2018 Subaru Outback Gets New Style, Tons of Tweaks


Subaru has announced updates to the Outback for 2018, including new looks and fresh equipment. 

The styling changes come to the front and rear, highlighted by wider, lower grille openings along with new bumpers and a new daytime LED running light design. Redesigned plastic cladding up front is also said to help protect the vehicle from thrown mud and stones, while a new wheel design arrives for Limited-trim Outbacks.

Power for the outback still comes from either a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine that makes 175 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque or a larger 3.6-liter flat six engine that makes 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. Both engines send their power through a CVT, which Subaru says has been updated for 2018 to provide smoother response.

Added safety features arrive for the Outback in 2018, with new Steering Responsive Headlights (SRH) and High Beam Assist becoming available for certain models. Working in conjunction with LED headlights, SRH will turn the lights in the same direction as the driver steers into corners, while high-beam assist, which is available on Limited and Touring models, will automatically turn the high beams on and off depending on oncoming traffic.

SEE ALSO: Subaru Ascent 3-Row Crossover Concept to Debut Next Week

A new Reverse Automatic Braking system is also now available, able to detect objects behind the vehicle and apply the brakes if a collision is imminent. Small safety tweaks arrived as well, including new guidelines for the reverse camera and a new tire pressure monitoring system that detects changes at individual tires.


Ride and handling improvements are also part of the package for 2018, with retuned dampers, steering and braking all coming together to make the Outback smoother and more enjoyable to drive according to Subaru. Noise was also reduced according the brand, thanks to a new short-pitch chain, reshaped exterior mirrors, adjusted engine timing and new sound-insulating glass.

On the inside, Subaru updated its materials and center console design wth a new eight-inch display screen. Premium trim vehicles and higher will get genuine stitching in the dash, while Limited and Touring models will get stitching in the doors and seats along with high-glass black trim. Small enhancements include a stronger air conditioning system and a larger, easier-to-read clock.

For technology, the 2018 Outback runs Subaru’s updated Starlink infotainment system, which comes on either a 6.5- or 8-inch touchscreen. The new layout of the screen has a more smartphone-like controls, while dual microphones and new software is said to improve the voice recognition system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility have both been added.

Discuss this story at our Subaru Outback Forum

  • profromdover

    How do the dimensions of the 2018 Outback compare to my 2009 version?

  • Mike

    Why doesn’t the Outback come with CarPlay??? As far as I can tell only the Impreza does. What was the logic in this ?

  • Jordan Smith

    The 2018 legacy and outback will come with CarPlay.

  • Christopher Ryan Kratzer

    Great things to come. But it’s the little issues that I want addressed. Like the window lock out, why does it lock out the drivers ability to operate all the other windows? The emergency break. I don’t see them ever going back to the old hand break, but why not just a button? The way it is now, it’s just a haven for food, dirt, and loads of other crud.

  • Bradley Horn

    Now if they would do a software update for Starlink on my 2017 Outback I would be happier. I just hate using it. I asked if they put a 8086 processor in it. I agree with Christopher, make the emergency brake a push button.

  • Sandy Andina

    How does the cargo capacity differ from the 2014 version? Will there be a 2.5L PZEV engine offered? What about blind-spot monitoring & cross-traffic alert (both sorely lacking in my top-of-the-line 2014)? Will it be easier to temporarily disable front-collision protection in order to use mechanized car washes?

  • Bill Santelik

    Android Auto as well? That was going to be my primary complaint. MirrorLink is useless.

  • Jordan Smith

    Yes. Subaru said both CarPlay and Android auto would be in the update. It was included in their press release.


  • Joe B

    So in other words, unchanged for 2018.

  • Jay h

    Toyotas nav beats subaru hope for a update .

  • Dave Greene


  • rkratzer

    Thanks for that Dave. Typing in a hurry.

  • ElektroDragon

    ARGH….. want to upgrade my 2016 Limited for all those features, but I promised myself I’d keep it till it falls apart!

  • ElektroDragon

    Umm, no… engine same maybe, but those are some BIG feature improvements if you’re a 2016 owner. And even 2017 because 2017 was pretty much unchanged from 2016.

  • ElektroDragon

    Blind spot and cross traffic were standard on 2016 Limited trim I have.

  • ElektroDragon

    Huh? The emergency brake IS a push button on my 2016 Limited.

  • Joe B

    “…small styling, infotainment, and technical updates.” -Consumer Reports. Looks the same too.

  • Tom Hall

    Why can’t/won’t Subaru flash update the electronics from year to year?

  • Manny Giudice

    I hope the front eyesight windshield is stronger than the 2015 that’s been replaced under extended warrantee.

  • Manny Giudice

    Also I hope they update the program to auto door locking after 60 seconds if the remote is accidently opened button is pressed. Every other car manufacture has that feature. Subaru don’t…..

  • Paul

    It looks pretty nice to me.

  • Agreed. It’s a fiasco.

  • Agreed. The infotainment situation in current models is a fiasco.

  • Bradley Horn

    I think what we want to see is a push button like the push button start. The current push is into a pocket/crevice that collects trash.

  • Bradley Horn

    Or when the vehicle is put into drive. Seems like a safety feature that is common sense.

  • Mike

    Thanks Jordan. Are you certain of this?

  • Jordan Smith

    Yes Subaru has stated in press releases of the upcoming 2018 Legacy and Outback that each would have CarPlay and Android Auto. It also makes sense given that they were added to the Impreza when it was redesigned.

  • Ben Nix

    How about power windows that continue to operate for 30 seconds after turning the engine off like every other car on the planet. And stop with the lame excuse that it wears down the battery when the head lights stay on for a while after turning off the car.

  • Ben Nix

    Being able to program auto power door locks would be nice without having to pay the dealer to do it.

  • Ben Nix

    Hope the sound insulating windows help with the wind noise.

  • freewillyism

    I agree – traded my ’12 outback for another car that lets me see in the garage and put the windows up without having to turn the car on again, plus I now have a number pad to open the car with no key in my pocket.
    not to mention NOISE from the cvt and wind.

  • Mike

    Any idea when they’re available for sale at the dealerships? I bought my 2011 in October of 2010 so is it in the Fall of 2017?

  • Craig Huber

    Are they available in the 2017 Crosstrek, or will it become available in the 2018 Crosstrek redesign?

  • Jordan Smith

    Likely by the end of July. I read on Subaruoutback.org that typically Subaru retools the plant during the July 4th holiday factory shut down.

  • Ken

    How long has Subaru been using their tired, old EJ25 motor now? 30 years?

  • Russell Casey

    It works OK, All i want is radio, cd player and nav. These work OK on my 2017

  • Russell Casey

    What’s the big deal with CarPlay?

  • earl

    Wouldn’t the 2.0 Turbo engine from the Forester be a better option than the 3.6 six…
    more useable torque low down and better economy? Nice update otherwise…

  • Jordan Smith

    If you plug your iPhone into the USB you can run Apple maps on the cars display so the maps are always up to date. The screen allows you to operate compatible functions on your phone through the cars controls.

    Android auto allows the same thing for android phones.

  • Kamaka

    Subaru will probably use the 2.5 and 3.6 until the Outback gets a full redesign on the new platform and then I expect it will switch to the new 2.4 Turbo they just showed in the Ascender.

  • Michael Rinaldi

    This is probably a question for a forum somewhere but do you think it would be possible to update a 2017 Outback with CarPlay? Afterall this is all just firmware or software correct?

  • Paul

    Subaru looks to be on a roll lately and this is really good as well.

  • Cuchulainn

    I believe Subaru replaced the EJ25 in the Forester models in 2011 and in the Legacy/Outback in 2013.

  • Ken

    According to the article it will still have a 2.5l motor which almost certainly means the old ej25.

  • Michael Rinaldi

    Ok! Thanks for all the info Jordan!

  • Cuchulainn

    No, those years where when each model moved to the FB25, which is still used through the 2017 Outback. No reason to think the 2018 will not also have the FB25

  • Ken

    Hmm, interesting. I didn’t even know they had a 2.5l DI motor. I thought the FB20 was it.

  • good luck! it will be very tempting.

  • sounds like you know your subaru.

  • ehlo

    why change when things are good.

  • Ken

    How is this motor good? Terribly inefficient and has major head gasket issues.

  • Ted

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.