2022 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Review: Finagling the Formula

Back in 2012, manufacturers were scrambling to cash in on the sudden rise in small SUV demand.

Many attempted to create subcompact crossovers and/or SUVs that would satisfy the market’s needs. While some succeeded, others did not. But one unlikely manufactured produced a simple solution that has proven to be a winning formula; Subaru.

Get a Quote on a New Subaru Crosstrek

The brand simply took a compact Impreza hatchback, gave it SUV-levels of ground clearance, a more rugged exterior, a few minor mechanical enhancements, and voila; the Crosstrek was born. Despite these humble beginnings, it proved to be a hit with consumers as it was right sized at the right price.

Imitation is the Sincerest form of Flattery

So successful has it been, that nearly every other manufacturer scrambled to produce a Crosstrek-sized vehicle of their own. The Kia Seltos, Volkswagen Taos, Chevrolet Trailblazer, and Toyota Corolla Cross are just a few of the more recent examples.  

And as more competition emerges, the Crosstrek must adapt to keep on potential customer’s radars. The second generation vehicle was launched for the 2018 model year and received a mild refresh last year.

Part of that update addressed two key areas for the vehicle. First was the issue of power. The Crosstrek has always felt a bit anemic, so Subaru finally gave it a shot in the arm with a more powerful engine option. Secondly, a new trim was created called the Sport (Outdoor in Canada) that plays heavily into the brand’s reputation of off-the-beaten path adventures.  

Subaru Crosstrek Sport – Interesting Mix of Options

The Sport comes with an interesting combination of features. There are no power seats, sunroof, or LED headlights and it is equipped with the smaller 6.5-inch infotainment screen. But it does have a heated steering wheel, heated seats, the more powerful engine, and dual mode X-Mode. In the USA the Sport can be upgraded to include the larger infotainment screen, blindspot monitoring and a sunroof. In Canada, the Outdoor comes standard with the larger screen and blindspot monitoring, but no sunroof is available.

Regardless of country, we like that Subaru offers the larger engine on a lesser contented package like the Sport/Outdoor. It’s a great spec for those of us that live with 4-6 months of winter a year. The Sport also has an exclusive seating surface that Subaru calls StarTex. It’s a squishy, comfortable synthetic material that is easy to clean.

SEE ALSO: Subaru Crosstrek vs Mazda CX-30 Comparison

Pricing for the 2022 Crosstrek starts at $24,320 ($25,795 CAD) including destination for the entry level model. The Sport is a mid-tier trim that comes in at $28,670 ($32,295 CAD for Outdoor) after destination charges. The sunroof package costs an additional $1,600.

A Welcome Addition of Power

The larger engine we keep referencing to is a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder sourced from the Crosstrek’s bigger siblings, the Forester and Outback. In the Crosstrek it produces 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. That’s an upgrade of 30 hp and 31 lb-ft of torque over the vehicle’s standard 2.0-liter engine.

The increase in power is immediately noticeable. The extra oomph gives the driver added confidence behind the wheel. City or highway, the upgraded engine doesn’t necessarily make the Crosstrek fast, but it makes it no longer slow. It also requires less input and fewer rpms to get the job done, which minimizes the engine/transmission drone this vehicle is susceptible to.

The optional manual transmission available with the smaller engine is not offered with the 2.5-liter unit. The only transmission available is a CVT that features a lower Final drive ratio to aide in fuel efficiency.

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No Fuel Penalty

Official fuel economy ratings for the Crosstrek Sport with the 2.5-liter engine are 27 mpg (8.8 L/100 km) in the city and 34 mpg (7.0 L/100 km) on the highway. That is 1 mpg worse in the city, but an improvement of 1 mpg on the highway compared to Crosstrek’s equipped with the smaller engine.

Combined fuel economy for the Sport is listed as 29 mpg, which once again is 1 mpg worse than 2.0-liter Crosstrek’s. But in our real-world testing, we have witnessed no great difference in overall fuel usage between the two engines since the smaller 2.0-liter is always being pushed harder.

SEE ALSO: Toyota Corolla Cross vs Subaru Crosstrek Comparison: Crossfight

With such negligible differences in fuel economy, we suggest Subaru ditches the 2.0-liter engine. Why not equip all Crosstrek trim levels with the larger 2.5-liter? It would make consumers happier and there would be little penalty, if any, at the pumps.

A Chassis That Deserves More Credit

The Crosstrek doesn’t get enough credit for its ride comfort and handling ability. So much is said about the vehicle’s utilitarian qualities and off-road abilities. But on paved surfaces, it’s also a great little crossover. The balance between soaking up the worst frost-heave-battered roads while still minimizing body roll during spirited cornering is commendable. A sporty SUV it is not, but it doesn’t punish occupants, nor feel like a fishing boat rolling around the high seas. 

Of course, the Crosstrek is one of the most capable off-road vehicles in its class. Its 8.7-inches of ground-clearance is the highest in the segment. The active torque split all-wheel drive system is one of the more sure-footed set-ups available. It’s always engaged, defaulting to a 60/40 front to rear torque split. It will transition more power to the front wheels on the highway but can go up to a 50/50 distribution split in slippery situations. The Sport also comes equipped with dual-mode X-Mode to help get motorists out of extra gnarly conditions.

The Space Inside

Inside the Crosstrek offers 39.8 inches of front-seat headroom and 38 inches in the rear. Six-foot tall adults will easily fit up front but might be a bit snug in the back. This is also true when it comes to legroom. There’s a generous 43.1 inches up front, but a scant 36.5 inches for rear seat occupants. The latter trails class leaders like the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Honda HR-V and Jeep Compass by a few inches.

Cargo capacity behind the back seats is a decent 20.8 cubic feet which expands to 55.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. Although it is not the smallest in the class, it is some 10 cubic feet fewer than the class-leading Volkswagen Taos.

Sight-lines and Technology

Even with the Crosstrek being one of Subaru’s least-boxy-shaped SUVs, it still features terrific sight-lines. With thin B and C pillars, large windows, and a low belt-line, it’s easy to see out of the vehicle in all directions.

SEE ALSO: Subaru Crosstrek vs Subaru Outback: Which Crossover is Right For You?

Subaru’s infotainment system is not without documented cases of screens glitching and/or freezing. But during our time with our test unit, we experienced zero issues and found the system to be well laid out and easy to use. We also liked the triple screen layout that allowed for simple, customizable on-the-fly information.

The Verdict: A New Family Hauler?

In the interest in full disclosure, this road test wasn’t just for you, our readers. There was also a selfish motivation behind it. Our personal family hauler is due back from lease in a few months and we are in the process of finding its replacement. The Crosstrek, specifically the Sport (Outdoor), is on our short list.

Right sized and right priced, the Sport address many of the shortcomings we found with previous iterations of the Crosstrek. Although we personally would pass on the Plasma Yellow Pearl paint job, a nice black or gray model very well could be finding itself as a permanent resident in the Schlee family driveway.


  • What is the Sport package on the 2022 Subaru Crosstrek?
    • The Sport is a mid-tier trim that includes the larger 2.5-liter engine, some unique styling details and dual-mode X-Mode.
  • Is the Crosstrek Sport underpowered?
    • No. The Sport features a 182 hp that is well suited to the vehicle.
  • Does the Crosstrek Sport come in yellow?
    • Yes, the Crosstrek Sport is available with Plasma Yellow Pearl. It is only available on the Sport. 

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