The Subaru Crosstrek compact SUV was introduced to the U.S. market for model year 2013 as the Subaru XV Crosstrek. Three years later XV was eliminated from the name and it has been simply Subaru Crosstrek ever since.
Beyond its sporty and outdoorsy good looks, Crosstrek attracts buyers by having off-road capability, on-highway civility, flexible and ample room for passengers and cargo, and Subaru’s acclaimed all-wheel drive system. While these qualities might also be found in other Subaru SUVs such as Outback and Forester, Crosstrek has lower pricing and higher fuel economy ratings.
For 2018, Crosstrek is all-new. This second-generation version is built on Subaru’s new global platform, whose increased rigidity improves the car’s handling and keeps passengers more comfortable by reducing noise, vibration and harshness.
Its raised suspension with Stablex dampers provides 8.7 inches of ground clearance, a boon for rugged off-highway travel and more than enough to handle any typical snowstorm in the Puget Sound region.
A new six-speed manual transmission is standard, replacing the previous five-speed, and the 2.0-liter engine now has direct injection, hastening response to acceleration demands. Horsepower is boosted for 2018, up to 152 from the outgoing model’s 148. At 145 lb-ft, the torque rating is unchanged. A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) with seven-speed manual shift mode is available and includes paddle shifters.
All models are standardly equipped with active torque vectoring technology, a system that helps a driver keep the car in check during lively cornering. Crosstrekkers don’t tend to be driving enthusiasts who enjoy carving curves, but the system is a good friend to everyone when road conditions are slippery.
Another improvement on the 2018 Crosstrek is one I hope no buyers ever experience for themselves: a 40-percent betterment in crash energy absorption over the previous model.
The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek is available in base, Premium and Limited trim levels. For all its improvements, pricing starts at $22,710 including destination charge, which is only $100 more than the outgoing model’s pricing.
My tester was a Premium model with a manual transmission and a fuel economy rating of 23/29/25 mpg. Though the manual transmission’s shifting is precise and effortless, keeps the pricing down and gives some extra punch to the engine’s less than explosive performance, I’d opt for the CVT because its EPA numbers are a much better 27/33/29 mpg. And during the stop-and-go conditions that are becoming the norm in the Northwest, manual transmissions have no fun factor.
To the base model, which is already well-equipped, the Premium trim adds Subaru’s Starlink multimedia system including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay; an all-weather package (heated front seats, windshield wiper de-icer and heated exterior mirrors); and automatic on/off headlights linked to windshield wiper operation. Wouldn’t it be great if that last feature were mandatory on all vehicles sold in Western Washington?
With its new platform and resulting ride improvements, plus the technology updates, the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek should appeal to an even broader range of buyers than those who became fans early on, and I was among them. Crosstrek already had the roominess, practicality, functionality and visual appeal to make it competitive in the small SUV segment, but now it’s a standout.
2018 SUBARU CROSSTREK PREMIUM
Base price, including destination charge: $23,510
Price as driven: $23,510
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.