It?s amazing what a suspension lift, some body cladding and new wheels can do for a car. Those changes are essentially the differences between the 2017 Subaru Crosstrek and the hatchback variant of the Subaru Impreza, yet they manage to make the Crosstrek an appealing choice in an entirely new segment. For the Crosstrek, that means the increasingly competitive world of subcompact SUVs, and although it?s not exactly an SUV, it has enough crossover chops to match or better many of its rivals.
For those seeking an affordable, fuel-efficient vehicle for outdoorsy adventures, the Crosstrek is a smart choice. It has the same 8.7 inches of ground clearance as Subaru?s other crossovers, which is more than what virtually every other compact SUV on the market offers. At the same time, its roof is much lower than those of most crossovers. Owners not only almost never have to worry about vehicle height restrictions, but they can easily load items into roof racks or roof-mounted gear carriers. We see an inordinate number of Crosstrek buyers utilizing such accessories, which are a great way to make up for the more limited cargo capacity of this segment versus larger SUVs.
The Subaru Crosstrek is also tied for best-in-class mileage. Fuel economy is 29 mpg combined (26 city/33 highway) with the continuously variable automatic transmission fitted to most vehicles you?ll find on a lot. A five-speed manual is standard on all but the Limited trim, but it reduces fuel economy by 3 mpg combined. That efficiency comes at the expense of power: The Crosstrek?s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine produces 148 horsepower. Though the Crosstrek is perfectly capable of handling adverse conditions and light off-roading, acceleration is not its strength.
The Crosstrek is getting older and approaching a full redesign, but it?s nevertheless available with most of the same features as its competitors. That?s especially true of its accident avoidance tech, as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and forward collision mitigation can be fitted to all but the base 2.0i trim level. Each higher trim level — including the new-for-2017 2.0i Platinum Special Edition — adds additional comfort, convenience and luxury features. The Crosstrek isn't meant to be especially luxurious or tech-heavy, but leather upholstery and a 7-inch touchscreen with app integration are available.
The beauty of the 2017 Subaru Crosstrek is that it?s an honest automotive tool — undeniably capable, practical and efficient. Basically, it?s the Patagonia hiking jacket of cars. If that sounds like the perfect addition to your outdoor essentials, check out local inventory on Edmunds and make sure to use our pricing tools to get the best possible deal.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.