The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek is different from anything that has come before it and it might just be the best of the breed. It’s a cost-effective compact crossover SUV, or small CUV to give it the proper name, with off-road pretensions. It’s a high-riding, four-wheel-drive Impreza hatchback with some rugged plastics, essentially, but it has captured the public’s imagination and turned into one of Subaru’s biggest successes of recent times.

Subaru redesigned the car for 2018 and now we see a streamlined and smoothed version of the old machine. It’s elegant and brave, with a raked nose that belongs to something far more sporting and an angular rear. It’s a longer, wider car with more interior space, more space for cargo, and a better interior.

The Crosstrek is now one of the biggest compact SUVs and it offers an intriguing combination of solid gas mileage, a compact footprint that pays off in the city. It also offers serious safety tech and there’s no doubt this is serious value for money, although you have to tick the right boxes if you want to use it on the trails.

There are serious options in this class, so is the Subaru Crosstrek the CUV the car you want?

Performance Specs

The price of entry for the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek is $21,795 and you’ve got three basic options, the 2.0i, the Limited, and the Premium.

You get symmetrical four-wheel-drive, active torque vectoring and 8.7 inches of ground clearance for that money, together with the legendary Subaru Boxer engine that’s mated to a six-speed manual transmission. It’s a 152 bhp unit that pumps out 145 lb/ft of torque and it’s a relative rarity in this sector that there is no two-wheel-drive version.

The engine is available in the whole line-up, but if you go up to the Premium, you get the Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that you will either love or hate. CVTs are getting better and this is a good one that is much more efficient than the tri-pedal car. It even comes with a seven-speed manual mode with paddle-shifts, which is artificial and yet remarkably clever.

The Limited version comes with Hill Descent Control and if you order the CVT then you get the X-Mode system as standard. It’s a slick system that means you can take on steep off-road hill descents without touching the brake.

Fuel Efficiency

The six-speed manual is surprisingly fuel efficient for a naturally aspirated unit and you’ll get 23 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. But the CVT is in another league and with the optional gearbox, you’ll see 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the open road.

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Safety and Infotainment Features

This is a five-star car when it comes to the NHTSA crash test along with an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ as well.

The Limited and Premium models get a blind spot monitor, cross traffic alert, reversing camera, and reverse automatic braking. Subaru offers the Eyesight Driver Assist system as an optional extra, which includes adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, and lane keep assist.

For infotainment, you get the STARLINK Multimedia system on the base level Crosstrek. As one of the biggest improvements for 2018 model, it comes with a 6.5-inch screen and it’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto ready.

With the Limited, you can upgrade to the eight-inch screen with enhanced navigation powered by TomTom software. Apart from the larger screen, you really don’t need the upgrade since the Subaru’s base-level infotainment is more than good enough for most of us. In short, the Subaru interior is a class act.

How It Stacks up Against the Competition

The 2017 Crosstrek was one of the best cars in this fledgling sector and the new model is even better. Although the Jeep Renegade, Hyundai Tucson, and Honda HR-V have outsold the Crosstrek in recent years, the new model could push it further up the pecking order. Since this is a seriously competitive sector, we can add the Mazda CX-3, Fiat 500X, Kia Soul, Nissan Juke, Chevy Trax, and Buick Encore to the list of contenders.

The Renegade has more character and the more expensive versions will dominate the Crosstrek off-road. Jeep’s clever pricing structure means you can get the smaller-engined, two-wheel-drive version and save money, too.

On the road, though, the Crosstrek’s permanent four-wheel-drive gives it a real edge and the optional active safety equipment puts it into another league. It is faster, the gearbox is smoother, and Subaru wins on overall value as well.

While they’re all exceptional cars, the HR-V, CX-3, and Juke offer more of a like-for-like comparison to the Crosstrek. The HR-V lacks the latest safety tech and it isn’t as refined as the two-liter Crosstrek, while the CX-3, Soul, and Juke are all competent road cars, but they simply don’t match the all-round and off-road capabilities of the Crosstrek.


  • Superb styling with sporting attitude and Subaru value.
  • All Wheel Drive is standard.
  • Smooth and gutsy engine.
  • Fuel efficient with the CVT.
  • Great infotainment system.


  • The Subaru name doesn’t have the same prestige.
  • The CVT is good, but it’s a controversial inclusion.
  • There are more stylish cars in the class.