PALM SPRINGS, CA – Subcompact SUVs are growing in popularity, and for good reason. It delivers the high ride height and payload that many SUV drivers desire, along with the maneuverability, fuel efficiency and affordability you expect from a small sedan or hatchback. These pint-sized utes are a great alternative to larger SUVs, but if you’re also interested in getting off the sidewalk, one of his best options is the Subaru Crosstrek. Now there is something new.
I had the chance to drive the redesigned 2024 Subaru Crosstrek in the low desert of California and see for myself how this new 3rd generation model performs as both an everyday commuter and a rugged adventure vehicle. The 2024 Crosstrek shares the same platform as the second generation, but this time the chassis has 10% more structural stiffness for improved safety, handling and comfort.
From the outside, the 2024 Crosstrek isn’t breaking new ground in terms of styling (like the related 2024 Subaru Impreza). The raised stance, trapezoidal grille and tapered roofline are retained from before, but chunky black plastic elements flanking the large, frameless grille add a little more rugged personality. The physical dimensions are also pretty much the same as his last Crosstrek, with only minor differences. At the top is a substantial roof rack that can carry up to 176 pounds when in motion and up to 700 pounds if you park and want to set up a rooftop tent.
When the 2023 Crosstrek goes on sale this spring, it will be available in base trim for $26,290 (including a $1,295 destination charge) or in premium trim for $27,440. Both are powered by 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engines that produce 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. Coming in the summer is the Sport ($30,290) and Limited ($32,190), upgraded to a 2.5-liter engine suitable for 182 hp and 178 lb-ft. Both of these engines are carryovers from previous generations and are combined with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and standard all-wheel drive. Sorry, manual transmission is no longer offered. Subaru was tight-lipped when asked if his hybrid Crosstrek plug-in would eventually make a comeback.
Fuel economy for the 2024 model is slightly lower. The 2.0 liter is estimated at 27 mpg in city, 34 mpg on the highway, 29 mpg total, while the 2.5 liter barely drops to 26/33/29 mpg. That’s a drop of 1 mpg overall compared to last year. Those are good estimates for the class, especially for a vehicle with off-road capabilities. Combined with Crosstrek’s 16.6-gallon gas tank, he can easily travel over 500 miles on the highway with little fear of running out of fuel, even when out in the wilderness.
I drove premium trim with a smaller engine, but compared to other SUVs in its class, it wasn’t more than adequate. Given it has the same engine as last year, expect it to accelerate to 60 mph in the 9-10 seconds range, which is slow for almost any SUV these days. If the previous Crosstrek is any indication, the 2.5-liter engine can shave almost two seconds off that time.
Getting onto the highway or passing slow traffic with the base engine requires patience and planning. I pedaled to pick up speed, and the CVT simulated a few shifts to keep the engine from being overly strained. had plenty of power. Given that the Sport trim costs slightly more and you get practically the same fuel economy, we recommend waiting until summer to get the more powerful He 2.5-liter.
When you let go of the accelerator, the Crosstrek tends to freewheel for a while without slowing down too much. The brake pedal has just the right amount of force to give you confidence and is easily adjustable for smooth stops. Most shoppers wouldn’t expect sporty handling from a raised SUV like this, but the Crosstrek negotiates turns with little body roll. Ride comfort is enhanced by 17-inch wheels with slightly softer suspension tuning and compliant tire sidewalls. Road noise is well muffled with increased sound isolation, and wind noise is virtually non-existent on the highway.
Ride comfort is impressive considering the Crosstrek’s off-road prowess, but there are usually compromises to be made. With 8.7 inches of ground clearance, the Crosstrek can tackle more than dirt roads. We clambered up a steep, rocky trail without any drama once we started the X-mode drive setting which maximizes available traction in all four corners. It’s easier.
I was worried when I found myself on soft sand, but the Crosstrek kept me from digging in and beaching even when X-Mode wasn’t active. It operates at speed and, unlike its predecessor, slows past that speed and the system reactivates. The Sport trim adds Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Sand sub-settings for X-Mode, but I haven’t had a chance to try that version.
The Crosstrek’s interior, like the exterior, follows the familiar theme set by its predecessor. Our premium trim test car comes with a vertically oriented 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen that offers a more modern look than its predecessor, and twin 7-inch displays, a rarity on the base model. Both setups are offered on the Outback and his 2024 Impreza. Most of the climate controls have moved to touchscreens, but I’m glad to see that the driver and passenger seats still have physical temperature buttons.
The infotainment system is very easy to use, with large on-screen buttons and logical menus. The delay in responding to commands is negligible, and wireless versions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. A wireless charging pad is optional on Base and Premium trims and standard on higher models. Navigation is optional, but only limited trim on the top. This is understandable, as most drivers (especially the younger target demographic) are likely to prefer phone-based navigation.
The 2024 Crosstrek also includes several safety enhancements, including a wider field of view for the EyeSight forward-looking camera and the addition of automatic emergency steering that allows you to turn within your lane to avoid obstacles. There are also new backseat reminders.
Outward visibility is noticeably better than in most other SUVs, thanks to the narrow roof pillars. The upholstered seats were adjustable enough to satisfy both tall and small drivers and kept me comfortable during hours of driving. Front seat occupants have a large center cupholder that can hold a large 32-ounce Nalgene bottle, large door pockets, and a center armrest bin. The rear seats can accommodate adult passengers comfortably, but taller passengers will bump into the headliner.
The cargo space behind those seats can carry up to 19.9 cubic feet of cargo. This made him a cubic foot smaller than before, but it’s still a competitive cargo area, as the final generation was able to carry more cargo than expected from its cargo volume specs. However, while it may not be as good as other SUVs in its class, you may want to use these roof rails for extra storage, especially if you’re planning a big adventure with more than two people. Regardless, smaller families are better served by larger, equally capable Foresters.
This third-generation Crosstrek doesn’t break new ground, but it maintains its momentum with incremental evolutionary improvements. Revived New Hybrid Bringing back his powertrain and perhaps adding a more off-road capable wilderness model will certainly broaden its appeal, but Subaru has commented on the likelihood of any of these possibilities. I don’t. But even without those variants, the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek is an excellent choice.