When the Subaru Crosstrek went on sale in 2013, it elevated (literally and figuratively) an affable compact wagon into a capable lifestyle off-roader that suited the outdoorsy needs of my burgeoning millennial cohort. The only problem was that it was slow as hell. When I reviewed the second-generation car with a larger, more powerful 2.5-liter engine in 2020, though, I deemed it pretty much perfect.
After I spent a week with the redesigned 2024 Crosstrek, complete with the same late-arriving 2.5-liter boxer powerplant, I haven’t changed my tune. As far as small crossovers go, the third-generation Crosstrek continues to do everything I could ask. It’s fun to drive, interesting to look at, capable enough to tackle any reasonable obstacle, exceedingly well equipped, safe, and comfortable enough for the demands of everyday life. The only real drawback is an above-average price for the Limited trim I drove. But as is so often the case with Subaru, you get what you pay for.
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|2024 Subaru Crosstrek Limited
|182 Horsepower / 178 Pound-Feet
|26 City / 33 Highway / 29 Combined
|$24,995 + $1,295 Destination
Gallery: 2024 Subaru Crosstrek: Review
- Exterior Color: Alpine Green
- Interior Color: Black w/Orange Stitch
- Wheel Size: 18 Inches
I’m no fan of the derpy looking Impreza, but the Crosstrek – with its 9.3 inches of ground clearance (half an inch more than a Ford Bronco Sport Badlands) and tough-looking cladding – cuts a more impressive figure. The armor supports the visual mass of the rounded nose better, and all around, the body protection emphasizes the compact front and rear overhangs.
And yet, the Crosstrek’s additions don’t give it the angry, imposing look so common in the off-road space – including in its recently revealed Wilderness sibling. I’m not sure there’s a vehicle on the market that better balances cutesy crossover design with such a purposeful and capable character, save the Jeep Renegade.
Sitting in the Crosstrek’s cabin, though, I can’t spot nearly so many differences between this car and the Impreza it’s based on. A high center console, a domineering portrait-oriented touchscreen, and a preponderance of plastic match the Impreza almost exactly. The material quality trails the segment-leading Honda HR-V, while the Limited model I drove leaned a bit too hard on the all-black-everything sentiment. The more affordable Sport, with its splashes of gold upholstery on the seat bolsters, feels more youthful and refreshing.
save over $3,400 on average off MSRP* on a new Subaru Crosstrek
- Seating Capacity: 5
- Seating Configuration: 2 / 3
- Cargo Capacity: 19.9 / 54.7 Cubic Feet
I tested the Crosstrek mere weeks after driving the standard (and nearly as good) Impreza, and it was a textbook demonstration of why folks prefer the higher ride height of crossovers. I had an easier time getting in and out of the Crosstrek because it asked me to step in rather than drop down to get into the driver’s seat. The supportive front seat bolsters hugged my hips without restricting my movement, which was a boon when it came time to exit the car. The added ride height also saved my eyes from the glare of following vehicles’ headlights.
With the front row set up for my long-legged 6-foot-2 body, the second-row bench was too tight for my comfort, with my knees pressed into the front seatbacks and an uncomfortable door opening that caused me to kick the door panel when getting out. Cargo space is surprisingly slim too, with the wheel wells narrowing a space that seems substantial from the outside. Stowing my golf clubs in the back meant wedging them in and risking the life of my longer clubs or dropping the second-row seats.
Ride quality, meanwhile, was excellent thanks to the softly-sprung suspension and sizable 55-series tire sidewalls, and even the thrum of the boxer engine/CVT combo rarely bothered my ears with the tone or volume.
- Center Display: 11.6-inch Touchscreen
- Instrument Cluster Display: 4.5 Inches
- Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: Yes
All Crosstreks save the base model carry a standard 11.6-inch, portrait-oriented touchscreen. Neither the system’s graphics nor its response times are especially impressive – the former are muddled and the latter half a step behind the what you’ll find in a Kia Niro – but the visual statement of the big display is hard to argue with. The range-topping Limited is available with a navigation function but considering the presence of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, I didn’t find the built-in nav all that necessary.
Subaru only offers two factory option packages for the Crosstrek – one that includes a sunroof and 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system and another that adds nav to that twosome. Either box is easy to tick. Even though the sunroof isn't particularly impressive, the upgraded audio system is worth the cost of entry, with richer, clearer, and more powerful sound.
- Engine: 2.5-liter H4
- Output: 182 Horsepower / 178 Pound-Feet
- Transmission: Continuously Variable
As it did way back in 2020, Subaru offers the 2.5-liter Crosstrek in Sport and Limited guises only. The larger engine is a real difference maker, adding 30 horsepower and 33 pound-feet of torque while demanding only a tiny sacrifice at the pump. The naturally aspirated mill’s added torque, especially, makes the Crosstrek feel easier to drive and more energetic off the line. And while continuously variable transmissions have suffered from a poor reputation, Subaru’s got the technology figured out. It’s quick to engage; features a stepped manual mode for simulated gear changes; and avoids the buzzy, obnoxious behavior of old CVTs.
The Crosstrek’s soft, lifted suspension limits its handling relative to the Impreza, but the Crosstrek is about as entertaining as any of its rivals with predictable body motions and quick, direct steering. And unlike the Mazda CX-30 and its soft-road ilk, the Crosstrek has legitimate chops on rougher dirt surfaces, thanks to its X-Mode off-road system and a suspension/steering tune that mitigates the effect of bigger bumps. If you need to go deeper into the woods, a Bronco Sport Badlands or Jeep Renegade Trailhawk will be a better partner, but neither can match the Crosstrek’s balance between rougher roads and paved surfaces.
- Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 2 (Hands-On)
- NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
- IIHS Rating: Not Rated
Subaru’s EyeSight is a segment leader and it’s standard on every Crosstrek, rolling in adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, and automatic emergency braking into one cohesive package. The Limited trim adds blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear automatic emergency braking. I slipped behind the wheel of the Crosstrek and set off – the system doesn’t require any fiddling or tweaking of settings – and enjoyed the system’s behavior at highway speeds, where it reduced the need for small adjustments and in general, the strain.
- City: 26 MPG
- Highway: 33 MPG
- Combined: 29 MPG
- Base Price: $24,995 + $1,295 Destination
- Trim Base Price: $32,190
- As-Tested Price: $34,635
The Crosstrek starts at $26,290 including a $1,295 destination charge, but to be frank, I’d never consider the base trim. The 2.5-liter engine’s added power is too hard to ignore. And while I like the Limited’s expansive feature set, its $32,190 staring price is a bit hard to stomach. My tester came in at $34,635, owing to the nav/audio/sunroof combo’s $2,445 premium, but the standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility makes that a foolish investment.
If I were ordering a Limited, I’d rather mirror my smartphone and pay the $1,795 package for the Harmon/Kardon sound system/sunroof alone. But the real power move is to opt for the $30,290 Sport, which has a more youthful exterior aesthetic and comes close enough to the Limited’s active safety set thanks to a $1,920 option pack (blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assist, a power driver’s seat, and a sunroof). At $32,210, a loaded Sport is a mere $20 more than the base Limited.
On the competitive front, though, the Crosstrek faces a tougher challenge. A loaded Kia Seltos, with its powerful turbocharged engine, comes in at $32,515 and the Honda HR-V EX-L is just $30,995 fully loaded. And while boring, the roomy Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid boasts far superior fuel economy in a range-topping trim that demands $32,400, The Crosstrek fares better against rough-and-tumble options – it’s substantially cheaper than the Ford Bronco Sport Badlands ($39,685) and feels better built than the $33,540 Renegade Trailhawk.
Crosstrek Competitor Reviews:
2024 Subaru Crosstrek Limited