2024 Subaru Crosstrek Makes Its Case for Dominating Small CUVs
Subaru designers didn’t change much on the outside of the new Crosstrek, so casual observers will struggle to find the new tweaks setting it apart from the ’23 model.
Base and Premium models get the 152-hp 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder boxer, while Sport and Limited Crosstreks get the 182-hp 2.5-liter boxer.
On the inside, Subaru tried to give young consumers what they really want: better connectivity and an available larger, brighter touchscreen with more standard features embedded.
When Kelley Blue Book reported a few months ago that the average price of a new car in America had cracked the $49,000 threshold, the pessimists among us thought this average was driven by luxury cars and well-equipped SUVs and full-size pickups and that, damn, there’s nothing good out there for under $30k.
But there’s hope for budget-minded shoppers after all, in the form of the all-new, third-generation 2024 Subaru Crosstrek, a compact all-wheel-drive crossover that is so popular that it remained the runaway leader in its segment last year, even as production of the previous model was winding down in anticipation of the new Crosstrek.
“We own the segment,” declares Garrick Goh, Subaru North America’s planning manager for the Crosstrek, during the recent test drive through the dusty desert near Palm Springs, California.
With good reason, the Subaru design team did not mess with success, so casual observers will struggle to find the new tweaks that set it apart from the ’23 model. On the outside, the hexagonal grille is larger now and has no framing, making it look more rugged.
The new headlamps are stretched taut, and the wheel-well cladding now has a flat top in place of the rounded cladding on the old model (similar to any modern Jeep). The visual effect adds heft to the new Crosstrek. The rear is definitely more stylized, with U-shaped taillamps that are less bulky and wrap around the body color on the liftgate.
The front fenders are made of aluminum, while the rest of the body is steel and there’s more high-strength steel, with hopes of a top score for side-impact crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The New Crosstrek will be sold in four trim levels: Base and Premium with standard 17-inch alloy “gear tooth” wheels, along with Sport and Limited variants with upgraded 18-inch alloys.
Subaru has neatly packaged the powertrain offerings. Base and Premium models get the 152-hp 2.0-liter direct-injected four-cylinder boxer (with 145 lb-ft of torque), while Sport and Limited Crosstreks get the 182-hp 2.5-liter boxer (with 178 lb-ft).
While carrying over from the previous Crosstrek with the same horsepower ratings, both engines have been significantly updated with 20% less vibration, partially due to new and improved engine mounts that pay off at high rpm, as observed during our extensive test drives.
In addition, long-time Subaru drivers who have come to accept a certain raw raspiness from the brand’s horizontally opposed engines will find that noise significantly muted, making for pleasant highway cruising and even during wide-open jaunts in the passing lane. At least this was the case with the 2.5-liter Premium version we drove.
Go ahead, shed a tear for the departure of the six-speed manual transmission, which won’t be offered in the new Crosstrek. But honestly, we didn’t miss it with the Lineartronic CVT, which also has been tweaked to run smoother and quieter. Premium, Sport, and Limited versions come with steering-wheel paddles allowing the driver to cycle through eight pre-set phantom gears.
We experimented driving both ways and the manual shifting mode was not very responsive. Mash the accelerator while cruising in manual mode and the tachometer needle holds steady while the transmission maintains its current ratio. Do the same with the CVT in charge, and the ratios quickly adjust, revs climb, and the response is like comparing night to day.
Shocks have been tuned for better ride and handling, and all models come standard with all-wheel drive and X-mode, a brake-based torque vectoring system that helps off-road and on slick surfaces.
Models with the 2.0-liter engine will come from Subaru’s plant in Gunma, Japan, this spring, while those with the 2.5-liter boxer will for the first time come from Subaru’s plant in Lafayette, Indiana, this summer. Model mix is expected to be evenly split between each engine, both of them naturally aspirated.
There was a Crosstrek hybrid in 2022, but there’s no talk yet about a hybrid (or plug-in hybrid) variant coming for the new model.
While the new exterior calls little attention to itself, the interior represents a big step forward for the Crosstrek and the entire compact crossover segment. Granted, there’s a lot of hard plastic in the center console and on the doors and instrument panel, and the steering wheel has barely changed from the previous generation.
But Subaru smartly cut some corners on materials to give young consumers what they really want: better connectivity and an available larger, brighter touchscreen with more standard features that are easier to use, including the well-regarded camera-based EyeSight driver-assistance technology. Consider the hard plastic to be part of Subaru’s quirkiness.
Adaptive cruise control, blind-spot detection, and automatic emergency steering are among the extensive suite of available driver-assistance offerings.
While the standard StarLink central touchscreen is smallish, at 7 inches diagonally, Subaru expects more customers to opt for the available 11.6-inch vertical multimedia touchscreen that integrates climate and audio control, wireless Apple Car Play and Android Auto, phone connectivity, and an optional navigation system powered by TomTom.
The larger screen, which carries from the Outback, eliminates the hard knobs for climate control and makes for a cleaner look. Seat fabric feels rugged and durable, a sunroof is optional, and the climate control integrates “dynamic ventilation,” which intelligently directs warm or cool air only toward occupied seats.
By today’s standards, the Crosstrek remains a bargain, starting at $26,290 in base trim and $32,190 in Limited (including destination). That’s up from $24,870 for the base ’23 Crosstrek. Thanks, inflation.
If that price increase is a deal breaker for you, consider Subaru’s all-new (slightly smaller) Impreza, which will start at $22,995 and will arrive this summer as a five-door hatchback, sharing its Subaru Global Platform with the Crosstrek.
The first-generation Crosstrek arrived in 2013 and last year found its way to more than 155,000 US driveways, easily outselling the Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trailblazer, Ford Bronco Sport, Hyundai Kona, Jeep Compass, Toyota Corolla Cross, VW Taos, and a raft of others.
Subaru is counting on the new Crosstrek to keep its grip on the No.1 slot among compact crossovers.
If you’re in the market for a small crossover, is the Subaru Crosstrek on your shopping list? Please comment below.