Tom Crosby: 2016 Subaru CrossTrek stays on upward path

Tom Crosby

Subaru’s small SUV CrossTrek receives minor changes for 2016 as it continues to grow in popularity, selling more each year.

Versatility and off-road fun for the Japanese hatchback contribute to Consumer Reports rating it higher than similarly sized hatchbacks. So far the CrossTrek has had an above average resale or trade-in value and the initial price doesn’t drain the wallet. (The XV preface was dropped this year.)

Subaru’s Starlink telematics, previously available on other Subarus, is now a CrossTrek option. It links via cellphones with apps for weather, music, audiobooks and other features, plus emergency services, like an SOS button and automatic crash notification. Connect the MySubaru app and your cellphone can lock/unlock remotely, turn on lights and find the car on a map. It’s part of a $2,895 option on our Limited trim (there are base, premium and hybrid trims also) along with Eyesight, one of the automotive industry’s best driver-assist safety systems, earning Subaru models top safety ratings. It integrates adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alerts, pre-collision braking, articulated fog lights, vehicle lane departure, all operating with Subaru’s vaunted four-wheel drive all the time.

Subaru likes to mix platforms and the CrossTrek is based on the Impreza hatchback. Although it has surrounding lower body cladding and an 8-inch ground clearance, it doesn’t have reinforced underpinning for serious off-road rock crawling or low-range gearing. Still, it easily conquers mud, grass and dirt surfaces with confidence. Seat comfort is excellent and the ride is composed on-road, although there is some interior noise requiring higher audio volume settings. It isn’t quick off the starting line, but diminished power results in better miles per gallon using continuous variable transmission.

Inside, all seating space is ample with good ergonomics. Cargo space is average (there are roof rails bracketing the moonroof) but space more than doubles with second row fold-down seats. There is a spare tire. Starlink operates on a 7-inch dashboard screen above climate control buttons and a recessed bin for charging cell phones. Screen display is simple and intuitive and navigation easy with decent voice recognition. Orange stitching on the leather seats, wheel and gearshift add class to an excellent fit and finish using decent looking materials and chrome and brushed aluminum trim.

Outside, the new look made minor changes to grill, front bumper and headlights. Consumer Reports ranks the 2016 CrossTrek higher than Mazda CX-3 Touring, Honda HR-V LX, Chevrolet Trax LT, Jeep Renegade Latitude and Fiat 500X Easy.

LIKES: Ride, versatility, interior, gauges, mileage, price

DISLIKES: Noisy, lack of power

BOTTOM LINE: Good choice for not-too-serious off-road adventure



Base price w/destination fee: $25,965 ($28,840 as tested)

Vehicle weight: 3,208 lbs.

Wheelbase: 103.7 inches

Length: 175.2 inches

Width: 72.4 inches

Engine: 2.0-liter, 4 cylinders, DOHC, BOXER

Horsepower: 148 hp at 6,200 rpm

Torque: 145 lbs.-ft. at 4,200 rpm

Transmission: Continuous variable transmission

EPA Rating: 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway

Range: 15.9-gallon tank, regular

Performance: 0-60 in 9.7 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.