Test Drive: 2017 Subaru Crosstrek Kazan Edition

Special editions aren’t always so special. They’re usually a gimmick used by automakers when a car is in its final model year. A fancy name and a few extra features helps to move some more units out the door before the next shiny new thing is unveiled.

At an MSRP of $26,495, it’s a screaming value for what it is and what comes with it.

How’s that for a healthy dose of realism to go with your morning coffee?

But here’s the thing: every once in a while, a special edition hits its marks just right and turns into something you genuinely might want to consider buying.

The 2017 Subaru Crosstrek Kazan Edition is a perfect example.

All signs point to 2017 being the last model year for the Crosstrek’s current generation. The existence of this car is one of them; the recent launch of the Subaru Impreza on the brand new global platform is another. The latest underpinnings are ready for a new subcompact crossover to be laid onto them, likely for the 2018 model year.

But I hardly had to go into super sleuth mode to reach this conclusion, which means that consumers doing their research are going to be aware of it as well.

Why not have some fun with it? Enter the Kazan Edition.

This is not hyperbole: I would genuinely think very hard about laying down the money to bring one of these home. At an MSRP of $26,495, it’s a screaming value for what it is and what comes with it.

There are a couple of things that keep my finger hovering over the button, though – things that are just irksome enough to make me want to wait and see just how much better the 2018 Crosstrek ends up being.

It would be a very difficult decision, but I think I’d choose not to live with the pitfalls. You very well might be ready to pull the trigger, though, depending on your priorities and situation.

The Crosstrek happens to suit my lifestyle extremely well. My family lives in downtown Toronto and my husband and I only have one child, so a small size and ease of maneuverability are much higher priorities for us than size and space. This tester quite literally got me into and out of some very tight spots – you’d never believe how cutthroat urban school drop-offs can be, but suffice it to say that I was relieved on more than one occasion to be able to get the Crosstrek into three-quarters of a standard parking space with relative ease.

And despite its diminutive size, it has a very generous cargo area. Its 632 L of storage volume with the rear seats up is more than enough to get us home carrying a week’s worth of groceries with room to spare.

Although my family is small, I also deeply appreciate the security of Subaru’s stout and standard all-wheel-drive system – yes, city roads get icy, too – and its consistently top-notch safety ratings.

The Kazan Edition stands out most for its visual cues, and they culminate in styling that’s genuinely striking. Gloss-black badges and an all-black mesh grille pop off the exclusive Pure Red paint, spoiler included, and five-spoke 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Inside, matching red highlights and upholstery stitching pepper the trim in all the right places. It’s the same practical crossover, but the attention to detail works wonders.

It comes with an impressive suite of popular features as well, including a 6.2-inch infotainment system with Bluetooth capability, heated front seats, heated and foldable side mirrors, and a power tilting and sliding sunroof.

Though the powertrain that goes with it is best described as aging, it does makes a nice amount of noise for a little fella. The 2.0L four-cylinder boxer engine can be mated with a CVT – Subaru’s tend to be pretty good, and a fuel rating of 9.1 L/100 km city and 7.2 highway isn’t bad for the segment – but this tester came with the five-speed manual transmission.

I try my hardest to be the last person to complain about any manual box. Hashtag save-the-manuals and all that. I have to confess, though, that about the only thing that excites me about this one is the pedals. (The Kazan gets Subaru’s aluminum studded sport pedals, and they’re really nice!) As for the transmission itself: I wish I could rave about it, but it’s just okay. For only having five ratios the gearing isn’t bad, but the action on the shifter is a bit vague, there’s no engaging feature on reverse except to dump down into it from below fifth (this is when the back-up camera comes in very handy: “Oh, I must have hit reverse okay, good”), and it’s very rev-happy on the highway, running at about 2,750 rpm at 100 km/h and 3,250 at 120. The on-paper fuel ratings don’t hurt too badly – 10.3 city, 7.8 highway – but my real-world readings came in a fair bit higher than that over the course of a winter week at 12.0 l/100 km.

There’s another factor that’s difficult to ignore, and that’s the noise level in the interior. When you drive some of the Crosstrek’s competitors and then get into it afterward, it feels downright raucous.

There’s also no power liftgate in a time when most SUVs at least have it available.

And while Subaru’s infotainment system was competitive as recently as a couple of years ago, it’s quickly fallen behind. This one comes without navigation, which wouldn’t be so bad if it had phone app capability, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t available either. Plus, the text in some functions is downright tiny, which can leave you distracted as you look away from the road long enough to read it.

Pretty well all of these shortcomings will almost certainly be addressed in the 2018 Crosstrek, and if you’re considering buying one and you’ve got the time and patience to wait and see before making a buying decision then I’d suggest doing so. If the reception of the latest Impreza is anything to go by, the next Crosstrek should be worth waiting for.

But if you need a new car now, and if the Crosstrek Kazan suits your life as well as it suits mine, and if you can find one – they don’t call them special editions for nothing, after all – then do the deal. This car is capable of delighting you for a good few years yet. You won’t regret it.

2017 Subaru Crosstrek Kazan Edition
Engine Displacement: 2.0L
Engine Cylinders: 4
Peak Horsepower: 148 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Peak Torque: 145 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm
Fuel Economy: 10.3/7.8/9.2 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space: 632/1,470 L (seats down)
2017 Subaru Crosstrek Kazan Edition
Base Price $26,495
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,675
Price as Tested $28,270
Optional Equipment None
Optional Equipment
10 0
Scoring breakdowns 7.8
8 Styling
7 Powertrain
8 Quality
7 Comfort
8 Practicality
8 Drivability
8 Usability/Ergonomics
8 Fuel Economy
8 Features
8 Value