"This car is so smooth." That was my 12-year-old daughter’s comment while riding in the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek. I think she’s referring to the CVT (continuously variable transmission) and how it doesn’t have a noticeable shift-type feeling. All CVTs do this. Well, the good ones anyway.
The Subaru Crosstrek isn’t perfect — even that "smooth" CVT jerks occasionally (like when you get on and off the gas pedal quickly and repeatedly). The good thing is that it kind of forces you to be a bit smoother as a driver to get the best out of the car.
On paper, the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek doesn’t seem like much. For one thing, it has 152 horsepower. That’s more than the Nissan Rogue Sport, the Honda HR-V and the Toyota CH-R. It’s safe to say, none of these small car-based SUVs are going to set any racing records.
It’s the same story inside. Subaru clearly intends the Crosstrek to be used in all kinds of weather and for all kinds of outdoor activities. The result is that it can feel a little sparse when you’re just commuting or have a several-day drive to your favorite trailhead or remote beach. Yet the car is packed full of cool tech like Apple CarPlay, forward-collision warning and automatic braking. I suspect the Crosstrek’s rubber mats, un-fluffy carpet and durable-looking seats are all a big part of the car’s appeal. And that’s kind of a Subaru thing. The look is simple and rugged, but the driving experience is anything but basic.
The tech in the new Crosstrek is also anything but basic. Having Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is great, but many automakers have those features and have had them for many years. The genius of what Subaru has done is that they’ve made it more useful. In many other cars, you have to skip back and forth between "Maps" and "Now Playing" if you want to see where you’re going AND see the name of the song that’s playing. And many cars with a small screen near the gauges don’t have a readout that gives complete information. For example, as an audio source it might just say "SXM" for satellite radio or "iPhone" instead of listing the song and artist name, or it might say the song title only. The bummer is that those experiences kind of rob you of the fun of CarPlay, Pandora and/or Spotify. In the Crosstrek, you can see both Apple maps and the song name thanks to a small screen near the base of the windshield. Look at the photo above — it’s an incredibly elegant solution for a fairly inexpensive car.
Somehow, Subaru has infused a certain indefinable quality into every car they make. The steering is quick, acceleration is brisk and the ride is firm but comfortable. It’s there in the Legacy sedan, it’s there in the Forester (especially the turbocharged XT) and it’s there in the new three-row Ascent. Would it be nice if Subaru offered the Ascent’s turbo engine in the Crosstrek? Yes, but I suspect the added cost would mean fewer takers.
Still, I would pick the Subaru Crosstrek over other small SUVs like the Chevrolet Trax, the Ford EcoSport, the Honda HR-V and the Toyota CH-R. With the Nissan Rogue Sport, the Mazda CX-3 and the Jeep Renegade, it’s too close to call. I suspect the Subaru will be more reliable over the long haul than the Mazda and the Jeep.
Finally, the color of our car (Cool Gray Khaki) has earned more praise than any other car in recent memory (the Kia Stinger’s battleship gray also gets a lot of comments). To me, the color looks blue, but the word "blue" isn’t in the name. Either way, the interesting color, set off by the black wheel arches, makes this a car that stands out without being garish. Find a Subaru Crosstrek for sale
Check out our 2018 Subaru Crosstrek New Car Review