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Used Car Review - 2018 Subaru Crosstrek By Steve Purdy

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Review by Steve Purdy

The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

There is much to admire in the redesigned Crosstrek, Subaru’s small crossover. In spite of being painfully underpowered (at least for this driving enthusiast), it has a lovely interior, impressive styling and stance, immense practicality and no design excesses.

The automaker’s marketing people love to define the ideal customer for a particular vehicle. This one, I’ll suggest, is for a Minnesota hippie who appreciates the quality of the driving experience (manual trans and AWD), but not in a hurry to get anywhere. Or, an unpretentious urbanite with off-road intentions. Or . . . lots of others. One element of its success is its appeal to a variety of demographics, including cops in the mountains.

Redesigned for 2018, Crosstrek is loosely based on the Impreza compact sedan but it is quite a different vehicle. It gets a tiny bit bigger than the outgoing model, the result of styling that follows modern trends for small crossovers. It is most certainly not flashy, eschewing excess sculpting, jewelry and aggressive details. It has little brightwork to catch the eye and lots of black accents. The 17-inch alloy wheels and impressive 8.7-inch ground clearance give it a distinctively off-roady stance.

Crosstrek’s interior is surprisingly nice for a low-end car, but, again, nothing fancy. Contrasting stitching on the sturdy, high-quality fabric seats offer one of the few distinctive design features inside. Everything else is conventional and simple with good materials put together flawlessly. Standard audio, connectivity with basic apps and other vehicle functions are managed on an easy-to-navigate 6.5-inch touch screen.

Rear seats fold 60/40 revealing about 55 cubic feet of cargo space, just a few clicks better than the outgoing model. The big news here is 4 inches more width for the rear hatch making for easier loading of big stuff.

The tepid, 2.0-liter, direct-injected, boxer (horizontally-opposed) four-cylinder engine puts out 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. A modern CVT (continuously variable transmission) and full-time, “Symmetrical” all-wheel drive put that power to the road in an effective manner without regard to road surface. Towing capacity for all models is 1,500 pounds.

The little boxer is good for 33 mpg on the highway and 27 around town on regular fuel according to the EPA. Our experience was easily within that range. The lower two trim levels come standard with a manual transmission – bravo! – but only the CVT comes in the top level. The manual transmission powertrain is rated 3 mpg less than the CVT.

Many of us appreciated the unique rhythm of the early Subaru boxer engines and could feel it throughout the car, particularly the six-cylinder. But you’ll not feel that much in this one – too many cabin-quieting efforts going on. Cabins of all modern cars are quieter and more serene with each redesign, meaning we get more insulation from the mechanical systems. With low and high RPM you’ll feel a bit of that rhythm, but thorough the middle ranges . . . not so much.

The charm of all Subaru's, except the little rear-wheel drive sports car called BR-Z, is the “Symmetrical” all-wheel drive, distinguished by all wheels pulling all the time. There is much to be said for the sophisticated, computerized, adaptable all-wheel drive systems in many cars today, but few could outperform a Subaru in the mud, snow and ill-tended gravel roads. When you sit in a café in Northern New Hampshire on a dismal, rainy day, like we did not long ago, you’ll notice that nearly half the rolling stock passing by are Subaru's, for good reason.

Crosstrek starts at $21,795 for the low-end 2.0i trim level. MSRP for the 2.0i Premium starts at $22,595. And the top-of-the-line 2.0i Limited starts at $26,295.

Subaru’s new vehicle warranty covers the whole car for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

With good handling, conservative good looks, a dependable, if anemic, power train and ability to thumb its nose at bad roads, you might want to include the Crosstrek on you shopping list. It also, by the way, holds its value better than just about anything else in its class.

Note to Subaru: This car would be great with a turbo.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

CR Rating: 2018 Subaru Crosstrek
Overall Score 80 Road Test Score 87
Predicted Reliability (n/a) Satisfaction (better) - 29 MPG

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