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Subaru Crosstrek: Get ready to roam

Charles Fleming, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

On the freeway, in manual or automatic mode, the Crosstrek felt comfortable and capable, even at higher speeds.

It's not quite as quiet as one might like, despite an improved "acoustic" windshield, and suffers from the same wind and tire noise that plagues a lot of four-wheel-drive SUVs. A daylong drive might get tedious, but a run to Malibu and back, enjoying the Harman Kardon optional audio system, was perfectly pleasant.

Subaru's version of adaptive cruise control -- part of Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which includes pre-collision braking, lane-keeping assist and lane-departure warnings -- impressed me as well above average.

The EyeSight system is an optional upgrade on the Premium and Limited Crosstreks. When set to moderate freeway speed, it helped the model I drove slow gradually when the traffic slowed, and speed up gently as the traffic returned to normal, without any of the "Hey, look out!" jerkiness that seems baked into some manufacturers' ACC systems.

Subaru's onboard infotainment system comes in two versions and includes a 6.5-inch screen on some models and an 8-inch screen on the Limited. In that formulation, it comes standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, along with voice-activated controls, a CD player, dual USB ports and an easy-to-initiate Bluetooth system.

The model I drove also had standard front seat heaters, a reminder of how well Subaru has done with its four-wheel-drive, four-season cars that function so admirably in rough-weather states. (According to a Kelley Blue Book report from last year, the Outback was the No. 1 selling vehicle in Washington, Oregon and Colorado in 2016.)

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Of the three trim lines, only the top 2.0i Limited model comes standard with Subaru's X-mode and hill-descent control.

I didn't spend enough time off-road to take advantage of these features, but when paired with the Crosstrek's advertised 8.7 inches of ground clearance, increased cargo space and standard roof rails, they should enable some of the kind of backcountry adventuring that Subaru highlights in its advertising campaigns.

How many will test the Crosstrek's off-road mettle? Folks in icy, snowy climes will find the all-wheel drive useful, and will use that roof rack for skis and snowboards. Southern California drivers may want to spin some sand in Joshua Tree or hit the local slopes once the snow starts falling again.

Updated compact SUV has muscle for off-road play

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