I get exhausted just looking at a Subaru Crosstrek.
That’s because every time I see one, it seems some piece of energy-expending sporting gear is strapped to its roof or hanging off the back.
There goes one with a kayak roped to the roof rails. There’s another with a couple of paddle boards. Oh wait, here comes one with mountain bikes dangling off a tow hitch carrier.
And always the passenger-side window is open with some adorable mutt, all flappy ears and dangling tongue, leaning out catching the breeze.
Of course, it’ll come as no surprise that people, especially lovers of the great outdoors, love their Subaru. And it’s the super-cute Crosstrek crossover that’s getting most of their love.
It’s been Subaru’s best-seller since the day it was introduced back in 2013, with more than a million of the things finding enthusiastic buyers in the United States. Amazingly, last year was the Crosstrek’s best-selling year ever.
And the popularity of this tall-riding wagon-cum-SUV is all set to grow even further with the introduction of a new and improved 2024 Crosstrek.
While that cute-ute shape has hardly changed, lots of new features have been incorporated under the skin. Including a bucketful of superglue.
Seems the new body structure now gets 89 feet of structural adhesive to bond all the metal bits together, increasing body stiffness by 10 per cent. There’s also more high-strength steel used in the construction, and tons more sound-deadening material.
The result is 20 percent less engine vibration, less engine and road noise, a smoother ride, and tighter, more agile handling, helped by new steering from Subaru’s racy WRX model.
Inside, there are new, more-supportive front seats—answering a criticism of the previous model—plus an iPad-like 11.6-inch high-resolution center touchscreen.
As before, the Base and Premium models come with the 2.0-liter 152-horse version of Subaru’s proven four-cylinder “boxer” engine. Step up to the Sport and Limited and you get a 2.5-liter version packing 182-horsepower.
And, as before, the Crosstrek continues to be astonishing value for money, which is obviously part of its enduring appeal.
Believe it or not, a 2024 Base kicks off at just $26,290, with even the top-end, leather-lined, off-road-focused Wilderness model stickering for $33,290.
I’ve just spent a spent a week behind the wheel of a new 2024 2.5-liter Sport—$30,290 including destination—distinguished by its rather flashy flashes of gold paint on the front fenders, side sills, and rear bumper.
Climb aboard and the gold theme continues with gold-colored panels on the front and rear seats, with lots of gold stitching. Liberace would be in heaven.
Interior space continues to be one of the Crosstrek’s best features. That second row comes with surprisingly generous legroom for fellow hikers, while even with the seat in place there’s terrific space for stuff—20 cubic feet, to be precise—in the back.
Fold the second row and you get a total of 55 cubic feet. That’s room for a Dick’s Sporting Goods-worth of adventure gear.
Don’t expect sportscar performance from 182 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. But tap the Sport mode button and there’s enough zest to make the Crosstrek a lot of fun to drive.
The engine still comes mated to a CVT continuously variable transmission, and it’s still one of the best around. There are even paddle shifters for DIY shifting.
The CVT also helps give decent fuel economy, with 27 miles per gallon City, 33 Highway, and 29 Combined. I got just over 30 miles per gallon.
But I think what impressed me most was the quiet, refined, Teflon-smooth way it goes down the road. The ride comfort is just terrific.
Alas, I didn’t have the chance to get the tires muddy. But with standard all-wheel drive, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, and some clever software controlling the traction, the Crosstrek will no doubt get you to any trailhead or dusty campground.
In the end, it’s the promise of taking the road less traveled and going out and having outdoor fun that makes this versatile little Subaru so appealing. Pass me my hiking boots.