Last year, Subaru redesigned its compact Impreza—this year it’s the Crosstrek’s turn. The Crosstrek is based on the Impreza. In fact, you could say that it’s the crossover SUV version of the Impreza. Many of the components are the same, but there are significant differences too.

The first thing you’ll notice on the Crosstrek are the unique black and silver wheels. These are hard to miss, and set the Crosstrek apart from its stablemate.   Then there’s dark cladding around the wheel wells and the lower body panels that gives it the required SUV look. Furthermore, the Crosstrek rides higher off the ground than the Impreza.

Inside, the Crosstrek’s interior mimics the Impreza, which is not a bad thing. The cabin is one of the best-looking in its class. The seats in my test car sported attractive two-tone leather with orange stitching. The dash features crisp, functional styling. The center control panel has an easy to operate touch-screen, and conventional knobs for radio and air conditioning. A secondary display sits up near the windshield where it is easy to view without taking your eyes off the road. Soft-touch material is ample throughout.

The Crosstrek holds four adults comfortably—five in a pinch. Passengers up front sit high, and enjoy a commanding view of the road through a really large windshield. Those in the rear are well cared for too. There’s a surprising amount of head- and legroom. Even six-footers won’t feel cramped. Storage space behind the seats is a generous 20.8 cubic-feet.

The Crosstrek come in three levels of trim, 2.0i, Premium and Limited. The 2.0i comes with the expected power windows/mirrors/locks, as well as a rearview camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, most buyers are expected to opt for the Premium, which adds heated seats, six-speaker audio and satellite steering wheel controls. If you want more luxury, the Limited delivers leather upholstery, a power driver’s seat, automatic climate control, as well as blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.

When selecting a model, you would be wise to consider the available EyeSight suite of active safety features that can be had on the Premium and Limited models.  I highly recommend it. This option includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning and intervention. (It also adds the blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert on the Premium model, that are standard on the Limited.) If you choose this package, your Crosstrek will also apply the brakes if there is something in your path when backing up. Unfortunately, you have to take a sunroof with the safety features, which jacks up the price.

Subaru carries over its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine to propel the Crosstrek. It generates 152 horsepower, which is less than what the leading competition offers. A standard six-speed manual (some models) or a CVT automatic transmission puts the power to the pavement. All-wheel drive is standard. The engine is not a powerhouse, but is adequate for everyday driving. The CVT in my test car felt much like a traditional automatic. Furthermore, it could be shifted manually with paddles on the steering wheel to get more power from the engine.

The Crosstrek handles about as well as the Impreza, even though it rides higher than its sibling. Body-lean is well controlled. The Crosstrek feels sure-footed on winding two–lane roads. The steering is fairly precise, although it does not convey much feedback to the driver. The ride is a bit stiffer than the Impreza, but it still does a decent job absorbing bumps on- and off-road. On the freeway, it tracks straight, although wind and road noise is noticeable at speeds over 60 mph.

Subaru prices the Crosstrek competitively with other sub-compact crossovers in its class. The 2.0i starts at $22,710. The Premium is just $800 more at $23,510, and the Limited begins at $27,210. My Limited test car, with optional EyeSight, moonroof, navigation and Harmon Kardon audio, had a suggested price of $30,655.

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