KBB Logo Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.

Editor's Overview

The 2018 Subaru Outback crossover SUV is quite possibly the most recommendable vehicle for the broadest range of buyers and tasks. It's spacious, efficient, comfortable, a great value in the near and long term, and -- thanks to standard all-wheel drive and excellent ground clearance -- can tackle any road or weather condition.

You'll Like The 2018 Subaru Outback If...

The 2018 Outback is one vehicle that fulfills many needs. Whether you want a crossover SUV that's fuel-efficient, boasts sterling reliability and high resale value, or has impressive levels of inherent safety, the Outback does it all. In places like the Northwest, driving a Subaru is almost a requirement.

You May Not Like The 2018 Subaru Outback If...

If you want a rugged wagon with more athletic manners, check out the slightly smaller Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. If you crave one with premium appeal and a luxury badge, look to the Audi Allroad or perhaps a Volvo V60 Cross Country, both bringing turbocharged engines to the party.

What's New

Subaru's Outback gets a nice update for 2018 that includes more sophisticated infotainment systems with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility, revised front exterior styling and updates to the interior. Refinements like sound-insulating glass and retuned suspension make the Outback quieter inside and smoother on the road.

Interior Features

All Outbacks have a 2-row/5-passenger setup, and one of this Subie's best traits is its interior roominess. There's good legroom in the second row and excellent cargo capacity overall. With rear seats in place, there's 35.5 cubic feet for your gear. Fold the seats and it opens to a huge 73.3 cubic feet of mostly flat, usable space. Up front, the seats are comfortable and well-supported, and the view out is commanding. Controls are easy to see and access. Lower-trim models use cloth, while higher models are outfitted in leather. In Touring trim, the Outback can pass for a premium car.

Exterior Features

The latest-gen Outback continues to cross over from a lifted wagon to a crossover SUV. Updates for 2018 embolden the Outback's attitude. Most notable is up front, where the Subaru's hexagonal grille now has the brand's logo and adjoining line spanning the center. The headlights also get a tweak, and available steering-responsive units are now offered. Complementing the Outback's outdoorsy appeal are roof racks and lower body cladding. Even the doorsills seem to demand you get out and get active: They're designed to act as a step so you can access the roof to strap on your bike, canoe or skis.

Driving Impressions

The Outback shares its platform with the Subaru Legacy, so it's of little surprise that it feels like a sedan on the open road, albeit one that rides higher off the ground. If anything, that attribute grants it improved ability to absorb bumps and road undulations, if not its ability to corner sharply. The 4-cylinder engine used in the majority of Outback models is merely adequate for acceleration and passing, and its standard continuously variable transmission (CVT) is efficient but won't snap off shifts like a traditional automatic. The 6-cylinder engine on upscale models packs good power but also commands a significantly higher price. The Outback's made-for-adventure appeal isn't just the stuff of commercials. With its 8.7 inches of ground clearance, fantastic all-wheel-drive system and dedicated X-Mode off-road function, the Outback has the chops to take you far beyond the dirt parking lot of the trail head.

Pricing Notes

The 2018 Outback has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $26,810 for a base 2.5i model. One trim higher, at $28, 910, you'll get more creature comforts in the Premium trim. A top-line 4-cylinder Outback Touring model starts at $37,405, while a 6-cylinder Outback begins at $36,310 and can reach nearly $40,000 fully loaded. At these prices, the Outback undercuts the starting price of an automatic-transmission VW Golf Alltrack, a similar rugged wagon, and is lower than a more traditional 2-row crossover SUV like the Ford Edge. The Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport are closer in line with the Outback's starting price, but they don't come with all-wheel drive (AWD) as standard. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Subaru. On the resale front, the Subaru Outback is expected to hold its value very well.

Notable Equipment

The Outback comes in four main trims: base, Premium, Limited and Touring. Even the least expensive Outback includes all-wheel drive with X-Mode for off-roading, an automatic transmission, 6-way manual-adjust driver's seat, automatic headlights, cruise control, 17-inch wheels and 6.5-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Bluetooth and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity. We recommend stepping up at least one level to the Premium, which adds an 8-inch screen, CD player, two more speakers (six total), dual-zone climate control, 10-way-power driver's seat, fog lights, heated front seats and four USB ports, including two in back. It also opens the door for more options.

Notable Options

By climbing trims or checking the options box, you can outfit your Outback with the highly useful safety and driver-assist system known as the EyeSight. The system bundles adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, pre-collision braking and even reverse automatic braking. The available power liftgate has a programmable maximum height, and there's a voice-activated navigation system. Also available is a leather interior trimmed with classy-looking faux wood on Limited models, along with an upgraded harman/kardon audio system.

Favorite Features

X-MODE

X-Mode is a standard feature of all Outback models. It's designed to help this crossover SUV maintain its composure even under difficult off-road circumstances. On top of that, it includes Hill Descent Control, which takes over braking duties during steep descents.

STARLINK INFOTAINMENT SYSTEM

The Outback's infotainment systems have been upgraded for 2018, with improvements both expected and surprising. In the former camp, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration are now standard. Among the latter, new apps will guide you to everything from birding to parking.

Under the Hood

Subarus use an engine configuration known as a "boxer," where the pistons are parallel to the ground; imagine a "V-type” engine, then widen the V until it’s a flat line. This layout lowers the center of gravity, which aids handling. There are two engines available in the 2018 Outback. The 2.5-liter standard 4-cylinder offers up 175 horsepower, while the 6-cylinder version has a much more robust 256 horsepower. Both send power through a continuously variable automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters for manual control, and all-wheel drive is standard. The AWD system includes X-Mode for low-speed traction, and Active Torque Vectoring for high-speed stability in corners. All 2018 Subaru Outbacks are rated to tow 2,700 pounds.

2.5-liter boxer-4

175 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm

174 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/32 mpg

3.6-liter flat-6

256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm

247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg

Editors' Notes

The 2018 Subaru Outback is an illustration of automotive metamorphosis, transforming over the years from rugged station wagon to something more like an SUV. Whatever you label this 5-passenger hauler, it's been a hit for good reason. The Outback is quite possibly the most recommendable vehicle for the broadest range of buyers and tasks. It's spacious, efficient, comfortable, a great value in the near and long term, and -- thanks to standard all-wheel drive and excellent ground clearance -- can tackle almost any road or weather condition. Add in advanced safety features, driving aids and technology like CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility, and this Subie's recipe only improves. The Outback faces many rivals, from the Volkswagen Alltrack to the Ford Edge, but none have its jack-of-all-trades character.

Road Test Video Reviews

2018 Subaru Outback Owner Reviews

4.66
248 Reviews
79% 15% 2% 2 star 0% < 1%
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Great car

2018 Subaru Outback

I love my Subaru outback! I thought I wanted another Jeep, however had some interest in Subaru because a friend raved about her crosstrek and I had a friends and family discount through my dad who works at Subaru. After test driving the outback, which was similar in size to my Jeep grand Cherokee, I didn't even go to the Jeep dealership to look. The Subaru dealership was friendly and attentive and I was able to get all of the features I wanted at the monthly lease payment I could afford. I feel safe know my Subaru is top rated in safety. And, the drive assist features such as pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control and lane departure and sway warning were features I didn't think I needed, but have grown to love. The adaptive cruise control is great for long road trips or bumper to bumper traffic. And, the pre-collision braking and lane departure and sway warning might seem premature at times, they are needed with all the distractions in today’s connected world. The gas mileage is amazing. I do not drive a lot either so a full tank can last me from two weeks to a month. And, when I make a trip to my parents, about 300 miles round trip, I have 150-200 miles leftover from a full tank. The harman kardon audio system exceeded my expectations as well. And, I love that apple carplay comes standard. Plus, the touchscreen is easy to navigate and Bluetooth and voice controls allow me to stay connected while driving. I am excited to lease the ascent next!

- Amber R

My first Subaru and why I am a Subaru driver for life.

2018 Subaru Outback

I honestly never thought I would buy a Subaru because I didn't really hear much about the company or the quality of their cars however, now that I have owned my outback for a year now I do not want to be in any other vehicle. It is perfectly designed inside and out. Seemingly smaller looking on the outside which is nice because it is easy to fit in narrow parking spaces but it feels like the interior space is like that of a full sized SUV. All the materials are visually appealing and well designed inside and out making it feel very luxurious. I especially love the fact that the chassis is just wide enough to make the outback feel safe around tight turns and bumps are much smoother. The all wheel symmetrical driving, incredible turn radius, high quality gas mileage and a countless number of additional features make this car my number one choice. There is quite honestly nothing yet that I have discovered that bother me and I have owned it for skittle over a year now driving at least 30-50 miles a day. But do not just take my word for it. Look it up for yourself and see the millions of Subaru owners and their reviews. There is a reason why Subaru owners never want to get rid/sell their Subaru. High quality, luxurious, extremely safe, and overall a pleasure to drive.

- Daniel H

Very spacious and versatile vehicle.

2018 Subaru Outback Premium

My Subaru Outback is a great car. It's got great ground clearance and suspension if you ever go off-road. It handles very well in the snow. It's very quiet to drive. The rear backup camera is a great addition to the vehicle. It allows me to park with greater accuracy, which is nice because this car is bigger than anything I have ever owned. The front and rear seating areas are very spacious. I'm pretty tall and I have plenty of head and leg room. The back seat leg area is very generous and comfortable as well. I like that the rear windows come tinted so my kids don't need me to install a shade curtain. The interior floor mattress are rubber and easy to clean. The cargo area is pretty amazing. I've fit many large items including very long pieces of wood for home improvement projects. When the rear seats are dropped you can fit 2 adults if you have to sleep in the car for camping or emergency reasons. The multimedia screen is large and works with both Apple and Android devices. Overall I'm glad we bought the car because my family has room to grow and we won't outgrow the car any time soon.

- Joseph L

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