Subaru has once again sprinkled its Outback dust on the Impreza hatchback, creating a pseudo-SUV to satisfy weekday commuters and weekend adventurers. Don't be fooled by the modest design changes -- both inside and out -- from the first-generation Crosstrek. This redesigned version rides on an all-new platform, bringing a quieter cabin, smoother ride, and improved fuel mileage, all of which help it stay atop our subcompact SUV standings.
The Crosstrek's comfortable and controlled ride stands head and shoulders above the competition. Handling is responsive, though it isn't as frisky through sharp turns as the Mazda CX-3. The Crosstrek can easily tackle a muddy trail or rough dirt road thanks to its ample ground clearance, all-wheel drive, and a heavy-duty differential.
The 152-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine has just enough juice for most situations -- the same can be said of its rivals -- but it can feel strained and gruff when it's pushed. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) tries to mimic the shifts from a traditional automatic transmission to mask the sudden revving that's typical of a CVT, but there are still situations when engine drone is obtrusive. We measured 29 mpg overall, commendable for an all-wheel-drive vehicle.