by Roger Biermann
The Subaru Crosstrek has become a token representation of the adventurous urbanite who seeks outdoor thrills and adventure in safe doses. Based on the Impreza five-door hatchback, the Crosstrek is a sensible compact crossover that gives you that extra bit of freedom thanks to a few offroad features like increased ride height and all-wheel-drive. It wants you to go out and see the world, and Subaru has made enough changes to the 2019 model to make it a legitimate offroad contender among the throng of softroaders. For 2019, the Subaru Crosstrek gains a few safety features and interior tech that keeps it in the running against rivals such as the Jeep Renegade and Honda's HR-V. So let's get under those bulky fenders and find out if the Crosstrek has true wanderlust for the great outdoors or if it should be banished to the covered parking at your local mall.
The Crosstrek gets a light dusting of new features for 2019. A welcome addition to the standard Crosstrek's feature list is a host of safety tech that includes Subaru's EyeSight branded driver assistance in the form of adaptive cruise control, auto emergency braking, and a lane-departure warning system with lane keep assistance. On the inside, the mid-range Premium receives an updated infotainment system and a rear automated emergency braking light, while automated high-beam headlamps are added to the top of the range Limited models.
The Crosstrek's exterior resembles the inside of an Ace Mountain Hardware And Sports store, and it does a decent job of hiding the humdrum Impreza hatch styling under an avalanche of unpainted plastics and tough-guy cosmetics. Subaru has achieved a great balance between urban cool and outdoor yee-haw, and the lifted ride height and 17- or 18-inch wheels give the Crosstrek a purposeful stance. LED headlights are equipped to range-topping Limited models with steering responsiveness, while black roof rails are standard across the range. Available optionally on the Premium and Limited trims, buyers can opt for a power sunroof.
The 2019 Crosstrek retains the dimensions of the previous year's model with a length of 175.8 inches, a width of 71 inches, and a height of 63.6 inches (with roof rails). The wheelbase measures 104.9 inches, while the track (front/rear) measures 61.0/61.2 inches. The base curb weight starts at 3,113 lbs for the 2.0i and climbs up to 3,239 for the Limites. The base Jeep Renegade weighs in at 3,210 lbs, which makes it almost 100 pounds heavier than the base Crosstrek. Due to the nature of the Crosstrek, it would be foolish not to mention road clearance as well as approach and departure angles, seeing as it can handle a fair bit of offroading. The 2019 Crosstrek has a ride height of 8.7 inches, easily eclipsing the Honda HR-V by 1.6 inches, while approach and departure angles of 18.0/29.0 deg are impressive in a segment dominated by curb-crawling softroaders.
Color options for the 2019 Crosstrek are well suited to its rugged and adventurous nature, and the palette features eight variations to cater to all tastes. New buyers can choose from Crystal Black Silica, Dark Gray Metallic, Ice Silver Metallic, Cool Gray Khaki, Quartz Blue Pearl, Sunshine Orange, Venetian Red Pearl, and our favorite, Lagoon Blue Pearl - matching the color palette from the 2018 model. Whichever color you opt for, the palette highlights the rugged black cladding on the fenders and bumpers for an aggressive appeal, while the gray tones offer something a little more demure.
Let's not forget that the Crosstrek is based essentially on the Impreza, but with fancy plastic bits and offroad suspension. As such, the Crosstrek's performance sits firmly in territory categorized as slow for the segment, at least by modern standards. Subaru has decided to stick with a naturally aspirated four-pot, which despite its 2.0-liter displacement only generates a paltry 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a standard manual transmission on the lower two trims, performance is maximized, with a 0-60 mph time of around nine seconds - the CVT nets a ten-second dash. Rivals like the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 will leave it for dead at the lights. But the Crosstrek benefits from being all-wheel drive as standard, while rivals make do with front-wheel drivetrains as standard, only offering AWD optionally. Towing capacity is modest, like many rivals, with the Crosstrek rated for 1,500 lbs.
The two-liter, four-cylinder engine found under the hood of the Crosstrek is no engineering marvel. In fact, it is one of the weaker points of the car. Generating a mere 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque, a small capacity turbo gasoline engine would have given it some much-needed torque and contemporary performance. The 2.0i and 2.0i Premium come standard with a six-speed manual (previously a five-speed), while the Limited gets Subaru's Lineartronic CVT(Continuously Variable Transmission), an optional affair in lower trims.
The manual box is nothing to write home about but gets the job done with positive throws and gearing suited more for city driving than off-road crawling. The CVT gearbox found in the Premium feels unresponsive and sluggish, and if there's one thing we've learned, a CVT gearbox works best if there are large dollops of torque on hand. The Crosstrek is left wanting in this department, leaving us to recommend the manual, and lament the lack of manual availability on the higher-specced Limited. The CVT-equipped models do, however, come with what Subaru calls 'X-Mode' for improved control on slippery surfaces, mimicking a low-range gearbox for greater offroad capability.
The Crosstrek gives the promise of a well-balanced adventure machine capable of going just about anywhere, and actually lives up to it thanks to a viscous coupling-equipped, full-time all-wheel-drive system, aided by brake-based torque-vectoring. This, of course, gives the car some level of off-roading street cred especially with the 8.7-inch ride height and ample approach and departure angles. CVT-equipped models make use of X-Mode to simulate a low-range transfer case, enabling improved crawling and climbing ability.
On-road, despite the towering ride height, the Crosstrek feels sure-footed and composed, with minimal lean, blending raised visibility with the same sense of composure and control seen in the Impreza hatch. It must be said that ride quality has been improved upon over last year's model. This has been achieved via softer springs and damping and new 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in all-season tires. But while comfortable, the softer setup translates to some body lean when effecting changes of direction, leading to much head-bobbing of passengers through any twisting stretch of road.
Steering is well-weighted and makes the Crosstrek a pleasure to point and maneuver, and a capable, nimble city car. But take it off the beaten path and it starts to shine. Subaru is well known for its all-wheel-drive systems, and the one in the Crosstrek works adeptly at seeking out every last bit of available grip in muddy and wet conditions.
Subaru has managed to get the most out of the Crosstrek both on and off road, giving it capabilities most crossovers can only dream of, without compromising road manners.
Fuel consumption is nothing to write home about but could be considered light for the segment, especially when you consider that the Crosstrek makes do with permanent all-wheel-drive compared to the mileage-friendly FWD systems on rival crossovers. Those opting for the CVT transmission can expect EPA-rated mileage estimates of 27/33 mpg on the city/highway cycles with a 29 mpg combined figure. The six-speed manual drops the estimate to only 23/29 mpg, or 25 mpg combined. Filling up a tank requires 16.6 gallons of gasoline, with a maximum attainable range of 482 miles in mixed driving conditions with the CVT-equipped Crosstrek.
Improved soft-touch plastics and contrasting stitching on the seats don't hide the fact that Subaru still pushes a low-key agricultural agenda, prioritizing functionality and durability over outright style, something existing Subaru drivers will recognize as a plus, while new buyers may be dissuaded by the perceived low-rent approach. The interior feels chunky and lets the occupants know that they're getting ready for an adventure, or at least a serious jaunt to the local Home Depot. The dashboard meets the central console and features contrast stitching and aluminum accents, offsetting the relatively dark interior. Despite the somewhat dull colored materials and faux-carbon fiber accents, the 2019 Crosstrek has most certainly stepped up its game with higher quality materials than before, while seating for five still remains ample. However, based on hatch underpinnings, the Crosstrek lags severely behind rivals when it comes to cargo volume.
Sitting in the front occupants can expect decent legroom, and taller drivers have enough adjustment for adequate head and legroom within the confines of a car-like driving position that will appeal to many transitioning to the crossover segment. The rear passengers won't be as thrilled, as even shorter occupants will feel a bit boxed in. The odd thing is the Crosstrek provides ample rear leg space, and shoulder to shoulder seating sees three adults sitting comfortably, but the roof cuts off some desirable headspace limiting comfortable rear seat usage to short teenagers. The Crosstrek's seats are comfortable and offer acceptable levels of side bolstering, perfect for when you decide to hit the trails or adventure down a twisting road.
The interior has seen great improvement over the previous generation, one would be hard pressed to point out any major differences between new and old. One thing that can be said about the 2019 Crosstrek is that there is an overall improvement in the use and fit of soft-touch plastics, and a no-nonsense interior design fits in well with the car's off-road motif. The base model 2.5i gets cloth upholstery in your choice of black or gray, and the Premium gives you the same color option but is treated to some cool looking orange stitching. Limited models get the leather treatment (In black only) with orange stitching.
Subaru has made things tricky for themselves by branding the Crosstrek as a baby SUV but basing it on a compact hatchback. This translates into a car that looks the part but offers up a middling amount of cargo space. With the rear seats in place, cargo space has actually decreased from the previous generation, coming in at 20.8 cubic feet, nearly half that of the Honda CR-V with all seats in place. The load sill is high, and the height of the cargo hold is shorter than rivals which makes it awkward to load large items. The volume increases when the rear seats are folded, resulting in 55.3 cubic feet of space - less than most rivals but still enough for a mountain bike on its side. Despite these small figures, the Crosstrek offers more room than the Jeep Renegade's 18.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and 50.8 cubic feet with them folded down.
Inside the cabin, an illuminated and lockable glove box and center console bin with storage tray and 12-volt power outlet add some much-needed space to store your trail mix and sunscreen, while door pockets are amply sized. Seatback map pockets are available too, while the main storage bin ahead of the shift lever is large and highly practical.
For 2019, Subaru has graced the Crosstrek with new features, in line with that of its competitors. The base model gives you multi-reflector halogen headlights, manually adjustable seats, electronic cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, and manual air conditioning. A rearview camera is standard, while EyeSight driver assistance features are optional, becoming standard only at the Limited trim. A power tilt sliding moonroof is optional on the Premium and Limited range, while blind spot detection is optional on Premium and standard on Limited models. Interior features such as heated front seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel adds a sense of occasion to the Premium and Limited range, and keyless access with push-button start as well as electronic cruise control keeps the Crosstrek comfortable and practical. Exclusive to the range-topping Limited model is automatic climate control, as well as a 6.3-inch color multi-function information display.
Subaru's Starlink multimedia infotainment system finds its way into the 2019 Crosstrek, and ranges from a 6.5-inch display and four-speaker system for the base model, growing to a generously sized eight-inch display and six-speaker system for the Limited model. Regardless of size, both systems feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as Pandora and Aha integration. The Premium model gets SiriusXM and HD radio functionality, as well as navigation. The optional eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is only available for the Limited model. 4G LTE Wi-Fi capability is an optional extra on the Limited that should help future-proof the car to some extent.
Subaru has recalled certain 2019 Forester and Crosstrek vehicles due to a faulty connector inside the Electronic Power Steering (EPS) unit that could possibly short circuit, resulting in a loss of electric power steering assistance. None of the affected vehicles have been sold yet, however, and Subaru has notified dealers to inspect the steering gearbox, replacing it as necessary, free of charge. A previous recall of 2018 Crosstrek models due to an incorrect floor mat retention bracket that could end up interfering with the gas pedal is a non-issue for 2019 models. Aside from that, problems are few, and Subaru's three-year/36,000 mile limited warranty and five-year/60,000-mile drivetrain warranty go some way to giving buyers peace of mind.
Like most of Subaru's range of vehicles, the Crosstrek scores exemplary safety scores. The 2019 model earned the title of Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS, the highest possible rating, and achieved a superior score for front crash prevention. Similarly, a five-star safety rating from the NHTSA clearly shows that Subaru has taken care to build an extremely safe crossover.
Safety was a massive priority when Subaru planned the 2019 model, and as such, the list of key safety features is a long one, including some high tech additions that were missing from the 2018 model. All models come with Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive System, Vehicle Dynamics Control, Traction Control System (TCS), four-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS) with brake assist, and seven airbags including dual front, front side, side curtain, and a driver's knee airbag. A rear vision camera, daytime running lights, and a tire pressure monitoring system also come as standard across the board. Limited and Premium models get the option of EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, High Beam Assist, Blind-Spot Detection/Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Reverse Automatic Braking.
The 2019 Crosstrek builds on the legacy of Subaru's rugged SUV lineage. The new safety features and tech upgrades have turned it into a competent city crossover SUV that will happily live out its days in the urban warren, but there's no hiding the fact that underneath all those buff looking plastic bits lies a true all-wheel-drive Subaru that is vastly more capable than rivals at taking you off the beaten path. Unfortunately, the Crosstrek's Achilles' heel is a major one; the naturally aspirated Boxer engine lets the Crosstrek down in a major way. Gutless performance is only worsened by a slightly dim-witted CVT gearbox. Even in manual guise, the Crosstrek can't step out of the shadow of the engine. While this may not be a deal-breaker for some, of more serious concern is the lack of cargo space and cramped rear quarters for passengers, lagging severely behind class-leaders. If you're in no hurry to get to where you need to go, however, the Crosstrek will get you there and then some, capably ferrying a pair of people, their dogs, and their mountain bikes to the most remote trails you can set your sights on.
The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek starts at a base MSRP of $21,895 in base trim excluding tax, licensing, registration, and a $975 destination fee. The Premium version will set you back $22,895 in manual guise and $23,895 in CVT guise, while you'll pay $27,195 for the Limited. Dealerships are responsible for their own pricing, so deals and incentives are available for discerning shoppers.
Prospective Crosstrek buyers will be able to select from three models: the base 2.0i, 2.0i Premium, and 2.0i Limited. All models feature the same 152-hp 2.0-liter engine and all-wheel-drive system.
The 2.0i (base) model Crosstrek features a six-speed manual transmission as standard, with 17-inch alloy wheels in black, multi-reflector halogen headlamps, cloth upholstery, manual air conditioning, manually adjustable seats, a reverse camera, and a 6.5-inch StarLink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android auto functionality.
Moving up to the 2.0i Premium adds an optional power moonroof, standard leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter handle, fog lights, automatic headlights, heated front seats, and upgraded StarLink system with navigation, SiriusXM satellite radio, and HD radio functionality, as well as six speakers.
Finally, the 2.0i Limited adds Subaru's EyeSight driver assist systems as standard, while also equipping leather-trimmed upholstery, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, 18-inch dark gray-finish alloy wheels, LED Steering Responsive Headlights, and the CVT transmission as standard. Also equipped is power driver's seat adjustment and automatic climate control, while the infotainment system is upgraded to an eight-inch screen with onboard Wi-Fi hotspot.
2.0-liter Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
2.0-liter Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
2.0-liter Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Subaru offers its buyers a host of optional extras that will turn your average Crosstrek into an overland adventure monster, or a soccer mom's dream, depending on what route you take.
There are a few packages available. The first adds a power tilt/slide moonroof for $1,000 and is available on Premium and Limited trims, but models must first have the CVT transmission. The second available package adds a Harman Kardon premium audio system with eight speakers for $2,350, available exclusively on the Limited model. On lower trims, an available Rockford Fosgate package is available for $502. The EyeSight package equips blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and pre-collision braking for $1,395.
Notable accessories include all-weather floor liners at $132 (handy for pet owners), splash guards for $153 and a severe weather companion, perfect for serious off-roading, for $49,89.
Functional STI parts for the serious fans include stunning 18-inch STI Alloy Wheels at $1,709, a STI flexible strut tower brace for $399.95 and roof spoiler for $453
The Crosstrek doesn't pretend to be a luxury SUV, and buyers will mainly want it for its everyday practicality and off-road capability. While the base model is more than capable and makes use of the preferred six-speed manual gearbox, buyers will likely want the additional benefits of upgrading to at least a mid-spec Premium model with the EyeSight package equipped. For those who need off-road capability, spend extra for the CVT, as the X-Mode system works wonders in slippery conditions. Leather upholstery is a luxury not needed, and most safety gear standard on the top trim is available optionally on lower models.
Subaru is well known for producing rugged SUVs that are as happy off-road as they are on it. Thus it makes sense pitting the Crosstrek against its bigger brothers, the Forester and Outback.
The most noticeable difference between the Crosstrek and the Outback is the size difference. The Crosstrek, based on the Subaru Impreza hatchback, is clearly smaller in size than the fully fledged Outback, that takes on a more traditional station wagon shape. Obviously, this means more interior space and almost double the cargo space in the Outback. Base engine/transmission pairings for both are somewhat underwhelming, but with the Crosstrek limited to only one gasoline powerplant producing 152 hp, it somewhat stunts the purchasing appeal of an otherwise great package. The Outback, on the other hand, gives you the option of a 175-hp unit as standard, but for those seeking more grunt, a six-cylinder boxer making 256 ponies is available. The Outback is more refined and offers more luxurious features, but along with that, it bears a higher price. Ultimately, if you need space and luxury, the Outback is the better buy.
Once again, the baby of the bunch offers less interior space than the Forester in almost every aspect thanks to the Crosstrek's Impreza base. The Forester is also noticeably larger from the outside and is more comparable to the Outback than the Crosstrek. However, the Forester sits lower than the Crosstrek, which is great for ease of loading cargo into the car, but not so great when it comes to getting over off-road obstacles. The Forester gets a 2.5 liter, 182-hp Boxer engine, but is only available in CVT guise, and surprisingly enough, returns similar fuel consumption figures at a combined mileage of 29 mpg. Both cars have been awarded the prestigious Top Safety Pick+ award by the IIHS, so both will do an excellent job of keeping you safe. Pricing on the base Forester starts at $24,295, making it marginally more expensive than a base Crosstrek, giving buyers similar specification with greater levels of practicality. Those who like compact dimensions and car-like driving dynamics will love the Crosstrek, while family-minded folk would be better off with the Forester.