The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek: Third Time's the Charm
If anyone you know bought a new Subaru over the last year, chances are it was a Crosstrek that ended up in their driveway. The compact SUV became the brand’s best seller last year, and has remained the brand’s fastest-selling nameplate since its arrival in 2013. Subaru is back with a new generation of Crosstrek models for 2024, and on the surface not all that much has changed with the fan-favorite crossover. After spending some time with the SUV and the automaker in Palm Springs, California, I think that just might be for the best.
The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek is based on an updated version of the familiar Subaru Global Platform. Thanks to adjustments in welding practices and the use of additional structural adhesives (up from 22.6 feet to 88.5 feet for 2024), the new Crosstrek has a 10 percent stiffer chassis than its predecessor. That added strength allowed the team to drop the spring rates in the suspension for improved ride quality without sacrificing the SUV’s dynamics in that pursuit. The marks of abuse that dot southern California’s highways were not erased by the softer set-up in my experience, but the feedback from the road was never fatiguing or sharp. Increased sound-deadening around the roof also plays a role in improving overall comfort from behind the wheel, bringing a genuinely quiet ride for the segment. Wind noise from the mirrors is the only harsh tone that really stands out.
As with the outgoing Crosstrek, third-generation models will be offered with either a 2.0-liter or 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder engine. The smaller motor provides 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque, and comes standard with Base and Premium trimmed offerings. The Sport and Limited models receive the 2.5-liter, which provides 182 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. Regardless of which trim, Subaru’s revised Lineartronic CVT is the sole gearbox available for 2024. While it admittedly may not be anybody's favorite transmission, this powertrain combination is noticeably quieter than before. There is hardly a change of tone across the rev band, helping keep things hushed inside. Premium, Sport and Limited buyers receive a set of wheel-mounted paddle shifters that can be used to cycle through eight predetermined ratios, though you likely will not find any interest in doing so. There is no getting around the fact that the Crosstrek is not a powerful or even moderately quick car. Subaru has yet to share acceleration figures for the 2024 models, but the 2.0-liter is every bit the 9.0-second-to-60-mph car as its predecessor. That said, the chassis is not put off when you try to crank up the pace. Not a WRX competitor by any means, but the Crosstrek is not a totally uninspired machine in the canyons.
Speaking of the WRX, the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek borrows its dual-pinion electric power steering rack from the Rally-bred sedan. The system is well weighted and precise around town, and plays a part in bringing a bit of fun to the driving experience. That said, the weighting in this application feels inconsistent at highway speeds, with a noticeable deadzone off-center when making lane adjustments.
The interior of the new Crosstrek features some key updates over the outgoing SUV, not least of which include the revised front seating. Mounted directly to the chassis to reduce body movement, the tweaked seats feature improved pelvic support that helps bring a less fatiguing experience. In conjunction with the quieter cabin, the seats do make for a more comfortable ride than other vehicles at this price point. Interior appointments look better than the materials actually bear out, but the extensive hard plastics are an excusable value-saver in this segment. Rear seating room is unchanged from before, but rear cargo volume has shrunk slightly to 19.9 cubic-feet with the seats up and 54.7 cubic-feet with them folded. There’s still plenty of room for camping gear back there, with roof rails ready for a box on top if more equipment is required on your adventures.
Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality across the model range is straightforward and well integrated. The stereo system remains a weak point, lacking some richness and clarity as configured. Dual 7.0-inch Starlink displays handle audio and climate settings as standard, though the larger 11.6-inch infotainment system is available for the first time in Crosstrek. The Tesla-esque vertical tablet is an improvement over the basic system, even retaining a few hard buttons for temperature control and basic radio functions. Fan speed and location are hard-mounted icons on the larger touch screen, which does reduce the time you would spend digging through menus while driving. Navigation backed by Sirius XM and TomTom is available, bolstered by what3word voice recognition software. Subaru’s full suite of EyeSight Driver Assist Technologies are equipped on every Crosstrek.
Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system remains excellent in this latest application, providing great traction on and off the pavement throughout our testing. The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek lineup is bolstered by the updated version of the AWD system, which brings benefits like user-selectable X Mode, (which selects an aggressive ratio for the CVT) Hill Descent Control, active torque vectoring, and faster response times from the differentials. The Crosstrek’s impressive 8.7-inches of ground clearance is enough to make some full-size SUVs sweat. The lack of any sort of underbody armor is hard to ignore, however; the fear of damaging vital components is the real limiting factor when taking a stock Crosstrek off the pavement. The CVT is not the greatest trail partner either, requiring healthy application of the throttle to keep things moving on the inclines. The Hill Descent Control is flawless on the way down, however.
This is not an SUV that was designed with tackling boulders and obstacles in mind. Subaru offers several Wilderness models for those interested in that pursuit. You do not take a Crosstrek off-roading as an experience, you go off-road with a Crosstrek to get to where your adventure begins. It is better at that task than any other compact SUV on sale. Like its predecessors, this Crosstrek feels right at home tackling fire roads and sandy trailheads, without an overly harsh ride over the rougher surfaces. The steering comes into its own on the dirt, helping to ensure your wheel placement is always accurate and controlled. While California was not able to oblige, the SUV’s surefootedness will surely translate well when the snow starts falling.
Subaru has kept pricing for the 2024 Crosstrek lineup level with last year’s models. The 2.0-liter equipped Base and Premium models are slated to start at $24,995 and $26,145, respectively. Production of these models begins this spring in Gunma, Japan, with deliveries following shortly thereafter. The Sport trim is priced at $28,995, with the range-topping Limited carrying an MSRP of $30,895. The 2.5-liter models will be produced at Subaru’s facility in Lafayette, Indiana, marking the first time production of the model has been split. Production and deliveries from the U.S. facility are slated to begin in the summer.
The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek is not the most efficient compact crossover, nor is it the quickest or the cheapest. It is a vehicle that seems entirely unconcerned with what the other players in its segment are trying in an attempt to win over buyers. That kind of focus comes out of a deep understanding of your target customer. Subaru is not building a car it hopes people will choose over the Kia Seltos or Honda HRV. Those buyers were never going to be in a Crosstrek to begin with. Subaru builds this thing for the folks that care about getting out there and going places. This new example just so happens to be the most refined and comfortable example yet.
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