Subaru Crosstrek: For the Highway and Happy Trails of Life

By Sue Mead, November 25th, 2017

I loved teepees, camping and s'mores when I was a young girl, and in fact, I still do. So, I was thrilled to be invited to go on a "glamping" trip with the all-new 2018 Subaru Crosstrek test drive vehicle.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2018 Crosstrek offers enhanced performance, safety, capability and comfort
Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2018 Crosstrek offers enhanced performance, safety, capability and comfort

Our glamorous camping lodging was in individual teepees and, yes, there were s'mores on the menu. Also on the menu was the opportunity to see some of America's most majestic scenery, as we motored on a 200-mile-long route along ribboned byways and over backcountry dirt tracks in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

While many buyers think of Subaru's all-wheel-drive safety and well-mannered driving and handling, the Crosstrek also appeals to individuals, couples and families who enjoy the outdoors and backcountry recreation. They'll be pleased with its upgrades.

The Crosstrek is built on Subaru's new Global Platform, like the Impreza sedan, but it's been endowed with a more rugged look, more sporty characteristics and true SUV performance. It brings enhanced capability, comfort and class-leading interior and increased cargo room in a compact package, with a wider opening tailgate that will accommodate adventure gear and up to three sets of golf clubs.

The 2018 Crosstrek is priced starting at $21,795, which is an increase of only $100 more than the 2017 edition.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2018 Crosstrek offers enhanced performance, safety, capability and comfort

The updated exterior design integrates the brand's signature hexagonal grille and hawk-eye headlights onto a more sculpted body; its toughened stance is accented by prominent wheel arches, flowing lines and 17-inch alloy wheels. Black side-and wheel-arch cladding, lower rocker panels and roof rails create a sharp contrast to the body color.

The new outside look carries over into the well-appointed cabin that has 60/40 split-flat folding rear seats. Longer and wider than the previous generation model, visibility is also improved. Multimedia features include standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and Near Field Communication to simplify Bluetooth pairing.

The 2.0i base and Premium trims come standard with a six-speed manual transmission or an available Lineartronic CVT. Crosstrek Limited and Premium trims come standard with the CVT, with a seven-speed manual mode function via steering wheel paddle shifters.

All trim levels with the CVT now come standard with driver-selectable X-Mode to enhance all-wheel-drive traction and provide better wheel control on slippery surfaces and steep inclines. Active Torque Vectoring, first introduced on the Subaru's rally-winning WRX and WRX STI models, is now standard on all trims; it helps reduce understeer and keeps the vehicle on the driver's intended cornering path.

Under the hood, Subaru's revised 2.0-liter Boxer engine gets boosted performance with increased horsepower (now 152 vs. 148 before). Other improvements are upgrades to the CVT and a new manual transmission that has six gears, replacing the five-speed manual. The heart of the powertrain is the Japanese automaker's highly-regarded all-wheel-drive system; off-pavement abilities are enhanced by X-Mode, hill-descent control, and 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new 2018 Crosstrek offers enhanced performance, safety, capability and comfort

We enjoyed the top handling characteristics of the newest version of the Crosstrek, choosing a Limited trim with black roof rails. Notable during our drive was the quicker steering, improved road response to hitting bumps in road, better braking and the quieter, more comfortable cabin.

We were impressed by Subaru's claim that its fuel economy and 16.6 gallon fuel tank combine to give a "kidney-busting driving range" of 547 miles, calculated to be 9 hours of motoring at 60 mph.

The new Crosstrek has higher levels of safety than the outgoing model, which was named an IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK for six years running, when equipped with the available EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. Improved driving stability comes from a lower center of gravity, revised suspension systems and EyeSight that enhances straight-line stability, agility, and ride comfort while suppressing noise, vibration, and harshness. The system bundles Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Pre-Collision Braking and Lane Departure and Sway Warning.

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