer.
Photo credit: Subaru