Mountain Wheels: Take your pick: Subaru Crosstrek vs. Impreza Sport | SummitDaily.com

Mountain Wheels: Take your pick: Subaru Crosstrek vs. Impreza Sport

2015 Subaru Impreza Sport 2.0i Limited

MSRP: $23,295; As tested: $26,885

Powertrain: 148-HP 2.0-liter four-cylinder, CVT automatic transmission

EPA figures: 31 combined MPG (27 city, 36 highway)

2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek 2.0i

MSRP: $22,295; As tested: $26,140

Powertrain: 148-HP 2.0-liter four-cylinder, CVT automatic transmission

EPA figures: 29 combined MPG (26 city, 34 highway)

Friends shopping for an upgrade to an amazingly long-lasting 1990s Impreza recently asked what the difference was, exactly, between the very popular and occasionally eye-searing Subaru Crosstrek and the all-new 2015 Impreza Sport.

The easiest answer is, it all depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for in your new, smaller Subie. If you want a sportier, lower-to-the-ground driving experience that’s still grounded with all-wheel-drive but is filled up with all the basic bells and whistles, the updated Impreza Sport might be a good choice.

And if you’re interested in the higher-off-the-ground, slightly more rugged and absolutely created-with-Colorado-lifestylers-in-mind looks, the Crosstrek might be your vehicle of choice, especially with the explosive Sunrise Yellow paint job I got to experience on my recent drive — though you’ve seen others in bright orange and olive green, I am sure.

The basic mechanics and interior design and layout remain consistent between both models, however — despite its adventurous looks, Crosstrek doesn’t get any additional engine modifications — and the result is a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed Boxer engine that produces 148 horsepower in each vehicle.

That’s not a bad number, especially as it produces as much as 36 highway mpg in the lower-to-the-ground Impreza Sport. It just becomes a bit of an issue when cresting the toughest stretches of a steep spot like eastbound Vail Pass, or when attempting to pass someone during an opening in traffic on US 285. I wish there was a bit more, just as you’d love there to be more in the BRZ sports car — there is not.

The pleasant upside to this is that the continuously variable automatic transmission optionally affixed to both is a piece of equipment that’s almost entirely imperceptible, save for those moment when you’re revving in the 6,000 RPM range to keep the car at highway speed on a super-steep pass. The CVT’s wheel-mounted shifters also allowed me to blip through a virtual range of six gears, holding speed while going back down the pass, without heavy brake use. A five-speed manual is still available, as well.

With the exception of trim and seat material, they’re also pretty similar on the inside, although the Crosstrek packs just a tad less cargo space (both offer about 52 cubic feet) and also seemed more at home with a full set of cargo area rubber mats to make the whole package seem a lot more mud-ready.

Impreza Sport manages to be tastefully flashy in bits and pieces — especially the leather seats, wheel and armrest, and some silver trim, plus a bit of highlight stitching on those sporty but comfortable seats. Impreza’s ride height and wheel/seating position also makes it one of the easiest cars to get in and out of in the entire automotive market, a definite plus. For 2015, the car’s front face also gets a redesign to make it look a bit more like the larger Legacy.

You can also gear up with an improved version of the EyeSight safety program, which adds lane-departure, adaptive cruise control and pre-collision warnings.

For those looking for a flashier, more trail-ready variation of the deal, the Crosstrek is certainly got the stance and the swagger to get you into a more challenging camping or kayaking location. It’s got 8.7 inches of clearance, and you do feel that extra lift when trying to take corners headed downhill with the same enthusiasm you’d have in the Impreza Sport; there is just a tad extra body roll and bounce, but it’s still not like being in a full-sized SUV in any way.

Crosstrek is also more readily adapted to your gear needs, with taller roof rails for rack systems; the more rugged rear bumper corners also speak to days spent loading or unloading coolers and other associated High Country adventure tools.

Finally, the flashy, outlined chrome-on-black wheels and a super-dark window tint job do make the Crosstrek a pretty distinctive-looking alternative.

Inside, easy-to-clean cloth seats, rugged floor mats and that rubbery rear cargo tray also add to the whole even-more-outdoorsy feel.

Kudos also to the new touchscreen navigation rig available on both — you can order it with the full navigation package, or get a more basic version that still includes full audio and connections to Subaru’s OnStar-styled help and app-connection service, Starlink. With navi, it produces clear and widely scalable map images and is a huge improvement from the tough-to-operate system of previous years.


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