The Crosstrek is Subaru’s pseudo-SUV; it’s essentially an Impreza hatchback with a raised ride height and some rugged visual cues. Since it’s based on the already-good Impreza, it has that model’s smooth ride, good fuel mileage, easy-to-use controls, and roomy rear seat. As a result, it’s ranked at the top of our subcompact SUV standings. Subaru also offers a plug-in hybrid version, which contributes to the Crosstrek’s appeal, but doesn’t deliver enough of a mileage improvement to make it a good value.
Both versions have a comfortable and controlled ride that stands head and shoulders above the competition. Its handling is responsive, though it isn't as frisky when driving through sharp turns as the Mazda CX-3, for example. Subaru’s standard full-time all-wheel-drive system is appealing and, combined with the Crosstrek’s ample ground clearance, gives the SUV the ability to easily handle slippery pavement, a muddy trail, or rough dirt roads.
The standard 152-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine has just enough power for most situations, which is on par with its rivals. But it sounds strained and raspy when hard acceleration is needed. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) mostly avoids suddenly revving the engine by mimicking the shifts that a traditional automatic transmission would make. But there are still times when engine drone can be intrusive. We measured 29 mpg overall in our tests, which is commendable for an all-wheel-drive vehicle.