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Cars in the City

Subaru Crosstrek

1/31/2024

With Iowa in full swing in winter driving conditions, it’s easy to criticize your current ride’s ability to handle snow drifts, slick spots and unplowed paths.

If your car didn’t quite make it in the latest blizzard, you might want to consider an all-wheel-drive vehicle, such as the Subaru Crosstrek. The sub-compact SUV Crosstrek debuted 10 years ago with a full redesign for 2024. The model test driven, a sapphire blue pearl in the Limited Trim edition, rings in at $35,405.

Fortunately, I test drove it before the big blizzard. After a bit of research, along with the salesman’s expert tips, I learned why the Subaru does so well in varying road conditions.

The biggest feature is the all-wheel drive (AWD), which is standard on all Subarus. Vehicles with AWD have better traction in wet snow, loose gravel and icy road conditions. AWD shifts power to all its wheels simultaneously, which provides better acceleration and handling.

The ground clearance of the Crosstrek is 8.7 inches. Ironically, a Chevy Silverado pickup truck is just 8 inches, while an average car is 6.5. A higher ground clearance is better equipped for off-road ventures, snow and uneven surfaces. 

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The X-Mode with hill descent control gives better traction. The brakes are only applied to the wheels that need it on steep hills.

Another feature of the Crosstrek is its engine. It’s not a typical 4-cylinder. Subaru installs boxer engines in its vehicles and has for 45 years. Porsche is the only other vehicle manufacturer that has boxer engines.

So, what’s a boxer engine? Imagine Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier going at it, jabbing back and forth. Well that’s what the boxer engine does. The horizontal movement of the pistons are like two boxers, throwing punches, but without the black eyes. The boxer engine is lower in the vehicle, which means a lower center of gravity. The lower it is, the more responsive it is when cornering. It also has less vibration than a typical engine and slightly better fuel economy. The Crosstrek gets up to 33 highway mpg with an average of 29, almost as much as any sedan.

There are plenty of safety features, phone connectivity, an 11.6-inch tablet-like touch screen and heated seats. Driving was easy, and the adjustable lumbar support felt good on my too-much-shoveling achy back.

Cars in the CityThe rear seats are roomy enough for a few adults. A small cargo space expands if you fold down the back seats. Got extra gear? Heave it up on top, as the roof holds up to 700 pounds off the rails.

For even better gas mileage, the Crosstrek goes into auto start and stop mode. The engine stops when it is at a stoplight or while you are waiting for your morning java. Of course, what you save on fuel costs will be quickly offset by that expensive latte. 

If you’re in the market for a sub-compact SUV, the Subaru Crosstrek checks off all the boxes with regards to price, fuel efficiency and getting up those steep, snowy hills for an adventure destination or navigating the grocery store parking lot. 

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