Thanks to its five-door hatchback body style, the 2018 Subaru Outback is both wagon and SUV. Its traction-seeking all-wheel-drive system and ground clearance make it an off-roader, while its standard infotainment technology and optional driver assist systems make it a fantastic road car. No matter what, though, the Subaru Outback is not boring.
With either of two available engines — a 2.5-liter flat-four (175 hp, 174 lb-ft) or a 3.6-liter flat-six (256 hp, 247 lb-ft) — mated to a paddle-shiftable continuously variable automatic transmission and a dynamically adjustable all-wheel-drive system, all six variants of the Subaru Outback are extremely capable when the road gets dirty or slippery.
Over 73 cubic feet of interior volume is easily accessed through a large rear hatch, and though it's tall for a wagon, the Outback's load floor is lower than those of most SUVs, easing carry-over height. The 60/40-split rear seats fold down flat for accommodating even more cargo. And for particularly large gear, such as bikes or kayaks, all trims, aside from the Touring, feature roof rails that swing out to become crossbars. All combined, you can haul a lot of gear.
The standard 2.5i comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen system, but all others — 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 3.6R Limited, 2.5i Touring and 3.6R Touring — get a larger 8-inch system. No matter the screen size, both systems feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth pairing for both voice and music, and Starlink apps. These apps work with your smartphone's data connection to provide services and information from third-party providers such as Pandora and Aha. The larger 8-inch system also features near field communication for easy pairing, satellite radio and more apps, such as BestParking, iHeartRadio, Yelp, eBird and more. Optionally, Premium models can be equipped with a 12-speaker Harman Kardon stereo system and an SD card-based navigation system. This system is standard on Limited and Touring trims.
Driver assist systems are optional on Premium and Limited trims, standard on the Touring, and unavailable on the price-conscious standard 2.5i. Subaru calls its dual-camera-based system EyeSight, which gives drivers adaptive cruise control, pre-collision mitigation, lane keeping assist and lane departure warning.
The biggest difference between trims will be standard features such as heated seats (front seats for Premium and up; all seats from Limited and up), wheel sizes (17-inch for 2.5i and Premium; 18-inch for all others) and interior materials. Since the core functionality of the car remains the same, look to Edmunds to find the specific configuration of 2018 Subaru Outback that'll work for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.