When my wife and I bought our 2008 Subaru Forester, we chose it because we needed something affordable, reliable, practical, and versatile. There’s also no beating its fantastic visibility. It was the kind of car we could drive daily but also take camping without having to worry about getting stuck in a little mud or sand. But if we were to buy a new SUV today, we’d probably skip the 2019 Forester and go for the Crosstrek instead.
If the Forester were still a small wagon using a moderate lift and a stretched greenhouse to disguise itself as an SUV, that would be one thing. But currently, there’s no way we could justify upgrading to something that large. For around-town driving, the Hyundai Kona makes lots of sense. The optional turbocharged engine has a little more power, and there’s no need for all-wheel drive in L.A.
But one often overlooked part of camping is all the driving you typically have to do to get there. And one big advantage the Crosstrek has over the Kona for road trips (as well as heavy traffic) is adaptive cruise control. Plus, even though you’d expect a front-wheel-drive car to get better fuel economy, there’s a negligible difference between the front-drive Kona 1.6T’s EPA combined rating of 30 mpg and the Crosstrek’s 29.
Instead, we’d probably drop down to the Crosstrek Limited. The Premium’s even lower base price and manual transmission are appealing, but my wife doesn’t like driving stick. And after you add the automatic transmission and the EyeSight package, the Premium’s price advantage all but disappears.
In terms of options, we’d keep it simple: Cool Gray Khaki paint, the rear seat back protector, and the crossbar set in case we need to add a cargo carrier at some point. Because Apple CarPlay comes standard, we don’t need to add navigation. And although the upgraded audio system and moonroof might be nice to have, they’re not a priority.