I drove the 2017 Outback and really liked it, except for the wind noise and road noise. I read that Subaru was going to make improvements in that department with new glass and insulation in the wheel wells. I'm glad I waited for the 2018. The difference is very noticeable. The new interface for the infotainment system is nice, too. The fit and finish is excellent. I'm very pleased with this vehicle.
We traded our 2015 Legacy on a 2018 3.6R touring and embarked on a 3000 mile tour of the West. The four was best around town; performance, particularly at 6000 ft. where we live, was adequate at best and the engine note was like rattling a coffee can full of rocks. It was an engine you felt sorry for. The 3.6R is an entirely different proposition - a great, quiet, confidence inducing long distance cruiser with plenty of power from an engine that sounds like it's enjoying itself. We averaged 28MPH with a lot of two-lane driving. Blind spot warning is much better now; a big yellow light nearer the driver that's easy to see. The HD rear view camera is very good, and the cross traffic alert is a life saver (literally) in crowded parking lots. Lane keep departure and assist work like they are supposed to. I think I finally found the right settings on the cruise control, but it takes a while; it brakes later than I would. Perhaps most impressive were the headlights; the auto high beams work so well they can be left on, and I like the diretional function of the headlight very much. But electronic gremlins came early and often: the car locked us out on the first day; the control center/navigation screen has frozen three times - once on a doo wop station that we couldn't turn off, and twice when it was navigating us somewhere. The navigation's voice command is not always syncronized with the onscreen prompts, and I find the Tom Tom navigation ackward to use, with a only a vague idea of where it is. Having to use the touchscreen to adjust the scale on the navigation map is distracting and it won't adjust behind 1/4 mile, at least on mine. Strangely, I find the audio in the 2018 Touring not up to the one in the 2015 Legacy although both are Harmon Karden. The new on is just OK.
We realized last spring that our 1997 Volvo wagon which we had owned for 17 yrs. was not going to "do us on out". We wanted the same passenger and cargo capacity as the Volvo. Three row SUVs were too big and clumsy and compact SUVs were too small. New Volvos were too expensive and the dealer/service network too sparse. As seniors we wanted all the help we could get with good outward visibility, ease of entry and exit and the full suite of safety/collision avoidance technology. These preferences led us to the Outback and it these matters it delivers. After reading all of the customer reviews on Edmunds.com of the current generation of the Outback I decided that it was worth waiting for the 2018 model which would be quieter and smoother than the 2017s that we drove. Our 2018 Limited 2.5 has met these expectations. We got the car right off the truck ( well, they did wash it) and it had zero defects). In response to other reviewer's comments I can say that; I found the driver's seat to be comfortable during a 1782 mile trip completed in 30 hours of driving over four consecutive days (the passenger seat has yet to be fully tested), mixed brisk (average speed 65) freeway and city driving mpg is 28.3, the CVT transmission will mimic a conventional auto if you want it to (but why bother?), we have managed to defeat the radio's inclination to come on loud when the car is started and voice command is hopeless so ignore it. The navigation system is not made by Garmin; two miles from our home it directs us down a road that was abandoned 40 years ago because it was falling into the sea. My Garmin tucks into the lower corners of the windshield. The heated rear seats delight our guests. Changes that I would make would be to give the passenger seat the full range of power adjustments that the driver's seat has on the top trim levels and to carpet the lower door panels to prevent scuffing.
One week after purchasing the 2018 Outback, the infotainment system began having problems. It would repeatedly turn off and on during my daily commute. A week later, the entire head unit shut down and would not restart and the backup camera would not come on. Contacted the dealer who said it needed a software update, so scheduled an appointment with service department for the same week. The day before I was scheduled to take the car in, the car would not start. Nothing on the car worked. I had it towed into the dealership through roadside assistance. They performed the software update and installed a new battery. Three days later, and the head unit is repeatedly turning off and on again. Apparently, the software update was not effective. Very unhappy with this vehicle.
Before buying, test drive this vehicle on a smooth Interstate. I didn't and it cost me. While the driver's seat is very comfy, driver vision excellent, power adequate and amenities (Bluetooth, CD, radio) easily accessible, the fact that the vehicle developed what I'm told is a harmonic vibration at speeds in excess of 60 mph made it unacceptable to me. The dealer balanced the tires and ultimately replaced all of them, to no avail. Firmly informed that the vibration is "normal" (state lemon law only requires a vehicle to behave normally), I had to get used to a mild shake or take the loss and trade it on something else. If you are not bothered by a mild but constant vibration on the highway, beyond what the pavement causes, then this may be the car for you. In any case, be sure to test it on the highway before writing the check.