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2019 Subaru Crosstrek Review

The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek is as plucky as ever, but with more available safety gear this year.

Think of the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek as a pair of trail running shoes. This compact crossover SUV ties rugged styling with as much capability as most explorers are likely to need.


Following a redesign last year, the 2019 Crosstrek gets more widely available advanced safety tech such as automatic braking and adaptive cruise control, plus some minor tech upgrades inside.

The 2019 Crosstrek rates 5.7 out of 10 on our scale on account of its good value, refined feel, and great safety scores. Its biggest demerit is its lack of passing power, although good low-speed tuning makes it feel sprightly around town. 

At its core, the Crosstrek is a Subaru Impreza compact car on stilts. Or, since the Crosstrek handily outsells its sibling, maybe it’s time to consider the Impreza a lowered Crosstrek. Available in base, Premium, and Limited trims, the Crosstrek mates a 152-horsepower 2.0-liter flat-4 to either a 6-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). All-wheel drive is standard and CVT variants have an X-Mode button that remaps the traction control for improved slippery road capability.

Inside, the Crosstrek has good room for four with materials that feel price-appropriate and a design that’s functional, if not exactly award-ready. Crosstrek base and Premium trims use a 6.5-inch touchscreen for infotainment with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The Crosstrek Limited features an 8.0-inch touchscreen that can be upgraded with baked-in navigation and Harman Kardon speakers.

Safety remains a Crosstrek selling point. All CVT versions now offer automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, active-lane control, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control. For 2019, that tech is newly standard on the Crosstrek Limited.

That gear has paid off in strong crash-test results from federal and independent testers, too.

Later in 2019, a Crosstrek Hybrid is set to join the lineup. For now, Subaru has remained tight-lipped on the new model other than to say that it will be a plug-in hybrid with at least some electric-only range for commuting use.

Styling
The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek would fit right in the North Face catalog.

The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek has all the right outdoorsy cues, but you’ll have to add the requisite bike/kayak/canoe/ski/snowboard/tent to the roof and national park stickers to its rear window.

We like the modern, wash-and-wear look outside and figure it’s worth a point above average. Inside, the 2019 Crosstrek’s look is busy but functional, so we dial it back to a 5 out of 10 overall. 

Unpainted fender flares, bright color options, and stylish wheels in 17- and 18-inch diameters help the Crosstrek look at home on the trail.
Open the door and the Crosstrek’s style is less organic inside than out, with an angular look that doesn’t feel as dressy as it could for a price that tops $30,000 when loaded up with options. The 2019 Crosstrek base trim features cloth seats, while the Premium trim adds contrasting stitching. Crosstrek Limited trims upgrade to black or two-tone leather upholstery and orange stitching on the dashboard—a nice touch.

Performance
Mountain goats may be jealous of the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek’s four-wheeling chops, but they may win a footrace.

The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek may take its passengers farther, but it won’t get them there any faster. We score this underpowered but capable compact crossover SUV at 4 out of 10, subtracting a point from average for its pokey engine. 

All versions of the 2019 Crosstrek use a 2.0-liter flat-4 rated at 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. That’s not a lot to motivate around 3,100 pounds of four-wheeler. It weighs more than some rivals, because the Crosstrek comes standard with all-wheel drive.

Neither the 6-speed manual on base and Premium trims nor the CVT optional on those and standard on Crosstrek Limited make the situation any better. Darty throttle tuning helps Crosstreks with the CVT feel more sprightly at city speeds than when passing on the highway and the transmission has been tuned to deliver a “stepped” feel to eliminate the awkward droning that plagued early versions of this gearbox type. Still, the slog from 60 to 80 mph—a typical passing maneuver on a two-lane road—is agonizingly long and the manual transmission Crosstrek isn’t any better.

The upside is that the Crosstrek rides and handles well, with sharp, accurate steering and a suspension that’s soft without feeling sloppy. Once up to highway speeds, this smallest of Subaru crossovers tracks reasonably well and lets in limited road and wind rumble, although it can wander on grooved pavement.

SUV-like wheel travel and 8.7 inches of ground clearance mean that the Crosstrek has more off-roady chops than other compact crossovers. CVT models feature an X-Mode button that fires up hill-descent control and special traction control parameters for when the going gets especially tough, too.

Comfort & Quality
The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek’s interior is comfortable, but not dressy.

With room for four and their luggage, the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek makes a great weekend companion. And for any leftovers, a standard roof rack expands the 2019 Crosstrek’s utility.

We rate the Crosstrek at 5 out of 10. It’s comfortable, but not exceptionally so, and it uses what space its compact dimensions allow in a good way. 

The Crosstrek’s front seats are comfortable and both are height-adjustable, but we’d like to see adjustable lumbar support for at least the driver. The rear seat has decent legroom and is wide enough for five adults in a pinch. A standard split-folding rear seatback opens things from about 23 to more than 50 cubic feet of cargo space.

At its roughly $23,000 base price, the Crosstrek’s interior feels up to par with soft-touch material on its dash and front doors. Pushed above $30,000, a loaded-up Crosstrek Limited dresses things up with leather seats and contrasting leather, but its interior doesn’t impress as much for the money.

Safety
With wider availability of active safety gear this year, the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek is a safe crossover SUV.

Although we’re still waiting for official confirmation, the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek looks to be an even safer bet for yet another year.

We rate the 2019 Crosstrek at 9 out of 10 thanks to good scores from testers last year and wider availability for active-safety gear this year. 

For 2019, any CVT version of the Crosstrek now offers automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and lane-departure warnings. That safety kit costs as little as $845 on the base Crosstrek and it’s newly standard on the Crosstrek Limited.

The IIHS says that a so-equipped Crosstrek rates a Top Safety Pick. Pop for the Crosstrek Limited with its standard LED headlights and the insurance industry-funded group upgrades it to a Top Safety Pick+. Unfortunately, the halogen headlights on Crosstrek base and Premium trims rate either “Marginal” or “Poor” depending on which options are selected.

The NHTSA rates the Crosstrek at five stars overall, albeit four stars for passenger-side frontal impact and four stars in the calculated rollover test.

Features
Stick to the basics and the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek offers a lot of value for the money.

Up against other compact crossover SUVs, the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek offers many features, including standard all-wheel drive. We rate it at 6 out of 10 overall, with a point above average awarded for its good value. 

The Crosstrek is available in base, Premium, and Limited trim levels, each offering a handful of options. Base Crosstreks cost about $22,900 with a manual transmission and a decent amount of standard gear such as height-adjustable seats, power features, air conditioning, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and a USB port. Opting for the CVT, as most shoppers are likely to do, pushes that to a still reasonable $23,900. The optional safety bundle adds automatic emergency braking with active lane control and adaptive cruise control for a reasonable $845 with the CVT.

TheCrosstrek Premium tosses in heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded interior and exterior trim, fog lights, satellite radio, two rear-seat USB ports, and two additional speakers for about $23,900 with the manual and $24,900 with the CVT. Options on CVT-equipped Crosstrek Premiums include a moonroof, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, and the safety bundle.

At around $26,300, a Crosstrek Premium with the added safety technology strikes us as a very good value.

The range-topping Crosstrek Limited erodes that value equation somewhat even though it comes standard with safety gear, 18-inch wheels, a power driver seat, leather upholstery, automatic climate controls, keyless ignition, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment for about $28,200. Adding in navigation, a moonroof, and Harman Kardon speakers bumps that figure to about $30,600, at which point the larger Subaru Outback parked across the showroom starts to look pretty enticing.

Fuel Economy
Though it’s not especially thrifty, the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek won’t make you a regular at your local filling station.

The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek delivers good fuel economy, which it should given how little power is under its hood.

We rate it at 5 out of 10 on our scale, a perfectly average figure derived from the more popular CVT. 

With the CVT, the 2019 Crosstrek checks in at 27 mpg city, 33 highway, 29 combined. Stick with the base 6-speed manual and those official figures decline to just 23/29/25 mpg, although we’ve experienced far better real-world numbers than that.

A Crosstrek Hybrid has also been announced and we have high hopes that it’ll be better than the lame, short-lived model that was offered from 2014 to 2016. Though Subaru hasn’t detailed the 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid, the automaker has confirmed that it will be a plug-in hybrid capable of driving on electric power alone for short distances.

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