Did you ever wonder how car dealers and salespeople get to be so knowledgeable about their vehicles? It’s not from sitting and reading boring sales manuals. Turns out that car manufacturers have training and experiential events to get the team excited about the new vehicles, and when Subaru held a regional training event for the brand new 2018 Subaru Crosstrek, they were kind enough to invite a few of us local car writers to participate.
The company turned much of the area around Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado into a test track, a place where we could learn about all the safety and performance features of the new Crosstrek. And it was ridiculously fun, even if speed wasn’t part of the equation. The Crosstrek continues Subaru’s successful efforts in what I’ll call the casual outdoor crowd, offering vehicles for people who hike, drive off pavement (but not hard-core offroad) and encounter a wide variety of tricky driving conditions.
There were three different tracks set up to highlight different features; the one in the photo above was the offroad and traction track. Note in particular the big dirt mountain on the right side. Sadly, I wasn’t able to stay for the entire event so never got a chance to drive this particular course, though it looked like great fun.
Of course, that didn’t stop me from taking a photo of someone from Subaru pushing the envelope with the traction control as they zipped around this particular track:
Instead, we started out with what they called the Urban Challenge. “New York Minute” was a timed parallel parking challenge, “Fitting in Philly” had us guessing the width of the car and then driving through two obstacles to see how close we got, and “Seattle Squeeze” had increasingly narrow cones on a twisty course to see how well we could handle the nimble vehicle.
Here’s one of my fellow writers trying out New York Minute:
I zipped in and it was beneficial to have the auto-stop brake system because I did, uh, come really close to bumping the car immediately behind me. Okay, not a car, just a barrier, but still, if I were in New York at the time, who knows how it might have gone afterwards? “Hey, you hit my car. What the heck, buddy?”
The 2018 Crosstrek is a very nice vehicle, with a streamlined design and plenty of interior room to boot. Here’s a red one, ready for its photo shoot:
See the logo medallion on the front? Know what it symbolizes? I didn’t either until this event. Turns out that the Subaru logo represents the stars that comprise the Pleiades star cluster, of all things. Interesting!
The interior of the car is lovely with more gadgets than you can shake a stick at. In fact, there’s so much going on with the dashboard controls and displays that drivers will be challenged to keep their eyes on the road:
The entertainment system also works with both CarPlay and Android Play, so your smartphone is going to find it a very nice companion device. Notice also the Toyota Prius-like efficiency and feedback display atop the dashboard. The vehicle gets approx 33mpg which was even more impressive with its peppy drive and lively steering through tight turns and twisty roads.
And then there’s X-Mode. The car can help you down steep hills, as we tested with The Ramp on “Performance Peak”:
Get to the top, push the X-Mode button on the console and take your foot off the brake. The car gently lets itself down the hill. Slightly nerve-wracking the first time you trust the car to do the work, but it worked great and gently rolled us off the top of the ramp. Quite impressive.
All in all, a fun afternoon of education and a good chance to test out the new 2018 Subaru Crosstrek. I was impressed, and can’t wait to get it on the road for a longer, more involved test drive.