Article

2024 Subaru Crosstrek

Next-Generation Crosstrek Debuts in Chicago

Crosstrek first appeared a decade ago and quickly struck a chord with the purchasing public.  In the 2023 calendar year, the five-door crossover ranked as the second best-selling selection at Subaru in the U.S.  with 159,193 units, its best annual showing ever and a 2.6 percent increase from the previous calendar year.  The niche and nimble Subaru brand sold more than a million Crosstrek units since its inception. 

What to do for an encore?  Why not introduce an all-new third-generation effort to welcome in the 2024 model year.

What to do for a double encore?  Celebrate this all-new Generation’s U.S. debut at the 2023 Chicago Auto Show!
Check and double check…

With Gen Two Crosstrek’s supporting solid sales through a challenging post-pandemic era, this third go-round tilts evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Dimensions and engine selections return relatively unchanged from 2023. Expect a 10 percent stiffer chassis in 2024, stepping up ride quality and overall performance. 

Size wise, Crosstrek measures as a diminutive subcompact crossover based on Subaru’s long-running five-door Impreza platform.   It slots under the popular compact Forester crossover in Subaru’s chain of command. From Japanese, ‘Subaru’ translates into English as ‘Unite.’

No full-size pickup trucks or heavy body-on-frame sport utilities dot Subaru dealers, just small-to-midsize wagons, sedans and crossovers, the largest being the recently introduced three-row Ascent crossover. 

In the mid-1970s, Subaru introduced the first four-wheel drive passenger car sold in the U.S.  Until then, four-wheel drive relegated itself to larger pickup trucks or specific off-road vehicles, including many from the Jeep brand.

Subaru’s elaborate outdoor-themed floor display at the 2023 and 2024 Chicago Auto Shows hosted inside McCormick Place came replete with sensory mist and pine scents; a great backdrop for showcasing Crosstrek. Also along for the ride, large ‘Subaru Loves Pets’ section where furry quadrupeds temporarily drove attention away from Subaru’s acclaimed four-wheel drive system.

In fact, Subaru’s engrained marketing mantra reads, “all-wheel drive all the time in all vehicles” (well, almost all vehicles). It’s advanced, proactive symmetrical all-wheel drive system arrives with technologies dependent upon trim level and transmissions.   The lone exception? The low-volume, two-door, rear-drive Subaru BRZ which entered the fray in 2013 (and automotive twin to the Toyota GR 86). 

Subaru’s always active system (integrated into the transmission unlike most competitors) sends a balanced distribution of power to all wheels at the same time, eliminating under and over steer while contributing to faster acceleration.  Subaru’s been tweaking all-wheel drive platforms longer than anyone with dependable results in the under $35,000 price range.

All Subarus powered by internal combustion engines feature horizontally-opposed ‘Boxer’ designs with pistons lying flat at 180 degrees, riding shallower in the engine compartment. The result is a low center of gravity improving handling and agility. This, coupled with double wishbone suspension, creates a stable environment for all onboard.

Crosstrek trim levels include Base, Premium, Sport, Limited and all-new-for 2024 Wilderness (the most trail-capable of the bunch). 

The 8.7 inches of ground clearance (which jumps to 9.3 inches in the Wilderness trims compliments of longer coil springs and shock absorbers) measures higher than most competitors, serving as an added value if lightly off-roading, but don’t let that distance dissuade getting onboard.  It still maintains a user-friendly step-in height for both front and second-row riders, even those with limited mobility (temporary or long-term) as my shot-gun riding spouse can thankfully and gratefully attest to.  Both dimensions  became available for testing and impressed us during our travels.

The uni-body, car-type platform Subaru promotes provides lighter weight than body-on-frame sport utility vehicles, but not deep off-roading capabilities.  That said, Crosstrek handles just about anything a Midwestern off-road trail throws its way and the ubiquitous mounds of wet snow during blizzard season thanks to the well-respected all-wheel drive technology.

Both available engines largely carry over from the second generation; a 2.0-liter four-cylinder (standard in Base and Premium trims) cranks out 152 ponies while a larger, 2-5-liter four banger (Sport, Limited and Wilderness availability) ups the horses to 182 with slightly more low-end torque than 2023. Gone from the previous two generations, a low-take-rate six-speed manual transmission.  Both engines now connect to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) designed with the built-in, active torque split symmetrical all-wheel drive.

Within Wilderness trims, a transmission oil cooler increases towing capacity that reaches 3,500 pounds (more than double that of the non-Wilderness bunch). Also, the continuously variable transmission receives a revised tuning, optimizing low speed traction and travel over slippery surfaces.

Base, Limited and Premium trims include an X-Mode and Hill decent control (automatically slows the vehicle down without depressing the brake pedal if descending a formidable incline).  Sport and Wilderness trim changes things up with a dual-function X-Mode adding snow/dirt and deep/snow mode selectable settings.

The upgraded 2.5-liter four cylinder adds approximately $2,850 to the bottom line and rates as a worthy investment as the extra horses are appreciated and warranted when stacked against the base 2.0-liter especially if more than one occupant rides onboard.  During our testing time both engines got sampled. Engines accept regular, 87-octane fuel in the spacious (for a subcompact) 16.6-gallon tank.

Fuel economy rates below that of comparable subcompacts with the 2.0-liter four checking in at 27 miles per gallon city, 34 mpg highway, and the 2.5-liter four listing one mile less in each category.  Wilderness trims also include the 2.5-liter engine, but with 25 mpg city/29 mpg highway results.

All trims receive active safety upgrades built into Subaru’s Eyesight-branded suite of technology (Subaru likens Eyesight as an extra set of eyes working behind the scenes helping drivers manage the road).

New this year, automatic emergency steering helping to avoid a potential collision when sensed with split-second steering and braking support.  Pre-collision detection applies full brake force also during potential sudden impact situations while pre-collision throttle management reduces engine power to minimize impact damage.

Pricing for a Base trim starts at $24,995, unchanged from the 2023’s starting price but now with additional tech and safety add ons; one of the lowest-priced offerings in Subaru’s lineup.

Subaru does a good job of simplifying the buying process with a very limited number of available factory option groups. No packages offer up in base models with Premium and Sport trims adding a power moonroof/rear-cross traffic alert-power driver seat package.  Limited trims add a power moonroof and safety upgrade package. 

Our Sport trim tester with larger four-cylinder engine started at $28,995 with the moon roof option package teamed with recommended radar enhanced cross-traffic alert ($1,920) for a $32,210 bottom line with $1,295 destination charge. 

Subaru also dropped off a Premium trim with the base 2.0-liter four banger.  Starting price checked in at $26,145. Destination charge added $1,295.  The safety upgrade package ($2,245) added rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist brought the bottom line to $29,685. 

A Wilderness trim tester (our favorite) started at $32,195 with a $2,270 option package including upgraded speaker and power moonroof for a $35,810 bottom line including the $1,345 destination charge, the most opulent Crosstrek.

The blue Sport tester included gold-colored exterior highlights including narrow bar-like strips along the lower side doors just above black composite framing helping to reduce rock ding damage.  The gold-highlighted word Sport spells out along the lower right side of the hatch and front side doors with strap-like pull openers. Premium trims do away with gold highlights.

Wilderness adds a sizable, anti-glare matte black hood decal and large all-terrain tires mounted onto 17-inch alloy wheels. Cladding surrounding the wheel wells offers a bolder design than the lower four.  A Geyser Blue exterior hue remains exclusive to Subaru’s Wilderness sub family of vehicles (Forester and Outback crossovers also add the Wilderness touch). Gold bar-like bricks highlight the roof rack.

All feature roof lines tapering downward towards the hatch after reaching the apex at the thin A pillar. Pull strap style door openers share body color.  Overall, the 2024 version carries forward a familiar Crosstrek silhouette.

Standard now in all trims, steering responsive headlights which move in time with steering wheel turns to better illuminate what’s awaiting in front. The LED bulb ensconces within narrow housing with the top portion in line with the hood opening as it wraps around to the side fender.

The manual-operated rear lift gate features a comparatively wide 41-inches of width and a low-liftover style floor welcome if loading bulky items. A thick, water repellant floor mat is ready for rugged loads and cleans up easily with a traditional garden hose.  Lift up the mat and flat floor to find a temporary spare tire, a disappearing extra in many competitors.

Inside, a deep-set, instrument panel remains easily interpreted at a glance, still employing a welcome, analog design with two circular gauges and dials (left, side tachometer, right-side speedometer) with smaller half-moon inserts (temperature left, fuel-level right).  In between the orbs, a small digital window displaying simple animation and five panels to choose from via the steering wheel’s 9 o’clock region.

All trims sans Base now include a sizeable, portrait-style 11.6-inch multi-function touch screen branded under Subaru’s inhouse Starlink connected service namesake welcoming wireless Bluetooth paring and hands-free operation of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (along with wireless charging in upper trims).  Although touch sensitive, front riders also enjoy two old-school twist knobs, one for volume, the second controlling station selection.

Also tucked into the screen’s upper left corner, a circular red button summoning hazard flashers.  Flanking the screen, vertical air vents. At each end of the dash, the style trades for a horizontal slant. Touch-sensitive HVAC functions are built into the lower portion of the long screen.

Two illuminated USB port sizes (A and C) in front and back integrate with Smartphones. Row two situates two adults in optimal comfort even though this subcompact markets as a five-seater.  Manual pull tabs at each top end of the rear backrests welcome a 60-40 fold-down split.

As with the exterior, Sport trims enjoy inside golden highlights in the form of stitching on side doors, steering wheel and easy-grab, sizable mechanically sliding transmission shifter found between golden stitched bucket seating with additional comfort padding for 2024. No gold highlights for Premium trims, just basic black.

Wilderness trims come standard with water-resistant upholstered seats with a Star-Tex material and a five-sided golden Wilderness pentagon logo embossed upon front seat headrests. Protective, water-friendly rubberized matts in both rows and the cargo area easily remove for quick sprays from the garden hose. The cargo and front mattes feature the five-sided Wilderness golden logo, which also spots outside on front side doors and back hatch.  Gold stitching adorns seats, doors and the transmission shifter.  Outside, gold highlights adorn front/rear bumpers and gold-like structural bars highlight the roof rack.

Not only did the 2024 Crosstrek make its U.S. debut in Chicago (sans the Wilderness trim which bowed few months later in New York), several trims (specifically, the three models with the larger, 2.5-liter engine) now assemble at the Japanese company’s sole U.S. production facility a couple hours southeast of the Second City in Lafayette, Indiana.  The first two generations were built in Japan where Base and Premium trims continue production.

In December of 2022, Subaru debuted its first ever all-electric vehicle, the five-door 2023 model year Solterra crossover.  It’s a manufacturing project in conjunction with Toyota utilizing the same EV platform marketed under the alpha-numerically named bZ4X. 

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Sport trim

Price as tested:  $32,210
Engine: 2.5-liter four cylinder
Horsepower: 182
Wheelbase: 105.1 inches
Length: 176.4 inches
Height: 63.0 inches
Width: 70.9 inches
Curb weight: 3,332 pounds
Fuel Economy: 26 mpg city/33 mpg highway
Powertrain warranty: Five years/60,000 miles
Assembly:  Lafayette, Indiana