Subaru Crosstrek review

Category: Family SUV

The Crosstrek is strong off road but can't match rival family SUVs in other areas

Subaru Crosstrek front cornering
  • Subaru Crosstrek front cornering
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  • Subaru Crosstrek test drive
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  • Subaru Crosstrek front cornering
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  • Subaru Crosstrek front cornering
  • Subaru Crosstrek alloy wheel detail
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  • Subaru Crosstrek infotainment touchscreen
  • Subaru Crosstrek sunroof
  • Subaru Crosstrek front cornering
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  • Subaru Crosstrek test drive
  • Subaru Crosstrek boot open
  • Subaru Crosstrek interior driver display
  • Subaru Crosstrek right driving
  • Subaru Crosstrek front cornering
  • Subaru Crosstrek front right driving
  • Subaru Crosstrek front cornering
  • Subaru Crosstrek alloy wheel detail
  • Subaru Crosstrek rear cornering
  • Subaru Crosstrek front right static
  • Subaru Crosstrek rear left static
  • Subaru Crosstrek front seat detail
  • Subaru Crosstrek back seats
  • Subaru Crosstrek steering wheel
  • Subaru Crosstrek infotainment touchscreen
  • Subaru Crosstrek sunroof
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Introduction

What Car? says...

Lots of SUVs look like they can cut it off road, but many would struggle to pull themselves out of a muddy car park. Why? Because most are either front-wheel drive or have four-wheel-drive systems that only work some of the time. The Subaru Crosstrek is a very different animal.

If it looks familiar, that’s because this family SUV is the replacement for the Subaru XV and continues that car’s formula of substance over style. So, while the Crosstrek looks pretty subtle from the outside, it gets plenty of standard kit and a hybrid engine that should in theory offer loads of efficiency.

As appealing as that sounds, it’s a formula that didn’t really work for the XV, which was outclassed by the likes of the Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai, Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq. The question is: has Subaru nailed it this time?

That’s what we’ll test in this review, as we rate the Subaru Crosstrek against the best family SUVs for performance, comfort, practicality and costs. Read on to find out more...

Overview

The Subaru Crosstrek is great off road and comes really well equipped – especially when it comes to safety kit. If you're planning to stay on the road, you'll be better off with one of its family SUV rivals, which will be cheaper to buy, more practical and cost less to run. If you do get a Crosstrek, we recommend the entry-level Limited trim.

  • High driving position
  • Lots of standard safety equipment
  • Great all-weather ability
  • Engine isn’t particularly efficient
  • Expensive to buy
  • Not that practical
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Every Subaru Crosstrek comes with a 134bhp 2.0-litre petrol mild-hybrid engine and has enough power for everyday driving.

The thing is, though, it never feels particularly quick, with official figures suggesting 0-62mph in 10.8 seconds – slower than the entry-level Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai. It’s most obvious at low speeds, where the Crosstrek’s turbocharged rivals feel more responsive.

As hybrids go, this one is particularly mild: you’ll be lucky to get a few seconds of electric propulsion at low speeds when you lift off the accelerator pedal. When the engine kicks in, the transition is nowhere near as smooth as in the best hybrids.

Matters aren’t helped by the Crosstrek’s CVT automatic gearbox. It has "simulated gears" you can cycle through using paddle shifters on the steering wheel, but is best left in auto mode, which usually does a good job of keeping progress smooth.

As is typical with a CVT box, the engine revs noisily high under heavy acceleration. The gearbox can also be slightly jerky when you’re on and off the accelerator around town.

When cornering, the Crosstrek resists body lean well and feels pretty agile. There’s plenty of grip and it always feels sure-footed, and the steering is well-weighted. As a result, it's more enjoyable to drive than the Qashqai, although neither matches the Seat Ateca in this area.

As is the case with the Ateca, the tidy handling comes at a price. The Crosstrek’s ride is firm and never fully settles, even on smooth roads, and you'll be jostled around in your seat if you go over a rough piece of asphalt.

Subaru CROSSTREK image
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Where the Crosstrek stands out from other family SUVs is in having genuine off-road capability. It has a generous 220mm of ground clearance and a driving setting called X-Mode, which optimises the standard all-wheel-drive system over tricky surfaces at low speeds, and includes hill descent control. Even on normal road tyres, it can take pretty hostile terrain in its stride.

Driving overview

Strengths Genuine all-weather and all-terrain ability; good to drive

Weaknesses Busy ride; rivals feel quicker at low revs

Subaru Crosstrek rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Taking a seat in the Subaru Crosstrek, you notice instantly how high the seat places you within the car, giving you the feeling of a commanding driving position. That’ll appeal to fans of bigger SUVs.

It’s also really easy to get comfortable, thanks to plenty of steering wheel and seat adjustment. If you go for the top-spec Touring trim, that seat adjustment is done electronically and includes adjustable lumbar support.

The high driving position means you have a really good view out of the front of the car at junctions and over the bonnet. The same can be said for rear visibility, with large rear windows and cut-outs in the rear pillars increasing the view over your shoulder. That makes parking pretty easy – something that’s aided further by the standard-fit rear-view camera.

The camera feed is displayed on a large, 11.6in portrait-oriented infotainment touchscreen that sits in the centre console and includes Bluetooth and DAB radio. You also get wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto smartphone mirroring, which is handy for running sat-nav apps through the touchscreen (only the range-topping Crosstrek Touring gets built-in sat-nav).

The infotainment system is easy enough to navigate, with big icons and a crisp display, but can be quite slow to react as you prod around. Aside from a volume knob and a couple of buttons to increase or decrease the interior temperature, everything is controlled through the touchscreen, which isn't ideal for user-friendliness but is the case in all the rival car models too.

The only real disappointment when it comes to the Crosstrek’s interior is the quality. You see, while you can’t knock the sturdiness of the materials, the majority of them feel quite cheap.

Even if you go for the Touring version, which gets a leather-trimmed steering wheel and leather seats, nearly everything else is made of scratchy plastics. It falls some way short of providing the kind of perceived quality you’ll experience in the Kia Sportage and Skoda Karoq.

Interior overview 

Strengths High driving position; great visibility; durable interior

Weaknesses Materials feel cheap; infotainment system can be slow

Subaru Crosstrek test drive

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front-seat passengers are unlikely to complain about the amount of space on offer in the Subaru Crosstrek: head room is good and the seat goes back far enough to accommodate taller drivers.

There’s a useful cubby with USB and 12V sockets in front of the gearlever, another cubby under the armrest and two cupholders. The door bins aren’t particularly big but will hold a few bits and pieces and a small bottle of water.

Those in the back won’t be quite so happy. Our sunroof-equipped test car had just enough head room for a six-footer, but even shorter occupants will find the area a little claustrophobic. That's a shame because leg room is excellent – better than in many rivals – and shoulder room is adequate for three people to sit side by side.

The Crosstrek has a 315-litre boot, which is pretty disappointing against the Kia Sportage’s 562-litres, the Nissan Qashqai’s 504 litres and the Seat Ateca’s 510 litres. Indeed, you’ll be hard pressed to find a family SUV with less boot space, largely because the Crosstrek doesn’t get a movable boot floor. We suspect that’s due to the all-wheel-drive system.

Still, the Crosstrek’s boot is a good square shape and there isn’t a sizeable drop down to the boot floor, making loading heavy objects easy enough. You can increase the space by dropping the rear seats, which split 60/40 and fold flat with the boot floor.

Practicality overview 

Strengths Plenty of front space; decent front storage

Weaknesses Small boot; limited rear head room

Subaru Crosstrek boot open

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

As a cash purchase, the Subaru Crosstrek will cost you more than the Kia Sportage, Nissan Qashqai, Seat Ateca and the Skoda Karoq. Granted, those rivals don’t come with four-wheel drive as standard, but if you don’t plan on driving through mud and snow often, they'll be better all round.

It will, at least, hold its value fairly well: it's predicted to depreciate slightly faster than the Sportage but slower than all the other models. That’s good news because it should help to keep monthly PCP finance payments competitive and ensure it’s worth more if you decide to sell in three years. Even so, it's worth checking for the latest offers on our New Car Deals pages

While the Crosstrek is a mild hybrid, it's not all that efficient. Indeed, the official WLTP figures suggest just 36.8mpg combined, while you can expect 44.1mpg from the Sportage 1.6 T-GDi and 44.8mpg from the Qashqai DIG-T 140 Mild Hybrid. Both those rivals promise lower CO2 emissions too, making them better choices as company cars if you want to keep your benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax down. 

In fact, those with an eye on efficiency, might actually want to spend very slightly more and go for the full hybrid Sportage 1.6 T-GDi ISG HEV, which boosts the combined economy to 51.4mpg and drops the CO2 emissions even more. 

There are two trim levels to choose from – entry-level Limited and top-spec Touring. We’d stick with Limited because it gets more than enough equipment, including 17in alloy wheels, LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, rear privacy glass, dual-zone climate control, touchscreen infotainment and parking aids.

Touring comes with 18in wheels, high-beam assist, an electric sunroof, built-in sat-nav and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The Crosstrek was too new to feature in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey as a model, but Subaru as a manufacturer came a disappointing 27th out of 32 car makers – way below Kia in eighth, Skoda in 16th and Seat in 18th.

You get a three-year/60,000-mile standard warranty, with the hybrid battery getting a separate eight-year/100,000-mile warranty. That matches what Nissan, Seat and Skoda offer, but is nowhere near as good as Kia’s seven-year/100,000-mile warranty. 

When it comes to safety, the Crosstrek hasn’t been tested by the experts at Euro NCAP so we can't give you a star rating. However, every version comes with lots of standard safety equipment, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-departure warning and prevention, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, reverse automatic braking and a driver attention monitoring system.

Costs overview 

Strengths Lots of safety equipment; lots of standard equipment

Weaknesses Not particularly efficient; expensive to buy; Subaru has a below-average reliability record

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Subaru Crosstrek interior driver display

FAQs

  • Yes – the Crosstrek has now joined the UK model range as a replacement for the outgoing Subaru XV.

  • If you like the look of the Crosstrek, you’ll want to also take a look at the Kia Sportage, the Seat Ateca, the Skoda Karoq and the Nissan Qashqai.

  • Every Crosstrek comes with Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system, which sends power to all wheels until one loses grip, in which case it’ll send power to the wheels with the most available grip.

At a glance
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Target Price from £33,530
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RRP price range £34,345 - £36,345
Number of trims (see all)2
Number of engines (see all)1
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)hybrid
MPG range across all versions 36.8 - 36.8
Available doors options 5
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £2,457 / £2,605
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £4,914 / £5,210
Available colours