The Crosstrek is the smallest vehicle in the Subaru line-up and gets redesigned for the 2018 model year. Many of the shortcomings in the previous model have now been fixed making the Crosstrek a versatile option for those who want a reasonably priced wagon that can go off-road.
Technically the Crosstrek is a subcompact crossover. When it was introduced for the 2013 model year, the only competitor was the Nissan Juke. Now there are about a dozen.
The appealing commercials for the Crosstrek have helped sales numbers surge. One commercial features a young man trying to win over his girlfriend’s skeptical old dog, Butch. The other commercial features a Grandpa who meets up with his grandson for a secret surfing adventure. Grandpa’s driving his vintage Subaru while his grandson drives the Crosstrek. Ok, I love dogs and who doesn’t love the idea of a young man wanting to hang 10 with his still-adventurous grandpa. I feel like rushing out to buy a Crosstrek every time I see one of these spots.
The five-passenger 2018 Crosstrek comes in three trims: 2.0i, 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Limited. Starting prices range from $21,795 to $26,295. All-wheel-drive is standard.
All trims have the same engine: a 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder engine that makes 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. The base and Premium trims come standard with a six-speed manual transmission. A CVT with seven-speed manual mode function with paddle shift control switches is standard on the Limited trim and available on the others.
The Crosstrek feels underpowered at times. It’s not particularly quick off the line and you’ll wish for more power when trying to merge or pass at freeway speeds. Once you’re up to speed, though, it cruises right along. It’s small enough that you can easily maneuver in city traffic. The CVT shifts more smoothly and doesn’t groan as much as the outgoing model. Visibility is great all the way around.
The Crosstrek has 8.7 inches of ground clearance to take you off the beaten path. It drives well on gravel and dirt roads and you’ll barely notice the rough terrain. It can tow 1,500 pounds.
The CVT models get much better fuel efficiency than models with the six-speed. EPA ratings for my tester are 27 mpg city and 33 mpg highway with a combined rating of 29 mpg. I got 28 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving. Models with the six-speed get only 23 mpg/29 mpg with a combined rating of 25 mpg.
The updated interior has a modern feel with nicer materials. Like most Subarus, function is prioritized over style so the interior can feel a bit Spartan compared to some competitors.
The cabin is spacious; even adults will enjoy plenty of legroom in the roomy back seat. Cloth upholstery is standard and leather is available. The Premium and Limited trims get snazzy orange accent stitching. Seats are comfortable but aren’t the most supportive. You may wish for more padding on long trips.
The Starlink infotainment system is user-friendly. The central touchscreen is surrounded by physical buttons and has Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Pandora, Aha, and Bluetooth. A 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard or you can upgrade to an eight-inch screen. One downside: the base and Premium trims only have one USB port. You have to get the Limited trim to get two ports.
A rear view camera is standard. Several driver assistance technologies are available including Subaru’s EyeSight system which includes adaptive cruise control, automatic ore-collision braking, lane departure, sway warning, lane keep assist, blind spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.
The Crosstrek has more room than the average subcompact crossover. There are 20.8 cubic feet in the hatch with all seats in place and 55.3 cubes with the rear seat folded down. It has a 60/40 split and folds flat. That and the wide hatch opening make it easy to haul larger items.
Spacious cabin with lots of room for passengers
Above-average cargo space
Enough ground clearance for some off-roading
User-friendly infotainment system
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard
Many driver assistance technologies are available
Costs more than many other subcompact SUVs
Models with the manual transmission have poor gas mileage
My tester starts at $22,595. The CVT adds $1,000. The Subaru EyeSight Driver Assist Technology and moonroof add $2,395. Destination fee is $915 bringing the grand total to $26,905.