The new-for-2023 Subaru Crosstrek replaces the XV in Australia but does the same thing – it’s a high-riding hatchback that promises a bit of adventure, with chunky design and standard all-wheel drive.
This remains a point of difference in a small SUV segment led by urban-focused rivals. Think of vehicles like the Mitsubishi ASX, Mazda CX-30, Hyundai Kona, Kia Seltos, Nissan Qashqai and Toyota Corolla Cross.
Subaru’s engineers have made a series of enhancements rather than re-writing the script. The evolutionary result is typical from a company with particularly high degrees of brand loyalty.
Here we drive what is the most appealing Crosstrek for value-shoppers, and right now who isn’t that? It’s the entry variant in a five-model line-up and the only one you might nab for under $40,000 on the road.
It’s also in pretty good supply, according to Subaru, unlike the more expensive grades.
Our base model’s $34,990 list price translates to an expected drive-away figure of about $40,000, with the exact figure depending on where you live and which colour you want.
That’s quite reasonable actually, particularly given the standard all-wheel drive since many competitors only offer AWD on the more luxurious spec levels, and in some cases not at all.
This base Crosstrek may have a leaner list of features in some aspects, yet compares favourably to the Kia Seltos Sport+ AWD ($39,300), Mazda CX-30 G25 Touring AWD ($40,310), and Toyota Corolla Cross GXL AWD Hybrid ($42,250).
There’s no doubt this is one car with a unique selling point and a bit of character, and that’s not something all vehicles today can profess to offer.
2023 Subaru Crosstrek pricing:
- Subaru Crosstrek AWD 2.0L: $34,990
- Subaru Crosstrek AWD 2.0R: $38,490
- Subaru Crosstrek AWD 2.0S: $41,490
- Subaru Crosstrek AWD Hybrid L: $38,590
- Subaru Crosstrek AWD Hybrid S: $45,090
Prices exclude on-road costs
Even the base Crosstrek unlocks as you pull the handle, so long as the key fob is in your pocket, and starts via button rather than twisting the key in the ignition barrel. Not all entry-level rivals offer this.
The seats adjust manually for height and reach, and offer pretty good degrees of support. Interestingly the pattern resembles a bunch of Mercedes-Benz three-pointed stars, or is that just me?
You don’t get a leather-wrapped steering wheel in this base car, with the plastic lending a real ‘rental-spec’ feel. I suppose on the plus side, my wedding band didn’t scratch it…
In typical Subaru form this wheel’s spokes are full of buttons and rocker switches, but while it all looks a bit confusing at first, the layout is actually very intuitive.
Case in point, there separate controls for the adaptive cruise and the speed limiter – unlike so many cars that make you toggle between these functions via the same button. Zero ambiguity here.
The instruments are analogue and flank a small digital display with your speed, and a diagram for the lane-keeping aid. The layout is all form over function.
Aside from the plastic trim inlays that look a little like carbon-fibre, there’s not much in here that makes the interior design stand out. It’s quite staid, but also quite sensible.
One big improvement over the XV is the Crosstrek’s 11.6-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen, although the real-estate is somewhat wasted without full-size sat-nav maps or multiple camera views (in the base model).
Regardless it offers simple menu tiles, wireless Apple CarPlay, and some cool graphics showing you things like torque distribution between the axles, and your current roll angle.
It’s a bit unfortunate that functions such as fan speed and the transmission Auto Hold are buried in sub menus, but at least the temperature controls still take the forms of buttons.
Further gripes include the tinny sounding standard audio system and the design of the standard 10W wireless charging pad – which isn ‘t rubberised, and therefore prone to sending your phone sliding around in corners, thereby losing its charging status.
The centre tunnel is trimmed in hard and cheap-feeling plastic trims but is at least sturdily mounted to the floor. Cabin storage includes a generous console and glovebox, and bottle holders in each door.
The back seats meanwhile offer quite good knee-room by class standards, with my 194cm frame able to fit back there, while my head just scraped the roof. It certainly offers more back-seat space than something like a Toyota C-HR, and the side windows let lots of light in.
However, there are no rear air vents or USB ports.
The boot volume with the 60:40 folding rear seats up and in use, is a pretty modest 291 litres, which is smaller than most competitor SUVs on account of the shallow floor – under which sits a temporary space-saver spare wheel and tyre.
It’s well off the likes of the Corolla Cross (380L minimum), and it can’t even match the Mazda CX-30 (317L minimum).
The engine in this base model is a 115kW/196Nm 2.0-litre horizontally opposed (Boxer) four-cylinder petrol engine.
It’s mated to a CVT automatic with paddle shifters and Subaru’s symmetrical AWD system with active torque splitting. It comes standard with idle stop/start and a button on the wheel to sharpen engine responses at low speeds.
The AWD system has an X-Mode button that optimises the powertrain and traction control responses for slippery surfaces, as well as hill-descent control.
Subaru claims fuel consumption of 7.2 litres per 100km on the combined cycle and it can run on 91 RON petrol. The 63-litre tank also promises a long driving range. It’s rated to tow up to 1400kg (braked).
There’s also a mild-hybrid option available for an additional $3600. This doesn’t make much of a reduction to fuel use on the combined cycle (6.5L/100km) but does perform 20 per cent better in urban cycle testing (7.4L/100km versus 9.4L/100km).
The naturally-aspirated petrol engine comes with a smooth stop/start system, but don’t expect to blast off the line quickly.
The pace off the mark is leisurely and the CVT elicits a monotone driveline drone.
However once you get higher up into the rev band the response improves (power peaks at 6000rpm), and the transmission mimics traditional stepped ratios via paddles if you want it to.
The fuel use claim was fairly accurate though, with my highway average sitting at 6.5L/100km, climbing to 8.0L/100km on the mixed loop.
The full-time AWD system is excellent though, and more capable than the Yokohama Geolander tyres allow it to be when stock.
With 220mm of clearance, X-Mode that tweaks the stability control to suit a given terrain, and hill-descent control, it’s capable on trails.
It’s not a Suzuki Jimny or Toyota LandCruiser, but it’s far more confidence-inspiring off the bitumen than any rival. On a side note, higher grades of Crosstrek actually come with a second X-Mode program.
Driving dynamics on the road are also quite good, balancing ride comfort and body control, meaning it feels composed and car-like in corners and fairly unruffled over expansion joints and potholes.
Intrusion of noise, vibration and harshness is also down.
One observation is the feather-light electric power steering, which doesn’t add much in the way of resistance in more dynamic driving.
The rear suspension is independent, in the form of double-wishbones, which may explain that pokey boot.
The takeaway here is that the Crosstrek’s chassis AWD system could easily handle a gutsier engine, like a small-displacement turbo with more low-down torque.
Crosstrek AWD 2.0L + Hybrid L highlights:
- All-wheel drive
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Space-saver spare wheel
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- LED headlights
- Dusk-sensing headlights
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Black roof rails
- Privacy glass
- Rear parking sensors
- Cloth seat trim
- Manual seat adjustments
- Dual-zone climate-control
- 11.6-inch portrait touchscreen
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- USB-A and USB-C ports
- Wireless phone charger
- 6-speaker audio system
- Digital radio
- Reversing camera
To see what features you get in the higher specification levels, read our range-wide 2023 Subaru Crosstrek price and specs story.
Colour choices include Crystal White Pearl, Ice Silver Metallic, Magnetite Grey Metallic, Crystal Black Silica, Pure Red, Offshore Blue Metallic, Sun Blaze Pearl, Oasis Blue, Sapphire Blue Pearl, and Horizon Blue Pearl.
We should also note the particularly large range of Subaru accessories to sex up your Crosstrek, including various types of rooftop cross bars and STI Performance design parts.
The Crosstrek is yet to receive an ANCAP safety rating, but comes standard with a lot of driver-assist aids powered by Subaru’s EyeSight camera system.
These features all seemed to work quite well in our experience, with the vehicle able to steer itself around gradual corners, mirror the speed of the car ahead, and give you a stern warning if the onboard camera spots you not paying attention.
It even chimes if you’re at the traffic lights and the car ahead moves off without you following suit.
Another good feature, which is becoming more common across many brands now, is the intelligent speed limiter. Once set, it automatically adjusts to a changed speed limit provided the camera recognises the roadside speed sign.
Standard safety features include:
- 9 airbags
- Dual front, dual front side, dual curtain
- Driver’s knee
- Far side
- Front passenger seat cushion
- EyeSight Driver Assist:
- Front Pre-Collision Braking (AEB)
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane keep assist
- Lane centring assist
- Lane departure prevention
- Lane departure warning
- Lane Sway Warning
- Lead Vehicle Start Alert
- Pre-Collision Braking System (AEB)
- Pre-Collision Throttle Management
- Autonomous emergency steering
- Brake light recognition
- Intelligent speed limiter
- Speed limiter
- Speed sign recognition
- Wide-angle monocular camera
- New stereo camera with improved image recognition
- Subaru Vision Assist:
- Blind-spot monitoring
- EyeSight Assist Monitor
- Lane change assist
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Rear parking sensors
- Reverse Automatic Braking (AEB)
- Front side radar
- Driver Monitoring System – Driver Focus:
Crosstrek 2.0R adds:
- Subaru Vision Assist:
- Front View Monitor
- High-beam assist
- 360-degree cameras
- Side View Monitor
The Crosstrek is covered by a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and 12 months of free Subaru Roadside Assistance.
The company offers capped-price servicing and has made efforts of late to make its servicing costs more in-line with competitors.
- 12 months or 15,000km: $346.25
- 24 months or 30,000km: $473.47
- 36 months or 45,000km: $420.60
- 48 months or 60,000km: $771.74
- 60 months or 75,000km: $361.13
This is an average price of $475 per visit for standard scheduled servicing costs only.
The Subaru Crosstrek offers something many rivals don’t: character.
Granted, like the XV, it remains underpowered and doesn’t set any new benchmarks for boot space and back-seat comfort. And this base grade, while priced well, is deliberately less appealing than the next variant up.
That being said, if you like the chunky looks and the Subaru brand promise (soft-road ability paramount) resonates with you, then this car will in all likelihood make you a happy customer.
Subaru loyalists and those who seek a small crossover with a sense of adventure will be reasonably well-served.
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