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11th of December 2018

Automotive



2018 Subaru Crosstrek Long-Term Update 5: Off-Road Cred Confirmed - Motor Trend

We've taken the Subaru Crosstrek to the track, driven it around the L.A. metropolitan area, and taken it to the mountains. Now it's time to test the Subaru's touted off-road aptitude. Numerous off-road trails of varying difficulty crisscross the Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area, and the 4x4 practice area features several maintained obstacle courses.

Joined by features editor Christian Seabaugh and his enormous Ram Power Wagon long-term tester, we traversed some easier trails to gauge the Crosstrek's performance before trekking the hairier ones. The crossover barely noticed the dirt, rocks, and sand beneath its tires. It didn't matter if it was a bumpy uphill or downhill, the Subaru handled the trails with relative ease.

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On steep descents, I was able to modulate braking to control my speed but turned on X-Mode to try out the feature's hill-descent control. When activated, the vehicle does the braking so the driver can focus on steering. The system induced some eager braking, keeping the speed slower than I did with my foot, but it was safe and controlled.

Once we had our fill on trails, we headed to the 4x4 practice area, where we pushed the Subaru to its limits. Once again, the dirt trail up and down the hill course was easy as long as I didn't hit the big ruts made for more capable vehicles. The sand pit and water crossing were also a breeze, so much so that I drove them several times to make sure—and for fun, though, we avoided certain obstacles fearing we would damage the nose. The Crosstrek has 8.7 inches of ground clearance, a notable number, but it also has plenty of front overhang that creates a decent 18-degree approach angle. However, its 29-degree departure angle is better than any Jeep Cherokee except the Trailhawk model.

In the frame twister course, the Crosstrek finally got stuck before I used X-Mode, which makes the traction control system more aggressive, reducing the time needed for a tire to regain grip. In very slippery situations (like mud or snow), more power is diverted away from the tires that are slipping to the ones with traction.

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