Kia Seltos 2023 review: GT-Line long-term | Part 3
To paraphrase a (traditionally pretty naughty) saying, it's not so much the size that matters in the new-car world, but more what you can do with it.
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I am in my second month living with the Subaru Crosstrek 2.0R, but given I was on holiday for a couple of weeks during this period, I am going to focus on the practicality and in-car tech for this instalment.
I will start, however, with exterior design.
I think every iteration of the XV/Crosstrek has been a looker. From the 2012 original to the 2023 Crosstrek, they have all been a bit cool. A job well done for what was essentially a jacked-up Impreza.
The Crosstrek maintains a clear relationship to its predecessors, but Subaru designers have sharpened it up in a big way. The slimline LED headlights, high-set narrow tail-lights and dominant grille all make for a very handsome little SUV.
The colour choices help here, too. The greyish 'Offshore Blue' paint on the press car works well with the overall proportions of the Crosstrek.
And if you don’t like that, you can choose from 'Crystal White Pearl', 'Ice Silver Metallic', 'Magnetite Grey Metallic', 'Crystal Black Silica', 'Pure Red', 'Sun Blaze Pearl', 'Oasis Blue', 'Sapphire Blue Pearl' or 'Horizon Blue Pearl'.
What’s the cabin like? I’m glad you asked.
Subaru is not known for its interior design, specifically the dash area. You won’t see the clean lines or minimalism of a Mazda or Volkswagen here. It’s definitely function over form, and that continues to be the case with the new Crosstrek.
That said, it’s not poorly designed, there’s just a bit going on. Although the inclusion of the 11.6-inch portrait touchscreen has significantly reduced clutter.
That screen will be familiar if you’ve spent time in the current Outback.
It houses a number of vehicle functions and is very easy to navigate. There's no confusing the menu icons and it’s a well-executed system. Even if the graphics are a little naff.
One thing that I really appreciate is the integrated climate controls. They are housed in the multimedia screen, but always accessible via a quick touch at the bottom of the screen, even when Apple CarPlay is active. The only hard buttons are for the front and rear demister.
When you tap the air-con icon, the full climate menu takes over the screen. There’s no fiddly sub menus as there are on systems from some of Subaru’s competitors. It’s all there. This may sound like a simple feature, and it is, but it’s increasingly rare. I’d say it’s the best example of digital air-con controls in a car I've seen in a while.
I also love that Subaru has retained a volume (and a radio tune) knob on the screen.
There’s no shortage of storage options in the front of the Crosstrek cabin. There’s a wireless charger hidden under the screen, as well as auxiliary, USB-A and USB-C ports. Two cupholders, (one smaller and one larger), a 12-volt outlet and old school seat heater switches are found in the centre console, as well as a sizeable central bin. The glove box is a decent size, too, and there is enough room for largish bottles in the doors.
Synthetic carbon-fibre inserts on and around the dash are a nice touch and break up the blocks of grey.
There are a lot of buttons on the Crosstrek’s steering wheel and it takes some time to familiarise yourself with what’s what.
The trip computer reset button is housed in an odd spot. It’s on the dash fascia to the left of the steering wheel, precisely where an engine stop/start button is found in lots of other cars. This caught my partner out on one occasion.
Up front there’s plenty of occupant space, and the driver’s seat is power adjustable. The passenger seat is manual.
The cloth seats could do with a bit more thigh bolstering, but they are well cushioned and super comfortable. I prefer cloth trim over hard, cheap leather, but I appreciate parents might like leather (or synthetic leather) as it’s easy to wipe off spills.
It has an excellent driving position and it’s easy to adjust to your preference. You certainly feel ‘in’ the car rather than ‘on’ it.
Subaru has stretched the wheelbase of the Crosstrek by 5.0mm over the XV, which has ensured more rear seat space. And that’s a good thing because it was pretty tight in the XV’s back seat.
There’s plenty of space behind my 183cm (six-foot) driving position. Toe room is tight but there’s a surprising amount of leg and knee room, and heaps of headroom. Although the sloping rear roofline impedes vision out for taller occupants.
The rear seats are flat but still well cushioned. There are top tether points for all three rear seats and ISOFIX points for the two outboard seats.
Rear occupants have access to a central fold-down armrest housing two shallow cupholders, a USB-A and USB-C port, but sadly no rear air vents.
That rear backrest is a 60/40 split-fold unit to liberate more boot space, which you will probably need because it is not a big boot.
In positive news, it has a flat loading area, because under the boot floor is a temporary spare wheel - much better than a tyre repair kit. It has a couple of decent nooks on either side of the boot space, and a sturdy cargo blind.
That’s not huge and because of the high boot floor, it’s pretty shallow. It trails competitors like the Hyundai Kona (407L), Kia Seltos (from 433L), Mazda CX-30 (317L), Nissan Qashqai (429L), and Toyota Corolla Cross (from 380L).
So, with that in mind, there are some clear pros and cons when it comes to the Crosstrek’s practicality. But what’s it like to drive?
Keep your eye on CarsGuide.com.au for my next instalment which will focus on exactly that.
Acquired: August 2023
Distance travelled this month: 126km
Average energy consumption this month: 9.6L/100km
Based on new car retail price
Based on new car retail price
Based on new car retail price