2020 Subaru Crosstrek

By June 8, 2020

The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek is an all-wheel-drive crossover with admirable ambition. It wants to look cool carrying its occupants into the forest by day, out to the symphony at night, and to the big-box store on Saturday, with each experience being comfortable and thrifty for them. Because it succeeds in these things, its virtue is value.

For 2020, it adds to the ambition with a new plug-in hybrid having 17 miles of all-electric range, available in the western ZEV states. It’s better equipped than the base Crosstrek, and also quicker, thanks to a 118-hp electric motor mated to the flat-4 engine that boosts the output to a total of 137 horsepower and 134 pound-feet of torque. Unlike the previous Crosstrek PHEV, it’s much more than a badge.

Also for 2020, automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and lane departure warnings come standard with all Crosstreks except those few that have a manual transmission.

The Crosstrek is basically an Impreza with more ground clearance and rugged cladding. It’s powered by a 2.0-liter flat-4 engine making 152 horsepower, mated to an excellent continuously variable transmission (CVT), or the standard but rare 6-speed manual gearbox that lacks the active safety features. The acceleration is modest, but the CVT’s stepped gearing and paddle shifters help a lot. The CVT has an X-Mode button that brings more traction choices when needed, and an SI-Drive mode that brings either maximum gas mileage or quicker throttle response.

The CVT-equipped Crosstrek gets an EPA-rated 27 mpg city, 33 highway, 30 combined. The 6-speed manual transmission drops mileage to 23/29/25 mpg. The plug-in hybrid gets an estimated 90 MPGe.

The 2020 Crosstrek earns a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA,with four stars in rollover and passenger-side frontal crash tests. The IIHS gave the Crosstrek a Top Safety Pick+ award, when equipped with the CVT and the LED projector headlights on Limited trim. Other trims without those headlights earn the Top Safety Pick award.

Model Lineup

The Crosstrek is available in base, Premium, and Limited trims.

The base model starts at $23,145 (including destination) with the 6-speed, while the CVT adds $1,350. Standard equipment includes all-wheel drive, rugged cloth upholstery, power features, a USB port, Bluetooth, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, 17-inch alloy wheels, all-season tires, and roof rails.

The Premium starts at $25,555 with the CVT and adds heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded cloth upholstery with orange stitching, fog lights, heated side mirrors, automatic headlights, a second USB port, and wi-fi capability.

The Limited jumps to $28,405 with the CVT standard. It adds 18-inch wheels, a power driver seat, leather upholstery, automatic climate controls, keyless ignition, dual USB rear ports, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen.


With black cladding on the sills and arches over 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels, as well as integrated roof rails, the Crosstrek looks like a baby Subaru Outback, but doesn’t have the same attractive wagon proportions.


The cabin has an angular, busy look. The overall feel is of value. Four passengers and their gear fit comfortably, but there’s nothing exceptional about interior comfort or roominess. Five passengers can fit okay, with the good leg room in the rear, but four is better.

The cloth upholstery on the base model is rugged and the dash is soft-touch; the Premium adds contrasting stitching and a leather-wrapped steering wheel; and the leather in the Limited features orange stitching on the seats and dash.

Front seats on the base model have manual adjustment and lack lumbar support.

There’s more than 23 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat, which splits 60/40, and when both sides are folded there’s more than 50 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

The Crosstrek carries the defining Subaru components: all-wheel drive, flat-4 engine, high ground clearance. The 2.0-liter engine makes 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque, which isn’t a lot to get a 3,100-pound car moving, but once the speed is up there, the Crosstrek can hold its own.

The CVT is well worth the $1,350 extra on the base and Premium, not only because it’s such a good CVT, but because the gas mileage is much better, and only the CVT brings automatic emergency braking. The CVT has eight steps that make it feel like an 8-speed automatic transmission, and paddle shifters that make it fun to use those steps.

The Crosstrek handles well, with brake-based torque vectoring adding grip and sharpening the steering in corners. The independent suspension does a good job of absorbing bumps.

The Crosstrek is no Jeep off road, but it’s the next best thing. The CVT has an X-Mode button that reduces wheelspin in mud, sand and snow; it also engages hill descent control to cut the speed way down when climbing down steep hills. This is a huge safety benefit on ice.

The CVT also has SI-Drive, with an “Intelligent” mode (most efficient) or “Sport” mode (most responsive and fun). The CVT also has a stop/start system that shuts off the engine when the car isn’t moving.

The Crosstrek plug-in hybrid uses the same flat-4 engine but with a few changes to make 137 hp and 134 lb-ft of torque. The 118-hp motor supplements the gas engine, and enables 17 miles of all-electric driving at a slow pace. Its acceleration is quicker than the gas model, and overall it feels more refined.

Its all-wheel-drive system is based on the Toyota front-wheel-drive hybrid system. Subaru adds a shaft to the rear wheels so power can be transmitted there. The system adds 500 pounds, but the suspension is built up to handle it, and the ride is just as good.

Final Word

The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek adds something special to the Impreza formula. It shines on rutted trails, gets great gas mileage, and the CVT is superior. Don’t be tempted by thinking the 6-speed would be fun; with the CVT you get much more than an automatic transmission.


—By Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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