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    Added Style in Crossovers

    By Philip Ruth–

    If talk-show makeup makeovers have taught us anything, it’s that the right look can make anyone seem more appealing. That’s nowhere truer than the fiercely competitive crossover market, where many buyers are searching for four-wheeled extensions of their personalities.

    Or at least they would be extensions of all they’d like to be. That’s why many crossovers are dubbed aspirational vehicles, and one subspecies is the shape with a coupe-like look, where the angled rear window nods toward sleek sophistication, rather than upright utilitarianism.

    The two blue testers this week are examples of this breed. The Ford Edge Sport (Blue Jean Metallic) and Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i (Quartz Blue Pearl) I recently drove both had styling that was striking. The Edge Sport was bold, with brawny proportions and a serious visage. The Crosstrek had more going on, with black plastic cladding and a high-contrast wheel design that emphasized the shiny rims. Both the Ford and Subaru had the visuals to satisfy the extroverts among us.

    When discussing styling, it’s germane to note the difference in visibility between the Edge and the Crosstrek. The Edge is a challenge in tight urban traffic, with smallish windows, a relatively low seating position and bulging bodywork. The corners sink down out of sight, and the edges of the rounded sides were a matter of guesswork, even after a week of driving. This is probably not such a big deal in the suburbs, but in San Francisco, the Edge’s expressive contours required constant monitoring.

    The Crosstrek contrasts that with its comparatively wide-open visibility. Model year 2018 is the first for the Crosstrek’s new platform, which is shared with the Impreza. The new structure’s windshield and side windows seem huge, and you’re perched high enough to feel like you’re presiding over the car that surrounds you. Visibility is sometimes just a line item in a car review, but a clear outward view truly inspires confidence when you’re picking your way through the city, and the Crosstrek’s is clear indeed.

    Both this Edge Sport and Crosstrek 2.0i were fun to drive—the Edge for its muscle, and the Crosstrek for its flexibility. The Edge’s 2.7-liter V6 is the most powerful of the three engines available, and its 315 horsepower bangs off strong launches and decisive passing speeds like it’s been training all year for that day.

    The Crosstrek’s four-cylinder makes just less than half the power of the Edge’s, but its 152 horses have less weight to move. The Crosstrek feels snappy off the line and is happy to eke out a little more to help you land in the lane for which you’re aiming. The Crosstrek won’t press you into the seat, but its responsiveness impresses.

    You’d expect to spend in the mid-$20Ks for a nice Crosstrek and the mid-$30Ks for a decent Edge, and the tested Edge Sport’s $47K sticker probed the upper limits of crossover affordability. Both are solid choices for buyers wanting crossovers with added style.

    Philip Ruth is a Castro-based automotive photojournalist and consultant ( Check out his automotive staging service at