If you’re outdoors oriented and like to fish, hike, ski, snowboard kayak, canoe and venture into places many cars fear to tread, a Subaru Crosstrek SUV would likely satisfy your needs.
Up until recently, it seemed every other car on the road was a Subaru Outback. Especially in the winter time. And it’s understandable since it’s one of the better compact AWD crossover/SUV’s on the market. I know first hand, as we owned a ’98 Outback that got us through some impressively deep winter snows. But lately, there seems to be a similar number of new Subaru Crosstrek’s on the roads. This second generation crossover boasts a new platform, sporty, angular looks, all in a subcompact size.
Crosstrek is based on Subaru’s 5-door Impreza, but the comparison stops there. Crosstrek is in a class by itself within the Subaru family. It combines stylish lines, high driving position, ample undercarriage clearance and decent utility, all with sedan-type manners. It makes a great car for outdoors oriented folks, college kids, retired folks and yes, there’s a Berks County Constable who uses his to transport prisoners and for warrant services. So it’s a versatile SUV. And it’s very affordable.
The 2018 model comes with a long list of safety features and no extra cost options that many car makers charge for. Newly offered are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, driver-assist features like incline start assist, tire pressure monitoring, fog lights, ABS Brake Assist, Brake Override and tire pressure monitoring systems to name a few.
Of the new Crosstreks seen on the roads, many have bikes, canoes or kayaks lashed to the standard roof rails. In winter, expect to see those rails holding skis on snowboards. It’s an outdoors oriented, all season car.
Crosstrek is offered in base, Premium that was tested and top-line Limited.
After a low 18-inch step-in into the cockpit, you’re treated to a sensibly designed interior with two-tone cloth seats enhanced with orange stitching on the seat seams and on the leather covered steering wheel. The dash and doors are adorned with faux carbon fiber trim that looks very real. Large rotary dials for HVAC are easy to use without having to study the owners’ manual. And the 6.5-inch display (an 8-inch LCD comes with the Limited trim model) serves audio, rearview camera and the (Starlink) multimedia system. The only thing missing up front is a smartphone charger that would fit nicely in the bin at the bottom of the vertical stack. Perhaps the 2019 will have it. And get this. The ignition uses a key, not keyless, which to this old school auto scribe is preferred.
Back seats can easily accommodate three tweens or two large adults, either of which have a good amount of leg and headroom.
Flip the rear seatback (that actually folds flat) and there’s 55.3 cubic feet of cargo space. With them up there’s 20.8 cubic feet. More meaningful, the space with the seats up measures 32 inches deep, 40 wide and 29 high. Flip the seat backs and depth extends to 61 inches. The cargo area liftover is a low 30 inches making for easy loading/unloading of heavy bulky materials. And beneath the floor, there’s some small, out-of-sight, item storage.
Crosstrek gets its grunt from a 2.0-liter, Boxer flat four-cylinder that generates 152-hp and 145 lb/ft of torque. It garners EPA mileage estimates of 23 city, 29-highway mpg with a standard 6-speed manual transmission. A CVT is also offered and those EPA estimates come in at 27 city, 33-highway mpg.
With the manual trans, clutch pressure was light and nicely engaged at the beginning of travel. Performance wise, acceleration from a standard stop does not offer any push-you-in-the-seat effect, but it’s merely a linear application of power. The engine is a tad noisy under hard acceleration, however it’s unnoticeable once underway. A turbo, though, would be nice for merging onto high speed traffic lanes. But for those seeking economy, they’ll be pleased with the 2.0L.
Ride wise on Yokohama 17-inch tires, it’s smooth without feeling boaty on smooth roads, but harsh pavement radiates a bit into the cabin.
Handling is impressive. Subaru dialed just enough tautness into the suspension for decent road feel and when rounding sharp turns taken at speed. There’s almost negligible body lean.
As for Subaru’s famed Symmetrical AWD, it’s sure-footed. And with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, which is taller than many crossovers/SUVs, even some trucks, the Suby can get through some decent snow depths, mud and high water. Despite this good clearance, there’s no tippy feeling nor does the Crosstrek feel unmanageable. And with X-Mode/Hill Control that is now standard, push a button to engage it and it controls the vehicle when descending slippery slopes. By taking your foot off the brake, the system will automatically negotiate the slope, allowing the driver to concentrate on steering. And this isn’t just for offroads, it’s for any slippery, steep roadways.
Affordability is another favorable Cross trek trait. With a very long list of most wanted safety features and amenity items, the Crosstrek came with no extra cost options. The only charge added to the base price of $22,595 was delivery ($915) that took the bottom line to a respectable $23,510. This is a lot of AWD SUV for the money. And it comes as a top safety pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association gave it a full five overall stars, four for passenger side frontal impact and four rollover. All favorable safety ratings for a compelling SUV.