2018 Subaru Crosstrek review with video

The basics:

Starting price: $23,695 + tax
As tested: $33,195 + tax
Fuel economy over our week of testing: 7.9 L/100 kms (30 US MPG)
Competition: Chevrolet Trax, Honda HRV, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-3, Subaru Impreza, etc

Subaru’s second generation of the Crosstrek has come out of the gate with a bang. This all new 2018 model has become the best selling Subaru model in Canada after its first month on the market. And it’s no surprise. This sub-compact crossover segment has been growing at a breakneck pace over the last five years as young buyers look for some of the rugged capabilities of an SUV in a smaller package. When we tested the previous generation of this car last year, one of the major concerns for us was second row leg room. But Subaru has magically created a much roomier passenger zone and cargo area while only extending the wheelbase by just 30 milimetres. There’s a lot of really great stuff here in the new Crosstrek so check-out our video review above for the full scoop and then check-out our report card below for our list of pros and cons.

Pros:
– In a world of inflation and ballooning prices, it’s a rare treat to see a new generation of a vehicle actually starting at cheaper base price. Unique to the Canadian market is the Convenience trim, which foregoes things like heated seats, fog lights and a leather wrapped steering wheel, but drops the starting price by $1300
– Standard equipment now includes a 6.5 inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a rear back-up camera and 17 inch alloy wheels
– And, unlike many of its competitors, all wheel drive remains standard on all trims – a serious selling point for Canadian drivers
– Two other optional features that you’ll find unique to Canada on the higher trims include dual zone climate control and a heated steering wheel
– Subaru’s optional Eyesight safety system is one of the best out there and is available on the Sport and Limited trims. This gives you things like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and autonomous emergency braking. Rear cross traffic alert is also now part of the Eyesight system as of 2018, too
– Speaking of safety systems, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has just released its report on the Crosstrek and it got a Top Safety Pick + rating
– If you do opt for the continuously variable transmission, which is a $1300 option, it has been further refined. It’s lighter, more efficient and sportier to drive with available paddle shifters on the steering wheel. We averaged 7.9 L/100 kms over a week of driving which is really respectable for a car with full time all wheel drive. Meanwhile, this CVT really avoids a lot of the droning, motorboating pitfalls you often see from this style of transmission
– Crosstreks equipped with a CVT now also include X-Mode, which improves the car’s traction and offroading capability while in sandy, muddy or snowy conditions
– Speaking of getting into the muck, the Crosstrek has 220 mm of ground clearance. That’s the same amount that you’ll see in the Forester or the Outback and that makes it far more capable than the Impreza, which we drove last winter and we bottomed out a few times throughout the test drive in deep snow
– The new global platform makes the Crosstrek 70% stiffer than the outing model while also giving it a lower centre of gravity. So it feels far more balanced when coupled with some very well-tuned suspension and a connected steering feel
– Its wheelbase may be only 30 mm longer than the previous generation but the second row is so much more spacious and attainable for families
– The Crosstrek’s trunk capacity has grown from 588 litres to 632 litres. You also get a larger trunk opening and flat folding rear seats

Cons:
– The only powerplant available in the Crosstrek is a redesigned 2-litre 4 cylinder engine. And while it has been tuned to churn out 4 more horsepower (now 152 of them) for 2018, it’s still not super peppy for spirited driving. The new six speed manual transmission, rather than the continuously variable transmission that we had in our tester, could help bring the car to life more. Or better yet, this car would be a blast if Subaru offered it with the 2-litre turbocharged powerplant that’s available in the Forester!
– While the interior is far more contemporary and generally looks really good in this latest generation, it is rather mismatched in places. The switchwear is inconsistent, the carbon fibre inlay in our limited trim had a different finish from the front seat to the second row (shiny versus matte) and the leather on the steering wheel has a cheap, plastic-like feel to it
– The interior is also a bit noisy despite improved cabin insulation and powertrain refinement (68 decibels at 100 kms/hr)
– Seat comfort isn’t great and even on the highest trims, there’s no lumbar adjustment for tuning it to your liking
– There’s no 40/20/40 split in the second row so longer items, like skis, will take up at least one of the more spacious second row seats rather than the middle seat

Family Wheels report card:

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 4/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 3.5/5 (68 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 4/5
Family Wheels value score: 4/5

Family Wheels overall score: 38/50= 76%

3 comments

  • Derek

    Would you go for the new 2018 or take a sweet deal on the 2017; as I’m sure a few dealerships are looking to move the older model?
    I ask as I too have a big dog, am taller (6’4) and have a little one on the way, so I am curious about your opinion of the overall practicality of the crosstrek as a second vehicle for my wife and I. Yes, roadtrips and such will happen, but by and large the car will just be around Edmonton and to visit the parents up North from time to time. I’m sick of paying more to fuel up a big SUV when I could get by with something more minimal/basic. I’m looking to buy something realistic, not oversized for those “just in case situations” that never happen.

    Cheers,
    Derek
    PS great videos and it is nice to see some solid Canadian content in car reviews!

    • pkarchut

      Hi Derek… because you’re so tall, I’d splash out on the 18. It is a much roomier car and will give you more wiggle room for second row passengers. Hope that helps!

      • Derek

        Definitely does, thank you!

        Yeah, the height thing is usually an issue. Most vehicles seem to top out for people around 6-6’2.
        I typically end up buying an oversized vehicle beyond my needs just so I can fit comfortably. A bit silly, but I like to keep my vehicles for a long time, so I want to be comfortable while I’m in them.

        Cheers!
        And keep up the great reviews

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