Though Subaru didn’t invent the all-wheel drive sport-utility wagon, it certainly have done the most to popularize it in the US. The formula is deceptively simple: combine the capability and capacity of an SUV with an economy car’s efficiency and ease-of-use. That Subaru’s Outback has had two decades of success pulling it off proves just how well the company has managed to blend ruggedness, refinement, and roominess while remaining reasonably-priced.
USED 2018 Subaru Outback FOR SALE NEAR ME
Long Subaru of Webster, MA (32 mi)
MetroWest Subaru of Natick, MA (6 mi)
One Stop Auto Sales, Inc. of North Attleboro, MA (19 mi)
Automax Preowned Attleboro of Attleboro, MA (23 mi)
2018 Subaru Outback Overview
What's New for 2018
Though it’s due for a complete redesign for 2019, Subaru has nonetheless made significant changes to the 2018 Outback, with revised front and rear fascias, improved interior materials and features, new multimedia capabilities, additional safety technology, and a more refined and quieter ride.
Also quieter is the cabin as a whole thanks to reshaped exterior mirrors, better sound insulation, and refinements made to the standard continuously variable transmission, which now features a seven-speed manual-shift mode as well. All these improvements come at a significant cost, however, as Outback prices rise an average of $2,500 across the six-model/four-trim range for 2018.
Choosing Your Subaru Outback
The heart of the Outback line is the 2.5-liter flat-four engine, which despite having a relatively meager output of 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque, a CVT ,and all-wheel drive to contend with, along with the Outback’s not insubstantial curb weight, is the overwhelming choice among buyers – it provides enough power and enough economy (EPA ratings of 25 mpg city/32 highway/28 combined) at a low enough price. There are four separate trims for the starter engine: 2.5i, Premium, Limited, and Touring.
The available 3.6-liter flat six will appeal to customers that need more power – the carmaker’s largest-displacement motor, the 256-hp, 247-lb-ft six-cylinder is only available in the Limited- and Touring trims. It's coupled to a more robust continuously variable transmission that shares its paddle-shifter controls and new seven-speed "manual mode" with the four-cylinder's CVT. Unfortunately, the six-cylinder's additional 81 hp and 73 lb-ft demand a hearty sacrifice – a significant drop in EPA mpg ratings, to 20/27/22.
While the changes made to 2018 Outbacks might make paying the premium they demand make sense, seeing as how it’s due for an imminent redo, waiting on the savings that come from replacement makes more sebse. That said, the Outback is a very popular vehicle, so not every configuration will see incentives. If a particular Outback is the one you have to have – we recommend the 2.5i Limited – it’s best to bite the bullet and buy now so as not to be “stuck” getting a better deal but for more – or less – Outback than you wanted.
2018 Subaru Outback Review
Lightly updated for its fourth year on the market, the 2018 Subaru Outback features exterior styling revisions, an updated infotainment system, and a number of improvements designed to reduce engine, road, and wind noise. More station wagon than SUV, the Outback offers standard all-wheel-drive (it is a Subaru, after all) and crossover practicality, but car-like ride and handling.
There are some problems, though. A thirsty optional six-cylinder engine guzzles rather than sips, advanced active safety features aren't available on all models, and the interior on top-trim models lacks the luxury touches most buyers expect. Still, the Outback is the smart choice for customers wanting SUV versatility without moving to a bigger, taller vehicle.
The 2018 Subaru Outback starts at $26,810 with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine, and rises to $39,605 for a Touring model with the 3.6-liter six-cylinder boxer engine. A CVT automatic is the only transmission available.
By forgoing a leather interior and the thirsty flat-six engine, you can save over $7,000 over the 3.6R Touring trim by picking the midrange 2.5i Premium with standard features like automatic climate control, heated front seats, a power driver's seat, and an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Included in those savings is Subaru's whole suite of active safety systems (all listed as optional extras).
Here's how we'd build it:
- Model: 2018 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium
- Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder
- Output: 175 hp / 174 lb-ft
- Transmission: CVT automatic
- MPG: 25 City / 32 Highway
- Exterior color: Crystal White Pearl
- Interior color: Slate Black Cloth
- Options: Eyesight + Blind Spot Detection & Rear Cross Traffic Alert + Power Rear Gate + High Beam Assist + Moonroof Package + Navigation System ($3,590, auto-dimming rearview mirror, moonroof, power tailgate with automatic close and height memory, navigation, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beams).
- Base Price: $28,910
- As Tested: $32,500
- Even with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, the Outback is comfortable and composed on most roads.
- Subaru's continuously variable transmission doesn't have the odd, elastic feel of many of its competitors.
- Thanks to additional sound deadening, more laminated glass, and new outside mirrors for 2018, both road and wind noise are down.
- The 2.5-liter engine offers only adequate performance, without much reserve power for passing – especially up hills.
- The 3.6-liter engine lacks the acceleration of Subaru's own 2.0-liter turbo, available in the Forester XT.
- Although 2018 sees some tweaks in refinement, the 2.5-liter engine can still sound rough under hard acceleration.
- Front seats are very supportive with long lower cushions and bolsters that aren't overly-firm.
- Plenty of room in back with 38.1 inches of legroom and 35.5 cubic feet of cargo room behind the back seats.
- Laminated side glass plus additional sound-deadening materials added this year make the interior library quiet, even at highway speeds.
- The leather used in Limited and Touring models can hardly be called premium.
- A power passenger seat is only available on Limited and above trims.
- Subaru's advanced active safety features aren't available on the base model.
Our Favorite Thing
8.7 inches of ground clearance, standard all-wheel-drive, and a car-like ride give the Outback an advantage over most competitors in its class.
Our Least Favorite Thing
Despite a number of recent upgrades, the interior of the top-trim $39,000-plus Touring model still lacks the luxury touches many buyers expect in this price range.
A smooth, quiet ride, plenty of interior room, a slew of available active safety features, and standard all-wheel-drive make the latest Outback a great choice for smaller families.
The Outback's conservative, utilitarian design, along with a top trim that's still a few steps below the class leaders will probably turn off buyers looking for luxury and style.
The Bottom Line
Although it emphasizes function over style, the Outback's car-like handling, overall versatility, advanced safety features, and standard all-wheel-drive capability make it one of the best offerings in its class.
Find Your New Subaru Outback On CarsDirect
We have information you must know before you buy the Outback. We want to send it to you, along with other pricing insights.
I agree to receive emails from CarsDirect. I understand that I can unsubscribe at any time.