No magic wand can double your salary or cut your expenses in half overnight. Trust me, I’ve looked. But then there’s the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek, and that’s about as smart and enjoyable a financial decision as you can make in today’s world, where mortgage-size, four-digit car payments are socially acceptable. Subaru’s junior wagon is a value-packed, charming ride that won’t make you regret every second you spend in it. Because remember, kids, a bargain-basement deal isn’t the same as a good deal.
The bulk of today’s car buyers have mostly lost touch with reality, deciding that six-figure trucks and SUVs are the norm. Or perhaps most folks nowadays see themselves as Kardashian-esque beings who deserve the latest and greatest—always, and regardless of cost. Excess in cars has been normalized to the point that I wasn’t sure how to feel about the sub-$30,000 price tag on my Crosstrek tester. I was unsure what to expect. A rolling pile of cheap plastic or an honest-to-goodness wagon? A value-packed economy car or a poor excuse for a base model?
2024 Subaru Crosstrek Specs
The Crosstrek sits at the bottom of Subaru’s raised wagon hierarchy. It goes Crosstrek, Forester, Outback, then Ascent. The Crosstrek received a round of solid updates for 2024, including updated exterior styling with new front and rear fascias, wheel designs, and a new, rugged Wilderness trim. Inside, it gets a new infotainment screen in all trims except the base model, as well as improved sound-deadening to make the cabin quieter.
The new exterior design is certainly an upgrade over the outgoing car. Not that the previous one was ugly, per se, but the new Crosstrek looks slightly more grown up and a tad more aggressive. The restyled lighting elements give it a ready-to-rumble look, while the bolder plastic cladding gives it a brawnier appearance. My tester’s Sapphire Blue Pearl color was certainly one of Subaru’s more conservative options, which may be music to many consumers’ ears. Y’know, not every Subaru owner wants their wagon to scream, “Look at me!” That’s what bumper stickers are for, and the Lord knows Subaru owners love those.
Step into the cabin and you’d never think you’re in a sub-$30,000 car. You won’t exactly confuse it for a Cadillac Escalade, but this is leaps and bounds better than cars in this same price range coming out of, say, Nissan. The new 11.6-inch tablet-style touchscreen gives the Crosstrek some modern flair, while the gauge cluster’s analog clock and tiny digital screen combo remind you that this isn’t a fancy-pants car. Other buttons around the cabin—seat warmers and such—look a bit dated but aren’t necessarily a turn-off. All panels, buttons, and fixtures feel solid to the touch, though the layout of some HVAC controls feels a bit counterintuitive at times. Despite its basic nature, nothing feels cheap.
This same concept applies to the base 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It accelerates quicker than I expected it to, though this 152-horsepower motor isn’t designed to blow you away. The flat-four is adequately matched to a continuously variable automatic transmission, and together they perform exceptionally well. Higher trims like Sport and Limited get a 2.5-liter engine with a punchier 182 hp. Like all Subarus, the Crosstrek comes equipped with symmetrical all-wheel drive as standard, making it an even more versatile and value-packed offering in its segment.
Driving the Subaru Crosstrek
The new Crosstrek embraces its mission of providing a comfortable, practical, and safe driving experience. Driving around town is uneventful. You don’t have to worry about the Crosstrek doing its job, which I can always appreciate.
Ride quality is plush and quiet unless you really step on the accelerator, at which point some engine noise seeps into the cabin. It’s not the most pleasant sound; the grunt of the four-banger combined with the elongated notes of the CVT are slightly raspy-sounding. Acceleration is brisk, however, and I will add that the Crosstrek isn’t slow—or certainly not as slow as you’d think given its modest horsepower. The drivetrain is tuned in a way that provides you with a jolt of power when it’s needed but otherwise remains chill. You won’t have any issues zipping around traffic in the city or accelerating to merge or pass on the highway. Much like the rest of the Crosstrek, the drivetrain feels like a perfect match for the size, weight, and purpose of the vehicle.
Steering feel is neutral and quick. I enjoyed driving the Crosstrek on all kinds of roads, including some dirt trails near my house, where its soft suspension and 225/60R17 all-season Yokohamas felt right at home absorbing bumps and eating some dirt. On the highway, however, I found the steering to be a bit too quick. Sudden movements like lane changes were amplified by the soft suspension and resulted in a bit more body motion than I desired.
The Highs and Lows
Set it and forget it. The Crosstrek is easy to drive and easy to live with. I can also confirm that fully grown (female) Newfie and chonk Golden Retriever fit in the trunk just fine. The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek: Yes, It Will Indeed Dog.
Operating some of the Crosstrek’s basic functions like HVAC and media can feel odd at times, with some of the controls being hard buttons and some being baked into the infotainment system. For example, changing the temperature can be done with hard buttons located on the side of the touchscreen, but changing the fan speed or airflow direction must be done through the screen.
Subaru Crosstrek Features, Options, and Competition
The Crosstrek starts at $26,290, but for $27,490, the Premium trim includes the bulk of the convenience, tech, and safety features most people want out of their cars. These include all-wheel drive, 17-inch wheels, Subaru’s EyeSight suite of driver assist systems, an 11.6-inch infotainment screen, auto start-stop, rear-seat reminder, LED headlights, X-Mode (i.e. all-terrain mode) with hill descent control, and raised roof rails. The only option on my tester was the $2,245 “OP 14” package, which bundles heated seats and all-weather floor mats, a power driver’s seat, a moonroof, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
The Crosstrek’s main rivals are the Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, and Toyota Corolla Cross. The trio of compact crossovers offers a plethora of options and drivetrains, all while mostly hovering around the $30,000 mark. The Honda and Toyota excel by offering leather-trimmed seating at that price point, though neither vehicle offers all-wheel drive as standard. Interior amenities also vary depending on trim level and optional packages. A similarly equipped HR-V comes in at around $31,295, a Kona $32,125, and Corolla Cross $32,704 (all including destination).
The Subaru Crosstrek delivers 27 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined, which is mostly what I observed during my weeklong test. The non-hybrid Corolla Cross ranks high on fuel economy along with the Crosstrek, while the HR-V and Kona average slightly fewer mpg. Those looking for ultimate efficiency in this space should consider the Corolla Cross Hybrid, which uses a partially electric powertrain to deliver 42 combined mpg per the EPA.
Value and Verdict
With the sub-$20,000 new car virtually extinct, $30,000 is the new $20,000. At $29,685 as tested, the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Premium is one of the most value-packed new vehicles anyone can buy today. Its appearance, practicality, and features can’t be overstated.
Better looking than before, reasonably well-appointed inside, and a reasonably pleasant vehicle to drive around town in, the Crosstrek is a wise choice whether you’re buying your first car, having your first kid, or becoming an empty-nester.
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