Our Subaru Crosstrek has proved it can handle the urban jungle like a pro with its comfortable ride, spacious interior, efficient engine, and solid driving dynamics. But that’s just half of what the crossover is intended for. Eager to see how the Subaru performs outside of Los Angeles’ asphalt maze, I took the little lifted hatch to Mount Baldy for a day of hiking with three friends and their large, 90-pound dog.
With four seats occupied by passengers and the cargo area by a human-sized dog, I knew I needed more room for this trip than the Crosstrek could offer. Fortunately for us, Subaru sent a set of Thule extended crossbars ($459.85) and a Thule extended cargo carrier ($529.95). Both are available as Crosstrek accessories and can be purchased with the vehicle. Installation was straightforward and easy with two people. So how much of a difference did the carrier make? Plenty.
Without the carrier up top, our backpacks, cooking gear, and several gallons of water would have been stacked on my passengers’ laps or smushed in the cargo area where they would have been soaked by dog drool during the two-hour drive. Instead, everything fit in the 17-cubic-foot cargo carrier, which has a weight limit of 200 pounds. (A smaller 13-cubic-foot carrier is also available.) The Thule carrier is lockable and can be opened from either side.
As soon as I hit the road, one thing quickly became apparent: Wind noise increases significantly. But this shouldn’t be surprising when you add a sizable object to the roof. With roof rails, the Crosstrek is 63.6 inches tall; the additional 17 inches from the carrier takes the total height to 80.6 inches, short enough for every parking garage I entered.
Up the mountain, the Crosstrek ironed out road imperfections and was fun to toss around on the twisty canyon roads. Using Apple CarPlay, I played music while following directions on Apple Maps. (Soon, CarPlay will allow the use of other apps, such as Google Maps.) On the steeper stretches of the climb, the flat-four engine struggled to maintain speed with the added weight of my passengers and cargo. If the Crosstrek had more muscle, the only significant complaint would have been from my rear passengers, who wished they had air-conditioning vents.