2018 Subaru Crosstrek Review


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2018 Subaru Crosstrek Overview

Subaru rolls out a redesigned second-generation Crosstrek for 2018, with updated styling and a wide range of new features and improvements. Based on the long-running Impreza sedan, the Crosstrek compact crossover SUV debuted in 2013 where it turned heads right out of the gate—thanks to its rugged good looks, raised ride height, off-road capabilities, and versatile cargo space. Outfitting the Crosstrek in eye-catching colors like Sunshine Orange and Venetian Red Pearl helped increase its visibility, further boosting awareness and sales.

The updated Crosstrek arrives a year after the Impreza sedan’s fifth-generation makeover, which included a new platform with a longer wheelbase, a wider body, a revised suspension for better handling and stability, and a redesigned cabin with advanced tech and safety features. The 2018 Crosstrek benefits from the Impreza’s upgrades while offering additional versatility, capabilities, and equipment.

Thankfully, the Crosstrek hasn't lost any of its visual appeal with this generational update. Subaru notes that the Crosstrek and Impreza are the first to display the automaker's new "Dynamic x Solid" design language and global architecture, which incorporate bolder exterior and interior styling as well as cutting-edge safety, comfort, agility, and noise-reduction features.

Outside, this design language shows up in the new Crosstrek's sculpted overall appearance, with flowing sidelines, sharper creases, and larger wheel wells with black cladding. Black cladding also runs along the bottom edge of the doors and around the reshaped fog lights. The revised hexagonal grille retains its single horizontal bar but replaces last year's chrome details with blacked-out webbing and surrounds. The longer and narrower signature hawk-eye headlights now include integrated daytime running lights. The sculpted look continues at the rear, which features a larger fin-like roof spoiler and longer wraparound taillights with a rectangular design. The result is a breezier-looking vehicle that still retains its rugged, athletic nature—although some critics aren’t entirely sold on the updated look.

For 2018, Subaru offers the Crosstrek in entry-level 2.0i, mid-level 2.0i Premium, and top-of-the-line 2.0i Limited trims. Standard exterior features for the base 2.0i include halogen headlights, black folding side mirrors, and raised roof rails with a black finish, while the Premium adds fog lights, auto on/off headlights, and heated side mirrors. The top-line Limited upgrades to LED headlights and side mirrors with integrated turn signals. The base and Premium trims ride on 17-inch alloy wheels, while the Limited receives 18-inch alloy wheels. All wheels display a black machined finish and are equipped with all-season tires.

The Crosstrek's new global platform results in a slightly larger body with even more interior space. The wheelbase now stretches to 104.9 inches, up 1.2 inches over the previous generation, while overall length increases from 175.2 to 175.8 inches. Width also grows by 0.9 inches to 71 inches. The new platform features an improved framework and cross sections along with stiffened joints, designed to optimize handling, stability, and ride comfort while reducing noise and vibration. Overall, Subaru states that the new platform is 70 percent more rigid than the one it replaces. The raised platform and suspension result in a ground clearance of 8.7 inches, compared to the Impreza’s 5.1 inches. As with all Subarus, the Crosstrek comes standard with the automaker's “Symmetrical” all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.

The 2018 Crosstrek gets a slight boost in power from its updated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder boxer-style engine, which features horizontally opposed pistons like the gloves of two boxers in a ring. The engine now produces 152 hp, up from 148, thanks to its all-new direct fuel injection. Torque remains the same at 145 lb-ft. The base and Premium trims come standard with a new 6-speed manual transmission to replace the previous generation's 5-speed. Shift-adverse buyers can opt for a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT), which comes standard on the Limited trim. The CVT includes paddle shifters and 7 preset ratios for manual shifting. The Crosstrek posts fuel-economy numbers of 23 mpg city, 29 highway and 25 combined with the manual transmission and 27, 33, and 29 with the CVT, which is about on par with last year’s model.

All 2018 Crosstrek trims are now equipped with active torque vectoring, which integrates with the braking and steering systems to provide sharper handling and cornering. Models equipped with the CVT receive the automaker's driver-selectable X-Mode system and hill-descent control as new standard features. X-Mode works with the AWD system to reduce wheelspin and provide optimal traction on all types of road surfaces. As in previous years, traction control, electronic stability control, and brake assist are standard across the lineup.

The Crosstrek's 5-passenger cabin grows slightly for 2018, with passenger volume increasing from 97.5 to 100.9 cubic feet overall. An optional moonroof, available on the Premium and Limited trims, reduces interior volume to 97.5 cubic feet. Maximum cargo space with the rear seats folded grows to 55.3 cubic feet, compared to 51.9 cubic feet for the previous year, but surprisingly cargo volume behind the rear seats drops from 22.3 to 20.8 cubic feet. On the plus side, rear-seat legroom grows about an inch to 36.5 inches, giving passengers a little extra space to stretch their legs. Front-seat legroom remains essentially the same at 43.1 inches. Large windows ensure good outward visibility, and a larger rear tailgate opening makes it easier to load and unload cargo.

For the interior, the automaker's Dynamic x Solid design language results in an overall more fluid appearance. Upgrades for 2018 include new standard features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as a near-field communication system for simplified Bluetooth connectivity. The base Crosstrek comes well-equipped with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, a reversing camera, and Subaru’s Starlink multimedia system with a USB port and various smartphone apps. Cloth upholstery, a tilt/telescoping steering column, a 60/40-split flat-folding rear seatback, and a 4-speaker audio system are among the other standard features. Stepping up to the Premium trim level adds heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, orange stitching on the upholstery, a rear cargo tray, and a 6-speaker audio system. The range-topping Limited receives such additional standard features as leather upholstery with orange stitching, a power-adjustable driver's seat, push-button start, an upgraded instrument cluster with white gauges, automatic climate control, and a larger 8-inch touchscreen. Buyers can also add navigation and a Harmon Hardon audio system to the Limited trim.

Subaru’s EyeSight suite of driver-assistance technologies has been upgraded for 2018 and now includes adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, lane-departure alert with a sway warning, and lane-keep assist. It's available as an option on the Premium and Limited trims. Blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert comes standard at the Limited trim level. A full range of airbags is standard across all trims, including a driver's knee airbag. The 2017 Crosstrek was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and received a 5-star rating from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), which should continue with the 2018 version.

While the Forester remains Subaru's best-selling vehicle, closely followed by the Outback, the Crosstrek and Impreza together surpass both of those vehicles in total units sold, with sales split evenly between the two models. Despite the small boost in horsepower for 2018, some critics have stated that the Crosstrek continues to feel underpowered. It also loses some steam against competitors like the roomier Honda HR-V and the peppier Mazda CX-3, both of which are less expensive than the Crosstrek and consistently rank near the top of the compact SUV market segment. But when it comes to off-roading capabilities and distinctive good looks, the Crosstrek remains hard to beat.


Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.

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