2018 Subaru Crosstrek Driving Impressions

Despite its new form, the Crosstrek’s overall purpose hasn’t changed a bit. Subaru carries on with its familiar flat-four engine, capable transmissions, and proficient standard all-wheel drive system, all tucked into a five-door hatchback body.

Performance is sluggish. Acceleration from 0 to 60 mph takes something like 11 seconds, putting Crosstrek near the bottom of any performance chart. The engine feels low on energy. Highway passing can be a challenge, requiring patience and pre-planning, likely more so at higher altitudes. Throttle response is relatively quick, suggesting strong takeoffs, but actual acceleration is not.

Picking a manual transmission over the CVT doesn’t make an appreciable difference. Constant shifting of the 6-speed manual is needed, to keep the Crosstrek moving adequately. Clutch-pedal travel is long and shifting manually is not sporty in this car.

The CVT seems better at extracting the most from the 2.0-liter engine. Premium and Limited CVTs incorporate a 7-ratio manual mode, with simulated gears selected by paddle shifters.

All-wheel drive helps make the Crosstrek impressively sure-footed, augmented when cornering by the brake-based torque-vectoring system. Ground clearance of 8.7 inches makes the Crosstrek’s off-road prowess possible, as does hill-descent control with the CVT.

Ride quality has improved dramatically over the first-generation Crosstrek, helped by softer springs and damping. There is head-toss in corners, however.

Steering is quicker than it used to be. A dead spot in the center of the steering-wheel range likely helps highway stability, but some drivers might be annoyed by the need to make numerous minor corrections to stay on course.

Crosstrek is moderately fuel-efficient, notable given its all-wheel drive. With CVT, the Crosstrek is EPA-rated at 27/33 mpg City/Highway, or 29 mpg Combined. Manual shift drops the estimate to only 23/29 mpg City/Highway, or 25 mpg Combined.

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