The fifth generation Subaru Outback has undergone its second facelift since its 2014 release, with subtle exterior and interior revisions, added ride refinement and upgraded safety and multimedia tech.
Aesthetic tweaks are mostly confined to the front, which have been redesigned to provide more protection from mud and stones with thicker cladding along the bottom, resulting in a bolder look that’s further emphasised by blackened grille and bash plate, and revised bumper and headlight designs.
Interior changes include a revamped centre console with an optional 8-inch display screen (or standard 7-inch screen) and new stitching detail on the dashboard, upholstery and door trims in higher spec models. A new Titanium Gray interior is now available, in addition to Slate Black and Warm Ivory, and the new steering wheel has a more luxurious look and feel.
The 2018 Outback gets the latest STARLINK Multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and improved voice activation compatible with multiple languages. The system also comes with a range of apps including eBird, which advises of local bird sightings and locations to really reinforce the Outback-driver stereotype.
Two USB power ports are added to the back of the centre console for rear seat passengers, who also benefit from improvements to air-conditioning circulation.
Subaru says handling has also been enhanced with the chassis, suspension, steering and braking all tweaked for a smoother and more responsive ride.
It’s also quieter. Wind noise is also lower due to reshaped wing mirrors, sound-insulating glass for the front side windows and thicker rear-wheel well aprons. Noise in the 2.5i models will also be reduced with the Lineartronic CVT gearbox less whiny thanks to a quieter short-pitch chain and adjustments to engine timing under acceleration.
Safety enhancements include Lane Keeping Assist now activing at 60km/h, predictive steering guidelines on the reversing camera display, steering responsive headlights and reverse automatic braking (RAB) which can objects in the vehicle's path while reversing and convey audible warnings to the driver, showing distance and position of the object in the centre display screen.
The 2018 Subaru Outback is expected to arrive in Australia early next year against a growing number of direct competitors including recently revealed 2018 Holden Commodore Tourer, Skoda Superb 4X4, Volkswagen Passat Alltrack and for those with a few extra dollars to spare the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain and Audi A4 Allroad.