Subaru Crosstrek 1st Generation (GP) 2013-2017 Review

Everything You Need To Know Before Buying Used Crosstrek 1st Gen

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1st Generation Crosstrek 2013-2017: What Owners Say

  • Almost nine inches of ground clearance, standard all-wheel drive, and some useful underbody protection gives the 1st-generation Subaru Crosstrek a surprising amount of off-road ability.
  • It's based on the Subaru Impreza, so maneuverability and ease of driving are strong suits.
  • Fuel economy is also decent, although the hybrid's fuel savings aren't impressive at all.
  • Performance is sluggish, especially when (under)powering the AWD system through the CVT.
  • The CVT also compromises refinement, with even light-power demands on the freeway sending engine speed soaring in search of some pulling power.
  • The hybrid model costs a lot more, but can't justify its price premium on either fuel economy or performance.

2015 Subaru Crosstrek 1st Generation Facelift

First released in the United States for the 2013 model year, the 1st-generation Crosstrek initially carried the XV prefix in its nameplate, but was renamed simply "Crosstrek" for 2016. Updates in the interim were minor, with its 2015 update mostly centered around the introduction of the Starlink multimedia system, and the addition of a rear-view camera across the range.

A light update in 2016 introduced a new front fascia, headlights, and a slightly redesigned grille, new 17-inch alloys with machined faces, along and with additional functionality for the Starlink multimedia system.

2016-2017 Crosstrek 1st Gen Facelift Front Changes CarBuzz
2016-2017 Crosstrek 1st Gen Facelift Front Changes

The external changes for the 2016 Crosstrek are most noticeable in its frontal appearance, where new headlight detailing1 and a redesigned bumper refreshed its styling for its final two years2. The easiest way to tell them apart is in the front fog lamp surround, which gained L-shaped chrome accent strips3. Hybrid models featured a gloss-black grille trim with chrome detailing, to distinguish them from their gas-only siblings.

2016-2017 Crosstrek 1st Gen Facelift Rear Changes CarBuzz
2016-2017 Crosstrek 1st Gen Facelift Rear Changes

The Crosstrek's 2016 facelift didn't change anything around the rear end, apart from discarding the "XV" badges it wore until 20151 and a crease on the side of the rear bumper2. Apart from this, there are no real distinguishing features to set pre-facelift examples apart from the updated ones.

2016-2017 Crosstrek 1st Gen Facelift Side Changes CarBuzz
2016-2017 Crosstrek 1st Gen Facelift Side Changes

New, machined-face 17-inch alloy wheels with a sportier design were added with this facelift, but few other body styling changes were applied, except for that aforementioned rear bumper crease. Conversely, the crease that ran down the front wheel arch and into the bumper has now been removed and the bumper smoothed out, although only enthusiasts will spot this change The new L-shaped front fog-light housings can clearly be seen in profile1. The new wheels still have a dark base color, but the spokes are slanted to echo a turbine-like appearance2.

2016-2017 Crosstrek 1st Gen Facelift Interior Changes CarBuzz
2016-2017 Crosstrek 1st Gen Facelift Interior Changes

The major change in the 2015 Subaru Crosstrek facelift revolved around the introduction of the then-new 6.2-inch Starlink infotainment system (7.0-inches for the 2.0i Limited, albeit without integrated navigation), which also served as a display unit for the now-standard reversing camera1. For 2016, the Premium trim and up received new orange contrast stitching on a redesigned steering wheel2, gear selector3, and armrests to add some zest to the Crosstrek's cabin ambiance.

Engine, Transmission and Drivetrain

Two engines were available in the Crosstrek GP, both flat-four units, measuring 2.0 liters in displacement and originating from Subaru's FB engine family. Noteworthy features of the FB engine include dual variable valve timing and chain-driven camshafts, but direct injection or forced induction did not make it onto the spec sheet for this generation of Crosstrek.

The mainstay power unit (FB20B) produces 148 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque, mated to either a 5-speed manual transmission in base or Premium trim, or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the Premium trim upwards. Most Crosstreks were sold with the CVT, though, so a manual gearbox will be a rare find in any specification. Opting for a Crosstrek Hybrid ups the system outputs to 160 hp and 160 lb-ft of torque, but the fuel savings aren't really offset by its price premium.

2.0-liter Flat-four Gas Engine FB20B DOHC (2013-2017)
148 hp | 145 lb-ft
148 hp
145 lb-ft
Five-speed manual or CVT

With around 3,200 pounds to move, 148 hp won't set your heart aflutter with excitement, but the performance on tap in the base Crosstrek should be adequate for most usage cases. In traditional Subaru fashion, the pistons are horizontally opposed, while the dual overhead cams on each bank are driven by maintenance-free chains. The FB engine family has few real vices or design flaws, although oil leaks will likely become troublesome as the car ages. It may also have a tendency to burn oil, so regular oil level checks should become part of every owner's routine to keep it running smoothly.

2.0-liter Flat-four Gas Engine FB20X DOHC (2014-2016)
148 hp | 145 lb-ft
148 hp
145 lb-ft

Electric motor: One permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor incorporated in the CVT.

  • Horsepower: 13.4 hp
  • Torque: 48 lb-ft
  • Engine + electric motor hybrid system output: 160 hp/160 lb-ft

The CVT-only hybrid option was introduced for 2014 and features a differently-tuned 2.0-liter engine (FB20X) with a higher compression ratio but more-conservative valve timing and friction-reducing internal components, combined with a 13.4-hp starter/alternator/electric motor fed from a 0.55-kWh battery. Not fantastic in modern terms, but still good enough for a combined system output of 160 hp and 160 lb-ft of torque. This powertrain was dropped after 2016, however.

2013-2017 Subaru Crosstrek 1st Generation Real MPG

The Subaru Crosstrek (GP) was fairly popular in North America, so there are plenty of owners who have submitted their real-world fuel economy figures to the EPA. This data shows that even hybrid drivers struggled to match the EPA's combined figures, and highlights the fact that the hybrid's fuel savings aren't great in comparison to the gas-only model.

It is also interesting to note that, while the CVT-equipped Crosstrek is claimed to be notably more parsimonious than the manual-transmission model, owners' real-life figures suggest that carefully-driven manual cars can realize fuel economy on par with (or better than) the ostensibly more-frugal CVT variants.

The first-generation Subaru XV Crosstrek had a gas tank size of 15.9 gallons in normal guise, with Hybrids dropping their fuel tank capacity to 13.7 gallons - presumably to find extra space for batteries and their control units. Hybrids also had to make do without the normal models' space-saver spare wheel and received a puncture repair kit instead.

EPA mpg (city/highway/combined)Real-World Combined mpg*
2013-2014 2.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-four, AWD, 5-speed manual23/29/2529.9-32.4
2015-2017 2.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-four, AWD, 5-speed manual23/30/2630.6-31.4
2013-2014 2.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-four, AWD, CVT25/32/2825.3-26.9
2015-2017 2.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-four, AWD, CVT26/33/2924.2-26.7
2014 2.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-four, hybrid, AWD, CVT29/32/3028.0
2015-2016 2.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-four, hybrid, AWD, CVT29/33/3127.5-29.3

* Real-world mpg and MPGe figures are provided by the EPA. Once a car has been on sale for a significant period of time, the EPA gets real-world figures directly from the customer base. These figures are then provided on the EPA website. Real-world figures are not available for certain models due to a lack of sales, or not enough people partaking in this after-sales survey.


As has become customary with Subarus, the Crosstrek is highly regarded for its safety credentials, receiving a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA for 2016. It only scored four stars in the frontal-impact and rollover assessment, but the overall side-impact rating received the full five stars. It also received the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award for all models from 2014 - 2017.

Standard safety features in the Subaru Crosstrek run all the way from stability and traction control to four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and electronic brake-force distribution, seven airbags, and active head restraints. The Limited additionally has automatic headlights and a backup camera, linked to the 4.3-inch infotainment display which was offered on this trim from launch.

The 2015 lineup received the backup camera and Starlink with a 6.2-inch color screen as standard on all trims, including the new-for-2015 base trim. A further safety boost arrived for the 2016 model year, with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert making their way onto the specification sheet for all Crosstrek models from Limited trim upwards.

These additions complement Subaru's EyeSight system, which first became available for the 2015 model year. EyeSight is a comprehensive package that includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control, and is optionally available on all Crosstreks bar the base trim level and the hybrids.

The other main safety add-on for 2016 was the arrival of two optional Starlink packages for the Crosstrek's Premium and Limited trims. Starlink Safety Plus includes automatic collision notification, SOS emergency assistance, enhanced roadside assistance, maintenance notifications, monthly vehicle health reports, and diagnostic alerts. On top of this, Starlink Safety Plus and Security Plus adds a stolen-vehicle recovery service, vehicle security alarm notification, remote lock/unlock, remote horn and light, and vehicle locator.

US NHTSA Crash Test Result (2017)

Overall Rating:
Frontal Barrier Crash Rating:
Side Crash Rating:
Rollover Rating:

1st Generation Subaru Crosstrek Trims

The 2013-2017 Subaru Crosstrek's range is fairly simple, with two main trim levels from launch: Premium, and Limited. A lower-spec Base trim was added in 2015, and Hybrid and Hybrid Touring trims became available in 2014, but were discontinued after 2016. The 2017 model year saw the addition of the Platinum Special Edition before the second-generation Crosstrek arrived for 2018.

2.0i Base
2.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-four gas
Five-speed manual

The 2.0i trim was a late arrival to the Subaru XV Crosstrek GP range, only arriving as a new base model for the 2015 model year. It can only be had with the 5-speed manual transmission but is fairly comprehensively equipped even for its lowly station in life. It still offers 17-inch alloy wheels and looks much like any other Crosstrek at first glance. Its standard features are much like those of the Premium trim, only losing the leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated seats and heated side mirrors, while its exterior mirrors were clad in black, rather than the color-coded items on a Premium. The upshot is that it features the 6.2-inch Starlink infotainment system with four speakers and AUX, USB, and Bluetooth compatibility from the start, along with Starlink Connected Services and the rear-view camera which arrived for the rest of the range in 2015.

2.0i Premium
2.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-four gas
Five-speed manual or CVT

For the first two years of the Subaru Crosstrek's availability, the 2.0i Premium served as the entry-level trim, and could be had with a manual transmission or a CVT. The 2013-2014 Premium has standard 17-inch alloy wheels with a sensible tire size of R225/55R17, four-wheel disc brakes, heated side mirrors, black roof rails (to support a roof rack, available as an OEM accessory), power locks and windows with a one-touch driver's window, keyless entry, cruise control, heated front seats, cloth upholstery, a 60/40-split and folding rear seat, a manually tilting/telescoping steering column, and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player, auxiliary jack, and USB port. The Premium specification received two slight equipment boosts in 2015 (with the addition of a 6.2-inch Starlink infotainment system and rear-view camera) and 2016 (which added a windshield wiper de-icer and a leather-trimmed steering wheel).

2.0i Limited
2.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-four gas

The Limited trim represented the top of the non-hybrid Crosstrek line-up for most of this model's run, so it's loaded with most of the bells and whistles you'd expect from a high-end crossover of this vintage. Additional 2013 Limited features over a Premium of the same year include a backup camera, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic assist, automatic climate control, leather-trimmed seats and armrests, auto on/off headlights, a rear-seat armrest with dual cup holders, a 4.3-inch LCD display for the audio system and rear-view camera, and turn-signal repeaters in the exterior mirrors.

2015 saw the arrival of the Starlink Infotainment system with a 6.2-inch screen as standard, but you will still need to pay extra for a moonroof (which is grouped with keyless access/push-button start; EyeSight; and a Kicker audio system upgrade).

2.0i Platinum Special Edition
2.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-four gas

This special derivative was only available in 2017 and essentially constituted an upgrade of the Premium trim. Key distinguishing features include a standard-fit moonroof; keyless entry with push-button start; blind-spot monitoring; and rear cross-traffic alert - in other words, the Platinum Special Edition added some of the optional features as standard.

2.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-four gas with one electric motor

In base trim, the first Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid closely follows the Limited's specifications, but deletes the leather seats and gains keyless entry with push-button start, front fog lights, a different wheel design, a unique grille with shutters, chrome door handles, and a hybrid-specific driver information display. All Crosstrek Hybrid models were discontinued after 2016.

Hybrid Touring
2.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-four gas with one electric motor

This is the upmarket version of the 1st-generation Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, and includes some items that can only be had as options in other trims. The Touring spec adds a sunroof; an on-board navigation system; leather seats; and satellite radio as standard.

First Gen Subaru Crosstrek GP Features (2013-2017)

2.0i Base (From 2015)2.0i Premium2.0i Limited2.0i Platinum SEHybrid (2014-2016)Hybrid Touring (2014- 2016)
Back-Up CameraSS (From 2015)SSSS
Bluetooth ConnectionSSSSSS
Leather SeatsN/AN/ASSN/AS
Apple CarPlayN/AN/ASSSS
Keyless EntryN/AN/ASSSS
Keyless StartN/AN/ASSSS
Alloy WheelsSSSSSS

Interior, Trim And Practicality

Subaru Crosstrek 1st Gen Interior Overview Subaru
Subaru Crosstrek 1st Gen Interior Overview

Seeing as the 1st-gen Subaru XV Crosstrek only measures 175.2 inches in length, it's reasonable to expect it to be quite snug inside. Front-seat occupants will have little to complain about, with adequate legroom, headroom, and shoulder room for above-average-sized adults. 39.8 inches of front headroom, 43.5 inches of front legroom, and front shoulder room measuring 55.6 inches, places the Subaru Crosstrek ahead of such popular alternatives such as the Mazda CX-3.

Rear-seat occupants won't be quite as content because this is one area where the Crosstrek's smaller dimensions count against it. Rear headroom of 37.7 inches barely beats the cramped little Mazda by half an inch, and its rear legroom of 35.4 inches is only 0.4 inches larger than the CX-3's. Buyers looking for a Subaru SUV with usable rear-seat space should shop for a Forester or Outback instead.

The trunk is a fair bit more respectable, however, measuring 22.3 cu.ft with the rear seats in use. In contrast, the CX-3 can only offer 12.4 cu.ft of cargo volume. That's still only about 60% of a contemporary (2016) Forester's cargo capacity, though, so buyers who regularly haul a full complement of passengers and their luggage are once again advised to shop one size class higher.

Trim2.0i Base2.0i Premium2.0i Limited2.0i Platinum SEHybridHybrid Touring
Black/Ivory cloth seatsSSN/AN/ASN/A
Black leather/vinyl seatsN/AN/ASSN/AS
Ivory Leather/vinyl seatsN/AN/AO (No cost)N/AN/AO (No cost)

2013-2017 Crosstrek 1st Generation Maintenance and Cost

The 1st-generation Subaru Crosstrek is fairly well-regarded in terms of reliability, with very few design or manufacturing flaws rearing their heads over the years. The camshafts are chain-driven on the FB20 engine, so the old EJ's requirement for frequent cam belt and tensioner changes is no longer an issue. Its head gaskets also hold up better than the EJ could manage, so engine reliability should be better than most of its competitors.

There are some things to note with the FB engine, though. They tend to present oil leaks from seals and gaskets as they age, and there are a multitude of seals to leak on a boxer engine; some examples may develop a mild oil-consumption habit with time. For these reasons, regular oil-level checks are advised.

The Crosstrek has always featured a CVT somewhere in the model line-up, and earlier examples have demonstrated substandard transmission durability. However, these issues were mostly resolved by 2015, meaning that 2016-2017 models shouldn't be as problematic. Older examples will however require a careful check-up, as those CVTs are still of the problematic generation. Fortunately, Subaru extended the warranty on the 2013-2015 Crosstreks from 60,000 miles to 100,000 miles, or from 5 years to 10 years, whichever comes first. Keep an eye out for jerking ratio changes, any signs of a shudder when taking up drive, or hesitation in response to changing accelerator pedal inputs when test-driving any CVT-equipped Crosstrek - if it exhibits these symptoms, walk away.

Preventative maintenance can help avoid transmission problems, too. While Subaru doesn't quote recommended CVT fluid changes, we'd advise that the CVT oil be changed every 30,000 miles at most (or even earlier, if you tow heavy loads or indulge in off-roading escapades). Ensure that the correct replacement oil is used, and only trust a respectable service agent or dealership to perform this job. Also note that, because there is no dipstick to check the level and condition of the CVT fluid yourself, it has to be refilled exactly to Subaru's specifications every time the CVT oil is replaced.

Standard Subaru servicing practice stipulates that the engine oil and oil filter must be changed every 6 months or every 6,000 miles, whichever occurs first. At the same time, tires should be rotated and a visual inspection should be performed to check for leaks or perishing fluid hoses.

The cabin air filter needs to be replaced every 12,000 miles, and the engine's air filter and brake fluid must be replaced every 30,000 miles. Spark plugs should last 60,000 miles, and the fuel filter should be good for 72,000 miles.

1st Gen Subaru Crosstrek Basic Service

Engine Oil Change Including Filter

2013-2017 2.0-liter flat-four FB20B and FB20X engines: 4.83L (5.1 quarts)

Recommended oil type and viscosity: 0W-20 fully synthetic oil

Replacement: Every 6,000 miles

Average cost: $69


2013-2017 2.0-liter flat-four FB20A and FB20X engines:

OEM part number: 22401AA781

Replacement: Every 60,000 miles

Average Price: $104 for four

Air Filter

2013-2017 2.0-liter flat-four FB20A and FB20X engines:

OEM part number: 16546AA12A

Replacement: Every 30,000 miles

Average Price: $25


2013-2017 2.0-liter flat-four FB20A and FB20X engines:

Type: Duralast Gold / Optima AGM Red Top battery, SKU #330109 / #729133

OEM part code: 82110AA011

Replacement: Every 3-5 years.

Average Price: $190-$240

For other service data, such as wiper-blade size or replacement brake light bulbs, simply contact your parts shop with your car's model and year (or its VIN), and they will be able to supply you with the correct replacement parts.

1st Gen Subaru Crosstrek Tires

All 2013-2017 Subaru Crosstrek models used the same tire sizes, but tire pressures will vary according to usage conditions. Please consult your owner's manual for the correct tire pressure for your application.

2013-2017 All models:
Tire size:
All-season tires:
$436-$844 per set

Check Before You Buy

The 2013-2017 Subaru Crosstrek has a very good reputation for durability, although some common problems may rear their heads in the course of normal use. The good news is that the CVT issues which plagued older examples had largely been banished by 2015, so 2016-2017 Subaru Crosstreks should have far fewer transmission problems than older examples. Furthermore, the FB20 engine (in both guises used here) appears to be less prone to serious oil consumption than the larger FB25 unit.

The first-generation Subaru XV Crosstrek was subject to four recalls since its introduction, and only two of these recalls affected only 2013 models. Firstly, the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek was recalled for possible engine valve spring failure, which could cause the engine to stall (NHTSA Campaign Number 18V772000).

The second recall for the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek involved a potential remote engine starter fob malfunction, which may cause the car to start by itself, run for up to 15 minutes at a time, and then shut down again - repeating this process until the key fob's battery is depleted. This feature was available as an OEM-approved accessory when new, but wasn't part of the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek's standard equipment package (NHTSA Campaign Number 13V061000).

There were a few 2014-2017 Subaru Crosstrek recalls and one was for a brake light switch that may malfunction. In the event of a problem with this component, the brake lights won't illuminate when required, vehicles with push button start won't start, and CVT-equipped vehicles will refuse to shift out of Park (NHTSA Campaign Number 19V149000).

The final Subaru Crosstrek recall involves 2015-vintage vehicles, which were fitted with the optional EyeSight driver assistance package where the collision mitigation braking system may not work as intended. In these cars, the vehicle will not react to an obstacle in its path, which increases the risk of a crash. The remedy is a simple matter of reprogramming the appropriate control unit, but if you're interested in buying a used 2015 Subaru Crosstrek with this feature, check that the recall has been performed according to Subaru's requirements (NHTSA Campaign Number 15V366000).

Besides these possible issues, there are also a few minor problems that do crop up from time to time but do not warrant their own sections in this review, so we list them here:

  • Some Subaru Crosstreks (of all years) have presented a tendency to stall or lose power at freeway speeds. The cause of this complaint is as yet unclear, and restarting the car usually provides a short-term solution. Some dealerships diagnose this as a problem with the battery or alternator, but investigations are yet to provide a clear indication of the cause.
  • Other reports suggest that a small portion of Crosstreks may have faulty fuel pump fittings inside the tank, or faulty fuel-level sensors, leading to fuel starvation and engine stalling while driving.
  • Reports have also surfaced of some 2013-2017 Subaru Crosstrek front-axle problems due to premature CV joint wear. This is a potentially expensive issue, with OEM inner CV joints costing about $240 and outer CV joints costing almost $360, or complete replacement shafts costing around $400 a piece.
  • A small percentage of owners have found that the air conditioning (AC) systems of their Subaru Crosstreks don't blow as cold as expected, but this is usually caused by refrigerant leaks: If your Crosstrek's AC does not provide adequate cooling, have a car air-con specialist find the problem. Note that there weren't any 2013-2017 Subaru XV Crosstrek AC compressor-cycle problems, or recalls related to the air-conditioning or heating system.
  • Complaints about problems with the 2013-2017 Subaru Crosstrek's Bluetooth connectivity are surprisingly common, with many owners resorting to manually pairing their phones with their cars every time they start up. This appears to be related to phone incompatibility issues rather than the car itself, as some owners found that phone software updates remedied this problem.

1st Generation Subaru Crosstrek Common Problems

Ignition Switch/Park Position Lockout

This is by far the most-reported issue with the Subaru Crosstrek, according to data gathered by the NHTSA. In a car with this affliction, the ignition key would remain stuck in its switch unit when shifting into Park upon shutting down the car, due to a faulty switch in the gear selector mechanism.

A temporary fix entails repeatedly moving from Drive and/or Reverse into Park, until the Park position switch is activated. This will then authorize removal of the key. This is at best a temporary workaround, however - the problem will get worse until the key remains stuck whatever you do. No recall has yet been issued for this problem, which also affects other Subaru models of its era, and it is often misdiagnosed as a fault with the steering column. In such a case, replacement of the steering column will cost upwards of $480 (excluding labor), but isn't guaranteed to eliminate the problem.

Mileage: From new.

Cost: $480-$850, depending on the diagnosis.

How to spot: Ignition key remains stuck in lock barrel even after selecting P.

Wheel Bearing Failure

There have been reports of wheel bearing problems on the 2013-2017 Subaru Crosstrek, sometimes manifesting before the 30,000-mile milestone. This problem doesn't appear to be extraordinarily widespread, however, but if it happens, it could cost you a bundle. There was no 2013-2017 Crosstrek wheel-bearing recall, however. Wheel bearing failure, if left unattended, could also result in a loss of vehicle control, so it's best to make sure that any Crosstrek you test drive runs smoothly while driving.

Mileage: From 30,000 miles.

Cost: $225 for the rear hub assembly, $297 for a front hub assembly, both excluding labor charges and wheel alignment.

How to spot: A rough-sounding rumble while driving, which increases in volume and pitch with rising road speed. If left unchecked, this could change to a wheel vibration, eventually leading to a wheel hobble, before seizing or disintegrating and leaving you stranded.

Excessive Oil Consumption

While reports of high oil consumption still plague many of Subaru's engines, the FB20B and FB20X engines employed in the first-generation Subaru Crosstrek (GP) are much less prone to this problem than the larger-bore FB25 engine (as used in the Forester and Outback). That doesn't mean that the FB20 is completely immune to this issue, however, and some examples may exhibit this symptom as they age.

The car's usage profile appears to play a role here, with hard-driven but well-cared-for cars counter-intuitively appearing to burn less oil than those which mainly do short-distance driving and plenty of cold starts. This is likely due to fuel wash upon cold start-up, which leads to accelerated cylinder-bore wear, and dilution of the engine oil due to gas seeping past the piston rings.

This isn't guaranteed to be a catastrophic failure, however, provided the engine's oil levels are checked frequently - keep it topped up, and the engine will continue to work as intended for many years. In addition, oil consumption can be reduced by always running the engine up to operating temperature (at least three miles from start-up), and avoiding high loads (large throttle openings and high engine speeds) until the engine is thoroughly warmed up.

Mileage: From new.

Cost: The cost of top-up oil.

How to spot: Low oil level, illuminated oil-pressure light, blue smoke from the exhaust.

Oil Leaks

Oil leaks are practically guaranteed to appear as a Subaru Crosstrek's engine ages. This is due to the fact that there are a great multitude of potential failure points in the FB engine's engine construction: The timing chain cover is huge, and with a two-piece block and two three-piece cylinder heads, there are many areas where oil can start seeping through. This issue is compounded by the fact that conventional gaskets don't really feature in the FB engine's construction, with most of the sealing duties being performed exclusively by RTV - which degenerates with age and repeated heat cycles.

Apart from the oil spots on your driveway, there's a fire risk to major oil leaks as well, if hot engine oil somehow manages to drip onto hot exhaust headers. The bad news is that some oil leak repairs involve removing the engine, followed by at least a partial strip-down to access the leaking areas.

Cam-carrier oil seals can start leaking as early as 40,000 miles, while valve-cover and timing-cover leaks typically show up around 100,000 miles.

Mileage: From 40,000 to 100,000 miles.

Cost: Depending on the location and severity of an oil leak, repairs could cost as little as $250, but if the engine needs to be removed to gain access to a leaky spot, repairing an oil leak could cost as much as $3,000. In fact, the chances are that the labor charges to fix a serious oil leak could possibly run to 10 or 20 times as much as the actual seal's cost.

How to spot: Check for visible oil spots on the floor where the car usually spends its time, and regularly check for a drop in the engine's oil level on the dipstick. There could be other clues as well, such as an occasional puff of blue/gray smoke from the engine compartment, when oil drips onto some hot engine part while driving. The engine itself will be wet near the site of a leak, and, if left unattended, this will develop into a caked-on mess over time.

Unintended Acceleration

According to a class-action lawsuit filed in 2020 in the District of New Jersey, some Subarus from the 1st-generation Crosstrek's era (which also includes the 2015-2019 Outback and Legacy, as well as the 2012-2018 Forester) could be prone to sudden unintended acceleration. This case is still developing, so there is no concrete judgment to cast just yet. But, while the 2016-2017 Crosstrek isn't specifically mentioned in this class-action suit, it would still be advisable to verify that a Crosstrek responds to pedal inputs as it should.

Mileage: N/A

Cost: N/A

How to spot: Spontaneous acceleration without pressing the accelerator or when stepping on the brake.

CVT Problems

The Subaru Lineartronic CVT has been subject to frequent revisions over the years and has been mostly problem-free since around 2015. This means that 2015, 2016 and 2017 Crosstrek CVT problems should be quite rare - an area where the Crosstrek engine's low torque output likely also plays a role. However, it is still a CVT, and this transmission type is unfortunately known to age poorly, and earlier 2013-2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek CVT problems are a lot more commonplace.

Symptoms of CVT malfunction include severe hesitation on pull-away, shuddering ratio changes, grinding and/or knocking noises in operation, and stalling when coming to a stop. On any 2013-2017 Subaru Crosstrek, the P0700 transmission error code points towards a problem with the transmission's electronic control unit. Make sure that any Crosstrek you test drive shows none of these symptoms because CVT repairs are often ruinously expensive.

Mileage: From new.

Cost: Basic CVT repairs start around $1,000, and can run past the $8,000 in the case of a complete replacement.

How to spot: Hesitation when pulling away, and shudders, vibrations, whining, or grinding noises while driving.

Batteries Draining

Premature battery failure still haunts Subaru, with all 2013-2017 Subaru Crosstrek battery problems getting mentioned alongside similar problems in Foresters and Outbacks. It just seems to be a Subaru thing. The Crosstrek doesn't form part of the ongoing class-action lawsuit involving its larger siblings, however, indicating that the issue is much less severe in the small SUV.

Mileage: From new.

Cost: $190-$240 for a new battery.

How to spot: Slow cranking, possible power loss or the engine cutting out while driving, the erratic behavior of electrical components such as automatic lights, infotainment system, and starter motor. Eventually, a dead battery will leave the car stranded.

Less Common Problems And Problem-Free Areas

2013-2017 Subaru Crosstrek windscreens don't suffer the high failure rates of its contemporary Outback, but some owners report that they've experienced cracking windshields without any impact to trigger it. There have also been reports of glass sunroofs cracking and disintegrating, usually following a significant ambient temperature change. For the rest, some infotainment glitches could appear, but these seem to clear themselves following a restart.

Which One To Avoid

We'd steer clear of the entry-level Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Base, simply because it doesn't really represent a viable price saving in comparison to a 2.0i Premium or Limited of similar vintage, while being notably less well-equipped. It's also difficult to make a case for any of this generation's Hybrid models, because they're more complex, less practical, slower, and heavier than the gas-only models, without offering a significant boost in fuel economy.

Which One To Buy

The pick of the range is a 2.0i Premium manual (if you prefer a 5-speed manual to a CVT), or a 2.0i Limited (if you don't mind a CVT but want as many creature comforts as possible). Any model year from 2015 onwards should be a sound ownership proposition, but 2016 and 2017 appear to be the least trouble-prone years of them all.

1st Generation Subaru Crosstrek Verdict

Hitting the sweet spot between a manageable size, acceptable practicality, decent fuel efficiency, and a surprising amount of off-road ability, the 2013-2017 Subaru Crosstrek range is good value for money and a capable all-rounder. It's not as tech-heavy as some opponents, which may bode well for long-term durability, and has a very good reputation for reliability as well. This is perhaps as close as you'll get to old-school Subaru dependability in a new-ish car, without the added complexity of later models and devoid of most of the silly design flaws which could affect its larger and newer stablemates.

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