Mountain Wheels: Fast-selling Subaru Crosstrek still rules the High Country | SummitDaily.com

Mountain Wheels: Fast-selling Subaru Crosstrek still rules the High Country

Andy Stonehouse
Mountain Wheels

What's more ubiquitous than a weed shop, an off-leash dog or an endless weekend traffic jam in present-day Colorado? How about the super-popular Subaru Crosstrek, now in the second year of its second generation?

The revised version of that marginally lifted but certainly lifestyle-oriented hatchback brought a lower, wider and more comfortable rendition of what is now Subaru's third-best-selling automobile, which still amounts to a lot of units in Colorado.

There aren't a ton of changes for 2019 and even prices have been kept close to 2018 models, though you'll find a few new offerings and an increased emphasis on the brand's acclaimed EyeSight safety system, which is now available on even the base model, when equipped with a CVT automatic transmission. Pricing now starts at $21,895 for a base, manual-transmission edition, or $22,895 for the CVT, with a $975 delivery charge added to both.

I spent a week in a new Crosstrek earlier this year and the modifications — a lowered roof, a wider cargo opening in the rear, wider cabin space and almost three extra cubic feet of storage — mean it's a more pleasant offering, though a key issue still remains.

I am consistently amazed when I am passed by a Crosstrek new or old going 90 miles per hour, an occurrence which is only more frightening when I am passed by someone driving an old Nissan XTerra at those speeds. This usually occurs heading down I-70 near Golden, on the way into Denver.

The low-to-the-ground and tremendously safe Crosstrek did not gain one of those blurting WRX STI race engines in its remake — the revisions brought the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder Boxer motor up to 152 horsepower and 145 lb.-ft. of torque — so those Crosstrek speed demons have obviously learned how to wind up their machines, especially downhill.

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Uphill, especially at high altitude, you'll be wishing you had more power. You may find more hill-climbing versatility in the six-speed manual version of the car; the manual transmission is available on both the base and Premium models. On the Premium and Limited versions, the CVT is also upgraded to a system offering seven virtual gears, accessed through paddle shifters.

That CVT arrangement also adds hill descent control and Subaru's off-road-oriented X-Mode control, both of which make the vehicle surprisingly versatile in adverse off-road conditions, with 8.7 inches of clearance to get you around in the backcountry.

For those hell-bent on driving their Crosstrek like a rally car, the EyeSight system is of great benefit, especially to the rest of the motoring public. Its lens-based system, located up above the rear-view mirror, combines pre-collision braking and throttle control with adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warning, as well as lane-keep assist. It also helped the Crosstrek earn the IIHS's top rating for front crash prevention.

Mileage is also a big benefit here, with as much as 33 MPG on the highway with that CVT, or 29 with the manual. That gives the Crosstrek a total range of nearly 550 miles on a tank of gas.

Crosstrek's looks have been toughened up a bit, with squared, taller wheel arches, squared-up (and steering-responsive) headlamps with LED running lights and a cleaner overall front face. A black rear spoiler and a wider look to the rear also gives the car some added presence.

For 2019, the 6.5-inch multimedia system is now standard on the Premium model, and a larger 8.7-inch system is also available as an option. Crosstrek's Premium-level audio is a six-speaker system with a CD player; the high-end Harmon-Kardon system provides eight speakers and 432 watts of sound. We should also mention the built-in Starlink system, Subaru's wireless telemetry package, which will not only call 911 if you've been in an accident (this worked as it was supposed to for a friend who was in a crash with hers), but also offer access to roadside assistance in case of a breakdown. You can also use it to remotely unlock or start the car, or access concierge services while driving.

Reverse automatic braking, another Subaru safety option, as well as automatic high-beam assist, now also come as standard options on the Crosstrek's Limited models.