Buying Guide

2018 Subaru Outback Buying Guide | The original crossover, explained

Autoblog answers all your questions about the 2018 Subaru Outback

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From outside, the 2018 Outback has a clean look that's similar to the rest of the Subaru range. The front and rear have been reshaped and fitted with new headlights and taillamps. A wide range of new wheel designs are also available, along all trim levels. Overall, it's a slightly more upscale design, which is exactly what you'll find when stepping inside.

The dashboard and infotainment system have received a substantial refresh and have a more modern look and feel. Higher-quality materials help give the Outback cabin an overdue upgrade, since the previous model was starting to significantly trail its rivals when it came to interior style and amenities.

Mechanically, the 2018 Outback carries on as before, with the same four and six-cylinder engine options, both of which are coupled to standard all-wheel drive and a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) across all trim levels.

Here you'll find all the information needed to make an educated buying decision if you're considering a 2018 Subaru Outback, including safety and reliability ratings, engine specs, horsepower, fuel economy ratings and pricing.

We'll also summarize what Autoblog's professional auto reviewers think of the Outback.

Is the 2018 Subaru Outback Safe?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the 2018 Subaru Outback an overall crash-test rating of five stars. The Outback scored perfect five-star ratings in front and side impact tests, along with a four-star rating for rollover resistance.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which provides ratings for new vehicles based on its own comprehensive crash tests, gave the Outback its "Top Safety Pick+" — the highest possible rating. The Outback scored "good" ratings in every crash test. It also earned a good rating for the effectiveness of its headlights, along the ease of use of onboard LATCH anchors for child seats.

Ratings may differ for Outbacks from other model years, so be sure to visit the NHTSA and IIHS websites to review ratings on the specific vehicle you're researching.

At the time of this writing, the 2018 Outback is not subject to any ongoing recalls, according to the NHTSA database.

Is the Outback reliable?

J.D. Power most recently reviewed initial quality in the 2016 Outback, before the current model year's significant makeover. At the time, it gave the Outback three out of five possible stars for Overall Quality — an "average" score. The Outback also registered a three-star rating in the category of Overall Performance and Design.

Scoring improves when it comes to reliability, however. The 2016 Outback earned four out of five stars when it came to the Predicted Reliability category. That should ease concerns about issues this popular wagon might have once it gets a few miles on the odometer.

A note about J.D. Power's methodology: we have some rather serious issues with the way it weights serious and less serious reliability issues. Read more about that here.

How much interior and cargo room does the Outback have?

The 2018 Subaru Outback seats up to five people, with 42.9 inches of front leg room and 38.1 inches in the backseat. Passengers get 40.8 inches of front head room and 38.9 inches in the rear seat. It's worth mentioning that models fitted with the optional moonroof offer 38.3 inches of front headroom, which could prove a notable difference for tall drivers seated in the driver or front passenger seat.

The Outback offers 35.5 cubic feet of cargo volume with the rear seats in the upright position, or 73.3 cu ft with them folded down. For comparison, the 2018 Honda CR-V has 39.2 cubic feet of cargo room with its folding rear seats in place, and 75.8 cu ft with the rear seats down.

Find 2018 Subaru Outback pricing, information, and even ones on sale near you.

What are the Outback engines and specs?

The base Outback 2.5i comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder "boxer" engine that delivers 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. This engine layout means the pistons are positioned horizontally, which allows for the motor to be positioned lower in the chassis, to help improve the car's balance. For reference, Porsche uses the same type of engine design in its 911 and 718 sportscars. This engine, along with the optional six-cylinder, is only available with a CVT. All versions of the Outback are fitted with all-wheel drive as standard.

Like the four-cylinder, the optional 3.6-liter six-cylinder is also a boxer engine. The 3.6-liter delivers 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. In versions of the Outback we've tested with the six-cylinder, it offered much improved performance and far stronger acceleration than models fitted with the base engine.

What fuel economy does the Outback get?

The EPA rates the base Outback with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 32 on the highway. The optional six-cylinder has more power, but it's also thirstier, with an EPA-estimated rating of 20 mpg city and 27 mpg on the highway.

Since there is only one transmission offered – and all-wheel drive is standard across the range – these mileage figures are solely affected by which of the two engines and Outback buyer chooses.

Is there a hybrid Outback?

There is no hybrid version of the Outback.

Does the Outback have AWD?

All Outbacks come standard with all-wheel drive.

What is the MSRP of the Outback?

The 2018 Outback has a starting MSRP of $25,895 for the 2.5i trim and goes up to $38,690 for the range-topping 3.6R Touring model Titanium trim level. Adding the six-cylinder costs you more, though even the 2.5i Touring powered by the four-cylinder carries a sticker price of $36,490 (excluding destination charge), which is only $2,200 less than its six-cylinder equivalent.

Use Autoblog's Smart Car Buying program powered by TrueCar to search out competitive local pricing and savings on the 2018 Subaru Outback.

Can I read the latest review of the Outback?

Autoblog recently ranked the 2018 Subaru Outback as among the Best Cars for $30,000. We called it "the original crossover" and praised its wagon-like driving demeanor, extra ground clearance, along with the car's standard fitment of all-wheel drive. For car shoppers living in snowy climates, that last feature alone could be one of the Outback's biggest draws.

While it doesn't sit as high off the ground as many crossovers or SUVs, the Outback's lower ride height makes stowing things on the available roof rack that much easier. A lower center of gravity also helps improve ride and handling, especially coupled with the Outback's boxer motors that lay low and flat in the engine compartment.

We do miss some of the original Outback's sportier driving manners – believe it or not, the model has been in the Subaru range for nearly 25 years. Then again, this updated version still does an excellent job balancing all the things wagon (and most SUV) buyers want in a new vehicle.

Calling it "versatile, safe and efficient," it's no wonder the Outback remains so popular, and why it earned a place in our recommendation of Best Cars for $30,000.

To get a sense of how the Outback's closest competitors stack up, use our Compare Cars tool.

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