2018 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Limited Review

A true four-seasons hatchback winner, albeit a slow one


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Excellent space and utility for its size, well-made interior, superb adaptive cruise control system, nimble road manners, less granola-esque than its bigger brethren, sweet paint job.
Negatives: Slower than a Basset hound after a nap, mediocre gas mileage, CVT is droning.
Bottom Line: The Crosstrek is a fantastic everyday vehicle that boasts a great new design, upgraded interior, practical space, easy maneuvering and solid tech. It just needs about 25 more horses in order to feel like it's not a total slug.
The Crosstrek is a hot seller for the cult brand. It ranks third after the popular Outback and Forester. It actually occupies a rather niche segment... the all-wheel drive hatchback. If you want all that outside the Subie brand, you have to upgrade to the VW Golf R, Ford Focus RS, but both of those are way out of the Crosstrek's price range, even when it's fully loaded. The 2nd generation Crosstrek improves on the 1st-gen model in terms of equipment and aesthetics, if not substantial power. We drove it for a week in the top trim Limited model to see what it was all about. Read on for our full review.
 

Driving Experience

8.3

 

For such an underpowered car, the Crosstrek is quite fun to drive. If only Subaru would inject a turbo boxer four under the hood, this thing would be near perfect.

Ride Quality: Firm but comfortable. It never feels mushy on the road, but it's also not disconnected. The Crosstrek strikes the right balance.

Acceleration: Weak, but the well-stepped CVT actually helps. Over 9 seconds to 60 is slow, but it's the excessively slow top gear 50-70 mph acceleration that makes us nervous about two-lane passing. You have to use the paddle shifters to make the most out of driving.

Braking: Good brakes that modulate well. We loved the responsiveness of the automatic emergency braking.

Steering: Great, crisp steering with good effort and very quick turn-in.

Handling: It rides tall, but the body roll is minimal.

Technology

7.2

 

Subaru's Starlink system isn't bad thanks to a good screen and large icons, but it could use a bit of work. It took us some time to get acclimated to the less than intuitive system..

Infotainment System: The Starlink's 8-inch screen in our tester was clear and vivid, but its icons seem cheesy, and the menus take some getting used to. The dash-mounted vehicle info screen is confusing, only because it tends to divert your eyes from the Starlink system.

Controls: We like the physical audio knobs, but the infotainment buttons between them feel cheep and a bit small.

Styling

8.6

 

We like the look of the new Crosstrek because it seems more upscale than its predecessor.

Front: The darker grille trim and elongated headlights give the front a stronger appearance, and the black cladding across the entire lower fascia give it added ruggedness.

Rear: Subaru pulled the taillights into the rear door, making them longer and giving the rear a wider look. It's a nice touch.

Profile: The profile remains largely unchanged, except for the deeper body crease and contour that now melds with the rear haunch crease. The Crosstrek looks tall but handsome.

Cabin: The addition of orange stitching on the black leather seats is a nice, sporty touch. Overall, the cabin is well-styled.

Comfort

8.4

 

The Crosstrek is a surprisingly comfortable small car that's more than we expected. It feels wellmade and would be quite suitable for weekend getaways.

Front Seats: Good support and cushioning and plenty of room for six-footers.

Rear Seats: There's not much legroom for taller adults, but the seats are comfortable.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The only intrusive noise is the engine when it's being pushed. The Crosstrek has solid build quality, and there were no vibrations or squeaks.

Visibility: Manageable pillar size and a solid seating position provide good visibility. You can place the car where you want. Even rear sightlines are good.

Climate: The climate control system works well, but we would've liked more airflow from the dash vents. They seemed weak at times.

Safety

9.7

 

The Crosstrek's appeal is seriously increased by its robust safety scores and features. It pretty much nailed the safety tests with flying colors.

IIHS Rating: It earned the Top Safety Pick+ score, nabbing "good" in every crash test, and superior crash prevention technology.

NHTSA Rating: The Crosstrek gets a 5-star crash safety rating, giving it top marks.

Standard Tech: There's plenty of standard equipment including a Rear Vision Camera, great steering Responsive Headlights, Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert

Optional Tech: Our tester came with the impressive EyeSight system that has an Adaptive Cruise Control (the best we've tested this year), Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Lane Departure and Sway Warning with Lane Keep Assist.

Storage/Cargo

8.7

 

If outdoor activity is your thing, then the Crosstrek won't disappoint. There's ample room in back for gear and outdoor toys. The cabin area also has a good amount of useful space for smaller items.

Storage Space: The deep square cubby at the base of the center stack is great to toss small gear items into, while the armrest also works well to keep smaller gear out of sight.

Cargo Room: The Crosstrek has very useful cargo space, and the second row conveniently folds flat. There's 22.3 cubic feet with the seats in place and 51.9 cubic feet with the second row folded flat. This is more than the Kia Soul but a little less than the Honda HR-V.

Fuel Economy

6.5

 

Critics remark that the Crosstrek's gas mileage isn't very good, even though it's rated for 33 mpg highway. Our observations were similar, especially since you have to drive it pretty hard to squeeze out any speed.

Observed: 23.2 mpg

Distance Driven: 183 miles

Driving Factors: We drove it manual mode, which makes use of the electronicaly stepped CVT. Our mpg numbers were likely lower because we gassed it hard and often.

Audio

7.8

 

The upgraded Harman Kardon system is very good with solid sound and clarity. The bass was almost too strong at times, but overall it's a very good system.



Final Thoughts

We thoroughly enjoyed our week in the Crosstrek, and Subaru has done a masterful job of making a capable crossover hatchback that looks more rugged without donning a boxy shape. It steers, handles and brakes incredibly well for a tall wagon-esque vehicle, and the interior is both comfortable and attractive. It's too bad it suffers from a lackluster engine that has to be wringed out to extract any semblance of power. If only they gave it a turbo four boxer engine, the car would be fantastic. For those who don't care about power, the Crosstrek is an excellent choice for a small crossover.
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