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Quick Take: 2018 Subaru Outback Limited

A popular mid-size crossover with a loyal following

Eleonor Segurawriter, photographer

SAN PEDRO, California - There's something about the Subaru Outback that attracts the general public and what that is I am still pondering. It is no revelation that the Outback is one of Subaru's best-selling cars beating the Forester in recent sales. In 2016 the Subaru Outback swept first place on 24/7 Wall St. 's "Cars So Hot They're Sold Out." That helps to explain why I found myself driving one among several others on the streets of San Pedro.

If the Subaru Outback made a run for U.S. President it would easily win voters in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. What demographic buys the Subaru Outback anyway? If I had to make a fair assessment I'd say folks that regularly engage in outdoor activities such as kayaking, snowboarding, surfing, and hiking. Taking the ideal consumer into consideration I have to admit that when I first got into our 2018 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited tester I felt like an imposter.

The morning fog began dissipating as I prepared to go on my five-mile walk along the coastal region of San Pedro. I drove toward my starting point, a small parking lot over-looking Cabrillo Marina. When I stepped out of the Subaru Outback it dawned on me that this car suited my lifestyle. The rugged mid-size crossover added to my outdoorsy appearance, boosting my confidence. As I initiated my morning walk I glanced back at the crimson red Outback with its glistening 18-inch alloy wheels and felt a sense of pride.

Later in the day I visited my great aunt in Orange County, who instantly expressed her approval of the Outback. I drove her around town as she did errands and every time she returned to the passenger seat she praised the Subaru. "What does one of these cost, anyway?" She asked. "I bet it is expensive," her friend commented. I explained to them that this particular model had a starting price of about $34,000 and they argued that it had to be far more expensive. I politely accepted their assertion as to not prove them wrong and ruin their fascination with the charming Subaru.

The 2018 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited is powered by a four-cylinder 175 hp BOXER engine capable of producing 174 lb-ft of torque and has a starting price of $33,610. It has a Lineartronic CVT that offers a smoother response than before courtesy of a retuned ECU. Notable interior updates for 2018 include high-gloss black trim, a Steering Responsive LED Headlight system, an improved STARLINK multimedia system (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), and a revised air conditioning system that cools the cabin more rapidly. For exploring off pavement standard in all 2018 Outback models are driver-selectable X-Mode, Active Torque Vectoring, and Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive.

In addition, Subaru applied strategic enhancements throughout to minimize road noise and improve ride quality. They include sound-insulating glass for the front side windows, thicker rear wheel aprons, redesigned exterior mirrors in combination with retuned suspension dampers, brake and steering systems. Taking it a step further Subaru also made adjustments to the CVT and engine timing to reduce powertrain noise.

Back in Pedro, I was making a run to Sprouts Farmers Market for groceries when, in simultaneous fashion, another brand-spanking-new Outback parked in front of me. A young male driver stepped out and nodded in approval at the sight of my Outback. After this spontaneous encounter I started noticing the Subaru's countless relatives.

The Outback's extended family covered every hue of the color spectrum ranging in age from beat-up-looking to hot off the dealer lot. In total defeat, I quit counting the number of Oubacks that were either waiting their turn at a stop sign, going through an intersection light, being loaded with items, or parked. Lastly, not to mention all the Outbacks that either had furniture, a kayak, or a surfboard mounted on the roof. It was astonishing to me how I hadn't noticed this car's loyal following and authentic popularity.

After finishing my grocery shopping next on my agenda was a jump rope session at Royal Palms Beach Park. I parked the Subaru Outback near a cliff just before sunset and this setup started attracting the attention of others. Passersby approached me to either ask a question or simply compliment the Outback. "I love that car!" one man shouted. "That's a great car!" another man commented. "How much does this model cost?" a woman asked. One group of fishermen chatted with me about the Subaru Outback's unique exterior. Clearly the Subaru had a huge fan base.

I routinely do outdoor fitness and after utilizing the 2018 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited as my support vehicle I no longer felt like an imposter. The various uses and range of drivers I witnessed driving a Subaru Outback along with the reactions of others proved to me that a broad demographic adores the Subaru Outback. There is something authentic about the Outback's popularity, which in my eyes sets it apart from other best-selling cars.

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2018 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited Specifications

PRICE $33,610 (base)
ENGINE 2.5-liter DOHC flat-four/175 hp @ 5,800 rpm, 174 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION Continuously variable
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 25/32 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 189.6 x 72.4 x 66.1 in
WHEELBASE 108.9 in
WEIGHT 3,713 lb
0-60 MPH N/A