The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek is the sophomore followup to the surprise hit for the quirky automaker. Combining the practicality of its Impreza wagon with a taller ride height and a little more body cladding, the Crosstrek has been the Labrador retriever of the automotive universe: their owners are fiercely loyal, the cars are remarkably capable, and most examples can be found within a stone's throw of any outdoor activity.
We say that the next-gen Crosstrek shouldn't be all that different both because of the following Subaru has attracted, and also because the car itself isn't remarkably different in concept than when the first XV Crosstrek arrived back in 2013 (the XV nomenclature was later dropped from the American and Canadian Crosstrek). The original Crosstrek was conceived as a shrunken Outback and that same idea has been carried over into 2018; it's more tall hatchback than crossover, but that line gets blurrier by the hour.
Underhood is a 2.0-liter flat-4 powerplant that's very similar to what was found in the prior generation. Subaru says it's rebooted nearly 80 percent of the engine's parts, but the output is nearly the same (154 horsepower for 2018 vs. 148 hp) and the powertrain isn't radically different, it's still shifted through standard all-wheel drive.
The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek runs on a slightly longer wheelbase this year—up 1.2 inches from last year—even though the length from bumper to bumper hasn't changed much. It's nearly the same height as the outgoing version, but with shorter overhangs, the new Crosstrek should be just as capable as the outgoing version—if not more capable. While the Crosstrek is largely based on the Impreza, both cars ride atop Subaru's new global architecture that will underpin most of its cars going forward. It shares many of the same characteristics as the Impreza wagon, including its exterior style and sharper creases in its sheet metal. Black cladding around the wheel arches and around its nose and tail should help distinguish it from the wagon, along with its taller ride height.
Inside the Crosstrek also borrows liberally from the Impreza's playbook with an updated interior and infotainment system—both common gripes among cross-shoppers looking at similar offerings from Mini or even Jeep.
Base and Premium models come with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, while Limiteds have an 8.0-inch unit with available TomTom navigation. Regardless, all come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All versions come with power windows and locks, a trip computer, and a tilt/telescoping steering column. Premiums add to that roster the brand's Starlink connectivity that includes a 4G LTE antenna, heated seats, mirrors, and windshield, automatic headlamps, unique cloth upholstery, and leather trim on their gear knobs and steering wheels.
The Premium is optionally available with a moonroof and the CVT.
The Limited tops the lineup with standard leather seats, push-button start, a proximity key, a power driver's seat, and LED headlights. Optional on the Limited is a harman/kardon audio system.
Subaru says it has made the Crosstrek quieter and smoother inside, which was another common gripe in the last generation (particularly early cars that weren't fitted with as much sound-deadening material as later cars). We don't expect this generation of Crosstrek to leap off the line—the last generation didn't either—because the same powertrain combo in the Impreza sedan and hatchback was very leisurely in passing.
If slow is safe, then the Subaru Crosstrek should be safe—and even safer considering Subaru's newest safety tech. Already, the IIHS has dubbed the Impreza wagon a Top Safety Pick+ when equipped with Subaru's active safety suite, dubbed EyeSight, and fitted with the top line's headlights. Subaru additionally developed the Crosstrek with higher-quality steel, and with a partially bring down focal point of gravity, the new model could enhance the four-star NHTSA scores from the active model in front and rollover crash security—the main flaws in a generally spotless record.
Subaru's EyeSight system includes automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot monitors, lane keep assistance, rear cross traffic alert, steering responsive headlights, and automatic high beams. The system is available on automatic models as an extra-cost option. Additionally, reverse automatic braking is now available.