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.
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.
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