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Subaru Outback: New crossover updates exterior, adds new infotainment features

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The Subaru Outback continues to delight those in need of a nicely-sized, car-like crossover utility vehicle and it can take you just about anywhere you want to go, regardless of road conditions

That is because Outback comes standard with a phenomenal all-wheel-drive system and 8.7-inches of ground clearance. Thanks to its car-based platform, Outback offers a relatively low step-in height. So, getting in or out is a breeze.

New For 2018

For 2018, Subaru has applied revised front and rear styling cues, new multimedia systems with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, standard automatic locking doors, updated tire pressure monitoring system, new USB power port at the back of the center console, new premium interior materials on upscale trim levels and a few more upgrades.

Exterior

Even with new exterior styling cues, the overall shape of the 2018 Subaru Outback is a familiar one. In my opinion, Outback is quite attractive, even though it looks like a wagon. In case you need to carry items up top, all Outback models, except top-of-the-line Touring models, come standard with roof rails and retractable cross bars. Touring models feature low-profile roof rails, but without cross bars.

Cabin Feel

Outback’s cabin is spacious and comfortable, with plenty of room for a family of five and their gear. There is 35.5 cu. ft. of cargo space behind the rear seats. With the rear seatbacks folded, the versatile Outback offers 73.3 cu. ft. of cargo space.

Even at the base trim level, Outback’s interior looks and feels nice. Controls are easy to reach and operate. Base models include full power accessories, rearview camera, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration and more.

There are six trim levels offered; 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 3.6R Limited and 3.6R Touring.

Performance

All 2.5i models are powered by a 175-horsepower 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine. The 3.6R models are powered by a 3.6-liter 256-horsepower horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine.

For me, the 2.5i is a bit weak, especially when loaded down with passengers and cargo. Plus, it is fairly noisy. While most Outback buyers will likely choose one of the 2.5i models, I prefer the quieter and more powerful 3.6R engine.

Fuel economy is obviously better with the 2.5-liter. It delivers 25/32 mpg city/highway. The 3.6-liter is only rated for 20/27 mpg city/highway. All Outback models feature a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that performs better than expected. The CVT helps maximize engine torque output at all levels of operation.

Outback delivers a smooth and well-mannered ride. Its sure-footed traction provides plenty of confidence for driving on slippery surfaces.

Technology

I like Subaru’s available EyeSight Drive Assist Technology. It features dual cameras (mounted on the inside of the windshield near the rearview mirror) that scan the road for potential dangers. The system will alert the driver if they stray out of the lane, it can automatically steer you back into your lane, it can apply full automatic braking force in emergency situations, and it includes adaptive cruise control.

Additional safety features available in Outback are Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, High Beam Assist and Reverse Automatic Braking to help prevent backing into other vehicles, people or objects.

Available amenities include leather upholstery, an 8-inch touchscreen display, 12-speaker 576-watt Harman Kardon audio system, power tailgate and more.

For those who want a comfortable, pleasing and safe mid-sized crossover, Outback is a nice choice that begins at $25,895.