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2019 Subaru Crosstrek Performance Review


Performance: 6.6

The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek falls short of the performance standards set by many competitors. It delivers a smooth ride and gets OK fuel economy, but its engine feels weak, and it doesn't have the handling prowess of most other small SUVs. It does, however, come standard with all-wheel drive, which is rare in this class.

  • The Crosstrek is abysmally slow for a modern vehicle. If you can get past that drawback, though, it offers reassuring steering and a lot of off-road ability. Handling and in-town drivability are acceptable, though rivals offer a more enjoyable driving experience the majority of the time." -- Edmunds
  • All this adds up to a sub-compact-y compact crossover that's as rewarding and fun-to-drive through tight twists and turns as the best modern compact cars. Key words here are 'tight twists and turns,' because the engine, which also is mostly new, is not a willing partner in such endeavors." -- Automobile Magazine (2018)
  • "Aside from the somewhat anemic engine, the new Crosstrek is relatively fun to drive. Subaru uses a quicker steering ratio this year, sharpening response, and it does take some time to acclimate to the vehicle's immediate reply to input. The suspension supplies a deft blend of ride quality and handling capability, feeling a bit softer yet no less capable. The brakes behave exactly as the driver expects, the pedal calibrated to facilitate the fine-tuning necessary while off-roading or traveling on slippery surfaces." -- New York Daily News (2018)

Acceleration and Power

The Crosstrek features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 152 horsepower. It's mated to a standard six-speed manual transmission; a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is available.

Simply put, the Crosstrek would benefit greatly from a different powertrain. This engine produces less horsepower than many rivals' engines, and it shows when you're behind the wheel. The Crosstrek feels underpowered at times, and its acceleration feels like it may leave you eating the dust of bicyclists. Between the two transmissions, many test drivers say the CVT is better.

According to EPA estimates, the Crosstrek gets 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. These are typical ratings for a small crossover SUV. New for 2020 is a plug-in-hybrid (PHEV) powertrain. We cover this Crosstrek Hybrid in a separate review.

  • "If there's a weakness to the Crosstrek, it's ... well ... weakness. Its 2.0-liter engine and 152-horsepower rating are both on the low side for the compact-crossover class, and it shows whenever you put your right foot to the floor. In normal driving it's fine, but when rushing, there just isn't much of a surge off the line, and passing takes patience despite the fact that the CVT kicks down fairly quickly to assist." -- Consumer Guide (2018)
  • "From a standing start, it feels like acceleration can be measured with a calendar. If you've already got some momentum built, it's not quite so bad; the Crosstrek responds quickly when you power through a corner. The CVT is very well matched to the engine, always keeping it on boil if you're driving it aggressively, but you'll need to be prepared for it to be revving its heart out as it tries to deliver what little power it has. … If you opted for the manual transmission, you'll be shifting it like mad to try and keep your speed up on even slight grades. Save yourself the angst and go for the CVT, a much more pleasant experience." -- (2018)
  • "Brutally slow acceleration isn't particularly out of the ordinary in the subcompact and compact crossover class. The Toyota CH-R and Nissan Rogue Sport, among others, are just as slow, if not more so. Still, we wish the Crosstrek had more pep. If Subaru could just stick a small turbo on this engine and bring horsepower and torque closer to 200, all these complaints would go away." -- Autoblog (2018)

Handling and Braking

The Crosstrek rides smoothly over most road surfaces and absorbs road imperfections with little trouble. The steering feels sharp, but the Crosstrek leans a lot around turns and generally doesn't feel as agile as many other subcompact SUVs. However, thanks to its standard all-wheel drive, the Crosstrek can hold its own when the pavement ends. Models outfitted with the CVT also come with X-Mode and hill-descent control, which improve off-road ability.

  • "While the Crosstrek's Impreza-based bones are solid, the hard tires and tall ride height result in compromised handling. There is a significant amount of body roll when you drive aggressively around turns, and the back end feels unexpectedly light when you hit a bump or a patch of dirt midcorner." -- Edmunds
  • "The ride is smoother and control is better. … And the increased comfort is noticeable. The Crosstrek is now a much better-balanced car, aided by a new, quicker steering rack—the same as on the BRZ. The helm connects to the rest of the car better than before and puts more control in the hands of the driver. It's as stable and comfortable at highway speeds as it is fun and responsive at the lower end of the speedometer." -- Truck Trend (2018)
  • "In town, the car feels more compliant, better filtering pavement aberrations, a trait most people will welcome." -- New York Daily News (2018)
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2019 Subaru Crosstrek

MSRP: $21,895 - $27,195

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