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- Go anywhere...
- Go everywhere...
- Go whenever...
- And with whomever you want.
- But you won't get there quickly...
- And it might be loud inside...
- Without a whole lot to look at.
The 2017 Subaru Outback is an extremely versatile, rugged, compact SUV that's relatively efficient compared to other crossovers.
The types of people who have Tevas and "dress Tevas" already know, but for the rest of us, the 2017 Subaru Crosstrek is the automaker's smallest crossover SUV—a Swiss Army approach to automaking.
The compact crossover started life as a tall Impreza hatchback, bent on conquering the beyond—and looking the part too. This year, the Crosstrek Hybrid has been axed, but the regular version carries forward with a mid-level grade, dubbed Premium Special Edition, which could sway some buyers into its utilitarian approach. Starting at base 2.0i trim for roughly $22,500, the Crosstrek comes in Premium, Premium Special Edition, and Limited trims.
It earns a respectable 6.2 out of 10 overall on our scale thanks to its versatility, safety, and fuel economy. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
The Crosstrek prioritizes capability and versatility, with some concessions to style. Subaru's Crosstrek has an air of cross-trainer shoes about it: it's suitable for a variety of uses, with a wash-and-ready quality that few cars possess. To that end, most of the surfaces inside are straightforward and plain, the exterior body is more at home on a mountain trail than a valet lot.
Under the hood, a 2.0-liter flat-4 engine is mated to either a 5-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The CVT is our pick here because it's relatively smooth and keeps the Crosstrek the most efficient, but also because the aged 5-speed manual holds on to some pretense that the Crosstrek is fast—it's not.
The flat-4 makes 148 horsepower and is better suited to traversing rough roads slowly than climbing up mountain passes quickly—we've enjoyed doing far more of the former than we have of the latter. All-wheel drive is standard in the Crosstrek and it's rated to tow up to 1,500 pounds. (Yes, we've done that too.)
If you're looking for 0-60 mph times, you're in the wrong place. Fuel efficiency is well within the Crosstrek's wheelhouse if you're looking for an SUV; it manages up to 29 mpg combined for a CVT.
Comfort, safety, and features
The Crosstrek thrives on versatility and utility. It can fit four adults—five in a pinch—and plenty of gear, with standard roof racks that can carry up to 150 pounds. Fold the rear seats down and the Crosstrek swallows nearly 52 cubic feet of gear, or enough kit to traverse the entire territories negotiated in the 1846 Oregon Treaty.
Subaru's reputation for safety carries on in the Crosstrek, which manages very good scores from both major U.S. safety rating agencies. The IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick when equipped with Subaru's optional EyeSight suite of advanced safety features and federal testers give it five stars overall in crash testing.
That EyeSight system is a nerve farm located near the rearview mirror that adds adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning systems for a very affordable price. Rearview cameras are standard on all Crosstreks, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert were new for last year.
Base cars get a very nice infotainment system, a 6.2-inch touchscreen with internet radio streaming capabilities and Bluetooth connectivity, wheels Subaru calls Starlink. Chunky 17-inch wheels and cloth seats are the only other highlights on 2.0i models, but Premium and Limited cars are trimmed much better. Top-of-the-line Limited cars get leather, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a standard CVT, but don't necessarily feel luxurious.
Base models start at $22,170, including $915 destination.