We’ve always been fans of the Subaru Crosstrek, but there have been one or two lingering details that dampened our enthusiasm. The fully redesigned 2018 Subaru XV — known as the Crosstrek on our shores — looks like it has the changes needed to put many of our doubts to rest.
Not much has changed about the styling of the Crosstrek. It’s still got that up-on-tiptoes off-road stance, scuff-resistant matte black fender flares and it’s still offered in unique colors. But certain key dimensions have been altered, if only by a little. It’s no taller, but it’s just over a half-inch longer, three-quarters of an inch wider, and the wheelbase has been stretched 1.2 inches. The new 225/55R18 tires are also an inch taller. Combine all of that with a slightly quicker steering ratio, a revised suspension and a symmetrical all-wheel-drive system that now boasts active torque vectoring and the new Crosstrek should handle more securely while offering improved levels of quietness and refinement.
We can say with more certainty that the new wheelbase does open up more legroom, particularly in the rear if our brief show floor test is any indication, and the cabin generally feels more open. The steering wheel’s telescopic range seems sufficiently generous, there’s a higher level of interior trim, and the comfy front seats are covered with a coarse fabric that’s handsome in a rugged sort of way. The dash features an 8-inch touchscreen that’s said to support Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but we weren’t able to fiddle with it.
Power comes from a revised version of the 2.0-liter boxer engine that now boasts direct fuel injection. This is the same change introduced when the Impreza was redesigned last year, so the power increase is identical (154 horsepower instead of the current model’s 148 hp). Likewise, the new Crosstrek will benefit from the Impreza’s CVT upgrade, which upped the number of simulated gears in manual mode from six to seven. No Crosstrek fuel economy figures were released, but the same pair of changes led to 1 extra mpg combined and 2 additional mpg on the highway on the Impreza. If the same applies here, we predict a Crosstrek rating of perhaps 30 mpg combined (26 city/35 highway). This is all well and good, but we can’t help feeling that others have made bigger gains.
Crosstrek drivers that take their cars onto the dirt — and there are more than a few — will appreciate the fact that ground clearance is unchanged at 8.7 inches. One noticeable upgrade is the new Crosstrek’s X-mode system, which optimizes the traction control and all-wheel-drive system for off-road situations and adds hill-descent control functionality.
Subaru is big on safety, and so the new Crosstrek will have the EyeSight system’s lane keeping assistance, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. Automatic high-beam dimming will be available, as well as steerable headlights. The rear end of the car gets attention, too, with a system that issues cross-traffic alerts while backing up and blind-spot monitoring when changing lanes.
No specific release date has been announced, but Subaru USA representatives we spoke with tell us specific U.S. market details will be revealed this April.