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2018 Subaru Outback Review

The 2018 Subaru Outback boasts an excellent safety score, standard all-wheel drive, and lots of room for your crew and their belongings. It's one of the best in our wagon rankings.

Pros & Cons

  • Comfortable, roomy seats
  • Class-leading cargo space
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Base engine labors to accelerate when car is full
  • Higher price than similar vehicles

New for 2018

  • Interior and exterior styling updates
  • Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Rankings & Research

The 2018 Subaru Outback ranking is based on its score within the 2018 Wagons category. Currently the Subaru Outback has a score of 8.1 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 41 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.1

Overall

Scorecard

Overall: 8.1
Critics' Rating: 8.8
Performance: 7.8
Interior: 8.3
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.6
Safety: 9.8
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the 2018 Subaru Outback a Good Used Wagon?

Yes, the Outback is an outstanding used wagon. It delivers plenty of practicality, making it a great alternative to a small crossover SUV.

The 2018 Outback offers impressive strengths:

  • Supportive seats and lots of room in both rows
  • Cavernous cargo hold
  • Outstanding safety score
  • Good gas mileage with base engine
  • Can tow up to 2,700 pounds
  • High ground clearance

There are a few drawbacks worth noting:

  • Base engine can struggle when the car is loaded
  • Higher average price than similar wagons and compact SUVs
Why You Can Trust Us

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about the Subaru Outback in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data (like fuel economy estimates, horsepower specs, and cargo space dimensions) with 41 professional Subaru Outback reviews.

At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Jobs, Best Hospitals, and Best Colleges to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. We've been ranking and reviewing the Best Cars since 2007, backed by a team with more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. To keep favoritism out of the picture, we maintain a separate advertising team and decline expensive gifts and trips from car companies.

How Much Is the 2018 Subaru Outback?

Based on listings for the 2018 Subaru Outback on our site, the average list price of $28,100, which is high compared to rival wagons and other SUVs. Prices range from $23,600 to $34,000 and vary depending on the vehicle’s condition, mileage, features, and location.

See the Best Used Car Deals »

How Much Does the 2018 Subaru Outback Cost to Own?

The 2018 Outback’s five-year costs for gas, insurance, repairs, and maintenance are projected to be $22,000, or $4,400 per year. That’s below average for a used 2018 wagon, and it's thousands less than what a 2018 Audi Allroad will likely cost over the span of five years.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Outback?

For 2019, the Outback gains several standard features, including the EyeSight suite of advanced safety features, an extra USB port, and an upgraded display for the driver. EyeSight is a valuable addition as it adds features such as pre-collision braking and adaptive cruise control. You don't necessarily have to buy a 2019 Outback to get these safety features, since they are also available in upper trim levels of 2018 models.

We still recommend buying new, however, as you can likely get a base 2019 Outback for less than a midlevel 2018 Outback. Retail prices for a 2019 Outback start at $26,350. In comparison, Subaru Outback prices for used 2018 models are close to $28,000 on average. 

Read about the new Subaru Outback »

The current generation of the Outback began with the 2015 model year. Updates over the years include more optional safety features added for 2016 and 2017, as well as the addition of the Touring trim for 2017. For 2018, Subaru refreshed the Outback's exterior and interior, adding optional tech features such as advanced smartphone integration and adaptive headlights. If these upgrades aren't important to you, consider an older model, which likely cost less.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 Outback »

See the Best New Car Deals »

See the Best New Car Lease Deals »

How Reliable Is the 2018 Subaru Outback?

J.D. Power gives the 2018 Outback a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Read more about Outback reliability »

2018 Subaru Outback Recalls

As of this writing, there are two safety recalls for the 2018 Subaru Outback:

  • Rearview camera image may not display
  • Incorrect fuel range display may cause stall

Before buying any used vehicle, make sure all recalls have been addressed.

See more information on Subaru Outback safety recalls »

Which Used Subaru Outback Trim Is Right for Me?

The 2018 Subaru Outback comes in four trim levels: base, Premium, Limited, and Touring. All four trims come standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a continuously variable automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive. The Limited and Touring trims are available with the 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine.

We recommend the 2.5i Premium as the best value. With only a modest price increase above the base trim, it rewards travelers with goodies such as a larger touch screen and separate climate settings for the driver and front passenger. Drivers will also find the heated, power-adjustable driver's seat to be more agreeable.

  • Subaru Outback 2.5i: The Outback's standard features include cloth upholstery, an infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a USB port, a four-speaker sound system, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera.
  • Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium: Notable upgrades for the 2.5i Premium include dual-zone automatic climate control, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, HD Radio, satellite radio, and the upgraded infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen.
  • Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited: The Limited trim comes with leather seats, a power-adjustable passenger seat, heated rear seats, blind spot monitoring, lane change assist, and a Harman Kardon audio system.
  • Subaru Outback 2.5i Touring and 3.6R Touring: This top-of-the-line trim gets the EyeSight suite of advanced safety features, a heated steering wheel, reverse automatic emergency braking, and the upgraded infotainment system with navigation.

See 2018 Subaru Outback trims and specs »

What Does Subaru's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Subaru offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles five years old or less and with fewer than 80,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. For its certified pre-owned vehicles, Subaru extends the original new-car powertrain warranty to seven years from the original sale date or 100,000 miles. Subaru provides no additional coverage for CPO vehicles, so buyers receive the remainder of the original three-year/36,000-mile new-car warranty. However, buyers can purchase additional coverage. Every CPO Subaru must pass a 152-point inspection. Additional benefits like owner loyalty discounts, a one-year Starlink Safety Plus trial subscription, towing, and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Subaru warranty page carefully.

Subaru’s CPO program isn’t particularly robust, according to our analysis. Among affordable automakers, Toyota, Mazda, Honda, and many others have better programs.

See the best CPO programs »

Read more about the Subaru certified pre-owned program »

How Safe Is the Outback?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the Outback a 2018 Top Safety Pick+, the organization's highest designation. In addition to acing every crash test, Outback models equipped with EyeSight offer a top-grade Superior level of front crash prevention. Properly equipped models earned the highest rating of Good for the headlights, though some models earned the next-best rating of Acceptable or lower (some earned a Marginal rating).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Outback an overall rating of five out of five stars.

Standard advanced safety features:

  • rearview camera

Available advanced safety features:

  • automatic pre-collision braking
  • reverse automatic emergency braking
  • adaptive cruise control
  • automatic high beams
  • steering responsive headlights
  • blind spot monitoring
  • rear cross traffic alert
  • lane keep assist

See Outback safety scores »

2018 Subaru Outback Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2018 Subaru Outback or 2018 Honda CR-V?

The 2018 Honda CR-V is an excellent alternative to the Subaru Outback, and it's one of the best compact SUV in our rankings. In fact, we named it our 2018 Best Compact SUV for Families and 2018 Best Compact SUV for the Money. Chances are good that you'll spend less on a CR-V as well, since its average price undercuts the Outback's by about $1,200. If you lead an adventurous lifestyle, though, we recommend going with the Outback. It has a higher ground clearance, standard with all-wheel drive, and a higher tow rating.

Which Is Better: 2018 Subaru Outback or 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen?

In a side-by-side comparison with the 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen and Golf Alltrack, the Subaru Outback has more rear-seat legroom and more cargo space behind the back seat. It also sits 2 to 3 inches higher off the ground, and it can tow heavier trailers. If you don't plan on exploring the backcountry, though, you should go with the VW. It has a peppy turbocharged engine and an upscale interior. One of its biggest differences between these two wagons is price; the Golf SportWagen tends to cost around $8,100 less than the average Outback.

Compare the Outback, CR-V, and Golf SportWagen »

2018 Outback Performance

How Does the 2018 Subaru Outback Drive?

The base four-cylinder engine in the Outback is agreeable for commuting, especially with its above-average fuel economy. If you go exploring in high elevations, or if you load your wagon full of people and belongings, the Outback can feel strained. The more powerful six-cylinder engine is a much better match for these scenarios.

The Outback has sedanlike handling on the highway, with responsive steering and a suspension system that absorbs most pavement imperfections. It's also fairly adept at tackling mild off-road trails, thanks in part to its standard all-wheel drive and 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

  • Base engine: 175-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder
  • Available engine: 256-horsepower 3.6-liter six-cylinder
  • Drivetrain: all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: continuously variable automatic (CVT)
Does the 2018 Subaru Outback Get Good Gas Mileage?

With its four-cylinder engine, the Outback has an above-average fuel economy rating in our wagon rankings. That's especially impressive considering all-wheel drive comes standard in this Subaru.

  • Four-cylinder: 25/32 mpg city/ highway
  • Six-cylinder: 20/27 mpg
2018 Subaru Outback Towing Capacity

The Outback can tow up to 2,700 pounds when properly equipped.

Read more about Outback performance »

2018 Outback Interior

 How Many People Does the 2018 Outback Seat?

The 2018 Outback seats five people in two rows. The front seats are very comfortable, particularly with the upgraded power adjustments and supple leather upholstery. The rear seats are also cushy, and legroom in this zone is very generous.

Standard seating features:

  • cloth upholstery
  • height-adjustable driver's seat

Available seating features:

  • leather upholstery
  • power-adjustable driver's seat
  • heated front and rear seats
  • leather-trimmed steering wheel
  • heated steering wheel
How Many Child Car Seats Fit in the 2018 Subaru Outback?

The 2018 Outback has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and an upper tether on the rear middle seat. The middle seat can also borrow a lower anchor from each adjacent seat. The Outback's LATCH connectors earned the highest rating of Good from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for ease of use, as all of the hardware can be easily found and takes little effort to use.

2018 Subaru Outback Features

Subaru improved upon the Outback's infotainment system for 2018, taking an interface that was already great and making it even better. Every trim level comes with a responsive touch screen and modern graphics. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are among the newly added standard features for 2018. The upgraded navigation system is easy to operate, in part because of its user-friendly pinch and swipe gestures.

  • Standard infotainment features: Starlink infotainment system, 6.5-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a USB port, Bluetooth, and a four-speaker sound system
  • Available infotainment features: an upgraded 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system, HD Radio, satellite radio, a Harman Kardon audio system, and navigation
  • Other available features: a moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and push-button start

See 2018 Subaru Outback specs »

Read more about Outback interior »

2018 Subaru Outback Dimensions

Subaru Outback Cargo Space

The Outback leads our wagon rankings with 35.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. Collapse the 60/40 split-folding back seat to have up to 73.3 cubic feet. A power liftgate is optional.

These cargo dimensions are for comparative purposes. There is no substitute for visually examining the storage area in any car you’re considering.

2018 Subaru Outback Length and Weight
  • Length: 15 feet, 10 inches
  • Curb weight: 3,622 to 3,902 pounds

Where Was the 2018 Subaru Outback Built?

Subaru built the Outback in Indiana.

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