By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
While pickup trucks continue to dominate best seller lists, crossovers have flooded the new car arena with the Crossovers and pickups taking 70 percent of the top 30 bestseller slots for 2017. We think it’s the additional practicality and versatility is driving the sales to active families.
Since it’s introduction five years ago, the Crosstrek has been a rising star in the Subaru brand’s record setting pace. (As of January 2018, Subaru has had 74 consecutive months of yearly month-over-month growth.) Last July Subaru did a from the ground-up replacement (95 percent new) of the Crosstrek built on Subaru’s new Global Platform. The platform was first used for the latest generation Impreza which debuted in 2016.
The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek wears Subaru’s “Dynamic x Solid” design language. It includes the brand’s signature hexagonal grille, hawk-eye headlights, a more sculptural body, and pronounced wheel arches. Crosstrek rides on a 1.2-inch longer wheelbase with a slightly longer and wider body, plus it has a minimum 8.7-inches of ground clearance. A new window configuration also improves visibility.
The interior is larger and incorporates 60/40 split flat-folding rear seats and a wider rear gate opening to make loading gear easier. The cargo area holds 20.8 cubic feet with the rear seats in place and can be expanded to hold 55.3 cu. ft. with the seat back folded.
From a technological standpoint, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features along with Subaru’s Starlink In-Vehicle Technology. The Starlink includes Connected Services with the Safety Plus package that offers SOS Emergency Assistance, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Automatic Collision Notification, Maintenance Notifications, Monthly Vehicle Health Report, and Diagnostic Alerts. This package can be upgraded to the Safety Plus & Security Plus package that adds Stolen Vehicle Recovery Service, Vehicle Security Alarm Notification, Remote Lock/Unlock, Remote Horn and Lights and Remote Vehicle Locator.
Under the hood is a revised version of Subaru’s 2.0-liter 4-cylinder Boxer engine now with direct fuel injection and other modifications that boost horsepower slightly to 152 (up from 148-hp) and smooth out the SUVs drivability. The EPA rates fuel economy at 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway – we averaged 28.1 mpg. A 0 to 60 mph acceleration run takes 9.0 second according the buff magazine numbers.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the two lower models, but most buyers will choose the optional ($1,000) Lineartronic CVT. Normally, we are not enamored with continuously variable transmissions, but the Subaru version is one of the best available. It gives the driver better control, and a more positive feedback than most competitors. The latest generation also has wider ratios which not only help fuel economy, but off-road pulling power. The Subaru CVT has a seven-speed manual mode function that mimics a geared automatic transmission using the steering wheel paddle shifter and when accelerating in the automatic mode.
Like all Subaru models, the Crosstrek has the standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. The system uses an electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch that adjusts the torque distribution based on acceleration, deceleration, and available traction. The system improves handling significantly on dry and even more so on slippery surfaces.
An addition to the standard drivetrain is Active Torque Vectoring which was first introduced on the WRX and WRX STI. The system helps reduce understeer and keeps the vehicle on the driver’s intended cornering path. The Crosstrek does have a 1,500-pound towing capacity, or enough to handle a snow machine or small boat.
There are three different trim levels offered for the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek including the 2.0i, 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Limited. One of the best optional features available on the Crosstrek is the EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology which is only offered on the Limited, unfortunately. It adds driver assists including Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Pre-Collision Braking and Lane Departure and Sway Warning, plus a Lane Keep Assist function, Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The package also includes High Beam Assist, Reverse Automatic Braking, and a moonroof all for $2,095. For $3,445, the option adds a navigation system with eight-inch screen and the Starlink® infotainment features including SirusXM satellite radio and a group of cloud-based applications including a bird watching app.
Crosstrek pricing ranges from $22,710, including the destination charge, for the 2.0i, and goes up to $27,210 for the Limited. With most of the available options, the Limited price can go over $34,000 but it will want for nothing short of more luxury appointments. Subaru offers an excellent selection of aftermarket accessories including a variety of devices for carrying recreational equipment on the roof.
The new Subaru Crosstrek is a significant improvement on an already impressive compact SUV. It’s fun to drive, handles well and is very comfortable. A turbocharger would be nice addition, but that will probably be reserved for WRX models.