Good For: Outback Impreza. When Subaru started the "Crossover" trend in the 1990s with the Outback, they didn't just do it with the Legacy wagon. They also offered an Outback "Sport" which shared the body of the smaller Impreza, rather than the Legacy. Today, that offering is the Crosstrek, which shares the same body dimensions as an Impreza, but the packaging is now a bit more exclusive than just the cosmetic upgrades that we got 25 years ago. The Crosstrek itself now has its own pallete of trims, with the very fancy Hybrid Touring at the top, which is the one I drove. In addition to all the nice things like leather, sunroof, and navigation, it has the distinction of being the only Subaru offered with a hybrid powertrain. In the first generation Crosstrek the hybrid is a mild "parallel" system that gains extra efficiency in city driving with regenerative braking and shutting off the gasoline engine at traffic lights. The newer, current generaton hybrid advances into plug-in charging capabilities and sustained electric-mode driving.
Compromises: The crossover market boomed, and like the Outback, Subaru marketing spun the Crosstrek off as a separate model, where it outsells the Impreza by at least 2:1. But between these two 5-doors that share the same dimensions, I'll just take the Impreza with the 5-speed manual in Sport trim.
Overall reaction - Thumb up: Among Subaru's current offerings, the Impreza platform is the one that feels most like the fun, rally-inspired cars that I've grown to love in the brand. The Crosstrek doesn't have all the turbo rally equipment that the STi does, but the spirit of the Impreza's size and handling can be felt while driving the Crosstrek. The mild suspension lift over the Impreza is true to the original spirit of the crossover, applying some of that rally heritage towards practical utility for when you want to do a little exploring off of pavement. The Outback Sport lives on, in the form of the Crosstrek.
Nissan Pathfinder (4th generation R52)
Good For: Crossing paths with minivans. Nissan has historically done a fairly good job of not confusing the SUV with the crossover, giving us solid truck-based off-road offerings like the Xterra and Pathfinder, while the Murano and Rogue were created for those that wanted a more car-like driving experience. However, for the 4th generation, the Pathfinder took a turn off of the 4x4 route and was redesigned as a unibody crossover. The advantages of this path for growing families are obvious when you get inside, as the low floor provides a lot more room on the inside for all 3 rows, and it generally feels like sitting in a minivan. The front-wheel-drive-based CVT drivetrain is also impressively efficient for such a large vehicle, beating out minivans, while retaining the solid sounding VQ35 V6. It is no wonder that the Quest was discontinued, as the Pathfinder is a clear replacement for it.
Compromises: By turning the mid-sized 3-row SUV into a minivan, Nissan has joined other manufacturers in forcing those that want a true 4x4 into their larger, more expensive offering, the Armada. But the market is now trending back towards rugged SUVs, and while the new 2022 Pathfinder has squared off styling, underneath it is still this same crossover that I drove.
Overall reaction - Thumb down to Nissan for essentially killing off their 4x4 offerings, and turning the Pathfinder into a minivan.
Monday, 5th of July, 2021
Thursday, 1st of July, 2021