In 1968, one of our favorite automotive brands arrived in our country.
A gentleman named Malcolm Bricklin, along with his business partner Harvey Lamm, started distributing small vehicles, such as the Fuji Rabbit scooter and the tiny Subaru 360, to franchises across the country. 50 years later, Subaru continues to be a growing automotive brand that has catered to our community—among many customers they have attracted throughout these past five decades.
Bricklin and Lamm might not have envisioned the GLBT community’s love for Subaru back in 1968, but we certainly contributed to the company’s success here in America.
We could not find a better way to celebrate Subaru’s 50th anniversary in the U.S.A. than to write a review on one of its latest products. How about the new 2018 Crosstrek?
The Crosstrek is based on the Impreza compact hatchback, but given a higher ground clearance and specific equipment to make the Crosstrek drivable in conditions and surfaces an Impreza might not want to go on. It might not have the space of two of our favorite Subarus—the Outback and Forester—but it fits perfectly for those who have active lifestyles and just need enough space for adventures that do not require a lot of cargo space to accomplish.
The differences between the Impreza 5-door and Crosstrek are easily found on the outside. The Crosstrek gains a different grille texture, plus cladding around the wheel arches and on the rocker panel, and different front and rear bumpers designed for use away from the tarmac. The most visual difference is the 8.7-inch ground clearance—a 3.6-inch lift from the regular Impreza. The wheels and tires are taller compared to the Impreza. While the Impreza 2.0i Limited rides on a set of 17-inch wheels and 50 aspect tires, our Crosstrek 2.0i Limited gets larger 18-inch wheels and a 55-aspect tire that is also wider.
In all, the Crosstrek looks ready to be taken anywhere. The advantage of its smaller size would be the possibility of taking it where larger vehicles will not be able to go. Narrow bridges, for example, along with tighter trails. Even places where snow plows could not get a clear shot through.
Another twist to the Crosstrek’s story is where this vehicle is being positioned in the marketplace. With a growing number of subcompact SUVs and crossovers, the Crosstrek fits within this category perfectly on the outside. Sizewise, it is comparable to another vehicle that is popular with our local GLBT community—the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport.
Step inside and you will experience the same award-winning interior shared with the Impreza. There are also some marked differences between the two. For example, the center screen sitting on top of the dashboard has a couple of specific screens for the Crosstrek—two that show what Subaru calls “vehicle systems operations.” One screen shows the all-wheel drive system operation, along with a degree that the vehicle is driving; the other shows the status of every driver assistance feature on the Crosstrek.
The instrumentation binnacle is clean, with a nice color TFT screen in-between the two dials. A clean touchscreen for Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system that can also function for smartphone connectivity, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Subaru’s own Starlink app interface. Our tester came with an eight-speaker Harmon Kardon system powered by a 432-watt amplifier.
The front seats are sizeable and supportive. Nicely sized bolsters on the Limited model help lock in both driver and front passenger securely. Rear seat room is great for people about just over six-feet tall. It is really made for four adults, but you can have three children in the rear. Cargo space starts with 20.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats, expandable to 55.3 cubic feet with those seats folded down.
If one detail stands out in our Crosstrek Limited tester, it is the orange stitching that accents the high-quality black interior. In all, this is a high-quality place to explore wherever you point the Crosstrek.
Underneath the hood is the 2.0-liter version of Subaru’s horizontally opposed—er, boxer—four-cylinder engine. The 152-horsepower engine puts out more than what the numbers tell you. It is a smooth operator that pulls the Crosstrek nicely anywhere. The Lineartronic continuously variable transmission bridges this engine with Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel drive system.
To enhance this driveline, there is the X-Mode button, which uses the system and the Vehicle Dynamic Control feature to enhance traction and grip on less-than-ideal surfaces. You will need X-Mode once you leave the highway and whenever snow and ice are present.
In terms of fuel economy, we saw an average of 27.1 MPG in our care.
The Crosstrek may be a small hatchback with an 8.7-inch ground clearance, but its long 104.9-inch wheelbase supplies a very smooth ride that absorbs potholes and other road hazards very well. Handling is pretty good for a high-riding vehicle. It can take corners, but will not exhibit roll and lean through them. It is also quite maneuverable through hazards, thanks to its smaller size.
Steering is not bad for the most part. It exhibits tighter turns with good response from the wheel. On-center feel is light, however. Brakes are superb, with solid stops in normal and panic situations. It also does a great job during winter maneuvers, using several technologies that assist in precise stops.
Our tester came with the available Eyesight system, which uses two cameras to help its suite of active safety features to work optimally. These features include Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Lane Departure and Sway Warning with Lane Keep Assist. Plus, this Crosstrek also came with Reverse Automatic Braking and High Beam Assist. All these systems worked superbly in our care.
Only three trim levels make up the Crosstrek lineup. The base 2.0i is priced from $21,795. Our top-of-the-line and fully loaded 2.0i Limited tester came with a sticker price of $30,665.
Even with some of our test findings, there is a lot to love about the new 2018 Subaru Crosstrek. We love its ability to get through anything and the fun it will return as you go off on your adventure—even if it’s a heavy downpour between you and the grocery store. Or, a date in a middle of a snowfall.
As we look back at 50 years of Subaru, we now know how much they have grown from a niche brand—including our niche—to a mainstream brand with vehicles built for all seasons and conditions. If one product speaks to today’s Subaru, it is the one you send off on an adventure with just you, your friend/spouse/significant other, your pet (Subaru suggests a dog), and the things you will need to go somewhere. It all fits inside of the capable and fun 2018 Crosstrek.