A competent all-season buy for the budget-conscious shopper

2016 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Limited Review

An off-road ready, versatile ride at a bargain price

By: Lindsay Prossnitz

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: April 19th, 2016

Subarus have become synonymous with two things: all-wheel drive and boxer engines. The Japanese automaker makes some of the best vehicles money can buy, offering reliability, safety and versatility across the board. The 2016 Subaru Crosstrek is no exception to this reputation and fills a unique spot in the market. While the options for crossovers on the road today are endless, the Crosstrek offers an interesting blend of features from various segments. Its higher ride height gives it the stance of a utility vehicle, with a beefed-up suspension for off-road capability. But, it also sports sleeker styling, being an Impreza hatchback at heart. All of this culminates to bring a vehicle with nimble maneuverability, a tougher-looking exterior and all-around versatility.

  • Driving Impressions

    The Crosstrek is offered in five different trims, with 5-speed manual and continuously variable transmission setups, plus a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain. All Crosstreks come with a 2.0-liter Subaru boxer four-cylinder rated at 148 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. While Subaru's boxer engines are known for their durability and reliability, they aren't so much heralded for their potency. You'll be able to put 200K+ miles on the Crosstrek, but it won't be from racing. Despite being a bit sluggish on the uptake, it's scrappy and moves around well like its hatchback cousin.

    • Ride Quality: On the road it's nothing but smooth cruising for the Crosstrek. It's able to handle uneven surfaces, nicely cushioning passengers from bumps in the road.
    • Steering: Electric power steering is responsive, making the Crosstrek easy to maneuver about, though a windy day on the highway will cause you to be a bit more attentive to the wheel as it will require slight adjustments to keep it in its lane.
    • Acceleration: Acceleration is lackluster, with the CVT performing in a not-so-subtle (noisy) manner.
    • Braking: Braking is impressive and immediate. With Subaru's EyeSight Driver-Assist System, Pre-Collision Braking is included so when the system senses a collision is imminent, it will send an alert to the driver and then apply full braking force. We experienced this while in traffic on the highway during a gap where drivers were speeding up, only to have to slow down 100 yards ahead. After hearing the warning system chime, hitting the brakes was met with a whiplash-inducing halt. While it was a bit startling how powerful the brakes were, it also is a testament to how well the system works in avoiding potential fender-benders.
    • Handling: Despite its taller ride height, the Crosstrek still feels grounded. Once it gets going, it provides quick responses, with an athletic feel in corners. With Subaru's legendary standard all-wheel drive system, it's able to expertly tackle road, gravel, dirt, ice, rain, snow and everything in-between.

  • Technology and Safety

    Just this past year, Subaru updated the infotainment system in its Crosstrek. A 6.2-inch touchscreen now comes standard with a 7.0-inch multi-touch gesture included on upper trims. Subaru's Starlink telematics suite of emergency services also makes its Crosstrek debut. In addition, Subaru offers incredible safety and crash prevention with its Subaru EyeSight Driver Assist technology. It provides an extra set of eyes on the road, and when need be, an extra foot. Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert have been added for 2016, while Blind-Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert are now standard on Limited and Hybrid Touring models.

    • Infotainment Screen Size/Quality: The 7-inch touch, infotainment screen displayed clear images and was responsive to touch gestures.
    • Bluetooth Phone Pairing: It was a smooth and easy process to pair my smartphone.
    • Sound Quality: No issues making or receiving calls, with crisp audio on both ends.
    • Controls: The Crosstrek has a neatly organized dash, with minimal buttons surrounding the infotainment screen, in addition to volume and audio tune scrolling knobs for convenience. Three large, round controls adjust the heating and cooling elements of the vehicle for simplicity. The Crosstrek still sports Subaru's traditional analog instrument cluster.
    • Safety: With the Crosstrek's host of standard safety systems and available driver assistance features, it's no surprise it received a five-star overall safety rating from the government and was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

  • Exterior Design and Styling

    The 2016 Crosstrek has a handsome mug. It gets mildly revised front-end styling, with a raised suspension for taller ride height. Restyled bumpers and bigger wheels and tires give off a more rugged look, hinting to its off-road prowess. The 2.0i, 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Limited all come standard with 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

    • Front: The Crosstrek gets a new grille, front fascia, bumper and headlight design with multi-reflector halogen headlights and auto on/off headlights.
    • Rear: Fender flairs, a rear spoiler and raised roof rails give it a distinguished look. The sturdy roof rack can also carry up to 150 pounds.
    • Profile: The Crosstrek has a handsome profile, with sleek, sporty hatchback styling.

  • Driver and Passenger Comfort

    Interior styling is where utilitarian meets style. The cabin is neat and straightforward, but even various trims and material upgrades won't make it feel swanky. But then again, that's not really Subaru's image. It appeals to those looking for rugged adventure, not a pampered cruise, but that doesn't mean it isn't comfortable, it's just more practical. The light refresh for 2016 brings gloss-black and silver dash trims, plus orange stitching on the armrests, shift lever handles, steering wheel and center console. And, all models get nighttime LED illumination from the center-console area.

    • Front Seats: Our Limited trim had leather-trimmed, heated front seats that felt supportive. The driver seat was easy adjust for height, reclining and back and forth sliding.
    • Rear Seats: The rear seats are well-contoured for adults, with plenty of legroom space to keep them happy.
    • Visibility: A higher ride height makes for a perfect driving position, with great outward visibility.

  • Storage and Cargo Room

    Though the Crosstrek is a compact crossover, it feels anything but inside. It offers a generous amount of space with 43.5 inches of legroom in the front and 35.4 inches in the rear. It can genuinely fit five adult passengers without anyone feeling like they're sitting on someone's lap. It also incorporates several storage areas into its layout to stash all your belongings.

    • Storage: There are plenty of nooks to store your things, from side pockets on the front doors, to front cupholders, a useful concave space in the center stack and a storage compartment in the armrest.
    • Trunk/Cargo Room: The cargo area was well designed for utility, to actually hold the equipment someone with an off-road capable vehicle might haul around. The cargo area features a large, wide, flat area with a removable rubber tray that could easily be hosed off. Plus, easy-folding 60/40 split rear seats open up even more room to accommodate larger objects.

  • Final Impressions: Versatility is its middle name

    The Crosstrek may not be the boldest, flashiest, or most powerful compact crossover out there, but it certainly is one of the most useful. Whether you're needing a competent daily driver for commuting, or a capable companion for outdoor adventures, the Crosstrek is up to challenge. It offers a smooth ride on various terrain and gets impressive fuel economy with a 29 mpg combined rating. With a starting price of just $21,595 for the base model, the Crosstrek is an affordable vehicle that allows customers to do more with it, while also providing peace of mind backed by top-notch government safety ratings, a host of technology features and solid all-wheel drive.

  • Specifications and Price

    Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder

    Transmission: Continuously variable

    Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel drive

    Power Output: 148 horsepower / 145 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 26 city / 34 highway

    Base Price: $25,095

    As Tested: $28,840 (incl. $850 destination fee)

    Standard Features: All-wheel drive, rear vision camera, Blind Spot Detection and Lane Change Assist, daytime running lights, privacy glass, roof rails and fog lights, 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, automatic climate control, 7.0-inch infotainment system, Starlink smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth, cruise control, HD Radio and SiriusXM, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, leather-trimmed upholstery, All-Weather Package with heated front seats.

    Options on our test vehicle: Power moonroof, keyless access with push-button start, EyeSight Driver-Assist System, Pre-Collision Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Sway Warning, Pre-Collision Throttle Management System, Subaru Starlink navigation system, SiriusXM satellite radio.

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