- Excellent practicality, as you'd expect for a Subaru
- Far more off-road capable than most competitors
- Subtlely improves on the XV's philosophy
- Expensive servicing costs and only 12 months of roadside assistance
- Can feel sluggish thanks to carryover engine
- Not enough change for some buyers
We recently tested the new Subaru Crosstrek, which replaced the popular XV after a solid 10-year run in Australia. Essentially a lifted-up Impreza – a formula that Subaru has applied to various cars like the Outback for decades – the XV won many buyers over thanks to its great practicality and off-road ability, but presented in a smaller package for those not needing a huge SUV. The top-spec Crosstrek 2.0S largely carried the same formula over from the XV, so is it as successful in a lower-spec model? We tested the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0R to find out.
While there are no direct competitors for the XV if you only consider lifted hatchbacks (with the regular hatchback still on sale), there are a huge amont of small SUV rivals to the Crosstrek, including the Nissan Qashqai, Mazda CX-30, Toyota Corolla Cross, Honda HR-V, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross, Suzuki Vitara and even cars like the Skoda Karoq and Volkswagen T-Roc. Let’s see how the Crosstrek stands up to its SUV competitors.
Price & Equipment: 8.5/10
The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek range opens with the base 2.0L, which is priced from $34,990 plus on-road costs – the next-step-up 2.0R is the model we’re testing here, and it’s priced from $38,490 +ORC or around $43,000 drive away (depending on location). The top-spec petrol Crosstrek is the 2.0S, which is priced from $41,490 +ORC while two hybrid models – based on the L and S models – are also available.
The Crosstrek 2.0R has a lengthy standard equipment list. This includes 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, dusk-sensing automatic LED exterior lighting, auto wipers, keyless entry and wipers, heated and electric-folding mirrors, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, a 10-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, a 11.6-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, dual-zone climate control, a six-speaker sound system, four USB-C charging ports, a wireless phone charger, a front wiper de-icer, selectable driving modes, Subaru’s ‘X-Mode’ off-road system and an auto-dimming rear mirror.
Safety kit includes nine airbags, auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian, cyclist and intersection assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, driver attention monitoring, speed sign recognition, auto high beam, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, an intelligent speed limiter, lane keep assist, lane trace assist, automatic rear braking, rear parking sensors and a 360-degree camera. The Crosstrek is yet to be tested by ANCAP but considering Subaru’s strong safety record, we’d be surprised if it got less than five stars.
Colour options include ‘Crystal White Pearl’, ‘Ice Silver Metallic’, ‘Magnetite Grey Metallic’, ‘Crystal Black Silica’, ‘Pure Red’, ‘Oasis Blue’, ‘Sun Blaze Pearl’, ‘Sapphire Blue Pearl’ and ‘Horizon Blue Pearl’ and our test car’s ‘Offshore Blue Metallic’. All colours are refreshingly free of charge.
Stepping from the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0R to the 2.0S adds $3,000 to the price and adds satellite navigation, a sunroof, black or grey leather seating and a 10-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system. We think that’s worth consideration as those add ons are usually priced higher with other brands, but the 2.0R isn’t exactly lacking for standard equipment.
We think that the closest rivals to the Crosstrek 2.0R are the $40,710 +ORC (around $45,000 drive away) Mazda CX-30 G25 Touring AWD and the $36,740 +ORC (around $41,000 drive away) Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross LS AWD. The Crosstrek is better equipped than both of these options and it’s also newer. The Mazda comes with front parking sensors, satellite navigation, leather trim, a heads-up display, auto-folding exterior mirrors, an eight-speaker sound system and a partial digital driver’s display over the Subaru – the Crosstrek counters with more airbags, rear USB charging ports and a wireless charger, while it’s also around $2,500 less expensive.
The Eclipse Cross is $1,750 less expensive than the Subaru and the two share largely the same level of kit, though the Crosstrek does have more safety features like more airbags, automatic rear braking and lane trace assist for semi-autonomous highway driving. Overall, we think the Crosstrek 20R is solid value for money and isn’t missing much equipment – just rear air vents, auto-folding mirrors and a digital driver’s display. Apart from those items, we think that the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0R is a well equipped SUV.
Performance & Economy: 7/10
Powering the petrol 2023 Subaru Crosstrek variants is a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated ‘boxer’ four-cylinder engine. It produces 115kW of power at 6,000rpm and 196Nm of torque at 4,000rpm, power is sent through a CVT automatic transmission to the company’s famed symmetrical all-wheel drive system. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the exact same drivetrain as the XV, though Subaru says that it’s been improved with better insulation. The Crosstrek’s 0-100km/h sprint is completed in a leisurely 10.5 seconds, so it’s no sports car.
Unfortunately due to the added weight versus the XV – 53kg on average, to be precise – the Crosstrek doesn’t feel as peppy as its XV predecessor. When accelerating up a hill or overtaking on the motorway, we wished for more power, especially in the mid range where Mitsubishi’s turbo-four in the Eclipse Cross feels noticeably punchier. In urban environments, the Crosstrek’s performance is fine – but if you do more highway driving, you may find it feeling a touch underpowered. In North America, the Crosstrek is available with the larger 136kW 2.5-litre engine from the Forster and Outback and we hope it makes its way Down Under soon.
The CVT automatic transmission used in the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek is much better than that used in the previous XV. It isn’t perfect as it still displays a rubber-like dynamic, but it is a vast improvement from Subaru CVTs of old. It has eight stepped gears to simulate a torque converter automatic when in manual mode. When driving in a docile manner, the CVT does a good job of keeping revs down and urban refinement is pretty good.
The claimed average fuel consumption of the Crosstrek 2.0R is 7.2L/100km with CO2 emissions rated at 165g/km – the punchier 2.5L AWD CX-30 is rated at 6.8L/100km though, while the Eclipse Cross AWD is rated at 7.7L/100km. Our week with the Crosstrek in a mixture of urban and motorway driving settings saw an average fuel consumption figure of 8.6L/100km, which we thought was acceptable. Helping running costs is that the Crosstrek can run on 91RON regular unleaded and has a big – for its size – 63-litre fuel tank.
Ride & Handling: 8.5/10
Based on the same ‘Subaru Global Platform’ architecture as the XV that it replaced – plus its Forester and Outback siblings – the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0R drives well with a solid and plated feel, but it’s also acceptably light on its feet and it can be reasonably fun to drive as well. Dimensionally, the Crosstrek differs very little to the XV – it’s grown in overall length overall by just 10mm to 4,495mm, while its width is unchanged at 1,800mm and its wheelbase is 5mm longer at 2,670mm. Its height has actually been reduced by 15mm to 1,600mm for slinkier styling, but that’s the only significant dimension change.
The ride quality of the Crosstrek is pretty good even with the 18-inch wheels. Around town (thanks to its raised ride height) the Crosstrek is not phased by speed bumps, drive ways and potholes and off road the Crosstrek is more capable than you may think thanks to its solid 220mm ground clearance and Subaru’s ‘X-Mode’ off-road drive modes. Regardless of surface, we prefer the ride quality of the Crosstrek than that of the lumpy Eclipse Cross and firm CX-30, and it strikes a nice handling balance between the soft Mitsubishi and sharp Mazda.
Interior & Practicality: 7.5/10
Anybody who’s sat in a recent model Subaru product will find the cabin of the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek instantly familiar thanks to a shared layout with other other Subaru products like the Forester and Outback. The quality inside the Crosstrek isn’t quite as nice as those cars though it does come at a lower cost, with the only soft touch materials in the cabin smattered atop the dashboard – but not on top of the instrument binnacle – and nice cloth trim covering the front doors. The Crosstrek’s cabin feels sturdy, but some more soft touch materials (especially at touch points) would improve inside as the CX-30 is noticeably plusher.
Sitting in the middle of the dashboard is a vertical 11.6-inch touchscreen display that houses wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well digital radio – but the satellite navigation of the 2.0S is not found. The infotainment system itself is easy to use thanks to a home button at the bottom of the screen and easy to read icons, and while it’s not the fastest system to use, we think it’s fine. The screen quality is excellent and is overall far superior the Eclipse Cross’s small pixilated centre screen.
The Crosstrek (2.0R and above) is the first Subaru to have a proper 360-degree camera, though it can’t be displayed at the same time as the reversing camera – we think that both features could be displayed on the huge centre screen without issue for better usability.
The six-speaker sound system in the Crosstrek 2.0R was better than expected, though the 10-speaker Harman Kardon unit used in the upper-spec 20S and Hybrid S is punchier if that’s what you’re after. There is a plethora of charging options throughout the cabin like a wireless smartphone charger, USB-C and USB-A charging ports and even a 12-volt socket. Missing from the cabin is a fully digital driver’s display that we think would modernise the interior, though the small 4.2-inch display in between the analogue dials can show quite a bit of information.
Step into the rear seat of the Crosstrek and you’ll notice that while the rear passenger space is not huge, it will fit two adults or three younger kids fine. It’s roomier than the XV thanks to its longer wheelbase, and feels more open than both the CX-30 and the Eclipse Cross thanks to larger rear windows and more legroom. Rear amenities on offer are some door pockets, one map pocket, a centre armrest with cup holders and two USB charging ports. Missing are rear air vents, heated seats and a second map pocket.
Open the manual tailgate (no power tailgate is on offer in any Crosstrek variant) and it reveals just 291-litres of cargo space with the seat up and folding the rear seats opens it up to 1,261-litres. In comparison the Mazda CX-30 has a 317L/1,250L boot and the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross offers up 405L/1,172L. Funnily enough, the boot of the Crosstrek is smaller than the XV and the Crosstrek also features a high boot lip and the boot floor is quite high as well. Underneath the boot floor lies a space saver spare wheel, while there is also some side storage.
Service & Warranty: 8/10
Like other new Subaru models, the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0R is covered by a five-year/unlimited km warranty with 12 months of roadside assistance. It has once-yearly/15,000km service intervals and five years/75,000km of servicing costs $2,373 ($474 per service).
Mazda also offers a five-year/unlimited km warranty with the CX-30 and it also comes with five years of roadside assistance. Mitsubishi offers the same warranty length for the Eclipse Cross, but servicing it at a Mitsubishi dealer can increase that to 10 years in total, while the Eclipse Cross comes with 12 months of roadside assistance that is extended by a further 12 months at every dealer service for up to four years. The Mazda requires being serviced every 12-months or 10,000km and will cost $1,799 over the span of five years or 50,000km. Like the Subaru, the Mitsubishi only needs servicing every 12 months or 15,000km and will cost owners $1,895 over five-years or 75,000km.
2023 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0R DiscoverAuto Rating: 7.9/10
As with so many other Subaru products, the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0R is a car that fits most lifestyles and is just so versatile. It will happily life its life as an urban-dwelling hatchback, it can venture off the beaten track, it will eat up motorways and it can also be the safe dependable family hauler that many will likely use it for. So what’s not to love? Well, it could do with more power and the CVT transmission could use some refining, the boot could be bigger and it could be cheaper to service but overall, we really enjoy the Crosstrek.
It wins you over with its charm, it has a go anywhere and do anything attitude to it and as we said, it’s just so versatile. We love the layout of the interior, the classy infotainment system and around town the driving characteristics are great. Would we buy the Crosstrek over its CX-30 and Eclipse Cross rivals? Yes, we would. Though we would definitely consider spending the extra coin for the top-spec 2.0S – yes it gets a little expensive, but its added equipment doesn’t come at a huge cost. Regardless of model, however, the Subaru Crosstrek is a great small SUV and it’s easy to see why it follows the XV’s formula so closely.