The all-new 2018 Subaru Crosstrek is a crossover ready to off-road

The Subaru Crosstrek is a crossover with genuine off-road chops.

The all-new 2018 Subaru Crosstrek
The all-new 2018 Subaru Crosstrek –Subaru

The Subaru Crosstrek is all-new this year with engine enhancements, design changes, and improved technologies that make it a more appealing entry-level crossover. There are loads of crossovers on the market these days, but the Crosstrek stands out for its combination of off-road capability, versatility, and affordable starting price.

The Crosstrek shows off rugged styling that differentiates it from the rest of the pack, especially with colors like Sunshine Orange. Rather than the smooth curves typical of crossovers, the Crosstrek is bold with a more sculpted body. It looks ready to go off the beaten path.

Many crossovers say they’re the perfect vehicle for active lifestyles, but in practice they fall short. The Subaru Crosstrek delivers with an interior that’s comfortable and attractive while still being durable enough to handle a little dirt and water. No high-end leathers or fancy suedes adorn this interior. Instead, there are cloth seats with leather trims available on the top end of the range. Seating is attractive and comfortable without being high-maintenance.

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This year’s Crosstrek has a longer wheelbase, which makes for a roomier cabin. There is plenty of space in the back seat for two adults, and three will be just fine on shorter drives. There’s also an extra 1.1 inches of legroom to make it even more comfortable for taller folks.

As for loading up cargo, 20.8 cubic feet of space are behind the 60/40 split-folding rear seats. When the rear seats are folded down, the space increases to up to 55.3 cubic feet, which is 3.4 cubic feet more than the outgoing model. Loading heavy or bulky cargo is easy thanks to a low load floor, wide rear opening, and tailgate that’s easy to pull down with one arm.

Adding to the vehicle’s utility, 8.7 inches of ground clearance help to manage rugged terrain. The Crosstrek can truly off-road, making short work of loose gravel, sand, and uneven surfaces. It strikes a good balance between smooth, on-road cruising and off-road capability.

Boston.com Dealer Specials:

Active torque vectoring is now a standard feature across the lineup, and there’s an available X-Mode on select trims. These features work to provide better traction and control in rough conditions, whether you’re off-roading or simply trying to manage a snow-covered highway on your daily commute. Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive is also standard on every Crosstrek, so you can drive with confidence even when road conditions are less than ideal.

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Although this is a crossover, the Crosstrek drives more like a sedan. Handling is surprisingly agile and responsive, even during high-speed highway driving. Steering is tight, which makes driving the Crosstrek less tiring, especially on longer road trips.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine that now has direct fuel injection. This gives the Crosstrek 152 horsepower with 145 pound-feet of torque, marking a four-horsepower increase over the outgoing model. That’s not a huge leap, but the extra horsepower does make it a more responsive engine. It’s no sports car, but it easily merges into highway traffic and delivers a nice burst of speed for passing other vehicles.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard with the option for a continuously variable automatic, which is standard on the top trim only. Our test car was the top Crosstrek 2.0i Limited with the CVT. These tend to be noisy transmissions, but Subaru did a good job insulating the passenger compartment, so the sound isn’t intrusive, even under hard acceleration.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard across the lineup, and there are numerous available safety technologies like the Eyesight system. It adds adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warning, and lane keep assist. Blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, reverse automatic braking, and high-beam assist are also available.

The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek takes what was already a solid, off-road capable crossover and makes it an even more attractive package. Pricing is $21,795 for the base Crosstrek 2.0i, $22,595 for the 2.0i Premium, and $26,295 for the top 2.0i Limited.

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