WASHINGTON — Subaru has had a hit with the Crosstrek. It was introduced a few years ago as “the right car at the right time,” meaning it was the right size for some who thought the compact crossover had become too large yet still offered room for a small family.
I drove the first generation Subaru Crosstrek and wasn’t blown away, especially with the interior quality for a loaded $30,000 price tag. Subaru went back and made amends for this year’s model. The materials are much better with a higher-quality look and feel. Again, I drove the top-of-the-line Limited model and the price of $30,655 is nothing to sneeze at, but this time it feels like a car that commands the price.
The leather trimmed seats are a bit firm, as are most Subaru’s seats, but they never become uncomfortable. The orange stitching on the seats, steering wheel and throughout the interior adds a bit of color and pop inside. Space is good for this class with decent head and legroom both up front and in the rear seats; it has more space in the back than before. It is lacking vents for rear seat passengers.
An 8-inch screen with standard rear vision camera is a nice touch for this class and for 2018. You also have smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. One place where the Subaru Crosstrek excels is the optional EyeSight driver assist system. It combines adaptive cruise control, automatic precollision braking, lane and sway warning with lane-keep assist helping keep you on the road.
Driving the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek is also an improved experience, thanks to the new platform it rides on. Where the last version was loud on the road with wind and tire noise, this new 2018 version is more hushed with much less noise transmitted inside the car. With AWD, the Crosstrek is very sure footed in all conditions and the high ground clearance of over 8.7 inches means this little crossover can tackle some deep snow or some light off-roading.
Power comes from a four-cylinder engine with 152 horsepower. It’s not very quick but it’s spirited with an aggressive gas pedal. It seems quicker than it is. You can have a six-speed manual with some trim levels but the Limited I drove has a CVT automatic that thankfully acts like a normal automatic most of the time. Fuel mileage was pretty good also. I managed 29.5 mpg for my week of mixed driving.
The styling has also been updated; while it’s not a huge departure from before, the new Crosstrek does look more like a crossover than the tall wagon. The body is a bit more chiseled than before with a more pronounced front end, larger grill and blacked-out trim. The large fog lights also say “tougher crossover.” From the side it looks bigger than before. The roof rails, black lower body cladding and tinted rear windows also show that this isn’t a boring wagon but a-go-anywhere machine. In the rear, the Crosstrek does its best to spice the look up with a rear spoiler over the rear hatch and new taillight cluster out back.
Subaru is one of the best at making a useful wagon into a hip ride by raising it up a bit. The 2018 Crosstrek uses this formula and makes a fun-to-drive ride that can go places that most small crossovers wouldn’t dare go. But with a new high-quality interior and many safety features the new Subaru is a better subcompact crossover.
Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.