2019 Subaru Crosstrek

By January 7, 2019

With its Crosstrek, Subaru promises on-road comfort, combined with off-road capabilities and rugged styling. It’s an enticing combination for the adventurous family.

Introduced as a 2013 model, the spirited compact crossover SUV was redesigned for 2018, based upon the latest Impreza. For the 2019 model year, the Crosstrek expands availability of advanced safety technology. Specifically, Subaru’s EyeSight group, including automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, is now available on the base Crosstrek if equipped with CVT. Premium-trim Crosstreks get a new 6.5-inch touchscreen.

Base, Premium, and Limited trim levels are offered. Each version is available with a handful of options.

Beneath the hood, a 2.0-liter flat (horizontally-opposed) 4-cylinder engine makes 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. Either a 6-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) may be installed. All-wheel drive is standard. For that reason, the Crosstrek weighs more than some competitors.

In upper-level CVT variants, an X-Mode button can alter traction control functionality, to improve capability on slippery pavement.

In addition to providing abundant safety technology, the Crosstrek has earned impressive crash-test ratings from both federal and independent testers. For 2019, even the base Crosstrek with CVT comes with automatic emergency braking. Also included in Subaru’s EyeSight group are active lane control, lane-departure warnings, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the appropriately-equipped 2018 Crosstrek as a Top Safety Pick. With its standard LED headlights, the Limited version moved up to Top Safety Pick+ status. All crash-test ratings were “Good.” With specific options installed, the Crosstrek also earned a “Superior” designation for frontal-collision resistance.

In its crash-test program, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has rated the Crosstrek at five stars overall and for side-impact, but only four stars for frontal impact. Rollover-resistance (a calculated figure rather than a test) also earned four stars.

Late in 2019, a Crosstrek Hybrid – likely a plug-in type – joined the lineup. It’s able to travel for a modest distance on electricity alone, with a modest bump in fuel economy.

Model Lineup

Prices do not include $975 destination charge.

2.0i ($21,895 manual, $22,895 CVT), the base model, comes with a manual transmission, cloth seat upholstery, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, black cladding, 17-inch alloy wheels, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Bluetooth.

An optional EyeSight safety bundle adds automatic emergency braking with active lane control and adaptive cruise control; it costs $845 with the CVT version.

2.0i Premium ($22,895 manual, $23,895 CVT) has an upgraded 6.5-inch touchscreen with CD player, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, uplevel interior/exterior trim, satellite radio, two rear USB ports, and six-speaker audio.

Options on CVT-equipped Crosstrek Premium include a moonroof, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert, and the EyeSight safety group.

2.0i Limited with CVT ($27,195) upgrades to black or gray leather upholstery with orange stitching, 18-inch wheels, a power driver’s seat, Bluetooth hands-free texting, keyless access, pushbutton start, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen. Safety features include the EyeSight group, steering-responsive headlights, reverse automatic braking, and blind-spot monitors.

A Limited option package includes navigation, a moonroof, and Harman Kardon audio.

Exterior

More than many compact crossover models, the Crosstrek conveys a modern, yet ready-for-outdoor-action appearance. Unpainted fender flares and bright color options help make the rugged-looking Crosstrek appear to be right at home as it meanders down a far-off trail.

Stylish wheels come in either 17- or 18-inch size. A standard roof rack makes it clear that the 2019 Crosstrek promises utility as well as on- or off-road pleasure.

Interior

Space is sufficient for four within a cabin that qualifies as average rather than notable. A fifth rider is likely to feel less welcome.

Interior design is angular and ordinary – functional, but hardly award-winning. Materials seem appropriate for a vehicle priced like the Crosstrek. Nothing fancy, but comfortable, making good use of available space.

Base and Premium trim levels contain a 6.5-inch touchscreen for infotainment, with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The Limited trim moves to an 8.0-inch touchscreen, which can be upgraded with navigation and Harman Kardon speakers.

Height-adjustable front seats are comfortable enough, though lacking lumbar support. Legroom is decent in back, on a bench that’s wide enough for three adults, but only for limited distances.

In base form, the cabin feels comparable to competitors, featuring soft-touch material on the dashboard and front doors. Limited trim gets dressier, including leather upholstery with contrasting stitching.

Cargo capacity is near 23 cubic feet, expanding past 50 cubic feet when the split-folding rear seatbacks are down.

Driving Impressions

A spirited personality doesn’t always signify stirring performance. Though the Crosstrek has a quiet and refined demeanor, mediocre acceleration limits this crossover’s appeal.

Lack of passing power is the main demerit, though adept low-speed tuning of the powertrain manages to make the Crosstrek feel lively in urban driving. Manual-transmission models are neither thriftier, nor quicker, than those with the CVT.

Quick throttle tuning helps the CVT-equipped Crosstrek feel more animated at urban speeds than it does on any highway. That transmission is tuned to deliver a “stepped” sensation, meant to eliminate the irksome droning that plagued early CVTs.

Steering is sharp and accurate. The Crosstrek handles well and rides comfortably, courtesy of a suspension that manages to feel soft without turning sloppy. At highway speeds, Subaru’s smallest crossover tracks reasonably well, though it can wander when facing grooved pavement. A little road and wind noise is likely to seep inside.

On the whole, performance is comparable to Subaru’s Impreza sedan and hatchback, which share their foundation with the Crosstrek. Off-road potential, on the other hand, makes the Crosstrek dominant in its class.

SUV-like wheel travel, hill-descent control, and 8.7-inch ground clearance translate to greater off-road potential than other compact crossovers can provide.

Though not especially thrifty, Crosstrek delivers good fuel economy. With CVT, the Crosstrek is EPA-rated at 27/33 mpg City/Highway, or 29 mpg Combined. The 6-speed manual sinks the estimate to just 23/29/25 mpg. Real-world driving can yield more frugal figures.

Final Word

The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek delivers plenty of features in an excellent package, led by standard all-wheel drive. Best bet: stick to basics and forgo a few extras. The Premium trim represents the most appealing value.

 

Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.