Though based on the Impreza, the Crosstrek feels like a completely different animal.
Subaru’s XV Crosstrek first debuted in North America at the 2012 New York Auto Show. Though based off the compact Impreza Hatchback (reviewed here), it’s far more than just a slightly lifted, tougher Impreza. Subaru introduced the XV Crosstrek into the subcompact crossover segment, to fight the likes of the Nissan Juke (reviewed here), Mazda CX-3, and Honda HR-V. For the 2016 facelift and mid-cycle refresh, the “XV” moniker was dropped, making the official name “Crosstrek”. Now that the Impreza has been fully redesigned for the 2017 model year, it’s only appropriate for the Crosstrek to get some sort of limited edition to rejuvenate it and bring forward some excitement.
Enter the 2017 Subaru Crosstrek Kazan Edition, where “Kazan” translates to “volcano” in Japanese. This edition comes with a model-exclusive “Pure Red” paint job, which is complemented by an Onyx Black cloth interior. It also includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a shift boot with red stitching, as well as black and red accents throughout the interior. Unique exterior features include 17” aluminum wheels, a black mesh front grille, a power glass sunroof, large decklid spoiler, and a step pad on the rear bumper.
Base Canadian pricing for the 2017 Crosstrek starts at $24,995 for the base model. Stepping up to the Kazan is actually very good value, at $26,495. Models above this include the Sport (most of its options and trim bits are included in the Kazan), Sport-Tech, Limited, and Limited Tech. The “Tech” stands for inclusion of Subaru EyeSight technology (reviewed here) and driver aid systems. As we know, these systems have allowed Impreza and Crosstrek to achieve excellent ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The Crosstrek, regardless of trim, is only offered with one engine option – there are no powertrains unique to the Kazan Edition. It employs the naturally aspirated 2.0L flat “Boxer” four-cylinder engine that’s shared with the Impreza line (though not the latest Impreza, which adds direct-injection). The 2.0L boasts modest numbers of 148 horsepower at 6,200RPM and 145 lb-ft of torque at 4,200RPM. A CVT is optional, though our test vehicle was equipped with a five-speed manual.
Power delivery is adequate in the city, with decent pep and eagerness, not to mention the familiar grumble from the boxer-four. When trying to pass on the highway though, some hesitation is experienced, and the Crosstrek feels underpowered for its segment. Rivals like the CX-3 and HR-V (reviewed here) just feel peppier and lighter, though the Crosstrek’s advantage is that it feels completely planted and connected to the road at all times.
Subaru claims fuel economy numbers of 9.1L/100km in the city, 7.2L/100km highway, and a combined rating of 8.2L/100km. Our test took place in the heart of winter, along with a ton of city driving and bumper-to-bumper traffic. We averaged 8.7L/100km on regular 87-octane fuel (premium is not recommended or required). The Crosstrek’s tank will hold 60L of fuel, which is quite decent capacity in this segment. One of our biggest gripes with the CX-3 (reviewed here) is the small 48L fuel tank.
All-wheel-drive is standard issue on all Crosstreks, and all Subarus with the exception of the rear-drive BRZ (reviewed here). Interestingly enough though, there are two different types of symmetrical all-wheel-drive applications in the Crosstrek, dependent on the transmission choice. In the manual transmission model tested here, the power is distributed 50/50 between front and rear through a limited-slip differential. In models equipped with Lineartronic CVT (the one most will buy), an electronically controlled multi-plate transfer clutch system monitors the driver’s acceleration and deceleration habits, along with available traction in sticky situations. Power here is distributed 60/40 front-to-rear.
As a purist and a full advocate of the manual transmission, it’s almost sacrilege for me to admit that the CVT is the better transmission in the Crosstrek. These two transmissions could not be more opposite in feel, as Lineartronic is one of the best CVT applications in the industry right now. As far as manuals go, this five-speed is “okay” at best. It can occasionally be hard to shift smoothly, with rev-hang between gear shifts. It almost requires some clutch slip in order to have a smooth transmission. The short gearing on the five-speed manual means the engine is a bit rev-happy, spinning between 2,800 and 3,300RPM at highway speeds. We’d like to see a six-speed be implemented in coming years – the one in the Legacy (reviewed here) is delightful.
It was mentioned earlier that the Crosstrek received a significant refresh for the 2016 model year. As such, there are no big changes to the Starlink infotainment interface. As the Kazan is positioned just above the base model, there is no navigation built in. Starlink still offers a touchscreen interface on all models including support for Bluetooth connectivity. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have been added to the 2017 Impreza, and we are confident it will trickle its way down into the rest of the lineup very soon. Overall, Starlink is an adequate system but the touchscreen isn’t all that responsive and there is some lag when browsing large playlists or albums.
If in the market for a compact crossover with some passion to it, the 2017 Subaru Crosstrek Kazan Edition is definitely worth a close look. It has its limitations, but it has ample utility and cargo space to hold most people’s daily essentials. If enthusiasts are the target (perhaps they are for this specific edition), it would be neat to see Subaru drop in their 2.0L turbocharged four as seen in the WRX (reviewed here). The Crosstrek has been selling very well to Canadians, and it’s easy to see why. Though based on the Impreza, it feels like a completely different animal. With symmetrical all-wheel-drive and a good set of winter tires, it’s truly unstoppable when winter conditions are in full force.