Evolutionary or revolutionary?
That’s the question Subaru’s product development team faced when it came time to develop the third-generation Crosstrek crossover. Launched just 11 years ago, it’s become the brand’s fastest-growing product line and is number one in the U.S. market’s subcompact SUV segment.
Tinkering with that sort of success can be risky — which is why the Japanese automaker chose the more conservative route when rolling out the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek. Set to reach showrooms in the coming months, those familiar with the current model aren’t going to be shocked by what they find. But that doesn’t mean Subaru is resting on its laurels.
To get a feel for the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek, TheDetroitBureau.com headed to Palm Springs for a rambling drive through Joshua Tree National Park, along with a brief run off-road to test the crossover’s chops.
Unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show in February, the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek hews close to the look of the second-generation SUV, though the overall look is a wee bit more angular and aggressive.
The gen-three crossover offers buyers a choice of two powertrains, starting with the carryover base 2.0-liter package, while adding a more peppy 2.5-liter version of Subaru’s trademark boxer engine. As with all but one other Subie model, all-wheel drive comes standard with Crosstrek, and the X-Mode feature gives it extra grip when facing moderate off-road trails.
Playing to the younger buyers who make up most of the Crosstrek audience, Subaru put a premium on technology. There’s an updated version of the automaker’s Eyesight suite of advanced driver assistance systems. And the 2024 model features a larger touchscreen for the infotainment system, and other new digital features — though you’ll have to go for one of the higher trim packages, or add an option, to get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The design theme for the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek was “ready for adventure spirit.” It just as well might have been “don’t rock the boat.” See both new and old models side-by-side and a casual observer might be excused if they can’t tell the third-generation crossover apart from the second.
That’s not to say Subaru didn’t make some welcome revisions. The new model now has a frameless version of Crosstrek’s hexagonal grille, paired with newer, more compact headlights. The overall design is a bit more of an angular and sculpted, with broader shoulders emphasizing performance. New air outlets improve aerodynamics, Subaru claims, while reducing body sway due to air trapped around the front bumpers. There’s also a new version of the roof rack which, the automaker notes, is a highly popular feature with Crosstrek buyers.
Base models ride on 17-inch wheels, with the Sport and Limited grades switching to 18-inch alloy wheels.
What you see isn’t all you get, however. As we confirmed while driving the 2024 Crosstrek, Subaru enhanced both the ride and safety of the 2024 Crosstrek by, among other things, increasing the crossover’s structural rigidity by 10% by using new welding techniques and more structural adhesives. Overall, the new Crosstrek line is at least 50 pounds lighter than the outgoing model, depending upon trim package.
The stiffer body also translates into a quieter and more comfortable ride in a cabin that gets a number of welcome updates.
Younger buyers make up the vast majority of Crosstrek buyers, so Subaru wisely put an emphasis on new or upgraded technologies. That starts with the addition of an 11.6-inch touchscreen for the first time. It operates the automaker’s Starlink Multimedia Plus infotainment system. It’s available on upper trim models, with base versions continuing to get dual 7-inch displays.
There’s a new electric parking brake that frees up space. And Subaru introduces new “anti-sway” seats that reduce the amount of bouncing around front passengers are likely to experience, whether going off-road or experiencing the sort of bumps and potholes we’ve had to get used to here in Michigan.
And if you’re on a long trek you’ll likely appreciate the addition of newer and larger cupholders. Add them up, Subaru claims, and they can hold 35 cups of your favorite beverages.
Subaru will offer two different powertrain options on the 2024 Crosstrek, initially launching with a 2.0-liter boxer-4 engine making 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. Sport and Limited models will be upgraded to a 2.5-liter boxer engine making 182 hp and 178 lb-ft.
Both engines are paired to a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT), power then directed to all four wheels using the Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. All versions feature torque vectoring which helps direct power to the outer wheels to assist handling while corner.
Drivers can activate Subaru’s X-Mode to minimize wheel spin on steep and slippery surfaces, while Hill Descent Control serves as a low-speed, off-road form of cruise control.
The 2.0-liter package delivers 27 mpg city, 34 highway and 29 combined. The 2.5-liter powertrain musters 26/33/29.
Those are decent numbers, nonetheless, the fact that Subaru has announced no plans to launch a hybrid version of the Crosstrek is one disappointment. It simply needs to add that option these days.
Safety and Technology
The new 11.6-inch touchscreen is the most obvious tech update to the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek. It makes it easier to operate, as well as to see maps on vehicles equipped with onboard navigation. It’s also got more features built into the automaker’s Starlink infotainment system.
But buyers — especially parents — will likely appreciate the upgrades to Subaru’s now-familiar EyeSight suite of advanced driver assistance systems. The third-generation Crossstrek gets a new stereo camera system with a broader field of view. That’s useful in a variety of ways, notably spotting a vehicle that might run a red light as you enter an intersection.
On Crosstrek, the basic EyeSight package offers functions such as forward collision warning with auto-braking. You can upgrade with features such as rear cross-traffic alert, lane-change assist and blind-spot detection.
Crosstrek also offers several features to enhance driving, especially when off-roading. That includes the X-Mode system that enhances grip on rough and uneven road surfaces, as well as its Hill Descent Control feature.
The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek goes up against an expansive — and growing — list of competitors including the likes of the Honda HR-V, the Hyundai Kona, the Mazda CX-30, Nissan’s Rogue Sport and the Jeep Compass. As I discovered during my daylong sojourn, it fares far more than adequately in the subcompact SUV segment.
I spent much of my time wandering through the Joshua Tree National Park. The new Crosstrek is well-suited for lengthy drives like that, the stiffer new body better equipped to soak up bumps and handle the occasional sharp curve. The new anti-sway seats are another clear plus.
Steering is precise, with a good on-center feel. You get a good feel for the road, with less vibration passed up through the steering wheel than with the outgoing Crosstrek.
Subaru built a detour into my drive route, giving me a chance to check out how well the crossover handles off-road. The automaker’s familiar Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system is, on its own, quite competent in a variety of different scenarios. The new X-Mode feature enhances grip, as I was able to experience, when charging up a deeply rutted desert hillside.
That off-road system is complemented by the new Hill Descent Control, essentially an off-road cruise control feature. Heading back down the steep grade I simply chose a preferred speed and it safely crept back down without my needing to flutter back and forth from throttle to brakes.
If there’s one weakness with the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek it’s the base 2.0-liter engine. At 152 hp it’s quite acceptable — until you want to make a quick pass. It’ll get you there, but it takes longer than many drivers might expect. Going forward, I’m betting Subaru will experience strong demand for the new 2.5-liter boxer engine. Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait for another chance to drive that package.
2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium Specifications
|Dimension||L: 176.4 inches/W: 71 inches/H: 63.6 inches/Wheelbase: 105.1 inches|
|Powertrain||2.0-liter, DOHC boxer 4-cylinder engine; CVT|
|Fuel Economy||27 mpg city/34 mpg highway/29 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $26,195; As tested: $29,685 including $1,295 destination charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
While some potential buyers might have wished for a more substantial update of the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek, I’m confident the automaker chose the right path for the new crossover, not trying to mess with success.
Considering sales of the outgoing model have been running at record levels, there seems little doubt demand will continue to grow once the third-generation model reaches showrooms this spring.
It will help to have the base model start at the same $26,195 — including delivery fees — as the outgoing version. The top-line 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Limited model will start at $32,190.
Look for the base model, with its 2.0-liter boxer engine, to start rolling into U.S. showrooms this spring. That version will continue to be imported from Japan. For the first time, however, Subaru’s assembly plant in Lafayette, Indiana will assemble models with the new 2.5-liter powertrain. That model will arrive a little later this year.
2024 Subaru Crosstrek — Frequently Asked Questions
What is the fuel economy of the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek?
The new Crosstrek will offer two engine options, starting out with a 2.0-liter package delivering 27 mpg city, 34 highway and 29 combined. The 2.5-liter powertrain will get 26/33/29.
Is the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek worth buying?
The Subaru Crosstrek has become the Japanese automaker’s best-selling model line for several reasons. It’s attractive, fun to drive and delivers good fuel economy. It delivers reasonably good reliability and has moderate off-road capabilities.
What products compete with the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek?
The compact crossover/SUV segment has become increasingly crowded. Primary competitors include the Honda HR-V, the Hyundai Kona, the Mazda CX-30, Nissan’s Rogue Sport and the Jeep Compass, among others.