Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we’ll let you know. If not, we’ll recommend one – or the required options – that earns a passing grade.
Subaru has long made a name for itself in this country as the purveyor of all-wheel drive machines that are as ready for the outdoors as they are a trip to the mall. While they’ve toned down their ‘weird factor’ a bit in the last couple of decades – they no longer put windows within other windows, for example – there’s still a case to be made that the brand marches to the beat of a slightly different drum.
And it’s a profitable drum. Canadians are buying all-wheel drive SUVs and crossovers in droves; since that’s all Subaru stocks in their showrooms, they’re doing well in terms of sales. The Crosstrek is one of its least expensive offerings, raised slightly compared to the similar Impreza and adopting some different styling cues. Imagine it as an Impreza with a stout set of hiking boots and you’ve got the general idea.
Under the hood is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine making 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. Crosstrek with a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment, making it one of the few rigs sold today combining all-wheel drive with a row-your-own gearbox. Adding an automatic will add $2,000 to your bill, though it also adds active safety kit such as pre-collision braking and lane keeping plus adaptive cruise control.
Outside, the entry-level trim is largely indistinguishable from more expensive models save for a set of fog lamps and jazzier paint options. Door handles are body colour, as are the power heated side mirrors. Black roof rails stand ready to assist in all your active lifestyle adventures.
Infotainment technology hasn’t been the brand’s strong suit as of late, and that shows through in the base model Crosstrek. Equipped with a 6.5-inch touchscreen (a smaller advertised dimension than some smartphones), it lacks satellite radio capabilities and has but a single USB port in which to plug a device. Drivers will need to dig for their keys in order to light the fires in that 2.0-litre engine, but at least their seat has variable height setting and the steering wheel can adjust for reach or rake.
What We’d Choose
Making the $2,400 walk to the Touring trim is a relatively easy decision depending on your desire for creature comforts. The more expensive trim adds niceties like satellite radio, heated front seats (and a de-icer grid for the windshield wipers), more USB ports, and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. A retractable cargo cover keeps valuables out of sight, while more comprehensive gauge cluster displays offer up a great deal more driving information. Stepping up to the Touring also opens up the choice of tasty Pure Red paint.