2016 Subaru Crosstrek Review 

Three rather innocuous items on their own, but guaranteed to tighter the ol’ sphincter, get your heart pumping and your brake foot stomping, should you spot any one of them spilled out onto the road ahead.

  • Subaru Crosstrek 2016-urban
  • Subaru Crosstrek 2016-river1
  • Subaru Crosstrek 2016-obstacles
  • Subaru Crosstrek 2016-river2
  • Subaru Crosstrek 2016-river3
  • Subaru Crosstrek 2016-engine
  • Subaru Crosstrek 2016-interior
  • Subaru Crosstrek 2016-rear


    • What’s Best: Real all-wheel-drive, all weather abilities in an approachable package with an affordable starting price and plenty of trim and model choices.
    • What’s Worst: The four-cylinder boxer engine for all its fuel efficiency, low centre of gravity and PZEV emission rating does the job with perfunctory but anemic performance. I’d expect an uptick in power with the next major revision in two or three years.
    • What’s Interesting: Subaru buyers are among the most loyal customers in the industry and the Crosstrek with its unique mix of subcompact all-wheel-drive abilities seems to be pulling shoppers from a variety of brands, most notably Toyota and Honda.

2016 Subaru Crosstrek at a glance

BODY STYLE: Compact five-passenger, five-door hybrid crossover hatchback.

DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine with or without hybrid electric power, all-wheel-drive.

ENGINE: 2.0-litre DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder (148 hp, 145 lb/ft); Hybrid adds 10 kW electric motor (additional 13.4 hp, 48 lb/ft), both with standard 5MT or Lineartronic CVT.

CARGO CAPACITY: Crosstrek 632 litres, 1,470 behind first row; Hybrid 609 litres; 1,422 behind first row.

FUEL ECONOMY: Crosstrek (CVT) 9.1/7.0L/100km (city/hwy); Hybrid (CVT) 7.0/6.9L/100km (city/hwy).

TOWING: 680 kg (1,500 lb); Hybrid not recommended.

PRICES: Crosstrek Touring 5MT $24,995; CVT add $1,300

Crosstrek Sport 5MT $26,995; CVT add $1,3oo

Crosstrek Limited 5MT $29,395; CVT add $1,300

Crosstrek Hybrid CVT $30,495

2016 Subaru Crosstrek in river

A case of water bottles, an old tire and a cinder block.

Three rather innocuous items on their own, but guaranteed to tighter the ol’ sphincter, get your heart pumping and your brake foot stomping, should you spot any one of them spilled out onto the road ahead.

The 2016 Subaru Crosstrek sailed serenely over those makeshift obstacles in an exercise that was part of a recent local launch of the newest model.

2016 Subaru Crosstrek obstacles

It was just one of the demonstrations designed to show the advantages of added ground clearance. And the Crosstrek offers an impressive 220 mm (8.7 in) of ground clearance, 75 mm (3.0 in) more than the 145 mm (5.7 in) measurement of the Subaru Impreza it was derived from

That extra space between you and the earth below in the 2016 Subaru Crosstrek can come in handy during a Canadian winter, El Nino or no El Nino, or, say, for occasionally sneaking over curbs, in and out of paid parking lots (not that, umm, that wouldn’t be right).

And it was also ably demonstrated during our pseudo-Hipster adventure driving day, starting off in potholed urban traffic, fighting our way out of town, winding through country roads and cottage trails and culminating with some serious off-road challenges. Not to mention our little obstacle exercise.

2016 Subaru Crosstrek in river

It’s a tried and true Subaru recipe – jack up the suspension, add a few off-roadish styling cues and, voila, you have a new model!

The dark cladding treatment framing the wheel wells and lower body is not as over-the-top as Outbacks used to be but it still signals a change in attitude as well as altitude.

2016 Subaru Crosstrek in river

We can argue about who originated the idea of adding SUV styling and attributes to station wagon or hatchback utility (AMC Eagle, anyone?) but I think we can agree that Subaru popularized that radical concept when everybody else was jumping on the truck-based SUV bandwagon.

The rest of the industry eventually followed Subaru’s lead, with car-based crossovers now making up one of the fastest growing sales segments.

RELATED: The 2015 Subaru Outback lives up to its name

The 2016 Subaru Crosstrek, starting at $24,995, slips nicely into the bottom of Subaru’s CUV lineup, under the Forester and the Outback models that have evolved steadily in size and refinement, allowing for this latest entry-level option.

Officially, the Crosstrek is a subcompact. But it is a biggish one, straddling the line somewhere between subcompact maneuverability and larger compact roominess and utility.

This five-door, five-passenger hatchback comes in Touring, Sport and Limited trim levels with assorted option packages. It is powered by a 2.0-litre horizontally opposed, four-cylinder boxer engine that is PZEV rated for reduced emissions, making 148 hp and 145 lb/ft of torque.

2016 Subaru Crosstrek engine

Okay, those numbers won’t blow anyone away but there’s enough oomph here to get the job done.

Power is translated through a standard five-speed manual or an optional Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) automatic ($1,300). The manual gearbox may be the most fun way to optimize the motor’s muscle but, statistically, four out of five customers will elect for the CVT automatic tranny that helps makes the Crosstrek one of the most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive crossover utility vehicles on the road.

Fuel economy is rated at 9.1/7.0L/100km (city/hwy). In a recent, longer-term test of a 2015 Crosstrek XV, I averaged a real world result of 8.5L/100km (comb). A Crosstrek Hybrid model offers even better mileage with a rating of 7.0/6.9L/100km (city/hwy).

Those numbers don’t really change for 2016 but the new model driven here offers a mid-cycle makeover, humourously referred to as the “Big Minor Change” that updates the Crosstrek with makeover modifications inside and out.

The 2016 Crosstrek drops the “XV” part of its name and has been updated with a new, more aggressive grille, a new front bumper, new front and rear fascias, styling changes to headlight and taillight designs and chrome “hockey stick” trim pieces framing new foglamps.

“Whatever you do, don’t change the wheels,” customers told the company. So only minor modifications and coloured wheel caps enhance the iconic 17-inch wheel style.

2016 Subaru Crosstrek interior

Some of the wilder colours are gone, with Plasma green and Tangerine Orange exchanged for an equally vibrant hue of Hyper Blue. But the orange carries on, in a way, inside the car with new orange sport stitching lining the seats and door trim, extending to the seats, steering wheel and shifters of upper trim levels. The steering wheel itself also features a new design with more intuitive controls. And Subaru has gained significant ground with an interior that is finally up to par with its competitors, with better quality and new soft touch materials complemented by new silver and high gloss black trim pieces.

The 2016 Subaru Crosstrek ranges from its $24,995 starting price to a fully-loaded $31,895 Limited level with a varying range of available content in between, packages that include the EyeSight stereo camera monitoring system with Pre-Collision throttle management and active braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Lane Departure and Sway Warning.

Add up all those “big minor changes” for 2016, consider the content and the packaging of a “right-sized” subcompact with room for five, 636 litres of cargo room expanding to a maximum of 1,470 litres with a flip of the seats, even 680 kg (1,500 lb) towing ability, and that added ground clearance along with all-weather, all-wheel-drive capabilities and you have an all-round contender sure to make the short list of any savvy automotive shopper.

2016 Subaru Crosstrek rear

RELATED: 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring Review

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