Subaru has taken the wraps off the updated 2018 Outback ahead of its public debut at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show next week. Completely redesigned for the 2015 model year, this is a mid-cycle refresh instead of a full-on generational change-over.
Highlights of the update include new styling front and rear, improved interior materials, the addition of Apple Car Play and Android Auto to an upgraded StarLink infotainment system, and new safety features.
The 2018 Outback continues with 2.5i and 3.6R models powered by 175-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and 3.6-liter 6-cylinder boxer engines, respectively. Both engines are mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a retuned ECU for what Subaru calls more responsive and smoother acceleration.
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The 2.5i returns in base, Premium, Sport, and Limited trims, while the 3.6R continues only as the Limited. All models come standard with all-wheel drive with torque vectoring.
The design changes include a wider, lower grille up front, with redesigned C-shaped headlights and LED daytime running lights. LED headlights and fog lights are available. At the rear, the changes are less obvious. The bumper and fascia are reshaped to appear wider, though the car is the same width.
Underneath, Subaru retuned the dampers to reduce both the initial impact of bumps and lean in corners. Subaru also retuned the electric-assist power steering for smoother, more linear response, and the brakes for a firmer pedal.
Subaru has also worked to reduce noise, making those changes in several areas of the car. To reduce powertrain noise, the CVT gets a new chain and engine timing is adjusted. On the outside, the mirrors are reshaped. Inside, the front side windows get new inner film glass, and underneath the rear wheel aprons are thicker.
Perhaps the most important changes are on the inside, where the Outback features more premium materials and an improved Starlink infotainment system. Premium and higher trims get stitching on the dash, door panels, and seats, plus black-and-silver bezels for various controls. The steering wheel is new, and a gray color scheme is newly offered.
Both versions of the Starlink system have larger screens. The top-end version increases from 7.0 to 8.0 inches and gets a faster CPU, while the base setup grows from 6.2 to 6.5 inches. Both sit in a redesigned center stack and can be updated over the air using wifi. The 8.0 version has a TomTom navigation system with three years of free map updates, and both are now compatible with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
New apps through owners’ smartphones are available, too. They include the familiar Yelp and Glympse, plus:
- Magellan NAVI, which offers advanced cloud-based mapping
- eBird, which advises drivers of local bird sightings and locations
- Best Parking, which locates and compares parking rates
- RightTrack, which monitors driving habits and recommends improvements
- Quick Guide, a digital reference guide for the car
- eventseeker, which provides information on local events
Two USB ports are added at the back of the center console for rear seat passengers.
Finally, the 2018 Subaru Legacy adds two new safety features. Steering-linked adaptive headlights are offered with the available LED headlights. Reverse Automatic Braking (RAB) can detect objects in the vehicle’s path when backing up and sound audible warnings and show the distance and position of the objects in the rearview camera display.
The 2018 Subaru Legacy is set to go on sale this summer.
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