2024 Subaru Crosstrek Holds the Line, And That’s Not a Bad Thing

The small CUV, Subaru’s best-selling model in the U.S., sees relatively minor updates, almost mid-cycle-refresh- like, for its third generation.

Christie Schweinsberg, Senior Editor

June 6, 2023

7 Min Read
New Crosstrek on sale now at U.S. Subaru dealers.

WOODSTOCK, NY – It’s hard to believe there was a time when there were no small crossovers in the U.S.

Nissan got the ball rolling in 2010 with its Juke model, but the European-market sporty CUV, despite being a hoot to drive, wasn’t what Americans wanted.

The next entrant in the small CUV segment in the States, the Subaru Crosstrek, is a different story. Arriving in 2012, the Crosstrek quickly gained popularity, and despite about 25 competitors in the segment today, is Subaru’s best seller here.

It also tops Wards Intelligence’s Small CUV segment in the U.S., with 51,872 deliveries in the first four months of 2023 and 155,142 sales in 2022, a record volume for the CUV, then five years into its second generation.

Not wanting to mess with a good thing, but also make improvements, Subaru is launching the third generation Crosstrek with some good, although relatively mild, changes – at least to the naked eye. Considering how much vehicles can evolve generation to generation, the Crosstrek takes baby steps. But that’s not always a bad thing.



The subtle updates from second to third gen include a chassis 10% more structurally rigid – achieved in part with a lot more structural adhesive; better driving stability via an air outlet on the front wheel opening; a larger display screen; and the inclusion of automatic emergency steering on blindspot-detection-equipped models.

There are also hotter seat heaters; copper-free brake pads; better-damped interior door handles and more-refined door opening and closing; a reinforced seat frame; aluminum fenders and a shift knob that’s 1.4 ins. (36 mm) taller.

Visually the new gen looks very similar to the outgoing Crosstrek, apart from some black-plastic cladding now placed around wheel wells and the restyled grille.

The most noticeable change for drivers of old to new Sport and Limited grades may be the upgraded 2.5L 4-cyl. direct-injected Boxer engine. The 2.5L now has a 700-rpm lower torque peak and 2 lb.-ft. more peak torque, rated at 178 lb.-ft. at 3,700 rpm for ’24 models; peak horsepower remains the same as in the ’23 model: 182 hp @ 5,800 rpm.

The base 2.0L 4-cyl. Boxer holds the line across the board for ’24 from ’23, with output of 152 hp and 145 lb.-ft. of torque. However, Subaru says it reworked a lot of the 2.0L’s parts, including the cylinder head and cylinder head plate, piston rings, alternator, engine mounts, intake and exhaust manifolds and the auxiliary belt system, to improve efficiency, reliability and NVH. The 2.5L has some of those same updates, as well as a new rocker cover and AC brackets.

Without having driven the second-gen Crosstrek lately, we can’t say we noticed the lower torque peak of the 2.5L all that much, but certainly we are in favor of more torque coming on sooner in all vehicles. After driving so many battery-electric vehicles lately, we’ve been spoiled by instant thrust.

Off-the-line acceleration is good in our testing, however acceleration from 40-50 mph (64-80 km/h) isn’t. The 2.5L does have relatively modest output and, paired with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT (the 6-speed manual is discontinued), makes for a not very thrilling ride.

The transmission has some classic CVT droning upon flooring the accelerator. We also wish for faux gear changes that some automakers use with their CVTs to give them more of a step-gear automatic, and thus sporty, character. At least there are paddle shifters in most grades for drivers to self “shift.”

Ride and handling is average. Most road imperfections are smoothed out, but the body rolls in corners and steering errs light during much of our driving, somewhat of a surprise given this has the WRX’s power-steering system, albeit tweaked.



Despite small CUVs’ reputations as grocery getters, the Crosstrek, with standard all-wheel drive like most Subarus, has solid off road credentials. We have the opportunity to flog it and fling some mud – a lot of it actually given heavy rains here – in a course at the snowless Plattekill ski resort, where it performs admirably. The CUV’s X-Mode has various settings, including Snow/Dirt, to further enhance its rugged capabilities. Sport grade’s Deep Snow/Mud setting sends power to the grippiest wheel and can get an adventurer out of some big ruts by limiting spin.

There’s also Hill Descent Control, standard on even the Base grade as well as Premium and Limited trims. Essentially a cruise control for downhill, it helps a driver tread lightly and not overdo the throttle input. No one, media test drivers or otherwise, wants to go Thelma & Louise.

For those even more interested in off-roading in their Crosstrek, there’s a new Wilderness grade, not tested here, with 9.3 ins. (236 mm) of ground clearance vs. the standard 8.7 ins. (221 mm).

Off the ski hill and back on normal roads, we were able to use adaptive cruise control, part of a new version of Subaru’s EyeSight ADAS technology suite, now with a wider-angle camera and better image recognition and processing software.

A gradual stop behind slowing traffic, roughly eight car lengths ahead, is a highlight of ACC, but even better is the fast resumption after the vehicle ahead completes a left turn. ACC is often slow to get going again in many vehicles, but not this one.

Lane-keeping assist is temperamental, as it tends to be, no matter the manufacturer. It doesn’t pick up on clearly painted lane lines, but later, in a patched section of road where lines are covered, the system is active.

The touchscreen-based infotainment system in our Limited tester (the Crosstrek now gets the 11.6-in. [29-cm] screen from the Outback) is easy to use. Graphics aren’t as modern as those found in Detroit Three and European-brand displays, though.

Mapping via the onboard TomTom system is easy, with an obvious search bubble to key in a destination. Despite misspelling one place, it still found it, and quick to boot. Big icons and a decreasing bar on the screen let you know you’re closing in on your next turn.

Wireless CarPlay is standard on all but the Base grade, which has a smaller, 7.0-in. (18-cm) screen. We connect, although in a roundabout way. Encountering a grayed-out CarPlay icon (although, strangely, a selectable Android Auto icon) has us hitting Media, selecting Bluetooth and then making another three or so choices to eventually get the job done.

Subaru interiors have come a long way and the ’24 Crosstrek is indicative of that progress. It’s stylish, with sections of faux leather seating perforated in a stretched honeycomb pattern, with hole inners having orange edges. And orange stitching dresses up seats, doors and the steering wheel.



The faux carbon-fiber trim is cool and just a smidge different than everyone else’s, as is a rubbery kind of skin on the instrument panel that has a technographic grain. Piano-black trim, like the kind surrounding the touchscreen, isn’t a favorite given its dust-magnet status.

Front seats and rear outboard seats indeed are comfortable; the middle seat is suitable only for kids or small adults.

Cargo space is decent, but slightly smaller than before. This being Subaru, there’s a variety of dog-friendly accessories offered to get Fido in and out of the hatch without too much wear and tear on the vehicle.

Fuel economy is respectable to good. Our morning leg comes in at 26.8 mpg (8.8 L/100 km) and the afternoon run, done at higher speeds, nets 35 mpg (6.7 L/100 km). Interestingly, both 2.0L and 2.5L models are rated at 29 mpg (8.1 L/100 km) combined. The 2.5L models are estimated to achieve 1 mpg (0.4 km/L) less in city and highway driving but the math works in their favor when calculating the average.

Our favorite part of the ’24 Crosstrek may be its pricing. Although the CUV actually is more expensive to start than some competitors offering front-wheel drive variants (Jeep Compass, Toyota Corolla Cross), its $26,290 starting price for a Base grade is thrifty given the $50,000 average of a new vehicle in the U.S.; it’s a still reasonable $32,290 for a top-grade Limited model.

Given the better specs of the 2.5L, and the $30,290 the entry point to the engine (in the form of the Sport grade) we’d opt for that model or the Limited.

While this is a mild redesign, as the adage goes, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Subaru has gained an unbelievably strong foothold in the U.S. despite going against the grain of what a lot of automakers are doing. They were late to the big-touchscreen infotainment trend and also are lagging behind other OEMs when it comes to electrification investment (although another plug-in hybrid Crosstrek looks likely).

We won’t argue whether those decisions are right or wrong, but given its sales, not just of the Crosstrek but for the entire brand, Subaru is doing well and its next-gen small CUV should continue its successes.

The new ’24 Subaru Crosstrek is on sale now in the U.S., assembled in Gunma, Japan (Base, Premium grades) and Lafayette, IN, (Sport, Limited, Wilderness).

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