Review: 2016 Subaru Crosstrek

2016 subaru crosstrek review

Words: Calvin Chan

Photography: Calvin Chan

Published: April 11, 2016


One size fits all, as they say in the garment industry. You’ll find socks, gloves, and even knee braces that support this odd and somewhat deceptive claim, but it’s an expression that rarely applies in the automotive world. The Jeep Wrangler is a renowned off-roading machine and is a formidable companion when crossing the sands of the Gobi, but it’s not exactly the most comfortable or well-mannered partner on a paved metropolitan road.

The Honda HR-V on the other hand is a versatile and spacious subcompact crossover. It’s quiet through the city and has a generous amount of storage space, but once the path gets rocky and the roads become perilous, the HR-V’s low ground clearance and all-wheel drive system just can’t keep up with the best.

So what if you wanted something in between – a vehicle that is just as adept at being civilized, as it is running through the mud. Well, that’s where the Subaru Crosstrek enters the arena. Appealing to buyers with a rugged stance, a high seating position, great road manners, and above all, elevated ground clearance, it’s clear that this Subie is the perfect compromise for city dwellers and cottage goers alike.


This five-door five-passenger hatchback is compact enough for urban environments, able-bodied and durable enough for venturing off the beaten path, and flexible and versatile enough for anything in between. Just look at that wheel cladding and raised suspension. In fact, the Crosstrek can clear obstacles up to 220 mm under its front bumper. That’s enough to hover over your average tire without even scraping the underbody. In comparison, the Mazda CX-3 and Honda HR-V have 155 mm and 170 mm of ground clearance, respectively.

But that’s not the only trick up its sleeve. Whereas most other opponents utilize a part-time all-wheel drive system, the Crosstrek instead sends power to all four wheels, all the time. You will have no problem getting home even if Hurricane Katrina is ringing at your doorstep.

The Crosstrek is just as impressive with storage capability as well, so you can haul your entire bedroom whilst escaping the flood. The rear seats can fold flat right to the floor, providing a cavernous 1,470 L of cargo volume that could easily fit your desk, chair, and maybe a few televisions. Don’t forget about the roof rails on top too that can cling onto your mattress.


Now, the Crosstrek is not an entirely new vehicle. Carrying over into 2016, it receives an updated exterior design with a new black grill with chrome accents, refreshed headlights, front bumper, and fog light covers. Oh, and did you also notice that Subaru dropped the “XV” part of its name as well?

Subaru has ditched a few of the more garish looking paint colours in place of a new fresh coat called Hyper Blue, which looks eerily similar to Volvo’s Polestar vehicles wearing Rebel Blue. Miss that Tangerine Orange colour? Don’t fret – it’s been revived in the interior by way of an orange piping stitch on the seats, leather panels, and steering wheel.

To me at least, Subaru interiors have always had a rugged and solid feel to them, even if it does come off as a bit generic. The cloth seats are comfortable, the windows are tall, the windshields are expansive, and the skinny A and B pillars allow for a clear view of your surroundings. There’s even a standard rear view camera to aid and assist in parking.


If it were up to us, we would have stuffed a larger engine into the Crosstrek. Running with Subaru’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder BOXER engine, the Crosstrek is only good for 148 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. That power is put to the ground via two choices of transmissions, a 5-speed manual and a CVT. That being said, there are actually two different AWD systems, one for each transmission choice. Contrary to popular belief, not all of Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD systems are cut from the same cloth.

With the manual, as we tested here, the Crosstrek receives a viscous-coupling locking center differential that by default, distributes 50% of the power to the front wheels, and 50% to the rear. This means that each set of wheels is getting an equal amount of power. When slip is detected however, it can send up to 80% to either wheel for optimal traction.

The CVT on the other hand gets an electronically managed transfer clutch that actively manages torque distribution. It defaults to a front-wheel biased 60% front and 40% rear split of power, and based on a variety of factors, it can transfer up to 100% of torque to either set of wheels.


So that’s the difference. Will it matter to the regular Subaru civilian? Probably not, but the take home point is this: Subaru benefits from a full-time AWD system, meaning it is always on. A lot of rival crossovers market their cars as AWD, but under regular road conditions, power is only set to the front wheels allowing for better fuel economy. Only when traction is limited, will it send power to all four wheels.

That being said, the Crosstrek drives like a rugged WRX, just with a bit more bodyroll. Fording deep puddles, climbing steep hills, and crawling over rocks was never a problem, and the brilliant AWD system intuitively diverts power to the wheels with the least amount of traction. Push it like a sports car however and the Crosstrek will reveal its underlying tendency to understeer.

Our specific tester was loaded with the manual transmission and like every other Subaru we have driven, the gates are notchy and not very well defined. You really have to shove it into place. The gearing is also very tall, resulting in noisy highway runs. We would have preferred the addition of a sixth gear – because the Crosstrek is so low on power, you really have to utilize that manual to your advantage.

Choose your overtaking battles carefully, as being in the right gear is crucial. It doesn’t help that the ratios are widely spaced in the lower gears as well, making it hard to drive fast and be smooth, but let the revs drop to 2,000 – 2,500 rpm and the shift transitions will become more polished.


The cherry on the cake is the Crosstrek’s expansive list of standard features that any prospective buyer would appreciate. This includes auto on/off headlights, fog lights, heated front seats and side mirrors, a rear view camera, AWD, and a 6.2-inch infotainment system that can sync with your phone via Bluetooth.

There are many attractive trims and packages to choose from as well, but we would be just as happy with the base trim. Our tester was loaded up with the Sport Package ($2,000 extra) with a larger spoiler, HID headlights, and a sunroof, but we didn’t find these essential. And unless you fancy leather seats and navigation, then you can skip the top-trim Limited Package as well.

One could argue that there are more civilized and focused choices in the Subaru lineup, such as the well-mannered Legacy mid-size sedan and the wagon-lover Outback, but I’d argue that the Crosstrek is the better all-rounder. Adventurer, camper, grocery getter, off-roader – the Crosstrek with full-time AWD, stellar outward visibility, elevated ride height, and an affordable starting price making it an appealing choice for anyone in the market for a rugged yet civilized compact crossover. When it comes to the Crosstrek, one size really does fit all.


Photo Gallery:


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crosstrek offroad crosstrek muddy crosstrek canada


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crosstrek sport spoiler crosstrek symmetrical awd crosstrek interior


blue subaru gauges crosstrek starlink crosstrek manual


cloth seats crosstrek crosstrek orange stitching



型号 Model: 2016 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Package

顏色 Paint Type: Hyper Blue
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $24,995

試車售價 Price as Tested: $26,995
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,634
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,450 / 1,780 / 1,615

車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,410
引擎 Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder horizontally-opposed BOXER engine
最大馬力 Horsepower: 148 hp @ 6,200 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 145 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 5-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, Symmetrical AWD

油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 10.2 / 7.7 / 9.1
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 9.9





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