The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek is all new this year, offering similar styling and capabilities as the original XV Crosstrek, but with welcome improvements in fuel economy, interior comfort and overall quality. Although it qualifies as a compact crossover SUV, the Crosstrek is really just an Impreza wagon with more ground clearance, more exterior body cladding and a more robust all-wheel-drive setup. As such, the Crosstrek is able to offer off-road performance on par with vehicles like the Jeep Compass Trailhawk and Toyota RAV4 Adventure, but with the ride comfort and amenities of a compact car. And, despite its standard AWD, the Crosstrek’s fuel economy tops the segment in both city and highway driving when equipped with the optional CVT automatic transmission. The Crosstrek’s price is also highly competitive, as is its advanced suite of available EyeSight driver safety assists.
What hasn’t changed is the Crosstrek’s somewhat tepid acceleration. Although Subaru says nearly 80 percent of the 2.0-liter boxer engine is new, output only increases by four horsepower, up to 152 from 148, while torque remains unchanged. Passing power aside, the Crosstrek does so many things right, it’s hard to find fault. Whether you live in a place where snow and rain are a normal part of everyday life, or just enjoy getting off the paved road whenever possible, the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek makes an ideal companion.
What’s New for 2018?
The Crosstrek is all-new for 2018, riding atop Subaru’s new Global Platform that vastly improves ride, quietness and safety. The 2018 Crosstrek features a larger rear seat, upgraded interior materials, better fuel economy and a more robust AWD system enhanced by Subaru’s X-Mode. A new 6-speed manual is standard on base and Premium trims, while all models receive improved touchscreen radios with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
What We Like
Good fuel economy; excellent safety scores and resale value; available EyeSight driver assists; huge rear seat; improved infotainment system; real off-road capability; numerous dealer accessories
What We Don’t
Slow to reach 60 miles per hour; satellite radio only available on most expensive trim level; seats lack adjustable lumbar support; EyeSight not offered on the base 2.5i trim or manual transmission cars
The Crosstrek offers only one engine choice: a 2.0-liter boxer flat-4 rated at 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is standard on every grade. On cars with a manual transmission, the AWD system uses a mechanical viscous coupling center differential that evenly distributes power 50:50 front to rear. Models equipped with the CVT automatic use a more advanced electronic system that can vary torque distribution for better traction. CVT-equipped cars also feature X-Mode with hill-descent control.
When equipped with the 6-speed manual, the Crosstrek earns an EPA-estimated 23 miles per gallon city and 29 mpg highway. Adding the optional CVT automatic improves these figures to 27 mpg city/33 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Crosstrek comes in three trims: 2.0i, 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Limited. A 6-speed manual is standard on the 2.0i and Premium, while the Limited comes standard with a CVT automatic transmission that’s optional on the other two trims.
The Crosstrek 2.0i ($22,710) comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, raised roof rails, 17-in alloy wheels, power side mirrors, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, 6.5-in StarLink touchscreen radio with four speakers and a USB/iPod port, Bluetooth, a rearview monitor, air conditioning, cruise control, multi-function display and a tilt-telescopic steering column.
The Crosstrek 2.0i Premium ($23,510) adds fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, the All Weather package (heated front seats, heated side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer), auto on/off headlights, illuminated visor vanity mirrors, rear cargo tray and retractable cover, two additional speakers and color-keyed side mirror caps. Optional equipment for the Premium comes only when the CVT automatic is added, which also includes X-Mode. Options are bundled into packages and include the EyeSight driver assist suite (automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist), a power moonroof, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Notable dealer add-ons include a Rockford-Fosgate speaker and amp upgrade, remote start, protective side molding, a rear bumper cover, mudguards and remote start.
The Crosstrek 2.0i Limited ($27,210) adds the CVT automatic transmission with X-Mode, leather seating, a power driver’s seat, automatic climate controls, steering wheel paddle shifters, an 8.0-in touchscreen radio with SiriusXM, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, 18-in alloy wheels, LED steering responsive headlights, integrated side-mirror turn signals, a 4.2-in color LCD display, a 6.3-in color multifunction display, keyless access with push-button start and PIN-code access and a folding rear armrest with cupholders. Options for the Limited trim include a Harman Kardon audio system, navigation, EyeSight, high-beam assist, reverse automatic braking and a power moonroof.
Subaru equips every Crosstrek with anti-lock brakes, electronic traction and stability control, a rearview monitor and seven airbags including front, front side-impact, front and rear side curtain and driver’s knee airbag. The Crosstrek features a wealth of available safety options, including Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist that includes adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. Steering-responsive headlights and high-beam assist are available to help drivers see in dark conditions, while reverse automatic braking helps avoid accidents when backing up.
In crash tests, both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) give the 2018 Crosstrek top marks in almost every category, with a 5-star overall rating from the government and a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS when equipped with the EyeSight system.
Behind the Wheel
We sent Rob Nestora to test drive the 2018 Crosstrek in the wilds of South Dakota. Here are some of his impressions after two days on the road:
In addition to the visible restyling inside and out, the 2018 Crosstrek actually consists of 95 percent new parts over the outgoing model (according to Subaru, the remaining 5 percent are mostly common nuts and bolts). The Crosstrek is also the second vehicle built off of the Subaru Global Platform structure, with the first being the recently released Impreza. Thanks to the new platform, the body structure of the Crosstrek realizes a 70 percent gain in rigidity, resulting is a more stable, comfortable and agile ride. Far be it from Subaru to neglect safety — the new body structure also improves crash energy absorption by 40 percent, a considerable improvement.
While the Crosstrek isn’t a track star, it has just enough muscle to get you where you need to go. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter directed-injected 4-cylinder boxer engine providing 152 horsepower to the wheels. While 152 doesn’t sound like a tremendous amount of horsepower, at no point in the mountains of South Dakota did the Crosstrek feel like it was straining to conquer steep inclines — even in the higher elevations.
Behind the wheel, Subaru’s tiniest SUV failed to disappoint once again, as it felt nimble and ready for whatever the winding mountain roads could throw at it. Even the steering wheel felt perfectly designed and comfortable in my hands as I transitioned from secluded rural roads to the tourist congestion of Mount Rushmore.
Off-road is where Subaru’s tiny crossover really shines. We had an opportunity to test out the Crosstrek’s symmetrical all-wheel drive and X Mode’s prowess at a rock quarry while driving some of the sketchiest hills I’ve ever traversed. Admittedly, the experience was exhilarating, and even somewhat shocking. At no point did the Subaru feel loose or unsure as it steadily climbed the mini-mountains of loose rock, giving the driver confidence in a situation that was far from ideal. But what goes up must come down, and in turn the Crosstrek and myself were forced to descend a hill consisting of small stones that were constantly tumbling, shifting and sliding. In addition, the grade was so steep that when I approached the edge of the precipice, I could no longer see the descending path in front of me. This is where the capability of the Crosstrek’s hill-descent control came into play. As I let my foot off the brake gently, the tiny crossover slowly made its way down a hill that I was unable to navigate on foot without falling. The descent was careful, agile and downright awe-inspiring.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Jeep Compass — The Compass offers similar power, interior room and features, plus the trail-rated Trailhawk trim. But the Compass’ fuel economy, reliability and resale numbers are not as good, nor are its available driver assist features.
2018 Honda HR-V — The HR-V offers a choice of front– or all-wheel drive, has a lower base price and holds its value nearly as well as the Crosstrek. However, the HR-V doesn’t offer any kind of collision avoidance or mitigation technology, and it can’t venture too far off road.
2018 Hyundai Kona — The Hyundai Kona offers a turbocharged engine, loads of standard and available equipment plus a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Kona’s interior is much smaller than the Crosstrek’s, however, and it’s still too new to talk about reliability or resale numbers.
Used Subaru Outback — A 2015-2016 Subaru Outback offers more power, more interior room and more features, but the same 8.7 inches of ground clearance, Subaru AWD setup and excellent safety and resale figures.
While we love the idea of the Limited trim’s rocking Harman Kardon stereo, leather seats and a power driver ‘s seat, we think the best value is the 2.0i Premium with the EyeSight and Moonroof package, Rockford-Fosgate speaker upgrade and CVT automatic transmission. However, if you’re a lover of SiriusXM, built-in navigation or automatic climate control, you’ll have to pony up some extra cash and opt for the Limited.