Subaru’s Outback mid-size crossover gets what the automaker calls a major refresh for 2018, along with a $1,300 bump in base price to $29,295, which coincides with the discontinuation of the manual transmission that was part of last year’s entry-level package.
However, that new staring price is the same as the 2017 tag for last year’s base model with the automatic transmission added. This update follows on the addition of a handful of safety features and functions a year ago.
Among the more obvious changes is a new front end featuring a redesigned grille; the door mirrors and rear bumper are also new. Subaru says the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) now standard in four-cylinder 2.5i models now has a seven-speed manual shift mode, all 2.5i trims get the brand’s PZEV (partial zero emissions vehicle) designation and a new power brake booster promises better stopping power.
Inside, new air conditioning and steering wheel controls were conceived for better functionality, acoustic front door glass aims to reduce noise levels in the cabin, plus rear seat passengers get a pair of USB charging ports. A new 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment display replaces last year’s 6.2-inch unit, and now supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. All models starting from the one-up-from-base 2.5i Touring get a new dashboard centre stack and instrument panel, along with an 8.0-inch infotainment screen.
Other additions include adaptive LED headlights for 2.5i Limited and Premier models, and the six-cylinder-powered 3.6R Limited; there are also new 18-inch wheels for Limited models with both 2.5i and 3.6R powertrains.
Subaru also claims safety improvements owing to a stronger chassis, automatic door locks, better child seat anchors and a collision detection function that can automatically unlock the doors.
As before, the Outback is available with Subaru’s excellent EyeSight active safety package, into which the automaker has integrated the automatic high beam feature in order to eliminate one of the forward-facing cameras built into the rear-view mirror housing.
Beyond the elimination of the manual transmission, Outback’s powertrains are unchanged: the 2.5i’s four-cylinder makes 175 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, while the 3.6R’s flat six is good for 256 hp and 247 lb-ft.
Other Outback models get nominal price increases, with the range topping out at $42,195 for the 3.6R Premier with EyeSight, a $600 increase over the equivalent 2017 model.
The 2018 Subaru Outback will arrive at Canadian dealerships later this summer.
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