Following in the footsteps of the facelifted Subaru Legacy, the Subaru Outback has also been given a refresh ahead of the 2017 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS). As with its sedan sibling, the jacked-up wagon gains a series of updates inside and out to improve refinement and safety.

Aside from a wider hexagonal grille, there are also redesigned headlights with “Konoji” angular C-shaped LED daytime running lights, along with a reprofiled front bumper that provides extra protection from mud and stones. As standard, there are 17-inch alloy wheels, with Limited and Touring models offering 18-inch items.

Inside, there are more premium materials, as well as a redesigned centre console and a sportier steering wheel. The dashboard features stitching on the Premium trim, as do the seats and door panels on Limited and Touring trims; the latter two models also get gloss black trim and silver control bezels. A grey interior colour scheme joins the existing black and ivory options.

Other changes include the air conditioner, which cools the interior more quickly and provides a more uniform temperature throughout the cabin; the temperature readout has also been moved to inside the control dial to make it more intuitive to operate. In addition, interior power has been made to stay on for a short time after the ignition has been switched off, and the clock is also now larger and more legible.

New for the 2018 model year is the latest Starlink infotainment systems with over-the-air updates and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. The base 6.5-inch unit is larger and quicker, while the 8.0-inch system has a faster CPU for increased startup speed and TomTom navigation. Voice control is improved through the use of twin microphones, and drivers can more easily use Apple Siri or OK Google commands.

Safety-wise, the Outback now gets Reverse Automatic Braking (RAB) with visual and audible warnings, a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), a standard-fit reverse camera with steering guidelines and optional adaptive headlights. Hill start assist is now standard as well.

Meanwhile, the EyeSight package, which adds adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring with lane change assist is optional on most models.

Also added are standard welcome lighting, auto door locks, improved ISOFIX child seat latches and a Starlink Safety Plus suite of emergency and alert services, free for the first year and US$99 (RM440) a year thereafter. Starlink Safety Plus & Security Plus with additional security functions is available as an option.

Engine choices remain the same as before – a 2.5 litre flat-four producing 175 hp at 5,800 rpm and 235 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, or a 3.6 litre flat-six developing 256 hp at 6,000 rpm and 334 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm. A Lineartronic CVT with a new seven-speed mode and shift paddles remains standard, with a smoother response thanks to a revised ECU.

Also fitted as standard is Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system with Active Torque Vectoring and X-Mode; the latter provides enhanced off-roading capabilities by optimising engine output and CVT ratio position, increasing active all-wheel drive engagement and enhancing the control logic for the Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) stability system to reduce individual wheel spin. The system also activates Hill Descent Control.

New refinement upgrades include a quieter ultra-short-pitch chain for the CVT on 2.5 litre models as well as adjustments to engine timing under acceleration. There are also reshaped exterior mirrors, sound-insulating front side window glass and thicker rear wheel well aprons.

Meanwhile, the dampers have been retuned for a smoother ride, the electric power steering made smoother and more linear and the brake pedal feel firmer and more direct.