Eric's Autos: Reviewing the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek
Not as space-efficient as the Honda HR-V. Not as quick as the Mazda3.
Under The Hood
The '18 Crosstrek's 2.0 liter four is the same size as the '17 Crosstrek's, but it's been fitted with direct injection (vs. port fuel injection last year) and is slightly stronger now: 152 hp at 6,000 RPM and 145 ft.-lbs. of torque at 4,000 RPM. Last year's version of the 2.0 liter engine made 148 hp at 6,200 RPM and 145 ft.-lbs. of torque at 4,200 RPM. Also new is the standard six-speed manual transmission; it replaces the previous five-speed box. A continuously variable (CVT) automatic is optional. Gas mileage is also up to 27 city, 33 highway with the CVT. With the manual, mileage dips slightly to 23 city, 29 highway. Both versions are not as quick as rivals like the Honda HR-V and the Mazda CX-3. But the Crosstrek comes standard with AWD; it's optional in the Mazda and the Honda.
On The Road
While it's not as quick as the peppiest-in-the-segment CX-3, the combination of a growly boxer engine, a manual transmission and that notch-above torque vectoring AWD system make it more fun to drive than you might expect. The Crosstrek's four isn't a powerhouse -- but there is enough power to work well with the CVT.
The manual, though, makes the Crosstrek more fun. The main thing, though, is that the Crosstrek is undoubtedly the most rugged individual in its peer group. You can take it places that less off-pavement-capable small crossovers like the CX-3 and the HRV haven't got the clearance to deal with.
At The Curb
The '18 Crosstrek is marginally shorter overall than last-year's model -- 175.8 inches vs. 175.9 inches -- but it rides on a slightly longer wheelbase: 104.9 inches vs. 103.7 inches. This pushing out of the front and rear axle centerlines made it possible to carve out a bit more room inside. The back seats now have 36.5 inches of legroom, (vs. 35.4 inches before) a gain of more than an inch, which is a noticeable difference. Cargo space behind the second row is a bit less than before -- 20.8 cubic feet vs. 22.3 cubic feet before -- but total cargo space (second row folded down) increases to 55.3 cubic feet vs. 51.9 cubic feet previously.
An interesting thing about the Crosstrek is that it's got a larger-than-most gas tank: 16.6 gallons. The Mazda CX-3's tank holds just 12.7 gallons. That makes the Mazda seem a lit thirstier than it actually is, because even though it rates 27 city, 32 highway - effectively the same mileage as the Crosstrek -- you have to stop to fill up more often because the thing carries almost 4 gallons less fuel.
The Bottom Line
If you miss the old Outback, you will like the new Crosstrek. And if you like the CX-3 and HR-V but need more balance -- or capability -- you will want the new Crosstrek.
To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com. His new book, Don't Get Taken for a Ride! will be available soon.Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate, Inc.