2024 Subaru Crosstrek Review: First Drive

Lee Bailie
by Lee Bailie
While small SUVs like the Crosstrek don't spend a lot of time off road, this is a Subaru and so our first drive involves plenty of seat time across numerous trim levels, on-road and off.


Engine: 2.5-liter I4
Output: 182 hp, 178 lb-ft.
Transmission: CVT, AWD
Fuel Economy (MPG): 26/33 (city/hwy)
Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 8.9/7.2 (city/hwy)
Starting Price (USD): $24,995
As Tested Price (USD): $30,895
Starting Price (CAD): $28,995
As Tested Price (CAD): $36,995

Believe it or not, the Subaru Crosstrek is beginning its third generation as 2024 models arrive at dealerships this spring.

What's New for 2024?

Not only has it been around for longer than some might recall (2012), but Subaru’s littlest SUV is more popular than one might expect. In 2022, the Crosstrek was the bestselling Subaru in both the U.S. and Canada, accounting for 35 percent of brand sales for the latter. That is a truly impressive feat for a car so unassuming and lacking in flash or pretention. It is what it is, as the saying goes, and for Subaru that is indeed a good thing. SEE ALSO: Subaru Crosstrek vs Mazda CX-30 Comparison

For 2024, the third gen Crosstrek receives a thorough updating that covers almost all aspects of the car from design and powertrain to model lineup, standard and available features, safety, and more. AutoGuide got the chance to conduct a 2024 Subaru Crosstrek review to gain a better understanding of its many changes.

Styling Update

The new 2024 Subaru Crosstrek, kitted out like a true Subaru owner would do, complete with cargo basket and bike rack.

Look, the pictures don’t lie. It’s a Subaru redesign, so for those expecting a dramatic 10th to 11th gen Civic reimagining, you will not find it here. Subaru doesn’t treat its generations that way, but if one looks closely, changes come into clearer view.

Upfront, the Crosstrek receives a new frameless hexagonal grille, a new high-positioned hood with raised outside edges, and new LED headlights. Given its off-road capability, the Crosstrek’s cladding is different to make the car look shorter and higher with its up-swept application. The vehicle’s fenders bulge more at both ends, giving it a more planted stance. The cabin’s narrower rear end and lower roof line gives the Crosstrek a lighter feel and a greater sense of speed.

Inside the rear hatch of the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek is a 19.9 cubic-feet of cargo room with the seats up (slightly less than the previous model. With the rear seats folded flat, that grows to 54.7 cubic-feet.

On the inside, the ’24 Crosstrek carries an updated look that features several diagonal and angled shapes in the dashboard and door panels to create a strong cockpit feel. The center console expands to provide more utility. There standard infotainment display is a vertical 11.6-inch panel, except for the base model which receives dual 7-inch screens.

Other interior design details include a textured trunk liftover panel with a mountain design, a pad with Subaru logo in the cargo area where luggage could hit, and a diamond patterned fabric designed for durability.

Seat fabrics are also reorganized according to the trim: cloth for Base, premium cloth for Premium, sport cloth with yellow accents and contrast stitching for Sport and leather with contrast orange stitching for Limited.

Reordered Lineup

Getting dirty off-road is just one of the many benefits of owning an all-wheel drive Subaru like the Crosstrek.

As the heading suggests, Subaru has shuffled the Crosstrek grade walk with the launch of the 2024 model. The car is now available in four trims. There’s Base, Premium, Sport and Limited – with the SE (special edition) being cut. Four grades are also available in Canada, except the base model is the Convenience and the Sport model is known as Onyx.

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

Of note, a Wilderness model will go on sale in the U.S. and Canada this fall, with similar design treatments as those available for the Forester and Outback.

For the 2024 model year, there is no more Plug-in Hybrid either. More on that further down.

Manual Transmission and Hybrid Discontinued

Two big changes are afoot for the 2024 Crosstrek regarding powertrains. The first change is that all Crosstreks are now available only with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), as the 6-speed manual for the Base (Convenience) trim is no more.

The other is the Crosstrek Hybrid, which was offered as a plug-in (PHEV) has been dropped for the third generation. A PHEV e-Boxer Crosstrek is being sold in Japan, but it has not been ticketed for North America.

Base models come with a familiar 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque, while a larger 2.5-liter makes a more robust 182 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque on the Sport and Limited trims.

As for available powertrains, the ’24 Crosstrek is available with two flat four-cylinder engines. There’s a 2.0-liter (152 hp / 145 lb-ft.) on Base and Premium grades, while a bigger 2.5-liter (182 hp / 178 lb-ft.) is standard on the Sport, Limited and the forthcoming Wilderness models. As it was previously, all third gen Crosstrek models come with Subaru’s symmetrical full-time all-wheel drive.

Technology: Enhanced Offerings

All but the Base trim level comes with Subaru's huge new 11.6-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

All 2024 Crosstrek trims above Base (which has dual 7-inch screens) come standard with a 11.6-inch vertical multimedia touchscreen. It supports wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto. A wireless smartphone charger with 10-watt rapid charging is optional on Base and Premium, and standard on Sport and Limited.

Navigation for Crosstrek is also enhanced with the availability of What3words, a service that divides the entire world into three-meter squares and assigns three unique words to each square. Destinations can be set by looking up corresponding words through the what3words website, and those words can be entered into the car’s navigation system for a more precise location.

The 11.6-inch touchscreen tuning is better now for voice recognition, especially when it comes to the hands-free setting of controls such as air conditioning.

Safety: Improved Eyesight

Easily the biggest and most noticeable update to the cabin is the available 11.6-inch display screen that supports the new Subaru Starlink telematics system.

The 2024 Crosstrek comes loaded with passive and active safety features, several of them standard, including EyeSight. The latter is a windshield-mounted stereo camera that has now has both a wider recognition range and a wide-angle monocular camera that recognizes motorcycles and pedestrians over a broader area.

EyeSight also sports new tech including an electric brake booster designed to improve braking response and performance in dynamic situations, along with automatic emergency steering. Other features, such as pre-collision braking, lane departure prevention, lane centering assist and adaptive cruise control are all improved according to Subaru.

Handling and Drivability

Black body cladding gives all Crosstrek models a more rugged off-road appearance.

During the press drive, we are driving two Crosstreks with the 2.5-liter engine, a Sport (Onyx) and a Limited.

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

First up is the Limited, and while the 2.5 flat four didn’t blow our socks off with neck-snapping performance, it hustles the subcompact Crosstrek along adequately on highways, arterial roads and city streets. One must really mash the throttle to get the 2.5 moving. But once up to speed, it cruises along quite nicely. The CVT has an 8-speed manual mode for all models above Base, which helps to at least give the feeling of more dynamic driving. It’s a far cry from a gearbox with real cogs though.

Off the Road

Thanks to a reasonably high ride height and Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel drive system, the Crosstrek remains a surprisingly capable machine off the beaten path.

Two off-road trails are on our drive route, and our Limited tester handles them both with ease. Subaru’s X-Mode, which is set to snow / dirt on the first run, and deep mud / snow for the second, makes short work of the muddy, rocky and hilly terrain our tester encountered. The Crosstrek’s 8.7 inches (220 mm) of ground clearance also proves helpful for traversing the trails, as does hill descent control which, like X-Mode, is standard across the Crosstrek lineup.

Ride Quality and Comfort

As for ride quality and cabin dynamics, both test vehicles allowed moderate levels of wind and tire noise to penetrate the cabin, but they weren’t too obtrusive. Subaru says the new Crosstrek has slightly softer suspension damping on a chassis that has 10 percent stiffer torsional rigidity. For us this added up to a firm, yet comfortable ride that tracks responsively with a good amount of handling precision.

We’re also a fan of Subaru’s interior updating that adds subtle, but attractive design changes. There’s impressive new tech features and a good amount of standard kit. This includes dual-zone climate controls, front and rear USB-A and / or USB-C ports (no USB rear ports for Base), and push-button starter for all trims above Base.

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Review: The Verdict

Small enough for the urban vibe and capable enough for rural life, the Subaru Crosstrek hits a sweet spot when it comes to small SUVs.

To sum up our 2024 Subaru Crosstrek review, the vehicle offers a lot of improvements that, when taken together make for a compelling offering in the small SUV segment. It’s a tough market though with new entries from Honda, Mazda, Kia and Toyota, among others.

So, while the Crosstrek faces stiffer competition, its features, such as standard AWD, two engine choices, available 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen, enhanced Eyesight, and an off-road specific model coming this fall with the Wilderness trim, give this Subaru a fighting chance for segment leadership.

Time will tell if the dropping of the PHEV grade will hurt Crosstrek’s prospects much. Some rivals offer electrification, and that figures to matter more moving forward. The Crosstrek’s base price has also jumped $1,350 in the U.S. and by $4,000 in Canada, which could dampen its appeal despite an improved content offering.


When can you order 2024 Crosstrek?

The new Crosstrek goes on sale this spring and should be available for order now. 

Why is Subaru discontinuing the Crosstrek PHEV?

It appears a lack of interest and sales have made Subaru discontinue the PHEV version of the Crosstrek. 

Is it worth waiting for the 2024 Crosstrek?

We believe it is worth the wait as the improvements make the new generation more appealing. 

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  • New interior design
  • Offroad capabilities
  • Right size packaging


  • No more manual transmission
  • No more PHEV
  • Wind/tire noise

Lee Bailie
Lee Bailie

With more than 20 years of industry experience, which includes automotive retail, motorsports PR, and writing and editing for various automotive publications, Lee is an AutoGuide freelancer, and car guy to the core. For nearly a decade and a half, he has married his two consuming passions together – journalism and the automotive industry. Whether it’s providing coverage on debuts from an auto show floor, writing road test reviews, or previewing a new model coming soon, Lee is eager to share his passion for the automotive industry with his readers. He is a long-standing member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and won a feature writing award in 2018.

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 1 comment
  • J. Meriwether J. Meriwether on May 05, 2023

    More ugly plastic fender flares. Yuk. Phoney, cheap looking crap. That's why I didn't buy anOutback this year. Ugly plastic to have to take care of.