2024 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Is a Champion of Adventure

2024 subaru crosstrek
’24 Subaru Crosstrek Is an Affordable Off-Road RigSubaru
  • Subaru's Crosstrek is a dominating figure in the small crossover category and prospective customers have choices even within the Crosstrek lineup.

  • Offered four trim levels, the Crosstrek Sport features the larger, 182-hp 2.5-liter flat four-cylinder, yellow-highlighted styling, and dual-function X-Mode.

  • Class-leading off-road capabilities characterize all Crosstrek models, but is the Sport model's leather trim, 18-inch wheels, and 30-hp bump worth a $30,290 price tag?

Crawling up Plattekill Mountain, a miniature ski slope nestled in New York's Catskill mountain ranges, the accelerator pedal was pushed to the floor, and yet only the faintest engine noise could be heard. Following a steep, slimy descent down one side of the mountain, traversing a bog was the only way through, as our bike-cog-inspired wheels were nearly submerged in the freshly rain-softened mud. But the possibility of a frigid night stuck on the mountain wasn't even an afterthought, as a swift burst of power plowed us straight out.


From this anecdote, it would make sense that I was in a 35-inch tire, four-low, wench-equipped rig. But I was in a college-student special instead, a small crossover whose usual duty involves going from parking lot to parking lot.

2024 subaru crosstrek
Steel is the primary metal in the 2024 Crosstrek, though the new, flatter fender are aluminum.Subaru

More importantly, I was sitting in Subaru's most popular model, the Crosstrek. First introduced for the 2013 model year, Subaru's Crosstrek nameplate has accounted for over one million sales in the US since then, with sales peaking last year at 155,142 units sold. Compared to its direct competitors (Honda's HR-V, Toyota's Corolla Cross, and Mazda's CX-30), Subaru is winning the sales race by a minimum of 40,000 annual units. Let's call it a landslide.

To the watchful eye, these numbers aren't exactly surprising, but it takes a bit of driving and some number crunching to understand why the Crosstrek is so popular. For one, the price is right, with the 152-hp, 145 lb-ft 2.0-liter flat-four base model starting at $26,290 and rising to $27,440 for the Premium trim. If you'd prefer to have the 182 hp, 178 lb-ft 2.5-liter flat-four instead, your options are the $30,290 Sport trim or the $32,190 Limited version. Subaru says that its sales figures are split down the middle, with half of its customers going for the cost-conscious 2.0-liter while the other half crave additional power and leather seats.

2024 subaru crosstrek
The Limited trim, shown here, removes the yellow exterior accents and is the only way to get leather seats in a Crosstrek. Subaru

There are some extra incentives to jump on the Crosstrek bandwagon, as 2024 model-year cars remain on Subaru's Global Platform chassis while receiving some key upgrades. The chassis is 10% stiffer thanks to full inner frame construction and additional structural adhesives, its aerodynamic profile has been revised through a new front-end and wheel arch design, and a revised, slightly loosened version of Subaru's infamous Symmetrical AWD system allows for more off-road capability. Comfort and connectivity were next on the list of priorities for Subaru, with all-new front seats (produced with the help of medical professionals) as well as improved sound deadening and two screen sizes (7-inch on the base model or 11.6-inch for the rest) for Subaru's proprietary Starlink Multimedia system to display on.

Day-to-day driving is easygoing but unremarkable from a performance perspective in the Crosstrek Sport, though the redesigned seats are particularly comfortable, and the improved sound deadening is leaps ahead of the previous generation, too. Getting up to 75 mph with the 2.5-liter FB25D flat-four happens in average time (though sounds strained); the Crosstrek is much happier to mosey along at state highway speeds of 50-60 mph. Selecting the sportier setting in Subaru's SI-Drive powertrain management system does add some clear enthusiasm to the throttle mapping, but the Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission is ultimately responsible for purveying the power.

2024 subaru crosstrek
Dual-zone climate control is standard across the model line and functions seamlessly. Subaru

It does so in a predictable, enjoyable way so long as you don't reach for those steering-wheel-mounted paddles during acceleration. Left to its own devices, the CVT will choose the right ratio for the situation uninterrupted, though you can choose to drop a "gear" while descending for adequate engine braking. Even so, it feels like neither the top-of-the-line engine nor the significantly improved transmission is the star of the show in the Crosstrek Sport, but rather a tool for showcasing the chassis' true personalities. And the Crosstrek's personality has more to do with where it's going and who's behind the wheel than raw acceleration numbers.

Subaru let us loose on a muddy, steep-grade mountain with the X-Drive mode set to Deep Snow/Mud (allowing for additional wheel spin to power out of low traction scenarios) and a wish of luck. Not that we would need it; the Crosstrek Sport is shockingly capable as an off-road rig. Subaru's Symmetrical AWD is a proven system, but the 8.7-inch ground clearance and somewhat pedestrian 18-inch wheels hold their own too, as the Crosstrek showed off its 18-degree approach angle and 30.1-degree angle of departure. The intuitive Hill Descent Control system managed downright soaked slopes with ease (on street tires no less) while the electronic stability system and ABS combine for active torque vectoring that allows minor but natural feeling slippage.

2024 subaru crosstrek
X-Mode also features a Snow/Dirt mode that revises the CVT ratios to allow for slow crawling on drier loose surfaces. Subaru

It may not be an analog, no-nannies off-roader, but it's almost over-engineered for the kind of barren Joshua Tree or mudfest Vermont adventures it was made for. And Crosstrek owners actually do get out to play, with over 35% of Crosstrek buyers doing so because of the 700-pound static load certified roof. To further contextualize the typical Crosstrek buyer, Subaru says 11% bike, 30% hike, 22% specifically plan to off-road it, and around 48% of them have pets.

Fresh off the recent Impreza RS drive, the Crosstrek is also a discernibly different car, even if it shares a chassis and nearly identical dimensions. In a nod to the Impreza's performance engineering, the Crosstrek Sport requires more steering input and showcases more lean angle as you tip into a sweeping corner. It's looser and less direct than the Impreza RS, though I could take the Crosstrek Sport on trails and through terrain that Impreza wouldn't dream of. And the two inches of additional ride height plus extra track width means the Crosstrek feels more authoritative from behind the wheel, too.

2024 subaru crosstrek
Subaru also says the heated seats, which are available on Premium and above trims, are hotter for 2024.Subaru

Familiarity is your friend when it comes to interior technology and, having driven many Subarus lately, I'm warming up to the company's infotainment system. It only requires one swipe across to access the two-page menu, and selecting an application is one-touch away, so it doesn't waste time or compromise safety by forcing the user to dig through multiple menus. That said, there is little delineation on the three-part divided 11.6-inch screen between infotainment, vehicle settings, and climate controls, exhibited in accidental swipes to X-Mode control.

By the time you read this, it will be nearly halfway through the year, with around 41,00 Crosstreks sold off dealerships lots already. Autoweek Executive Editor Tom Murphy drove the 2.0-liter version not too long ago either, coming to the conclusion that the Crosstrek is very likely to continue dominating this specific market segment. But Subaru has left prospective Crosstrek customers with a difficult choice.

At a time of unprecedented costs, the Crosstrek itself is a bargain no matter the way you slice it, with less than $3000 between the middling 2.0-liter Premium trim and the eccentrically styled 2.5-liter Sport edition. To some, upgrading the engine and interior accouterments might seem obvious, but it's worth remembering who the Crosstrek is primarily built for—young adventurers. For college-age buyers or young families, those few thousand extras could be the difference between securing financing or not. Ultimately, the Crosstrek chassis itself is Subaru's gem and, whether buyers choose the 2.0-liter or 2.5-liter, adventures will be available to anyone behind the wheel.

Have you taken a crossover off-roading before? How did it go? Please share your experiences below.