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. Uplevel versions get a more powerful 2.5-liter engine. 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.