In the mix of utilitarian, quasi-cute and versatile, Subaru created one of its most popular model in recent history in the Crosstrek.
A small package with an equally small starting price, the Crosstrek builds upon Subaru’s go anywhere at anytime versatility with its all-wheel-drive that supports a small yet rugged appearing package that provides the economy, surprisingly roomy interior and versatility the import firm is known for.
Given a 2016 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Premium to test, I found exactly why people like the heck out of this vehice. It’s size belies interior room, it didn’t squander safety features and it just looks different enough from its stablemates to make ponder what car they’re actually looking at. One look inside requires the doors to open to see if the interior is fit for clowns or accommodates humans.
Like most trendy automakers, Crosstrek is also offered with a Hybrid setup, but given its efficient 4-cylinder Boxer engine, small packaging and relative light weight, there’s really no need to empty you greenbacks on that model. With EPA estimates of 26 in the city and 34 on the highway (29 combined) you’d be hard pressed to complain when you pull up to the pump.
Back to the economy or the sticker: Priced with a base of $22,395 for a vehicle with the model name Premium is a refreshing double-take no doubt. There’s a ton of standard features that includes a rear backup camera, HD radio, Bluetooth, and the required large touch screen in the dash and leather wrapped on the steering wheel and shifter.
Adding to the sticker was a CVT transmission for another grand to handle the power sent from the 2.0-liter, Boxer engine. A five-speed manual mixer is standard. The CVT made me harken back to the days of the Subaru Justy and then-unknown star Kirstie Alley plugging it in TV commercials. The Justy was hard to justify and moreso with the underpowered motor and CVT package.
Unlike the Justy, the 2-liter powers the Crosstrek just fine in normal daily driver use. Equipped with 148 horsepower and 145 lb.-ft. of torque, it provides potent power for the masses that may not notice the sometimes hesitant nature of the CVT (critics look for such things) or the accompanying sounds of it summoning strength to surge on. It’s not overly obtrusive, yet somewhat noticeable.
Creature comforts includes the $1,995 option package that included the Subaru Starlink multimedia system, featuring an upgraded infotainment system, pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, pre-collision throttle management, and eyesight driver assist. It’s a hefty upgrade but it’s a bunch of safety stuff you’d want in a pinch and to help you out. For that complete package and comparable offerings it’s a good deal.
While I was constantly amazed at the interior room and functionality in the front and back seats I also discovered a compliant ride that sometimes felt too firm. The suspension handles the bumps and road rash keeping it from the cabin. Handling was solid, steering input was direct and road feedback was solid.
Subarus are known for laughing at winter conditions in New England and when they first appeared I asked the owners how they liked their new cars and they all responded with a single phrase: love it. With its AWD Subarus are known to saunter through snowdrifts with the footing of a mountain goat with hiking boots.
While somewhat utilitarian in its features and appearance, the ride, versatility and capabilities have clearly matriculated down the model line….as they should.
Buyers seeking more room, a taller greenhouse and creature comforts should move across the showroom to the vaunted Forester or additional upscale offerings in the showroom. With its year-round capabilities, Subaru has something for everyone.
But for those on a budget, a small garage and a car to haul a canoe, biccyles, or stow the snowshoes, the Crosstrek is a great selection.
2016 Subaru Crosstrek Premium
Base price: $22,395
As tested: $25,390