The 2018 Subaru Outback compact crossover has roomy seating for five people and a spacious rear cargo area designed with outdoor enthusiasts in mind. (Manufacturer photo)

The 2018 Subaru Outback compact crossover has roomy seating for five people and a spacious rear cargo area designed with outdoor enthusiasts in mind. (Manufacturer photo)

The Subaru Outback is a big hit with Washingtonians

Altered styling, interior upgrades and new multimedia systems are among the changes for 2018.

According to Kelley Blue Book’s list of the most popular vehicles in the U.S. based on new car registrations in 2016, the Subaru Outback is Washington state’s favorite.

For 2018, Outback’s styling has been altered in the front and rear, including a new grille, redesigned bumpers, and C-shaped headlights with LED daytime running lights.

There are a number of upgrades to the interior, such as USB power ports for rear passengers, automatic locking doors, new infotainment systems with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and new premium materials including genuine stitching on the dash, seats and door panels. The tire pressure monitoring system now detects pressure changes at individual tires, and the front side windows have sound-insulating glass for greater noise reduction.

When equipped with the standard 175-horsepower four-cylinder engine, the 2018 Subaru Outback is available in four different trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, and 2.5i Touring. Base pricing, listed in the same order and including a $915 destination charge, is $26,810, $28,910, $33,610 and $37,405.

A 256-horsepower six-cylinder engine powers the Outback 3.6R Limited and 3.6R Touring models, priced at $36,310 and $39,605 including destination charge.

All versions of the 2018 Outback have a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and Subaru’s signature all-wheel drive.

Fuel economy ratings are 25/32/28 mpg for the four-cylinder engine, and 20/27/22 mpg for the six-cylinder.

For 2018, the Subaru Outback compact crossover has an upgraded interior with premium materials and new multimedia systems. (Manufacturer photo)

For 2018, the Subaru Outback compact crossover has an upgraded interior with premium materials and new multimedia systems. (Manufacturer photo)

My tester was the top-of-the-line 2.5i Touring model whose standard features, above and beyond what’s included on the other trims, include a 10-way power driver’s seat, an all-weather package (adding three-mode heated front seats, heated side mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer), body-color foldable exterior mirrors, and Subaru’s premium Starlink multimedia system featuring navigation and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

It’s easy to understand why the Subaru Outback sells so well in our state, where outdoor activities are popular, environmental concerns are an important issue, recreation area access roads can be rugged, and streets are often slippery.

In spite of its compact, maneuverable size, the 2018 Outback has an enormous amount of interior space, even for rear seat riders. In addition to the generous rear seat legroom, there’s high clearance beneath the front seats, where back-seaters can comfortably “stow” their feet even if wearing hiking shoes.

Rear seats flip down more easily than any I’ve encountered, using handles in the cargo area or at the top of the seatbacks. The sturdy, removable and waterproof cargo area liner ensures wet or muddy items are no problem. The retractable and removable cargo area cover is also nice and sturdy.

I never thought I’d rave about a car’s floormats in a review, but the ones in my Outback tester deserve recognition. Made of fiber similar to Berber carpet, they are an attractive black-and-brown patterned color that completely camouflages dirt. Outdoor enthusiasts who like a clean car (my hand is raised) will appreciate how easily they can be removed, shaken out and replaced, yet still stay firmly in place while driving.

2018 SUBARU OUTBACK 2.5i TOURING

Base price, including destination charge: $37,405

Price as driven: $37,405

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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