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2018 Subaru Outback: Beefier, quieter, tech-ier

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now along for the ride!

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Andrew Krok
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Andrew Krok

Reviews Editor / Cars

Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.

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2018 Subaru Outback

MSRP

Editor's Note, November 24: This First Take has been updated with full pricing information. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review in the future.

The Outback is Subaru's best-selling model, so it's important that the automaker keeps it up to date. A slate of revisions for the 2018 model year, debuting at the New York Auto Show, keeps the Outback nice and fresh.

The 2018 Subaru Outback doesn't change much from the outside. The front fascia has wider openings, and the headlights pick up a redesign with new LED running lights. The body cladding is also a bit beefier, to help keep the panels free from rock chips and dents.

Subaru's made some improvements under the sheet metal, too. The suspension dampers have been softened, the electric power steering has been tweaked to be smoother, and the brakes have been altered for a more linear feel. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) has a new chain for quieter operation, and the noise abatement continues with revised engine timing that helps cut down on noise during acceleration.

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Who doesn't love additional body cladding?

Subaru

The NVH benefits continue with insulating glass for the front side windows and thicker rear wheel well materials.

The Outback's interior wasn't bad, but it got hit for mediocre materials. That changes for 2018, thanks to new materials throughout the interior and a redesigned center console. Higher-end models get new stitching details and gloss-black trim. The AC cools the cabin faster and more evenly, and the clock has been made larger for easier readability.

Subaru's maligned Starlink gets some upgrades, too. The base touchscreen is now 6.5 inches (formerly 6.2), and the premium system measures 8.0 inches. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now included. The voice-recognition system picks up a second microphone for improved performance, and rear-seat occupants now get two USB ports. The system can be upgraded over the air using a tethered Wi-Fi connection, too.

You'll find several new apps available: eBird lets you browse local bird sightings, while Yelp brings its reviews right to the infotainment system. Glympse lets you share your location in real time and Best Parking finds and compares parking rates around town.

Small updates make a big splash in 2018 Subaru Outback

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A backup camera is standard, and the guidelines now move with the steering wheel. A new steering-responsive headlight system moves the low beams in turns to better show the road ahead. EyeSight is once again available, offering safety systems like autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane-keep assist.

Powertrain options remain the same. You can have a 175-horsepower, 2.5-liter H4 in base, Premium, Limited and Touring models. If you want some more power, a 256-horsepower, 3.6-liter H6 is available in Limited and Touring trims. No matter the trim or engine, all-wheel drive is standard, as is a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The 2018 Outback is already on sale, and you can check out pricing information below:

2018 Subaru Outback Pricing

Model 2018 MSRP2017 MSRPNet Change
2.5i $25,895 $25,645 +$250
2.5i Premium $27,995 $27,695 +$300
2.5i Limited $32,695 $32,390 +$305
2.5i Touring $36,490 $35,995 +$495
3.6R Limited $35,395 $34,995 +$400
3.6R Touring $38,690 $38,195 +$495