By Daryl Killian

“Sport”….utility….looks….economy.…price….all-wheel drive….surely people are not still wondering how Subaru has become one of America’s fastest growing brands, are they?


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Once known as the unofficial “Official Vehicles” of New England and Colorado because of their all-weather capability, Subarus are now common sights in all 50 states….and the sport, utility, looks, economy and price mentioned above are why.


While this is a completely unofficial survey, I suspect that Subarus have some of the most occupied roof racks on the road.  Think about it….how many times have you seen a Subie with a kayak or paddleboard, or bicycles on the roof?


While Subaru’s Crosstrek has transitioned from an all-weather vehicle to one of the vehicles of choice for those who know what the letters “REI” stand for, it’s also a fine choice for those who simply value the utility of four doors plus a hatch…the security of all-wheel-drive…30+ MPG regular gas economy….and finally, a bit of style, too.


Subaru’s ’18 Crosstrek looks much like last year’s version, but there’s differences in the “bones” underneath….making today’s Crosstrek even stronger.   Even Subaru’s much larger Outback uses the same basic “bones” as does the Crosstrek.


You’ll also find a bit more space…easier assess to the rear…and an improved engine.


In just a few short years, the Crosstrek has become Subaru’s third best selling vehicle….only beat by their Outback and Forrester SUV’s…..vehicles that have been on the market for decades now.


So let’s see why the Crosstrek has been such a hit.


On first glance, it could be mistaken for Subaru’s Impreza hatch….and in fact, the two are almost twins.   While both have all-wheel-drive, the Crosstrek stands a bit taller….giving it that sporty, athletic stance that today’s drivers seem to prefer.

In addition to a bit higher drivers’ position, the Crosstrek gives you 8.7” of ground clearance….to better plow thru mounds of snow, dirt, mud, or sand.    You also get black cladding on the wheel arches and standard roof rails.


Both the Crosstrek and the Impreza come with 2.0 liter fours putting out 152 HP.

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If you like shifting yourself, Subaru offers a new 6-speed manual.   Your other choice is a $1,000 CVT automatic.    This Continuously variable transmission does a much better job than others in terms of giving the driver the feel of gears actually shifting up and down.   Subaru says it has the feel of a 7-speed auto, in fact, and even offers paddle shifters.


While you can get an Impreza starting under 20K, a Crosstrek will run a few thousand more….but comes with a bit more content.


Every Crosstrek comes with all-wheel-drive, roof rails, 17” alloys, and Apple Car Play and Android Auto.


Most that you’ll probably see on your dealer’s lots will be “Premium” versions like our test car….with heated seats, hands-free connectivity, tire pressure monitoring, a cloth interior with contrasting stitching, body-color mirrors, a 6-speaker audio system, fog lights, a leather-wrapped wheel and shifter, and auto on / off headlights.     All that, and you’d still in the low $20’s.


Our test Crosstrek also had a few options….sunroof, Subaru’s “Eye Sight” drivers’ assist package of adaptive cruise, auto pre-collision braking, land-departure and sway warning, and lane-keeping assist…plus blind-spot detection, lane-change assist and rear cross-traffic alert.    With al this, our window sticker still did not crack $27,000….which, today, is around $8,000 under the average price of a vew vehicle sold today.


Want leather and ‘18’s?    They’re just a few thousand more.


Regular-gas mileage is 27 city and 33 highway with the Crosstrek….up to 37 highway with the lower-riding and more aerodynamic Impreza.


And each will give you 20.8’ of storage behind the rear seats….and a big 51.9’ with the rear seats folded.


If you hear the outdoors calling…or just want to look like you do….Subaru’s Crosstrek may deserve a spot on your shopping list.


And one last thing……back to that 2.0 liter four cylinder engine. It uses the same basic design that Porsche uses…..for a lower center of gravity and better handling.   Just sayin’……………..

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(Bob Jackson – CBS Local)