New look, more gear for revised high-riding wagon
Update (7/2/18): The original version of this article stated the entry price $1000 cheaper than last year's model. This is not the case as prices are unchanged for 2018. See article for details.
Pricing and specifications for the 2018 Subaru Outback range have been announced this week, with the facelifted crossover wagon kicking off at $36,240 before on-road costs.
Although subtle, the car has been treated to a new look for 2018, led by a revised grille and bumper up front. Trainspotters will notice the tweaked wing mirrors and LED indicators, too.
The entire range rides on new alloy wheels – 17-inches on the 2.0D, 18-inch units across the rest of the range – and there are two new colours available: Crimson Red Pearl and Wilderness Green Metallic.
Premium variants now come with new LED high- and low-beam headlights, complete with adaptive high-beam and steering-response, allowing them to swivel as the driver turns the wheel. C-shaped LED daytime-running lights carry over from the current car.
Inside, the Outback benefits from a reworked centre stack housing an updated infotainment system. The touchscreen (8.0-in for Premium cars, 6.5-inches elsewhere) now packs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while the climate controls have been more logically arranged. Factory navigation is standard on Premium models.
Making the jump from base CVT trim to Premium also brings electrically-adjustable and front seats, an electric sunroof, power-folding mirrors, keyless entry, leather trim and piano black trim inserts, along with a powered tailgate. Along with these changes, the range-topping 3.6R also gains chrome side-sill garnish, silver roof rails and a 12-speaker sound system.
More stitched surfaces and gloss-black trim have been added to help lift the interior ambience, while Subaru says the new steering wheel has a "solid, sporty look" about it. Rear seat passengers now benefit from two additional USB ports.
Subaru has been proactive with safety recently, outfitting all CVT-equipped cars with its EyeSight technology suite. For 2018, the Premium variants will also include a front-view monitor and Honda-style side-view monitor, making it easier to see the nose and sides of the car below 20km/h.
Across the range, EyeSight has been upgraded to include lane-keep assist, pre-collision braking assistance and smarter pedestrian avoidance capabilities. The stereo camera-based system has also been tuned to deliver a smoother ride while using adaptive cruise control.
The changes are more than skin deep, too. Subaru says retuned suspension will help cut down on body roll, while the electric power steering has been tweaked for more linear response at highway speeds. The brake pedal should feel firmer and more linear for the 2018 model as well.
Speaking of linearity, the "lineartronic" CVT paired with the 2.5-litre petrol engine benefits from a number of small updates. There are now seven artificial steps for drivers to play with, and Subaru says the transmission should shift more smoothly from Park into Reverse and Drive.
There's no more power in the 129kW/235Nm 2.5-litre petrol, but a lighter crank pulley, crankshaft and connecting rods should reduce vibration under acceleration, and a broader ratio spread from the CVT helps deliver a three per cent fuel efficiency bump.
Meanwhile, the 3.6-litre six-cylinder boxer petrol makes the same 191kW of power and 350Nm of torque as before, while the diesel's 110kW/350Nm outputs are also unchanged. Unlike the 2.5, neither the 3.6 or diesel engines come with idle start/stop technology.
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2018 Subaru Outback pricing
Outback 2.5i CVT - $36,240
Outback 2.5i Premium CVT - $42,640 (+$400)
Outback 3.6R - $49,140 (+$400)
Outback 2.0D CVT - $38,740
Outback 2.0D Premium CVT - $45,640
All prices exclude on-road costs.