Exactly the right vehicle, timing-wise and arriving at the right time (by which I mean, just as the weather turned wintry out here and the snow began to fall) the Crosstrek made itself instantly welcome.
Not just because it is the latest, 2018 Subaru Crosstrek, either, I’d have been equally glad to have the previous year’s model, or for that matter just about any Subaru product.
And here’s the thing, just as a piece of trivia: pretty much any mountain town I’ve ever visited, anywhere where they get a lot of snow, Subaru is the nameplate I see on most of the vehicles owned by the people who live there. Well, Subaru and Jeep.
Naturally, the all-wheel drive system (Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD) is what has made their lineup a hit among their fans in climate zones similar to mine, and the Crosstrek has been embraced as much for its ability to handle the adverse conditions as for its more car-like size.
The whole lineup employs a 2.0 litre, four-cylinder engine that brings ample power to the platform (152 horses and 145 lb.-ft. of torque). In terms of power, it isn’t dominating its class with those numbers, but the Boxer engine delivers better fuel economy than many of its rivals – Subaru boasts a combined city/highway consumption of 8.1 L/100 km, which is pretty decent.
My test vehicle, a Limited trim with the company’s Eyesight package option, used a continuously variable transmission to put the power to the wheels (and, as a note of trivia, the Limited model is only available with the CVT as of 2018, previously a six-speed manual was offered).
Also new for the upcoming year is that all Crosstreks equipped with this transmission will be equipped with the company’s ‘X-Mode’.
X- mode is, basically, an automated system for managing tricky terrain at low speeds. Activated by the touch of a button on the center console, I think of it mainly as a hill-descent control – it works with the transmission and AWD to maintain torque distribution and engine power.
I’ve seen and experienced X-mode in demonstrations with Subaru’s Forester, crawling down a frighteningly steep and rocky path in mountainous terrain; and I’ll vouch that it works well.
But it was in mostly urban settings that I used this Crosstrek, and thus enjoyed the vehicle more for the general selling points that bring buyers into this segment.
The Crosstrek provides a car-sized footprint that its customers like, and the smooth ride they are looking for; and at the same time brings slightly higher sightlines and better ground clearance (which is a big deal for many in my neck of the woods, where the road surface can be pretty uneven, and nobody likes to hear their undercarriage or front bumper scrape).
Anecdotally, a comment I always hear when I show a car like this to any member of our um, ‘more aged’ population (you know, seniors, oldsters, the more fossilized generation) is the added height of crossover vehicles makes getting in and out of them easier. I am increasingly finding that I enjoy that as well.
I’ll warn you, though, that the Crosstrek has less overall headroom inside than many of its competitors, but in all fairness, this won’t trouble anyone under six feet tall, and has never been mentioned by any of the owners that I know.
The Crosstrek lineup starts at a really reasonable $23,695 for the base/entry-level model, and my test vehicle with its Limited badge and Eyesight package pushed that into the thirties.
Eyesight brings a collection safety technology to the vehicle: adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance (which is a new inclusion for 2018) and braking intervention that will aggressively step in and actually brake the car if it detects that the vehicle is backing into something.
All of which are good things to have, and overall the Crosstrek itself makes a case as a good thing to have, as an all-round capable light duty family-oriented everyday conveyor.