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