2016 Subaru Crosstrek Review & Road Test

2016 Subaru Crosstrek

A more impressive Impreza.

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What have we here?

You’re looking at the best looking vehicle to come out of the Subaru factory these days. Sorry BRZ and Impreza STi- you may be flared out and botched up in some areas, but you’ve been upstaged by a perfect mix of truculence and wedgy styling served up by this heavily massaged version of the familiar Impreza. Formerly known as the XV Crosstrek, the XV nomenclature is gone for 2016, and so is the retina searing tangerine paint you’ve no doubt seen covering Crosstreks in all manner of advertisements. Our candy dish hued Hyper Blue example looked particularly fetching though, so those intent on making a statement should gravitate towards this livery.

So this is just a raised up Impreza, right?

While that statement is technically true, Subaru has managed to create something that feels different from the platform on which it is based. Impreza switchgear, drivetrains and four-wheel drive systems all carry over and yet the Crosstrek has its own identity. Yes, it is raised up- to the tune of 220 millimeters of total ground clearance- which makes it the most adept off-road in its class, even besting the Jeep Grand Cherokee in this department.

I like horsepower, so I’ll just order mine with one of Subaru’s turbocharged engines.

Er…that may be a problem. You see, despite the fact that you can get an Impreza with turbo engines of varying strength including the mighty 305 horsepower STi version, those do not carryover into the Crosstrek’s engine bay. Instead, you’ll find the same 2.0 litre engine from the entry level versions of the Impreza which makes a pavement buckling 148 horsepower. Not surprisingly, this engine endows the Crosstrek with anemic performance, even when you bury the throttle to the firewall. Our tester had a 5-speed manual in place of the CVT, which does help with the accelerative urge and usually something we prefer. However, the action of the gearbox isn’t terribly precise and you better not rush your shifting. The absence of a sixth gear means the engine turns a busy 3,000-plus rpm at highway speeds.

Got it. Is there anything else to be wary of?

There are some issues with the Crosstrek, and two of them manifest themselves in the form of interior miscues. The heated seats switches are mounted low and quite far back on the centre console- “afterthought” seems the appropriate term to use. The Starlink infotainment system is the same one we complained about in the Forester, and after using the version found in the Outback we drove recently, we hope Subaru has plans to let it trickle down to its lower trimmed models. And when you are selecting reverse, expect to hear an unsettling crunch as it slots into gear even after you’ve come to a complete stop. None of these are deal breakers, but it’s our job to tell you about them.

The Crosstrek is an excellent alternative to a crossover.

That it is, mostly because of the type of stuff that makes a Subaru, a Subaru- off-road capability far beyond what most will ever ask of it, high safety ratings and fuel economy, durability and toughness. Its reasons like that which explain why it’s so difficult to find low-mileage examples on the used car marketplace- they hold their value extremely well and are often at the top of the list of brands that hold their resale value. With the undercarriage bits tucked up high to give it ground clearance that would make larger SUV’s envious leaves you with a pleasant by-product of a supremely comfortable ride. Even if the most off-roading you do is putting two tires onto a gravel shoulder at a roadside chip truck, you’ll appreciate the cushiness when traversing city streets fraught with pot holes and other pleasantries. For the Crosstrek’s Second Act, there’s really only one thing we’d clamour for and that would be the addition of more suds under the hood. And maybe an extra cog in the gearbox to quiet things down on the superslab which would stretch what is already good fuel economy. Or just even give us an STi version. Either way, addressing any of the Crosstrek’s shortcomings will undoubtedly yield a more compelling entry into a crowded segment.

 2016 Subaru Crosstrek— Specifications

  • Price as tested: $28,670
  • Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger wagon
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 5-speed manual
  • Engine:  2.0 litre horizontally opposed four, DOHC, 16 valves
  • Horsepower:  148 @ 6,200 rpm
  • Torque (lbs-ft.): 145 @ 4,200 rpm
  • Curb weight: 1,410 kg (3,109 lbs)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption: 9.2L/100km (26 mpg)