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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Crosstrek test drive; CVT vs Manual smackdown...

Hi all.

Still waiting for the HR-V, decided to check out another competitor: Subaru Crosstrek. Didn't do a lot of preparatory research; went more or less on a whim, just to have a look. Ended up spending 1.5 hours, found a good, easy-going salesman, and test drove a Crosstrek with CVT and Imprezza with the manual transmission.

This got long, so I broke it down. I'll talk about overall impressions, details, comfort in this post; driving impressions next post; and conclusions, including some general thoughts on CVT vs manual transmissions last, so you can skip to the part that interests you.

First thing I learned: unlike Honda and Mazda, the Crosstrek isn't just based on the Imprezza platform. It's the identical car on taller suspension. Few small differences: larger radiator and differential for towing, roof rails, different colour choices. Once we decided to drive it, I was especially interested in the manual; they didn't have a Crosstrek with a stick so drove an Imprezza.

The overall fit and finish of the cars was excellent. I like the looks of the Crosstrek, except for the squared-off rear corners, and maybe the stock wheels (though I notice them more in pictures than I did in person). Under the hood, the boxer makes for a nice low installation, and accessible bits: the oil filter is right on top, upside down; you can reach in and touch the spark plugs, etc. Not sure how helpful that is (I don't do my own maintenance), but it's sure different, and the salesman claims they have lower labour costs for service because of it.

Rear hatch is large and square and lifts well out of the way. The trunk seemed very large. Low liftover. No Magic Seats, but they do flop forward easily and lay very flat. The roof's a little lower at the back than I'm picturing the HR-V, not a problem for us, but would be for some (big dog crates, e.g., might not fit). Way bigger than the Mazda 3 or CX-3. Good tiedowns.

Inside, rear seats first: lots of room. With the front seats all the way back, I had many inches of clearance for my long legs. Very comfortable seats for two; middle seat is adequate for a small person. I'd rather leave them home and put down the centre armrest with two cup holders. :) Headroom was fine, but this was the Crosstrek without a sunroof; noticed in the Imprezza trim that had the sunroof a similar roof profile to the HR-V pics, so your head in the back might have room, but the ceiling drops a couple inches above your knees. Forgot to try sitting there.

Front seats were very comfortable and supportive. Both my wife and I are quite slim, and it's rare in modern cars to have side bolsters that work well for us; these did. I don't know if they'd be uncomfortably narrow for larger folk. No power seats available, but these have a wide range of adjustment in all directions: vertically, fore-and-aft, and recline. They recline back flat with the rear seats up; didn't try with them down to see if there's a "long mode". Headrests have a tilt adjustment; my wife liked that, as she's often bothered by headrests that push her head forward. Steering wheel also has a lot of adjustment in tilt and telescope. All in all, I found a very comfortable driving position, rare for me... usually my legs are too bent or my arms too stretched. Tons of leg room on the passenger side with the seat back.

The cockpit was very well put together and logical. Lots of soft-touch, very nice switches, everything in easy reach. Physical switches for climate (available dual auto), volume, tuning, and navigation; some of that can also be done from the touch screen or the full suite of steering wheel buttons. Didn't play with the electronics or switches much.

Storage: fair number of small cubbies; small-ish cubby under the centre armrest (but bigger than the HR-V, I think), which also slides fore and aft. Didn't take really careful note; not a big priority for us.

The dash in general, and especially in front of the passenger, seemed low, which I liked and my wife found a bit off-putting. It curves down in front of the passenger, meaning there's lots of space and lots of windshield at chest level; I think she felt a bit exposed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Driving Impressions

Okay, to the drive. We took the Crosstrek CVT out first, then the Imprezza manual, on the same route: some mildly winding suburban roads, a brief sprint on the highway, back through town.

The general feel was of a super-solid, planted ride. Where my little old Hondas always felt lively, frisky, tossable, this Subie feels super-stable and just somehow more connected to the road than any other car I've driven. Not to say it feels slow or heavy; I didn't get the chance to throw it through any corners, but it handled very nicely, felt nimble and quick. Just... planted.

Road noise and engine noise were quite low; the engine does have a distinctive sound when winding up, but I didn't feel it was unpleasant or intrusive. The ride was very smooth and compliant, soaking up bumps with little drama, but no looseness or bounce. Cabin was very comfortable; felt like going for a longer drive.

I expected to hate the CVT; instead I liked it more than any automatic I've driven. Very smooth, effortless, responsive. There's just a hint of faux gear changes, but it's not at all intrusive. Hard acceleration didn't unleash a whining demon. No noticeable rubber-band feel. Compared to a loaner Corolla, the only other CVT I've driven, day and night.

I snorted at the paddle shifters with a "real drivers don't paddle" sneer, expecting them to be the useless distractions I've found them to be in other automatics. Instead I actually enjoyed them, and found they give real control, not just a sense of it. With the transmission in D, you can only downshift, through 6 (I think) virtual gears. The downshift results in immediate and effective engine braking, something I badly miss when driving automatics. You can actually decelerate from driving speed to near stopped without touching the brakes, in a reasonable distance. The car reverts to auto mode as soon as it reaches the speed it would normally select that ratio, or if you accelerate. A display in the tach shows 'D' when in auto, '5', '4' etc. when you've selected a lower gear.

Drop the shift lever into 'M', and you're in Manual mode; all shifting is your responsibility using the paddles. The auto-nanny is completely disabled and you're back in control: hold a lower gear as you accelerate up a hill, then take the foot off the gas at the apex and let the same gear slow you down on the descent, just as you would in a stick shift. The shift from acceleration to engine braking feels fast and natural.

On to the manual transmission. First impressions: clutch felt very springy, stick was vague and mushy. Stalled the car on first try; there was zero clutch feedback, and you need to lead with throttle, which is sensitive but somehow delayed... not a great combination. On the upshift the rev hang is very noticeable and annoying; if you want to drive smoothly, you really have to give it time between shifts. Downshift has a similar hanging problem: downshift, release the clutch, and wait while engine braking slowly builds over a couple of seconds. Forget double-clutching heel-and-toe finesse; you can go through the motions, but the engine's going to do what it does. I didn't really press it, but shifting up for quick acceleration felt messy and clunky; impossible to shift both quickly and smoothly at the same time, one of my practiced skills.

Some of this might go away with familiarity and practice, but I don't think I'd ever feel as connected to the mechanicals as I'm used to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Conclusions; CVT vs Manual thoughts

Some conclusions and final thoughts:

Imprezza vs. Crosstrek:

Once I learned they were virtually identical, I began to wonder whether there was enough advantage in the Crosstrek to justify the higher price, for us. (In Canada, the Crosstrek in the mid-level Sport trim costs about $2,200 more; for the top-level Limited it's about $1,500.) Rationally, there probably isn't: we'll probably never tow, never use the roof racks, or need the extra ground clearance. The extra 2 mpg of the Imprezza is a slight bonus, though we drive so little the annual cost to us and the environment would be minimal. So there's no compelling logical reason to spend the extra money.

But when do we ever make our decisions logically? I want the Crosstrek! :)

Four Wheel Drive:

I think the planted, secure feel of the car must be largely due to the symmetrical 4wd. The salesman had me do a great demonstration: stop on the shoulder, with the right wheels both in the loose gravel, and the left on the pavement, and accelerate away. I did this with some gusto, both in the CVT and Manual, and the result was totally lacking in drama: not a single pebble flew, not the slightest sense of a shimmy. We may as well have been firmly planted on asphalt. Very impressive.

While we almost never need extra traction for snow or ice where I live, we do get rain. I didn't think I'd consider 4wd any advantage, and I'm still not sure I'd pay a lot for it, but I'm starting to think more of it.

CVT vs. Manual:

Okay, this one's the real kicker. As a dedicated stick-stirring clutch-jammer, I've ranted on this forum about the loss of good manual options, and sworn I'd never consider buying anything else... this was my one unshakeable requirement in my next car. I love the totally connected, in-control experience, revel in the challenge of mastering the smooth and efficient shift, the transcendent dance of man and machine moving as one...

But you know what? If I was to buy a Crosstrek, it'd be the CVT. For many of the exact reasons I love the manual: immediate response, smooth and effective use of the power, sense of direct connection and control. It's just more fun, more responsive than the manual in this car.

I think there are two reasons the manual disappointed.

First, I just don't think it's a very good clutch or tranny... neither has the solid, crisp, precise feel and feedback of a really good transmission.

Second, and more ominously, the engine tuning and algorithms just don't work with the standard. Whether that's because not enough time and effort was spent optimizing for the stick (probably justified, given they only sell 3% manuals per our salesman), or because MPG trumps everything, or because modern engines just don't suit it, I don't know.

The first point could be completely nullified in the HR-V if Honda lives up to its history... they certainly know how to build a great standard transmission. But I'm worried that the second factor might just be the new reality, that the HR-V and all other new cars, except hopefully dedicated sports cars, will be tuned and programmed in a way that sucks all the joy and pleasure out of the stick-shift experience.

Final conclusion:

I'm seriously impressed with the Crosstrek. I'm going to take a good long look at the oil consumption problems, which some say were fixed on this car last year, while others claim it's still happening.

And I'm certainly doing nothing until the HR-V gets here and I get to see if it was worth the long wait. And when it does, I'll drive the CVT as well as the manual, and give them both careful consideration.

But if Honda disappoints, I just might end up with a Subie.

Thanks for reading! ...Perry.
 

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Interesting, because the Impreza was another car I was looking at. I stopped at the Honda dealer Sat. morning to check out the blue HR-V EX that just came in, but I wanted to take another look at the Impreza, so next it was off to the Subaru/Hyndai/Mazda dealership across town. (I think I've checked out just about every "small" car since last fall when I started searching and heard about the HR-V.)

I told them I was seriously considering the Impreza, so they got a salesman to discuss the car. And...... I did mention I had heard about and was concerned about the "oil consumption problem" -- I didn't want to get stuck with a car that was going to need a quart of oil every 1,000 miles. The salesman "assured" me the 2012 Subarus were the last models that had that problem -- noooo problem with the 2013-15 models.

I took the Impreza for another test drive, and liked the way it handled, but I didn't notice (the first time I took it for a test drive) how low to the ground the seats were....... Not so easy for an old lady with a bad back and one good and one bad knee to get in and out of the second time around. I told the salesman what package I wanted (with the Eye-sight package because I'm "older", and my reflexes will be slowing down one of these days, and I might need it in the future (so far, so good, I think.......). They told me they didn't have what I wanted in stock, but they'd check to see if they could find what I wanted.

He came back w/2 cars, but then he and the manager tried to pull the old bait and switch -- we can sell you a Forester for about the same $$$$, or less, than the Impreza, and it's a bigger/safer car, Subaru doesn't sell that many Imprezas, they're hard to come by, doesn't it make sense to get more car for the same $$$$$, yada, yada, yada. Yes, it does, but I DON'T WANT (or need) a bigger car!!! I'm a widow, and my great and great-grands kids live 1,500 miles away, so I don't "need" a larger car. It's just "me" and maybe a friend or two, and I need/want a small(er) car for my local travels (live in a rural area, so I have to drive "everywhere"). I want a hatchback for the huge/multiple bags of dog food and "garden stuff" I buy regularly, and I'm keeping my 1999 Venture van for transporting the giant, medium, and small sized dogs.

Then "How about a Crosstrek?" I don't want or need a Crosstrek -- do I look like I'm going off-roading???? What part of NO don't you guys understand????!!!! So, off I want, back to the Honda dealer across town, and I decided to get the HR-V. I'm one of the folks who could use more cubbies to stash my stuff (I couldn't believe what I found stashed in the Matrix this afternoon), but it's the size vehicle I want, and it will be my last car. (I'd buy another Matrix if Toyota still made them.) It will do what I need it to do, but I'm not sure I'll be able to figure out all the new gadgets (like the paddle shifters........). I noticed there is no low gear on the shifter, and I usually use low going down hills where I live, rather than riding the brake downhill. Will the CVT automatically down shift? Help please!!!! (I will ask more questions when I pick up the car in a couple of days.)
 

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If you get a chance to test a Crosstrek with manual it feels different than the Impreza according to my BF, he had to test on the Impreza since they couldn't keep Crosstreks on the lots back then let alone a manual. He has had his manual Crosstrek since they came out and he often mentions that it has a long throw and would like to put a different shifter on it. I recall some silly kills before he got used to it compared to his 20 year old Accord. He didn't like the CVT at all nor the compromise with paddle shifters, but he's stubborn like that.
 

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idearat, I am so impressed with your write up about the Crosstrek test drive. You truly took that little beast out and went for it.

I'll comment only on your CVT impressions as I wasn't interested in a manual. Those days are over for me, and I have wonderful memories of rowing those oars and I'll live with the memories.

I believe Subaru makes the best CVT I've driven. While I thought the HR-V had sufficient get up and go, I don't recall it being as seamless or smooth as the Subie CVT. When on the highway, the CVT hangs around 2,000rpm and it doesn't drone at all. It's just smooth, and those paddle shifters are not gimmicky. They come in very handy when downshifting to pass on the freeway. I would imagine their usefulness when going down a steep mountain pass and I have already used them to climb some of the steep hills around Puget Sound. I love them. And, the manual mode works just as you described.

The CVT wasn't the issue for me with the HR-V, it was the overall cheapness of the HR-V to me and the ride/handling/solidity.

The Crosstrek interior is more elegantly laid out. I like the waterfall like flow of the dash. The cubby space underneath the radio/nav is just enough for my sunglasses/Starbucks card/work badge and other little sundry items. I also really liked the slot right in front of the hand brake to hold a smartphone. I have the iPhone 6 + and it fits perfectly in that slot, and there is even another smaller slot in front of that which is perfect for a stick of Burt's Beesbalm. The center console is deeper and has more room than the HR-V's teeny one. Also, I can actually rest my arm on the console. I could not find a position in the HR-V where I could do so easily. I'm 5'8 if that matters. The glove box is a cave and I remember the HR-V's is also.

The seats in the Crosstrek, at least comparing leather to leather, are more comfortable. I'm thin and I find the bolstering just right. When I put the HR-V seats up to a height I like, I found my head almost touching whereas in the Crosstrek I don't have that issue (and I have the sunroof.)

Since I was able to test drive the LX, the EX and the EX-L right after their initial programming PDI (my long time dealer knew I had been waiting), there were no floor mats in the vehicles. How much extra $ would it have cost Honda to put in better carpet. I swear the flooring was like cheap felt.

The most immediate difference to me after driving the HR-V was a lack of solidity. It's hard to describe. I've been driving a 15 Outback for the past 7 months along with my little 13 Fit I traded in on the HR-V. So, I certainly had the solidity of the Outback as a frame of reference. I believe the difference is the Subaru AWD and the balance the boxer engine gives the Subarus. The Crosstrek feels, as you said, planted and solid. It just gives me a sense of safety and comfort. This could be perception, but the HR-V feels like a lighter vehicle even though the weight difference is only 200 pounds IIRC.

I am satisfied through my research that oil consumption isn't an issue with the newer models. Our 15 Outback has 7500 miles on it and I check the oil with every fill up and it hasn't used a drop. Subaru dropped the oil change interval to 6k miles and did some work with the piston rings IIRC. Also even with the older head gasket issues, my best friend sold her 02 Outback that I helped her buy in 2002 with 220k miles on it. She did spend over 1k to have the head gaskets replaced when the Outback had over 100k miles. She didn't think it was a problem given the otherwise total reliability and years of crossing snowy mountain passes without a hitch. Old Subarus rule the roads up here.

I disliked the wheels for the past year when i was waiting for the HR-V to come out. Since the Crosstrek is so popular in Puget Sound, they grew on me. When I learned they were a "snowflake pattern", it made sense and I now think they are one of the most unique aspects of the car.

I also test drove the Impreza, but I don't want to sit lower to the ground anymore. As I get to be an older "old woman", I like to sit up higher and I feel safer doing so. But, the Impreza also handled just like a tight little Subaru.

Oh, the turning radius is much better in the Crosstrek. She turns on a dime.

I am not disparaging the HR-V in this review. I waited a year for it and I thought "The Weasel" would be my long term little runabout. I even had my personalized license plates picked. out. But, it wasn't for me. It isn't a bad car, it just didn't excite me. The looks were meh, the interior quality was a let down and it didn't feel like the Hondas I've had for 25 years.

So, idearat, I agree you should wait til the HR-V hits your lovely country. It sounds like you really liked the Crosstrek and the rain we enjoy up here in our little heaven makes a Subie a good bet. They stick to the road without any hydroplaning. We've had a couple Snowmageddons in the last decade, and AWD served people well.

I'll be interested to read your review of the HR-V when you get your hands on one.
 

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Wow idearat! What a very thorough review! I can't wait to see your review of the HR-V. I had heard in other reviews about the best deal was just going with the Impreza, but I sat in one and need the extra seat height the Crosstrek offers.


Thanks also grunie for your take on things. I wish I could be 100% secure about the oil issue. Call it luck or whatever , but I feel if anyone has the issue , I would be the one to get that car. The replacing of the head gaskets at 100, 000 miles on your friends older Subaru would not endear me to the make. I guess I am spoiled with my 230,000 mile car without any major engine work. I hope to find a car with similar reliability. The fact that Subarus "go on forever" is not enough for me if I have to have an overhaul somewhere along the way. But I do understand the love affair and affinity Subaru owners have for their cars.
I remember being so excited that floor mats were standard on the HR-V....until I found out the car doesn't have carpet and the floor mats ARE the carpet. (Insert response form the "bear" here)


I LOVE this forum....so much to learn and compare!
 

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CVT vs. Manual:

Okay, this one's the real kicker. As a dedicated stick-stirring clutch-jammer, I've ranted on this forum about the loss of good manual options, and sworn I'd never consider buying anything else... this was my one unshakeable requirement in my next car. I love the totally connected, in-control experience, revel in the challenge of mastering the smooth and efficient shift, the transcendent dance of man and machine moving as one...

But you know what? If I was to buy a Crosstrek, it'd be the CVT. For many of the exact reasons I love the manual: immediate response, smooth and effective use of the power, sense of direct connection and control. It's just more fun, more responsive than the manual in this car.

Thanks for reading! ...Perry.
Another one falls...

I wonder if manuals are being "tuned to disappoint" as part of an industry-wide conspiracy to phase them out. :crying:
 

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Another one falls...

I wonder if manuals are being "tuned to disappoint" as part of an industry-wide conspiracy to phase them out. :crying:
Maybe not "tuned to disappoint", but more likely unwilling to spend the money to design a good one. CVT is the way to squeeze out extra mileage, so that is where everyone is heading, sad to say.
 

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But if Honda disappoints, I just might end up with a Subie.
I thought about Subaru as well but I've talked with people firsthand in the area that have had nothing but horrible service from the local dealer. Too bad because I'm on Triangle Mountain... bringing a car in for service would take a fraction of the time as compared to the drive from here to our local Honda dealer - the dreaded Colwood Crawl!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks everybody for your comments! Gruenie, I especially appreciate your perspective now that you've had the car for a bit.

Ex-cape, Vanguard, Bicepeak: part of me wonders if there's an agenda to make the manuals less attractive. Whether true or not, the real motivation has to be cafe / fleet gas mileage, and I can't fault that. The main lesson for me is that I'm not dedicated to a manual, ANY manual, over any automatic... it's the driving experience that matters. The Subie manual sucked (but thanks, Tricky, I'll try to reserve final judgement until I can drive a manual Crosstrek), while the CVT impressed me more than any automatic in the past. Will the HR-V experience be similar? Time will tell...

Foof, thanks for the warning, that's disturbing. I have a number of acquaintances I can hit up for their impressions. Looks like the next nearest dealer is a 90 minute drive north to Nanaimo... yuch.

Ironically, the location of Saunders is a point against Subie for me... we're in Fairfield, so Campus Honda's much closer!
 

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For those dihard manual fans, Mazda has traditionally offered and continues to offer one the slickest shifting vehicles this side of a MX-5. Unlike others that still offer manuals its available across all trim levels. Of course the 3 does not offer the high seating position or awd many here are looking for. Some would say, "may as well get a sports car", That IS what it amounts to, a practical four door sports car. 40mpg is just a bonus.
 

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Ironically, the location of Saunders is a point against Subie for me... we're in Fairfield, so Campus Honda's much closer!
Good thing Honda's are reliable! I only go for the standard service intervals. Since I only put on 8,000 to 10,000 km / year, it's not that often that I need to visit Campus.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Additional thoughts on the test drive...

My excellent and extremely observant wife, who test drove both cars with me, has just read my review and reminded me of a couple important points.

First, where I said she felt "exposed" in the passenger seat, her actual description was that she felt way up high, above the level of the driver's seat (though it didn't seem to be when we looked). She found it quite striking, and mentioned it as soon as she sat down. Also, this was only in the Imprezza... which we drove after the Crosstrek. Make of it what you will, but I have come to trust my wife's senses and reactions implicitly.

Second, when we switched seats in the Imprezza for her to try the manual, she immediately pointed out something I (Mr. Oblivious) completely missed: the stick had a very strong and consistent vibration, easily visible and intrusively tactile. How I missed it I don't know. As she said, if you rested your hand on the stick for a while you'd have a numb palm.

It's possible there was a problem with this particular car, which had barely been prepped. I would definitely drive another manual (hopefully Crosstrek) before writing it off, though not with any great expectation of a different result.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
For those dihard manual fans, Mazda has traditionally offered and continues to offer one the slickest shifting vehicles this side of a MX-5. Unlike others that still offer manuals its available across all trim levels. Of course the 3 does not offer the high seating position or awd many here are looking for. Some would say, "may as well get a sports car", That IS what it amounts to, a practical four door sports car. 40mpg is just a bonus.
One exception, at least in Canada, is the CX3... no manual offered. I will test drive both that and the 3 (in manual, of course!) at some point. Wouldn't dare test a Miata... don't want to defer my retirement that long!
:laugh:
 

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One exception, at least in Canada, is the CX3... no manual offered. I will test drive both that and the 3 (in manual, of course!) at some point. Wouldn't dare test a Miata... don't want to defer my retirement that long!
:laugh:
Yeah, there will be no manual CX-3 down here either.
Thought the CX was off your list anyway.
Can't wait to get one of your highly detailed reviews on the 3, manual and auto.
 

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idearat, I am so impressed with your write up about the Crosstrek test drive. You truly took that little beast out and went for it.

I'll comment only on your CVT impressions as I wasn't interested in a manual. Those days are over for me, and I have wonderful memories of rowing those oars and I'll live with the memories.

I believe Subaru makes the best CVT I've driven. While I thought the HR-V had sufficient get up and go, I don't recall it being as seamless or smooth as the Subie CVT. When on the highway, the CVT hangs around 2,000rpm and it doesn't drone at all. It's just smooth, and those paddle shifters are not gimmicky. They come in very handy when downshifting to pass on the freeway. I would imagine their usefulness when going down a steep mountain pass and I have already used them to climb some of the steep hills around Puget Sound. I love them. And, the manual mode works just as you described.

The CVT wasn't the issue for me with the HR-V, it was the overall cheapness of the HR-V to me and the ride/handling/solidity.

The Crosstrek interior is more elegantly laid out. I like the waterfall like flow of the dash. The cubby space underneath the radio/nav is just enough for my sunglasses/Starbucks card/work badge and other little sundry items. I also really liked the slot right in front of the hand brake to hold a smartphone. I have the iPhone 6 + and it fits perfectly in that slot, and there is even another smaller slot in front of that which is perfect for a stick of Burt's Beesbalm. The center console is deeper and has more room than the HR-V's teeny one. Also, I can actually rest my arm on the console. I could not find a position in the HR-V where I could do so easily. I'm 5'8 if that matters. The glove box is a cave and I remember the HR-V's is also.

The seats in the Crosstrek, at least comparing leather to leather, are more comfortable. I'm thin and I find the bolstering just right. When I put the HR-V seats up to a height I like, I found my head almost touching whereas in the Crosstrek I don't have that issue (and I have the sunroof.)

Since I was able to test drive the LX, the EX and the EX-L right after their initial programming PDI (my long time dealer knew I had been waiting), there were no floor mats in the vehicles. How much extra $ would it have cost Honda to put in better carpet. I swear the flooring was like cheap felt.

The most immediate difference to me after driving the HR-V was a lack of solidity. It's hard to describe. I've been driving a 15 Outback for the past 7 months along with my little 13 Fit I traded in on the HR-V. So, I certainly had the solidity of the Outback as a frame of reference. I believe the difference is the Subaru AWD and the balance the boxer engine gives the Subarus. The Crosstrek feels, as you said, planted and solid. It just gives me a sense of safety and comfort. This could be perception, but the HR-V feels like a lighter vehicle even though the weight difference is only 200 pounds IIRC.

I am satisfied through my research that oil consumption isn't an issue with the newer models. Our 15 Outback has 7500 miles on it and I check the oil with every fill up and it hasn't used a drop. Subaru dropped the oil change interval to 6k miles and did some work with the piston rings IIRC. Also even with the older head gasket issues, my best friend sold her 02 Outback that I helped her buy in 2002 with 220k miles on it. She did spend over 1k to have the head gaskets replaced when the Outback had over 100k miles. She didn't think it was a problem given the otherwise total reliability and years of crossing snowy mountain passes without a hitch. Old Subarus rule the roads up here.

I disliked the wheels for the past year when i was waiting for the HR-V to come out. Since the Crosstrek is so popular in Puget Sound, they grew on me. When I learned they were a "snowflake pattern", it made sense and I now think they are one of the most unique aspects of the car.

I also test drove the Impreza, but I don't want to sit lower to the ground anymore. As I get to be an older "old woman", I like to sit up higher and I feel safer doing so. But, the Impreza also handled just like a tight little Subaru.

Oh, the turning radius is much better in the Crosstrek. She turns on a dime.

I am not disparaging the HR-V in this review. I waited a year for it and I thought "The Weasel" would be my long term little runabout. I even had my personalized license plates picked. out. But, it wasn't for me. It isn't a bad car, it just didn't excite me. The looks were meh, the interior quality was a let down and it didn't feel like the Hondas I've had for 25 years.

So, idearat, I agree you should wait til the HR-V hits your lovely country. It sounds like you really liked the Crosstrek and the rain we enjoy up here in our little heaven makes a Subie a good bet. They stick to the road without any hydroplaning. We've had a couple Snowmageddons in the last decade, and AWD served people well.

I'll be interested to read your review of the HR-V when you get your hands on one.
I couldn't agree more with this review's high marks for the Crosstrek. I've owned several Hondas & Acuras and always respected the brand, tho' a little less lately given the recent hits to reliability, initial quality, corporate shake-ups and NHTSA fines.

I had to give up my waiting for the HR-V, due to my bum knees, when I learned that it's driver knee/legroom was even a smidge LESS than the completely inadequate (to me) FIT. So, after thoroughly studying the 2012-13 oil issue, I bought a 2015 Crosstrek Limited with its 2.5+" of additional knee/legroom and now have about 4 months and 4k miles on it. WOW, it's surprisingly better than I thought it would be in so many areas: handling, traction, solid road feel, gas mileage, adequate power, etc. I'm really delighted.

So my new slogan is, "Subie Crosstrek: come for the legroom, stay for the unexpected goodies!"
 
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