$20,054 - $24,555

2018 Subaru Crosstrek Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.3

Performance-wise, the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek is a mixed bag. On the plus side, its well-tuned suspension and steering create a fun-to-drive SUV, and the Crosstrek feels smooth and steady on all sorts of terrain. Its underpowered engine reduces the excitement level, however.

  • "With its all-new body and platform (shared with the 2018 Impreza), the Crosstrek's solid foundation really shined on the drive. Standard torque vectoring (with brakes) across the line made the gravel roads a joy to drive with its playful and sure-footed agility. With this newfound rigidity, the Crosstrek's new suspension soaked up all manner of ruts and bumps without a squeak or rattle. What's more impressive is that it does so with very little upset to the occupants." -- Motor Trend
  • All this adds up to a sub-compact-y compact crossover that's as rewarding and fun-to-drive through tight twists and turns as the best modern compact cars. Key words here are 'tight twists and turns,' because the engine, which also is mostly new, is not a willing partner in such endeavors." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Aside from the somewhat anemic engine, the new Crosstrek is relatively fun to drive. Subaru uses a quicker steering ratio this year, sharpening response, and it does take some time to acclimate to the vehicle's immediate reply to input. The suspension supplies a deft blend of ride quality and handling capability, feeling a bit softer yet no less capable. The brakes behave exactly as the driver expects, the pedal calibrated to facilitate the fine-tuning necessary while off-roading or traveling on slippery surfaces." -- New York Daily News

Acceleration and Power

The 2018 Crosstrek comes with a 152-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and either a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Between the two transmissions, many test drivers say the CVT is better. There's little sign of the droning noise that plagued the Crosstrek's previous CVT, and better tuning means this CVT feels more like a conventional automatic transmission.

You also get much better fuel economy with the CVT. Its EPA-rating of 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway is above average for the subcompact SUV segment. Gas mileage slips to 23/29 mpg with the manual transmission, which is poor for the class. Even with the improved CVT, the Crosstrek feels underpowered and takes its sweet time getting up to speed.

  • "If there's a weakness to the Crosstrek, it's ... well ... weakness. Its 2.0-liter engine and 152-horsepower rating are both on the low side for the compact-crossover class, and it shows whenever you put your right foot to the floor. In normal driving it's fine, but when rushing, there just isn't much of a surge off the line, and passing takes patience despite the fact that the CVT kicks down fairly quickly to assist." -- Consumer Guide
  • "From a standing start, it feels like acceleration can be measured with a calendar. If you've already got some momentum built, it's not quite so bad; the Crosstrek responds quickly when you power through a corner. The CVT is very well matched to the engine, always keeping it on boil if you're driving it aggressively, but you'll need to be prepared for it to be revving its heart out as it tries to deliver what little power it has. … If you opted for the manual transmission, you'll be shifting it like mad to try and keep your speed up on even slight grades. Save yourself the angst and go for the CVT, a much more pleasant experience." -- Cars.com
  • "Brutally slow acceleration isn't particularly out of the ordinary in the subcompact and compact crossover class. The Toyota CH-R and Nissan Rogue Sport, among others, are just as slow, if not more so. Still, we wish the Crosstrek had more pep. If Subaru could just stick a small turbo on this engine and bring horsepower and torque closer to 200, all these complaints would go away." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

All 2018 Crosstreks come with all-wheel drive. Models outfitted with the CVT also come with X-Mode and hill-descent control, which improve off-road ability. On the highway, the Crosstrek feels composed and smooth, with a more athletic demeanor than many of its competitors. Its talents aren't just reserved for dry pavement, though. With standard torque vectoring (a system that improves steering stability), the Crosstrek feels steady and has great traction on slippery roads.

  • "The handling feels tight, with compliance generous enough to allow significant roll in the corners, but also with very little understeer and a willingness to rotate until the vehicle dynamic control/torque vectoring … catches it. Steering is remarkable, with feel, feedback and precision as good as anything on the market, and the brakes are strong and effective." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The ride is smoother and control is better. … And the increased comfort is noticeable. The Crosstrek is now a much better-balanced car, aided by a new, quicker steering rack—the same as on the BRZ. The helm connects to the rest of the car better than before and puts more control in the hands of the driver. It's as stable and comfortable at highway speeds as it is fun and responsive at the lower end of the speedometer." -- Truck Trend
  • "In town, the car feels more compliant, better filtering pavement aberrations, a trait most people will welcome." -- New York Daily News

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