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A crossover for all seasons

Based on the Impreza five-door, the 2016 Subaru Crosstrek is probably the most rugged subcompact crossover SUV on the market. The Crosstrek has 220 mm (8.7 in) of ground clearance, making it an ideal vehicle for some off-road fun.

  • Subaru Crosstrek main

THE PROS & CONS

    • What’s Best: With full-time all-wheel drive and the extra ground clearance, the Crosstrek is set up for off-road fun or the worst that winter can throw at us here in the Great White North.
    • What’s Worst: The engine is set up for fuel efficiency, not performance.
    • What’s Interesting: Subaru has dropped the XV from the name for 2016. It’s now just the Subaru Crosstrek not XV Crosstrek.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Subarus.

After all, what’s not to like about a brand whose vehicles perennially sit atop the leader board of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Add in Subaru’s go-anywhere ruggedness and their solid build quality and you have the recipe for success of this Japanese automaker that continues to set sales records month after month in Canada.

Subaru was once a niche player in the market with a product lineup of vehicles that were well built and safety leaders, but shall we say quirky in design.

A crossover for all seasons

Those days are gone as the Subaru of today is as attractive or perhaps even more so than many of its Japanese, European or domestic competitors.

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Case in point, the 2016 Subaru Crosstrek, a sub-compact crossover that is equally at home in the hustle and bustle of the city or up in cottage country.

A crossover for all seasons

Based on the Impreza five-door, the Crosstrek is more wagon than hatchback with added ground clearance to make it a capable off-roader if required.

In fact, the Crosstrek offers 220 mm (8.7 in) of ground clearance, 75 mm (5.7 in) more than the Impreza and considerably more than competitors like the Mazda CX-3 or Honda HR-V.

To give you an idea of how much clearance the Crosstrek offers, my colleague Rob Beintema wrote about an exercise Subaru carried out for local journalists, having them drive over a case of water bottles, an old tire and a cinder block with nary a scuff mark or scrape.

Now you’re not likely to meet these obstacles every day if ever, but you could very easily encounter deep snow drifts and the thought of that ground clearance combined with Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive is comforting.

Our test vehicle was a top-shelf Crosstrek Limited with Technology Package, priced at $31,895 plus freight and PDI of $1,675. This is one of four variants in the Crosstrek lineup, which also includes the Crosstrek Touring, Sport and Hybrid models.

A crossover for all seasons

The base Touring model starts at $24,995, while the gas-electric hybrid slots in at just below the Limited with Technology Package at $30,495.

Size-wise, the Crosstrek is the smallest vehicle in the Subaru crossover lineup, below the Forester and Outback, which have both grown in size and refinement over the years.

All Crosstrek models come with a 148 hp, 2.0-litre four-cylinder Boxer engine with 145 lb/ft of torque. These are small numbers, but enough to carry the five-passenger, 1,455 kg (3,207 lb) Crosstrek to acceptable acceleration levels. Towing capacity is 680 kg (1,499 lb).

Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (PHEV) equipment is standard on Crosstrek, reducing smog-forming emissions to near zero.

A crossover for all seasons

The Crosstrek Hybrid model uses the same engine, but adds an electric motor tied in with the continuous variable transmission (CVT) for improved fuel efficiency.

A five-speed manual transmission is standard, but the CVT makes up 80 per cent of sales, adding $1,300 to the tab.

Fuel economy numbers are 9.1/7.0 L/100 km city/highway with the CVT, among the best among all-wheel drive crossover vehicles on the market. With a manual transmission, the fuel economy rating is 7.9/6.9 L/100 km city/highway.

All models feature all-wheel-drive as standard fare.

The Crosstrek was introduced in 2012 as a 2013 model and for 2016 has dropped the “XV” part of its name.

A crossover for all seasons

Updates for the refresh in this model year include some exterior styling tweaks including a new-look grille, new front bumper and front and rear fascias plus styling changes to the headlight and taillight designs.

Chrome has also been added around the fog lights.

New this year are standard 17-inch wheels and the vibrant Hyper Blue paint colour.

A crossover for all seasons

Among the technological features on our vehicle was Subaru’s Eyesight advanced driver assist system that uses two cameras to monitor the road ahead and identify potential dangers.

The system includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management and vehicle lane departure and sway warning.

All this combines to make the Crosstrek an IIHS Top Safety Plus selection.

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Inside, contrasting orange accent stitching adds a touch of colour to cloth seats and the leather upholstery we had in our Limited tester.

A crossover for all seasons

 

Legroom is adequate for adults, front and rear and the vehicle has good cargo-carrying capability of 632 litres behind the second row and 1,422 behind the front row.

While an extremely capable, and I think desirable vehicle overall, performance-wise the Crosstrek is no match for say the Mazda CX-3, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) Utility Vehicle of the Year for 2016.

Acceleration is just adequate and the CVT emits a constant whine during acceleration— the price you pay with many CVTs to get improved fuel economy.

A crossover for all seasons

 

That said, the Crosstrek is fun to drive and wind and road noise is minimal at speed.

All in all, an extremely safe, capable, well-built vehicle, suitable for all weather and even the occasional off-road adventure.

A crossover for all seasons

Subaru Crosstrek Limited 2016

BODY STYLE: Subcompact five-passenger, five-door crossover SUV.

DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, 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 five-speed manual transmission or Lineartronic CVT.

CARGO CAPACITY: 632 litres, 1,470 behind first row.

FUEL ECONOMY: CVT: 9.1/7.0L/100km city/highway; manual: 7.9/6.9 L/100 km city/highway

TOWING: 680 kg (1,500 lb).

PRICES: Crosstrek Touring 5MT $24,995; CVT add $1,300; Crosstrek Sport 5MT $26,995; CVT add $1,300; Crosstrek Limited 5MT $29,395; CVT add $1,300; Crosstrek Hybrid CVT $30,495. As tested $31,895 plus freight and PDI of $1,675.

WEB SITE: www.subaru.ca

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