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Sunday, July 30, 2023

Review: 2024 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i-S

Whenever a carmaker comes up with a new nameplate, it comes with the expectation that the overall experience would be new and transformative. Yet when Subaru decided to axe the “XV” name in favor of “Crosstrek,” the resulting crossover feels like it took two steps forward and two steps back. It continues the Subaru XV’s careful, and at times, painfully slow evolution. To be fair, the crossover formerly known as the XV, is hard to beat. Among its competitors—the beautiful Mazda CX-30 among them—the Crosstrek is the one we’d take in a heartbeat. It’s a bit boring, sure, but it’s just so well-attuned to our road conditions be it in design, packaging, and safety.

There’s a running joke that Subaru designers always leave exterior design to the last minute, and it’s no different with the Crosstrek. Although it has more style compared to the last-generation Subaru XV, the generational leap isn’t exactly huge. Some even mistake it for a refresh. Regardless, the boring-as-heck design works well for our road conditions, and not for the most obvious reason. The extensive body cladding, superlative ground clearance, and generous tire sidewalls are all ticks in the pro column, but above all, the design results in excellent all-around visibility. With safety being the brand’s main tenet, we’d say they’ve nailed this aspect down absolutely.

Dimensionally, the Crosstrek is shorter than the previous Subaru XV, but the cut was more to reduce the front overhang. Despite the marginally longer wheelbase, the interior room remains the same. The front occupants have nothing to complain about—they’re good in every dimension. For those at the back, the experience is mixed. Outboard passengers are fine, but the middle occupant will have to navigate the high floor bump and low ceiling (due to the sunroof). Also, it’s worth noting that Subaru missed the boat completely in giving it any sort of rear ventilation. There’s a pair of USB ports—one Type A and one Type C; and that’s about it.

Those expecting typical luxury accoutrements like a soft-padded dash will likewise be disappointed in the new Crosstrek. While the previous Subaru XV had it (with contrasting orange stitching for good measure), it’s been chucked for what the brand calls a “multi-material structure.” It’s supposed to help the Crosstrek embrace its rugged nature, and it’s playful and daring for sure, but it also cheapens out the entire experience. If only they retained the soft-touch material on the dash’s gray portion (like they did on the door cards), it would have been great. At least the hard plastics aren’t scratchy. Also, Subaru’s finally learned to add Easter Eggs too and two of them are found on the rear floor step and cargo lip.

About the cargo area, this is where the Subaru Crosstrek took a big step back. The Subaru XV wasn’t really known for cargo space, but at least the hold was flat, and when the rear seats are folded, can create a continuous space. Here, it’s no longer flat; it’s raised. This reduces the height of objects you can fit in without having to retract the tonneau cover. What’s worst is that you’d think the unsightly bump would at least accommodate a full-sized spare tire underneath, right? Sorry, it’s still a t-type spare.

Old school enthusiasts will be taken aback by the Crosstrek’s gaggle of screens and displays. The gauge cluster alone displays 14 pieces of information at any given time (10 of them all crammed into the 4.2-inch display). This is on top of what’s displayed on the 11.6-inch center screen. But thanks to Subaru’s aeronautical background, they’re easy to use. We love the fact that you can geek out on all sorts of info, including the amount of fuel (in milliliters) the auto start/stop system’s saving you. If there’s one negative aspect, it’s that several vehicle functions are only accessible via the touchscreen (like engaging and disengaging Auto Hold). Thankfully, there’s a permanent shortcut that brings up the driving and driver assist page, so the pertinent controls are always just a screen away. Some, like the climate control also have a customizable home screen button.

Like the previous Subaru XV, the new Crosstrek rides on the Subaru Global Platform. However, it’s been updated to accommodate learnings from the WRX like an expanded use of structural adhesives. The suspension mounting points have been firmed up too. This results in a much more solid structure, enabling it to quell the worst patched Manila roads. It also does so with utmost confidence and poise thanks to its long travel suspension. However, overall ride quality is still close to the old Subaru XV. It’s pliant and controlled, but again, from generation to generation, it’s not transformative.

If anything, the two biggest mechanical improvements here are its steering and NVH. Now sporting a dual pinion steering setup, the Crosstrek is much more responsive to steering inputs. There’s still not much in way of feel, but the slack, especially around the center has been drastically reduced. Moreover, because Subaru opted to split the motor-assist shaft and operation shaft, it quells vibrations and possible snapbacks when hitting deep ruts. When it comes to overall NVH, the switch over to Falken tires and the use of felt-like sound absorbing material in the wheel wells (finally) enables people aboard to carry out a decent conversation.

New to the Crosstrek is an electronic brake booster. Replacing the traditional vacuum servo, it’s supposed to help improve the performance of its pre-collision system. However, because it doesn’t have any negative effect on pedal feel or response, we’re neutral about this development. It works seamlessly, and doesn’t require any sort of readjustment.

What could have been improved on the Crosstrek is its powertrain. CVTs are already known to be power-sapping gearboxes, but because the carryover engine’s saddled with increased curb weight (1,519 kilograms for the Crosstrek 2.0i-S), the effects are magnified. Regardless of drive mode (there are two of them), it’s just gutless. Subjectively, with all the CVT’s whine, you’d think the powertrain’s doing its job. Stop and go traffic’s fine, but clock it and 100 km/h takes 10.5 seconds—0.1 seconds slower than before. It’s also quite lazy when overtaking traffic, especially in the key 40 to 80 km/h range. The 2.0-liter flat-4 simply spins to 3,000 rpm, stays there, and that’s it. No forward surge of power. Fuel economy’s also not its strong suit, achieving just 8.77 km/L at a relatively brisk 22 km/h average—and that’s with the idle start-stop on.

Another oddity with the Crosstrek is its equipment level. Again, safety is its main selling point, but it’s just odd that its transformation from Subaru XV to Crosstrek, results in less safety equipment despite the P 110,000 price increase (P 2,018,000 SRP). Missing in this update are the blind spot indicators, rear cross traffic alert, and a 360-degree camera. You do gain the most advanced version of Subaru EyeSight and its increased functionality, but this addition is offset by equipment that was already standard before. Again, two steps forward, two steps back.

The Crosstrek name itself isn’t new—it’s been in use for the North American market since 2012. This tells you that Subaru, despite being a Japanese automaker serving a global audience, is putting all its eggs to satisfy its biggest market, the U.S. of A. And that way of thinking is visible in their newest compact crossover. No longer is about performance; heck, it’s no longer about being oddballs. Instead, in trying to increase their foothold in the land of hamburgers and barbecue, they’re making utility sexy. And the Crosstrek is successful at just that. It’s not the prettiest, fastest, or fanciest crossover money can buy, but as a package, it’s hard to beat. Now, whether it has to do with our westernized way of thinking—we do love our McDonalds and Taylor Swift—but the Crosstrek feels well-suited to local road conditions. It’s got its shortcomings for sure, but it still comes out strong in the end.

2024 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i-S

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Bottom Line
Pros Well-suited to local road conditions, unbeatable packaging, excellent ride.
Cons Less equipment at a higher price, sluggish AF, cheap-feeling interior materials.
TL;DR Same same, but different.
Year Introduced 2023
Warranty 5 years / 140,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type Compact Crossover
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.0
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders F4
Maximum Output (PS @ rpm) 156 @ 6,000
Maximum Torque (Nm @ rpm) 196 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / ~95
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control Yes, Adaptive, w/ Low Speed Follow
Fuel Economy (km/L) @ Ave. Speed (km/h) 8.77 km/L @ 20 km/h
Fuel Tank Size (L) 63
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,480
Width (mm) 1,800
Height (mm) 1,600
Wheelbase (mm) 2,670
Curb Weight (kg) 1,519
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Vented Disc
Parking Brake Electric, w/ Auto Hold
Tires Falken Ziex ZE001 A/S 225/55 R 18 V (f & r)
Recommended Tire Pressure (PSI) 33 (front) / 32 (rear), partial load
33 (front) / 34 (rear), full load
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Rear
Parking Camera Year, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR w/ pre-tensioners x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Dual Mode X-Mode (w/ Hill Descent Control)
Pre-Collision Braking System
Pre-Collision Throttle Management
Lane Departure Warning
Lane Centering Control
Lead Vehicle Start Alert
Reverse Automatic Braking
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Active, w/ Cornering Lamps, Auto High Beam
Fog Lamps Front (LED), Rear
Light Operation Automatic
Wiper Operation Rain-Sensing
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 8-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Leather
2nd Row 60/40 Split-Fold, w/ Arm Rest
3rd Row None
Sunroof None
Multi-Information Display / Size Yes, 4.2-inch
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Auto-dimming
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Dual Zone
Audio System Stereo
USB Type A
USB Type C
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. I would rather get a jimny than this

    1. The Jimny is great for off-road, but terrible in the city:

  2. Disappointing, and here I thought they'd actually justify the price. It seems it really is for people who already own one and want a new model.

  3. Why did Subaru choose CVT over automatic transmission, is it to save on cost?

    1. So that when it breaks, you can't repair it

    2. The cvt is the main reason preventing me from getting one of these. Heard that it costs USD 8000 to replace that cvt.

  4. Better to get a Rav 4 Hybrid compared to this vehicle.

    1. Too expensive. Perhaps you're referring to the Corolla Cross Hybrid?

  5. Subaru actually started using the “Crosstrek” name back in 2016 not 2012

    1. Was called XV Crosstrek initially until they gained the rights to use the name from the bike manufacturer in 2016. By 2016, they managed to drop the XV name altogether for Crosstrek in the US market.

  6. Great review! Good thing I had to wait and see the Crosstrek personally before pulling the trigger on the XV. The lack of the 360 camera and the leather feel in the interior felt somewhat of a downgrade.

  7. Downgraded to justify it's mid-cycle 'refresh'. The retained msrp and discounts even before it's local release says everything. They'll still sell tho, nothing sells like discounts.

  8. More for less? A/C controls in HU? The previous gen looks like the better deal.

    1. If I were to be completely honest? Yes. Get the previous generation Subaru XV if you still can.

  9. For a car that advocates safety with their Eyesight, it's ironic to have an 11.6" screen to distract you and physical (and intuitive) buttons and knobs for basic functions.

    1. The screen's easy to hit, but I agree that they could have used physical controls for the climate controls rather than rely on the touchscreen. It's wasted screen space TBH.

    2. Trying to be a Tesla without the autonomous driving experience.

  10. Well suited to our roads. That's it? Was expecting that you would elaborate more on why this over the CX-30. Unless maybe you'll go offroading or would often drive with more than 4 people. Review is honest and direct except for the lack of elaboration regarding this over the CX-30. Mazda 3 dude here, just curious. Thank you.

    1. I didn't want it to sound like a comparison, but having driven a CX-30 for a year:

      Here's what I think:

      The main advantages of the XV/Crosstrek would be:
      - Maneuverability (quicker steering, quicker off-the-throttle response)
      - Visibility
      - Interior space
      - Build (no/less interior rattles)
      - Better tuned safety system
      - Better ground clearance/bump absorption for our roads

      The only things the CX-30 going for it would be:
      - Better fuel efficiency
      - Cargo room

      I also prefer the XV/Crosstrek's somewhat utilitarian looks for our roads. The extensive cladding makes it less susceptible to dings/scratches. The Subaru is what I'd drive everyday, while the Mazda is something I'd reserve for special occasions.

      You can also read the rest of our CX-30 long-term review in the links I provided in the wrap up.

  11. 2M msrp?? I'd get a CRV at that price point.

    1. Good luck getting a new CRV for 2m 😂

  12. As usual another subpar entry from Subaru. Premium Price for India level Cars.

  13. Correction. No auto-dimming rear view mirror like the XV.

    1. Our test drive unit had auto-dimming rearview mirror.


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