The Subaru Crosstrek is popular for many reasons; it’s a likely mix of pleasing styling and familiar ruggedness, combined with class-leading safety.
What is it?
The Subaru Crosstrek is a essentially a Forester with zingy styling – the Crosstrek replaces the Forester’s boxiness with a curvy roofline and other sporty touches.
Pricing and trims
Crosstreks start at $21,595 for the base 2.0i, which is $1,000 less than the Forester 2.0i.
You can stick with the 2.0i and add features with the $22,395 Premium and $25,095 Limited, or you can choose the Crosstrek Hybrid in $26,395 base or $29,995 Limited trim.
The tested Crosstrek 2.0i Limited added the $2,895 Option Package 23, which includes keyless access and push-button start, a power moonroof, Starlink navigation and the EyeSight active safety suite.
Subaru is a leader both in crash test performances and active safety features, and the Crosstrek is no exception. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Crosstrek just about as highly as it can, with a top rating in the small overlap front test and a full array of EyeSight alerts and crash prevention measures.
EyeSight is not available on the base 2.0i, and it’s a $1,995 option on the 2.0i Premium. The option price climbs to $2,895 for the 2.0i Limited, where it adds in the power moonroof and keyless entry/pushbutton start.
EyeSight is available only with the $1,000 CVT automatic transmission, and EyeSight is excluded from the Crosstrek Hybrid.
All three Crosstrek 2.0i trims have the same 148 -horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The Hybrid raises output to 160 hp, which is there to balance the Hybrid’s extra 250 or so pounds, according to Subaru‘s specs.
This engine is quick off the line, with a sharp response to the throttle. The midrange can a feel a little flat, but those moments are fewer than the times the Crosstrek runs strong.
The Crosstrek 2.0i Premium and Limited have the choice of a standard five-speed manual or a $1,000 CVT automatic. If you wanted the EyeSight active safety suite, then you’d have to choose the CVT.
The CVT’s operation is usually innocuous, but hilly terrain can provoke the rubberband-like CVT responses that car enthusiasts gripe about. It’s in the engine’s flatter midrange that the CVT’s elasticity shows itself the most, but it becomes minimized when the Crosstrek gets itself moving.
Ride and handling
The Crosstrek and other Subaru models will soon migrate to a more universal body platform, and part of the benefit of the new design will be greater solidity. The Crosstrek could use it; we had just stepped out of the redone 2016 Chevy Cruze, and the comparative looseness of the Crosstrek’s structure was notable.
It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it actually felt like it was part of the rough-and-ready feeling that once characterized Subaru’s cars. But the body’s extra twist showed itself in fast bumpy curves.
Otherwise, the Crosstrek’s supple suspension give it a satisfying ride. The Crosstrek’s raised ride height and big wheel travel help it devour rutted city streets, and the body motions are well-controlled.
The Crosstrek treats its front passengers to panoramic views and plenty of headroom and legroom, even for taller drivers, though they may wish for more thigh support from the flat lower cushion.
The Crosstrek’s rear seats easily swallowed six-footers behind front seats that were set for them, and the curved roof still left enough headroom for taller occupants.
The orange stitching looping around the front seatbacks is a cute touch of color.
The Crosstrek’s sporty styling exacts its price in cargo capacity. The Crosstrek’s 22.3-cubic-foot measurement is 12 cubic feet less than the Forester’s, and the Forester’s advantage opens up to nearly 23 additional cubic feet over the Crosstrek’s 51.9 cubic feet with the second row folded.
Infotainment and controls
Subaru’s Starlink system has a clean interface and a highly responsive screen. On the downside, the screen’s glossiness could catch the sun through the open moonroof and wash out the interface. The glossiness also highlighted the fingerprints and dust that infotainment screens can quickly accumulate.
The center armrest bin had USB and power connections, and it was easy to feed out the charging cord and slot my iPhone 6s Plus into the cupholder, which thoughtfully has a notch that keeps the phone elevated above the cupholder surface, which could flood with liquid from an uncooperative cup.
The larger iPhone also fit into the center stack’s bin, which had its own power point.
Steering wheel controls are varied and versatile.
The Crosstrek is popular; sales for the first six months of 2016 are up 3.2% over the year prior. It’s easy to see why, as the Crosstrek is a likely mix of off-road styling flourishes and a city-sized overall length – its 175.2-inch measurement easily slips into spots that would be too long for the Forester – or the Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, for that matter.
The Crosstrek has that distinct Subaru feel, from the thrummy engine to the utilitarian interior furnishings. The CVT dilutes the fun, but the benefits that come with the optional, CVT-only EyeSight safety suite are probably worth it.
Overall, the Crosstrek is a smart variant of the Forester. Where the Forester can be exceedingly practical, the Crosstrek gives buyers the choice of blending the Forester’s essence with something that looks on-point with current styling trends. The Crosstrek is a good idea that’s made better with its solid execution.
2016 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Limited
Base price: $25,095
Price as tested, including $850 destination charge: $28,840
Option Package 23: $2,895
Subaru Starlink 7-inch Navigation with SiriusXM
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
- Expressive styling
- Roomy interior
- Absorbant ride
- Could-feel-tighter body structure
- Limited thigh support in front seats
- Odd grouping of EyeSight into option packages