I just returned from a winter adventure travel road trip to the Gunflint Trail in northern Minnesota and the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski marathon in Hayward, Wisconsin. For the trip I was provided with a brand new Subaru Crosstrek by the car manufacturer. A car I was reluctant to give back at the end of the trip.
The trip started in Chicago. My first stop was Blue Mound State Park near Madison for an afternoon ski in this wonderful state park. There was not much snow in Madison, but just enough to ski.
Once Eau Claire was reached it was a different story. There was at least a foot of snow on the ground with huge piles in all the parking lots. This was good news as it meant conditions would be perfect for the 40th running of the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski marathon, which was going to be held in one week.
The next order of business was stopping in at the Devil’s Track Nordic shop along the Gunflint Trail to get my Fischer skis waxed. The Nordic shop was at the beginning of the Gunflint Trail, and I was staying at our family’s cabin located at the end of it. I then got in the car for the 60 mile trip to the end of the trail and to our north woods cabin.
It started to snow, and I was sure glad to have the all wheel drive capacity. A tyre shopper would love the tread they have on this car. The Gunflint Trail is paved, salted, and plowed in the winter, but the road going into our cabin is packed with snow. There are some steep hills and in the time we have had the cabin we have had our cars stuck more than once during the winter. These hills proved to be nothing for the Crosstrek, which zipped up and down them all weekend long. Check out National.co.uk to find the right tyre for you.
On the way home from a cross-country ski excursion the next night it was snowing so hard, it was hard to see the road. On one steep incline coming down to our cabin even the Crosstrek slipped a little, but I was going slow with the knowledge that the roads are a little dangerous. I am fairly certain if I was in my Saturn, I would have ended up in a ditch. Not a great place to be when you are driving by yourself in an area where people are sparse and the weather cold.
When I got to the end of the road, I had to cross-country ski across a lake to get to our cabin. On the return trip when I was leaving, this task was done in -20 degrees below zero. This was the temperature mind you and not the wind chill. At 7 a.m. when I got to the Crosstrek it started instantly. Many times cars will not start until later in the morning when the sun has a chance to warm up vehicles when it is this cold.
After four days along the Gunflint Trail, it was back to Eau Claire for a night before heading towards Hayward, Wisconsin for the Birkie. I woke up early to 6 inches of fresh powder on the ground. I was once again relieved to have the Crosstrek while driving the northern Wisconsin roads to my cross-country ski race.
The Crosstrek turned out to be the perfect car for a winter adventure. Not only was traction solid and the start up in cold weather super reliable, it also has a great capacity for hauling gear. I bought firewood in town for the cabin and never had a problem with room. The Crosstrek has an SUV type design although smaller and sleeker, but this car gets favorable gas mileage. I averaged less than 28 miles per gallon, but I am sure it gets closer to 30 in better weather.
For these reasons, I would definitely recommend the Crosstrek if you are looking for a car that is tough enough for winter adventure, yet still gets good gas mileage.
Disclosure: Subaru graciously provided this car at no cost to me, but I was not paid for this post, nor did Subaru provide money for gasoline. The views are completely my own from my one week experience with the vehicle.
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