2018 Subaru Outback Review
There are a lot of choices in the SUV segment. Read some of our reviews and you'll quickly learn they all have their respective strengths and weaknesses. The 2018 Subaru Outback, though, is strong in just about all areas you'll really care about, including fuel economy, interior volume, off-road capability and standard in-car technology.
The Outback's standard 2.5-liter flat-four engine gets an EPA-rated 28 mpg combined, which is pretty respectable for a vehicle of this size. It also features a sophisticated all-wheel-drive system, plus hill hold and hill descent control, to help get off the beaten path with ease. And with 73.3 cubic feet of interior cargo volume, 60/40-split fold-down rear seats, and standard roof rails, you'll be able to bring all your toys and supplies while you're roaming the countryside. This year's Outback is packed with the latest technology, too. Every 2018 Outback now comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as part of its updated touchscreen display.
But the Outback does have one weakness: performance. While its four-cylinder engine may get good mileage, its 175-horsepower output is down on power compared to its class. (There is a six-cylinder engine available, though.) The Outback is also not particularly crisp or willing to drive with enthusiasm around turns. It's a compromise we wholeheartedly accept, however. If you're looking for a capable crossover SUV that's useful for just about any situation, give the Outback a look.
Notably, we picked the 2018 Subaru Outback as one of Edmunds' Best Midsize SUVs for this year.
trim levels & features
The 2018 Subaru Outback is a five-passenger wagon that comes in six trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 3.6R Limited and 3.6R Touring. The base model covers the essentials (roof rails, Bluetooth), while Premium and Limited trims include conveniences such as heated seats, leather and satellite radio. Touring trims are fully loaded, and 3.6R models have similar equipment but include a more powerful six-cylinder engine.
The base 2.5i starts with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (175 hp, 174 lb-ft) and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that feeds power to all four wheels. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, hill descent control, hill holding assist, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, roof rails (with integrated crossbars), air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth connectivity, Subaru's Starlink 6.5-inch touchscreen interface, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB interface.
The 2.5i Premium adds rear privacy glass, heated exterior mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, foglights, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat (with two-way lumbar adjustment), heated front seats, a cargo cover, a bigger 8-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, three additional USB ports (one front and two rear) and six speakers for the sound system. The Power Moonroof package adds the obvious plus an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A power liftgate with memory height is also optional.
The 2.5i Limited bundles the Premium options plus 18-inch wheels, a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, a front bumper underguard, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, driver-seat memory functions, a four-way power passenger seat, rear air vents, heated rear seats and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Xenon headlights are optional on the 2.5i Limited.
The 3.6R Limited gets the xenon headlights as standard equipment and a more powerful engine, but it is otherwise the same as the 2.5i Limited.
The Premium and Limited trims can be upgraded with Subaru's EyeSight system (adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights and upgraded gauges). Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are included in the Premium version of EyeSight, and navigation can be bundled with this package. The Outback Limited's version includes navigation, automatic braking for rear collisions and steering-responsive LED headlights. Note that Subaru bundles these items into one big package, so you can't order them individually.
The 2.5i Touring and 3.6R Touring trims include the standard features and options from the Premium and Limited trims, as well as the Driver Assist Technology package. Touring models also have different 18-inch wheels, dark exterior trim, fixed low-profile roof rails without crossbars, premium leather upholstery, wood grain interior trim, and a heated steering wheel.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our Full Test of the 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited (2.5L flat-4 | CVT automatic | AWD).
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Subaru Outback has received some revisions, including an updated infotainment system with larger screens, improved interior materials, and additional noise mitigation measures. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's 2018 Subaru Outback.
Noise & vibration
Ease of use
Getting in/getting out
Audio & navigation
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.