Is there anything better than waking up in a tent to the sound of thunder, lightning, and rain pattering? I’m crazy, but I love it. If there’s anything better, it’s knowing the new 2018 Subaru Crosstrek is sitting outside, able to get you back out of the remote place from which you’re enjoying Mother Nature’s fury. Subaru people camp. They also surf, ski, hike, bike, and kayak. Sometimes, they just drive to work and back in city traffic. The Crosstrek’s ready for that too. I experienced both.
Orange and Khaki
Sitting in a wide open field or mall parking lot, it takes a keen eye to realize the Crosstrek went in for an overhaul. The wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer for increased rear legroom, but overall length only stretched 0.6 inches. The car’s funky coolness remains, graced with familiar black wheel arch and side cladding, taller grille, more sculpted bodysides, and revised lighting – LEDs at both ends on Limited trim. Standard 17-inch wheels grow to 18-inch on Limited editions. Sunshine Orange paint looks iconically proper on Crosstrek – as does Cool Gray Khaki.
Subaru owners will feel comfortable behind the thick leather-wrapped steering wheel, riding on supportive cloth or heated leather seats with rotating headrests, but they’ll notice a much more sophisticated interior. Stitched dash coverings look suave, as does orange stitching on the steering wheel. A new touchscreen with proper knobs for tuning and audio is easy to use – all the more enjoyable conjuring up Bluetooth-streamed audio through optional Harman Kardon speakers.
Safety is fortified by Subaru’s available EyeSight stereo cameras crash avoidance system. It underlines Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Blind Spot Detection, and Lane Departure Warning. You can also get Rear Cross Traffic Alert and curve-cornering headlamps. Limited models add bright LED headlamps. There’s no reason to think the new Crosstrek won’t match the outgoing model’s IIHS Top Safety Pick.
Efficient Boxer Power
The Crosstrek wouldn’t be a Subaru without a horizontally-opposed “Boxer” engine, so engineers installed a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that delivers 152 horsepower (vs. 148hp before). You can choose a six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission that can be paddle-shifted through 7 pre-set “gears”. Fuel economy is rated 27/33-MPG city/hwy (CVT).
Most drivers will love the fuel economy, but it takes a very firm foot to get it to move with any athleticism off the line – and you can forget about passing anything on a two-lane road without enlisting Mother Mary. A turbo would be so nice! If you’re not a fan of CVTs, the manual transmission shifts well as a nice alternative.
Crosstrek is the second model (after the Impreza) to adopt Subaru’s new architecture that will eventually underpin the Outback and Legacy too. The new structure is noticeably more solid and engineered to better absorb off-set collisions. On- or off-road, the chassis is a vast improvement, challenging Audi for refinement. Even with four and their luggage aboard, there is no untoward bouncing – just a planted, stable ride. Most of my drive was on gravel roads and the car felt right at home.
Seriously Capable X-Mode
One advantage of choosing the CVT is X-Mode, which takes full advantage of the car’s 8.7-inches of ground clearance. Press a console button and let the mode’s hill descent control creep itself down steep, rock-strewn inclines. It also configures the powertrain for steep uphills. Almost no owner will put a Crosstrek through such paces, but they should know it is capable of performing impressive off-road maneuvers.
On the morning we were to depart camp, it had rained like the second coming of Noah all night before. I couldn’t help but think how muddy and flooded would be the rough trails. No need to worry – the Crosstrek hauled itself and four of us right out of there, and on to the airport with time to spare.
So, what is this camp Subaru going to cost you? Base models start at $21,795; Premium packages begin at $22,595. Limited editions, loaded with leather and upgraded infotainment displays, start at $26,295. Whichever you choose; come high water, blizzard, or slimy mud, you’ll be ready for an adventure owners of the Nissan Rogue Sport, Honda HR-V, and Toyota C-HR would be hard-pressed to meet.