Subaru Crosstrek – 3,000 miles and One Journey Later

We have owned our 2019 Subaru Crosstrek for over three months, and just returned from a one week vacation that included about 1,400 miles of driving. These are some of our impressions.

Crosstrek at home.
Image: Dakotahound

So far, after a little over 3,000 total miles, it has been trouble-free (which, for a practically new car, should not be surprising). It still looks and feels like a new car, except for the dog hair. We are getting about 25 mpg, and drive the car daily.

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One of the first questions that people ask about the Crosstrek: “Is it underpowered?” With a published 0-60 time of 9.2 seconds, I would not want to challenge anyone off the line but, in general, it does not feel underpowered. Accelerating to highway speeds is no problem, and it never lags behind traffic. Of course, our Crosstrek has a manual transmission, which may make it feel sportier; and by manually controlling the shift points, the 2.0 L engine provides a noticeable boost in power above 3,500 rpm (the maximum torque, 145 ft-lb, is at 4,000 rpm). Now that the engine is broken-in, I generally shift at about 4,250 rpm when acceleration is required. The engine produces a maximum 152 HP at 6,000 rpm, but I never really take the tachometer that high.

Crosstrek at St. Johns River.
Image: Dakotahound

We live in Florida, and most of our “off-road” driving with the Crosstrek is beach driving. It is not very treacherous, but the symmetrical AWD and 8.7 in. ground clearance are nice features - you would be surprised at how many cars get stuck in the sand. The Crosstrek gets us onto the beach with everything we need, and without fear of being stranded in the surf. Prior to owning the Crosstrek, we drove a Jeep Wrangler on beach trips. Admittedly, the doorless, Bimini-topped Jeep won hands-down in the coolness category, but the Crosstrek gets the job done nicely, and with a little more comfort.

Crosstrek on the beach.
Image: Dakotahound
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Every year, we also take a few trips to the Smoky Mountains (usually two, but sometimes more). Our most recent trip was near the end of October. Having owned a Jeep for many years, one of the first things that I noticed was how nicely the Crosstrek drove at highway speeds. From where we live, gravel roads through the mountains are about 6 hours away (OK, there are some alligator-infested mud pits nearby, but that kind of driving does not really interest me). The Jeep always provided a somewhat loud and rough trip on route to the mountains. For this journey, it was nice to ride in relative comfort on our trek northward. Yes, we are giving up some off-road capability, but the Crosstrek holds its own on gravel roads, which comprises most of our unpaved driving anyway.

We spent the first day of our Smoky Mountain trip in downtown Asheville, within easy access to the many local breweries. For anyone who likes beer and has never been to Asheville, I highly recommend it. Asheville boasts 26 downtown breweries and 60 in the general vicinity. Most of the downtown breweries are within easy walking distance to convenient hotels. We went to Wicked Weed, Bhramari, Hi-Wire, and the Asheville Brewing Company on our last trip. Every brewery had beer that I enjoyed.

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Asheville breweries.
Image: Dakotahound

For this trip, we went to the Funkatorium, Green Man, Twin Leaf, Sierra Nevada, and Burial. All of these, except for Sierra Nevada, were also within walking distance.

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More Asheville breweries.
Image: Dakotahound

My favorite lunch was at Wicked Weed – a short rib burger topped with fried green tomatoes and bacon. It was probably the best burger that I have ever tasted – no exaggeration.

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One final note about Asheville, it appears to be a very young city. Most of the people that we saw on the street looked like they were in their 20s and 30s. Beards are common everywhere in the USA, but they seemed to be required for Asheville men. I did a little research and found that the average age is 38.6, which is above the national average. I guess either the older people stay indoors, or everyone just looks younger.

After Asheville, we headed south on Blue Ridge Parkway to our rental cabin just outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The last time that we were here, we brought the Porsche and drove Tail of the Dragon, but this was a different type of trip. While the Crosstrek does not even remotely compare to the Porsche in speed and handling, it allows us to take gravel roads where I would not think of taking the Boxster.

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At the cabin, close to Blue Ridge Parkway.
Image: Dakotahound

Unfortunately, it rained for the rest of the trip. The first two days, in particular, were filled with very heavy showers and wind that toppled some trees. Power was out in the park for several hours. Also, to our surprise, some of the roads in the Smoky Mountain National Park were closed due to winter weather (mostly ice). Living in Florida, the concept of winter weather in October seems very foreign (it is in the 80s at home). Our previous trips to this area were in early October, so it appears that the weather changes quickly in these parts. Despite the closures, we were still able to get into some areas that are off-limits to the Porsche (self-imposed off-limits).

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Snow in the mountains, just before the rain.
Image: Dakotahound
Many of the streams were near flood stage.
Image: Dakotahound
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We were able to take some short walks. Here is an old water-powered grist mill, built in 1886 with its 11 HP turbine still operating.
Image: Dakotahound
Wet leaves make the road surprisingly slick.
Image: Dakotahound
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By our last day, even the main road through the park, Route 441, was closed. The temperature dipped to 26F for the first part of our ride home, and we had to be diligent watching for patches of ice on the roadway. The rest of the trip was comfortable and uneventful, which was appreciated.

Our next trip to the mountains will be in the spring. Mid-April seems to be a good time to avoid the cold mountain weather. We also know that September or early October is better timing for a fall trip.

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Kayak season is soon approaching here in Florida, and we just purchased the hardware necessary to transport our Eddyline kayaks. Now that the weather is cooling, we also need to get a bicycle rack, and I am leaning towards a trailer hitch model. I will post something about kayaking and cycling with the Crosstrek later this fall.

Some Miscellaneous Observations and Suggestions

There is a gauge labeled MPG in the lower left corner of the speedometer with only a + and – to indicate gas mileage. It basically just pegs from all the way + to all the way -. Everyone should know that you get worse gas mileage when you accelerate and better gas mileage when you coast. This gauge is fairly useless.

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A fairly useless gauge.
Image: Dakotahound

To operate the windshield wipers, down is on and counterclockwise increases intermittent speed. Every other car I have owned was exactly the opposite, and it caused a bit of confusion the first time it rained.

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Our Crosstrek has no digital speedometer. The digital speedometer is an option, and I would have ordered it, but it cannot be paired with the manual transmission.

A sunroof is also available for CVT Crosstreks, but it also cannot be paired with the manual transmission.

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