When the first-generation Subaru XV Crosstrek launched a few years ago, I was skeptical that more ground clearance and fender flares is all it would take to get more buyers. But sell it has. According to Subaru representatives, it’s the company’s third-best-selling line, and is second in the country for compact and subcompact crossover sales (first is the Jeep Renegade).
Most Crosstrek sales are in America – 60 percent of them. So if lifting an Impreza can yield such impressive sales results, it’s no surprise that Subaru kept the formula the same for the new Crosstrek. The end product is served well by all the improvements to the new-generation Impreza, while equally hampered by its issues.
One of the few ways the Crosstrek is distinct from the Impreza is on the outside. Though the main body is the same, the front and rear bumpers are a little chunkier, and the front grille is different. It also features the tried-and-true addition of black plastic fender flares to signal its crossover and dirt road intentions. Every Crosstrek comes standard with roof rails and alloy wheels with a machined finish and black-painted accents. Those wheels are available in either 17- or 18-inch varieties. The body sits atop a raised suspension that brings ground clearance up to an impressive 8.7 inches over the Impreza’s 5.1 inches. That also matches the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk for clearance.
You’ll likely hear those noises plenty, because you’ll need to work the car hard to get anywhere. Just as we found in the Impreza, what power the engine makes is all high in the rev band. And even when you’re in the meat of it, it still takes an agonizingly long time to get up to speed. There were a number of overtaking episodes on two-lane roads during the test drive, and each was a nerve-wracking experience. Even with the foot to the floor, the Crosstrek took the tortoise’s approach to forward momentum, and I was constantly fearful of a hare coming up the other lane.
Overall, the Subaru Crosstrek is a solid little car that lives and dies by its Impreza base. The weak powertrain really brings it down, but it still has the Impreza’s usable space and maneuverability with a dash of crossover flair and comfort. Add in its dirt-trail capability, and it becomes a great option for someone looking for a small, practical car that won’t quit when the going gets (a little) rough, or even for someone who just wants the look of a car like that. Because of that, we expect Subaru will sell plenty more Crosstreks in the next few years.