2024 Subaru Crosstrek

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Last year – which is still actually this model year – Subaru’s Crosstrek was pretty much the only small crossover that still came standard with a manual transmission. 

Or even offered one. 

Next model year – which is still this calendar year – the Crosstrek joins the rest of its rivals in being automatic (CVT) only.   

That’s a shame – because it’s not on account of lack of demand. The manual Crosstrek was so popular it was difficult to find one. This writer’s sister ordered one and had to wait four months to get it. So why would Subaru stop selling that which sells?

Take one guess . . .

What It Is

The Crosstrek is Subaru’s very popular compact crossover wagon. It’s popular because it’s affordable, practical, economical and fun – especially with the manual transmission that’s no longer available.

Prices start at $24,995 for the base trim with a 2.0 liter engine and a continuously variable (CVT) automatic transmission. Sport ($28,995) Limited ($30,895) and the new Wilderness ($31,995) trims all come standard with a larger, more powerful 2.5 liter engine – also paired with a CVT automatic.

All Crosstreks  come standard with Subaru’s “symmetric” all-wheel-drive system.

What’s New for 2024

Though it looks the same – at a glance – as the outgoing ’23 model – the ’24 Crosstrek is all-new. Most of the changes are not visually obvious and include standard-in-all-trims LED headlights that follow the curves, a revised steering system similar to the one used in Subaru’s WRX sport sedan and standard driver-selectable Si Modes for the now-standard CVT automatic.

Higher trims also get a new, 11.6-inch LCD touchscreen.

There also a new Wilderness version of the Crosstrek that’s similar to the Wilderness version of the Outback – just in a smaller, more affordable package. The Wilderness version of the Outback lists for $39,960 – almost $8k more than the Crosstrek Wilderness.

It comes standard with 17 inch all-terrain tires, body cladding and a lifted suspension, among other upgrades, that gives it off-road abilities close to those of a 4×4 SUV.

What’s Good

Still affordable and practical.

Wilderness version is more capable.

More than just one take-it-or-leave-it engine.

What’s Not So Good

Just one take-it-or-leave-it transmission, no matter which engine you pick.

A bit less affordable than it was (the base price of the ’24 is  $1,350 higher than that of the ’23).

Standard 2.0 engine is much less fun without the no-longer-available manual transmission.

Under The Hood

There are two engines to consider – and something else to consider about both of them.

Both are “boxer” fours. The cylinders lay flat rather than upright and each pair opposes its opposite pair. The layout balances the weight of the engine equally on either side of the car and keeps the weight of the engine low in the car. The only other car brand that sells engines of this type is Porsche – ad Porsches cost a lot more than Subarus.

Also – and unlike Porsche engines – neither the standard 2.0 liter four (152 hp)  nor the optional 2.5 liter four (182 hp) are turbocharged, which is arguably a good thing – if you’re wanting to avoid Porsche-esque expenses at some point down the road. 

The absence of a turbo even in entry level cars is becoming unusual as car companies put smaller and smaller engines in vehicles that haven’t gotten any smaller – and still need enough power to move them adequately. These smaller engines have the potential to use less gas – until you need the vehicle to move adequately. Then they need boost – a pressurized mix of air and fuel – to get more power out of less engine. What you often end up with is an engine that uses about as much gas under boost as a larger engine that doesn’t need to be boosted does.

Think about that for a minute.

Boost increases power. But it also increases pressure – literally. On everything inside the turbocharged engine. Things like bearings and pistons and piston rings. When these wear out, it’ll cost you a lot more than a 5 percent difference in advertised gas mileage that probably isn’t even that in real-world driving.

There is also no turbo (or intercooler) to wear out. You will never have to pay to replace either – or both – with either of the Crosstrek’s two available engines.

Unfortunately, neither of the little Soobie’s two engines is available with anything other than the standard (and take-it-or-leave it) continuously variable CVT automatic transmission.

And there’s a reason for that. It is 22 city, 29 highway. That was – and still is – the rated mileage the Crosstrek posted last year (still technically this year) when equipped with the 2.0 liter engine and the formerly standard six speed manual transmission. The same 2.0 liter engine – mated to the now-standard CVT automatic – rates 27 city and 34 highway.

It’s a difference of about 5 MPG.

That’s a big-deal difference when you’re Subaru – and having to find a way to comply with the federal government’s minimum MPG mandates (CAFE) which are currently set at around 35 MPG on average. Anything that falls below that lowers a car company’s “fleet average” and that triggers fines for “gas guzzling” that are transferred, via increased car prices, to car buyers.

And that’s why all ’24 Crosstreks are CVT automatic-only now, even though the manual-equipped Crosstrek was so popular Subaru couldn’t meet the demand for them. It’s also worth noting that while the automatic-only ’24 does get better gas mileage, it is also $1,350 more expensive.

Which takes away a chunk of the “savings.”

On the upside, both of the Soobie’s engines – not being turbo-boosted – do not need premium gas to deliver on their advertised fuel economy numbers.

Whether you go with the 2.0 or the 2.5 engine, every Crosstrek comes standard with all-wheel-drive. Subaru calls it symmetrical AWD because it can torque vector, which means it can route power from side-to-side as well as front-to-back, which improves dry/wet road handling stability as well as traction on slippery surfaces.

On The Road

The ’23 Crosstrek with the 2.0 engine and the six-speed manual transmission didn’t go as far on a gallon of gas as the ’24 with the same 2.0 and the CVT automatic – but it got there a lot quicker.

With the manual, the ’23 Crosstrek could achieve 60 MPH in 8.6 seconds; with the CVT, the time it takes to do the same goes up to 9.2 seconds. It’s a significant difference and more than just that. The ’23 with the manual felt quicker, as manual versions of any car always do. That’s because you’re doing something more than waiting for the car to build up speed. You are involved in the process and each time, it’s a little different because each time, you shift sooner or later. Sometimes, you time it just right and that can be very gratifying because it was you that did it.

A stick – and a clutch – make up for a lot of the power that isn’t there in a car like the Crosstrek.

The CVT takes that away.

More accurately – in this case – the government took it away.

It also took away something else in that now it’s more necessary to opt for the 2.5 engine, which has the power to make driving the Crosstrek more emotionally engaging. But to get the 2.5 engine you must buy at least the Sport trim – and that one stickers for $28,995. In effect, the government has made an enjoyable Crosstrek much more expensive – to the tune of $5,350. That is the difference in price between the base ’23 Crosstrek with the 2.0 and the manual and the ’24 Sport with the 2.5 engine and the CVT.

The new Wilderness version is without doubt the most capable – and the most fun – version of the Crosstrek.

Even with the unavoidable CVT.

Though its standard 2.5 liter engine is the same as the one that’s standard in the Sport and Limited, it feels stronger because this one has a much more aggressive 4.11 final drive ratio (the others get a 3.70 final drive) that’s a boon to both off-the-line acceleration and low-speed slogging, as through heavy snow and mud. The X-Mode CVT in the Wilderness has also been set up to deliver maximum low-speed leverage; it has what Subaru calls Low Ratio Gradient Control, which means the CVT hunkers down to a 4.066:1 ratio when it sense the Wilderness is trying to scale a steep incline at low speed. It’s similar in function to a 4×4’s Low range gearing, but without the two-speed transfer case.

The upgraded CVT in the Wilderness also comes with an oil cooler and this ups the tow rating in this model to 3,500 lbs.

All other versions of the Crosstrek are not rated to pull more than 1,500 lbs.

That plus the lifted suspension (and 9.3 inches of ground clearance) that adds some inches to both approach and departure angles makes this littlest Soobie one of the most capable small crossovers on the market.

At The Curb

The Crosstrek is as small as it was last year – just 176.4 inches end to end, or almost a foot shorter, end to end, than the Honda Civic sedan (184 inches) I reviewed last week,. And the Civic’s a compact.

What does that make the Crosstrek?

Something more practical.

Its hatchback/crossover wagon shape endows it with 55.3 total cubic feet of cargo capacity – as opposed to the 14.8 cubic feet of space inside the Civic’s trunk. The Civic does have about three inches more backseat legroom (37.4 inches vs. 34 inches for the Soobie) but those numbers can be modified by scooting the Soobie’s front seats forward just a bit. It’s not as easy to quadruple the space available for cargo in a compact-sized sedan like the Civic. You can get the latter as a hatchback sedan – and that helps – but even then, you’ve only got about half as much space (24 cubic feet) because of the lowered roofline/profile.

And that – plus the standard AWD – is a big part of the reason why this little crossover is so popular.

It’s got enough room to serve as a small family car – and it’s a superb poor weather car. It’s also a much less expensive than an SUV.

And it’s much easier on gas than an SUV.

While a large (11.6 inch) LCD touchscreen is standard in the Premium and higher trims, there are still rotary knobs fort controlling the volume of the audio system and to change stations.

Similarly, there are up/down buttons for raising or lowering the cabin temp and all of these controls can be easily used by feel – without taking your eyes off the road.

The Wilderness has upgraded roof racks that can handle up to 700 pounds of loading. A tent system for sleeping on the roof in the wilderness is available.

The Rest

One very charming thing about the Crosstrek is that when you turn off the multitude of “advanced driver assistance technologies” – which includes Lane Centering/Lane Departure Mitigation – they stay off. Even after you turn the car off. When you restart it, it remembers that you prefer not to be “assisted.” Most other makes/models default to back on after you turn the car off – so that when you go for your next drive, you have to go through the hassle of turning them all off again.

Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to skip all of the “advanced driver assistance technology.”

Last year, you could – because the base Crosstrek with the manual didn’t come with most of this stuff – which Subaru bundles together under the rubric, Eyesight technology (so named because the cameras that are an integral part of the system are mounted higher up than in most cars. You can see them if you look up; they are embedded in the rearview mirror, at eyesight level).

This year, every Crosstrek comes standard with Eyesight.

The Bottom Line

It’s not as inexpensive – or as engaging – as it was last year. But it’s still a very practical – and more-capable-than-ever – little crossover.

Maybe that’ll be enough to take people’s minds off the manual they can’t get anymore.

. . .

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  1. Another interesting wrinkle with Subaru – I recently picked up a 2023 WRX Premium for about 3k under MSRP and the dealer gave me top dollar on trade as well. They mentioned that Subaru, along with their family of dealerships, is trying to get ahead of the curve because there are less buyers (due to high interest rates) and they foresee a a tidal wave of inventory coming their way.

    Like a lot of folks, I wanted to get my hands on a manual before they took them from us, but I anticipated paying a premium for it. Meanwhile every Honda dealership in a 150 mile radius is still trying to get 5k mark up on Civic SI’s….

  2. I have seen several reviews of the Crosstrek that mention an apparent cost-cutting move by Subaru that is troubling. Instead of using a traditional physical gasket for an internal engine seal, Subaru instead elected to use a poured gasket sealant/adhesive. Reviewers say it is likely to last only between roughly 100,000 and 150,000, depending on how one drives and maintains the vehicle. To make the inevitable repair, the engine will have to be removed. It seems odd to me that, after resolving the previous head gasket failure issue, Subaru appears to have created another issue — easily avoidable — that seems all but guaranteed to create very expensive future headaches.

    • Hi Bill,

      I haven’t heard anything specifically about this as regards Subaru, but – I own a number of motorcycles and some of them use/specify a liquid sealant (e.g., HondaBond) in between mated surfaces rather than a rubber/plastic/cork gasket. I haven’t had any issues with this so far…

      • Hi Eric,

        The issue I had heard about is the use of an RTV sealant on camshaft carriers on FB series Subaru engines. Various forums I have looked at go back and forth on the issue. Some of those forums, however, cite to a mechanic who apparently has a significant following on YouTube, refers to himself as “Mr. Subaru,” and who three months ago did an interesting and fairly detailed analysis here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdCGKLNSodk (“Subaru Head Gasket Issues, A Thing Of The Past! Fixed For Over A Decade! But This New Issue Isn’t!”). He later walked back some of what he said, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUmrp4kYkBc (“Stop! Apparently I Scared You With Subaru’s New Engine Issues. It’s Not As Bad As It Sounded!”). Scotty Kilmer also criticized the use of RTV sealant in Subaru engines generally in a recent video (at 4:00) otherwise praising a Crosstrek, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjgcSjZ_KEM (“Subaru’s New Car is Cheaper and Better Than Toyota Now and I’m Scared”). Also cited in the forums is a Subaru technical bulletin on repairing engine oil leaks and reapplying a sealant, including leaks from camshaft carriers, but it dates from 2019 and may or may not apply to current FB series engines: https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/tsbs/2019/MC-10165512-0001.pdf.

        A related issue may be the apparent care needed to prevent future oil leaks since other RTV engine seals must be broken, simply to get to the camshaft carriers, and then also properly re-sealed

        The Crosstreks initially caught my attention in that they have been, at least until now, one of the few more affordable and interesting cars still available with manual transmissions. But I personally would do more research on the RTV sealant oil leak issues before I ever purchased one.

        • Hi Bill,

          Thanks for the info about this sealant (potential) issue. I have a friend who is a professional mechanic and knows Subarus very well. I will ask him about this and report back.

          And: I agree about the Crosstrek. I was tempted to get one myself. Bu the CVT is a deal-killer for me. A manual in a car without much power makes a car without much power much more enjoyable,

        • Thanks for the analysis. I just bought a 23 Crostrek primarily for the manual tranny. The CVT is dog shit in my opinion, we had a 2013 Outback, my wife’s car. It was fine (it did burn a fair amount of oil, 0-20 artificial oil, a quart every month or so) . The CVT tranny crapped out at 150K (just out of warranty, which was extended). The replacement cost was more than the car was worth. I sold it to a mechanic at the dealership for a $1,000.00. I would never buy a CVT tranny car again, which is why I bought the Crostrek after Eric’s analysis. Fun to drive and if the tranny goes bad, probably repairable.

          I will look at the gasket issue, I like getting 300K out of my car. I do not lease.

    • A friend who is a retired auto mechanic says you have to buy a Subaru V6 to avoid oil leaks in Subarus, all others will leak somewhere.

        • Well, Subaru did at one time, phased out for 2023.

          2019 Outbacks did have some six-cylinders.

          3.6 liter is the engine, has a price of 1324 USD.

            • Confusion is a state of mind, a conundrum.

              Sometimes, Confucius just sits, other times, Confucius sits and thinks, then, after some thought, Confucius just sits and meditates. Better than thinking, meditation is the bomb.

              Might be better to just sit, I dunno.

              The 3.0 is the Subaru V6. So many engines, so little time.

              If you are wrong, you’re wrong. Always room for improvement. More often than not, I’ve been wrong, been wronged, too. Oh, well.

              You never can tell.

              Always the opportunity to make everything right.

              The internal combustion engine is another origin of enlightenment, give it a break, solves lots of problems.

              Don’t tell anybody, not worth it anymore. har

  3. What a shame. I despise these pompous bureaucratic life-hating Orcs.

    Of the 11 cars I owned over my lifetime, 9 were manual, 2 automatic: a 12yr old ’61 Mercedes 220S and 15yr old ’89 Volvo 740. Two of the most reliable and pleasurable cars, and would have enjoyed them more as manuals. But they were magnificent cars in their own right at a great price.

    All this happiness before the onslaught of the Orcs.

    I wonder if there is a viable conversion market.

  4. Subarus are good cars, saw a new Crosstrek the other day, they’re radically designed machines.

    Major engine failure in one vehicle forces me to the auto dealership, has to be done, unfortunately. Subaru is the first choice this time.

    You could have a million barrels of oil in your backyard, if there is no oxygen, the oil is useless, worthless.

    Since there is an atmosphere, fuels like gasoline will combust. Somebody figures out how to make an internal combustion engine, build a drive-train, wheels, tires, you’re good to go. Make sure the intake to the carburetor has a clean clear passage.

    After combustion the reaction results in carbon dioxide and water. What you gonna do?

    Not one thing wrong with that.

    Air is the most important part of combustion.

    Why do politicians hate combustion so much, combustion to harness usable energy is the freaking goal. Get a clue, for crying out loud.

    You’d think they all invented air, how ignorant and arrogant they appear to be or are already. Still take credit for creating air.

  5. Unwanted things in vehicles that probably wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the government…..

    1. direct injection
    2. ASS (auto stop start)
    3. huge pillars blocking seeing out
    4. backup camera……thanks to 3…..
    5. 500-1000 extra pounds of vehicle due to crash “standards”
    6. airbags galore
    7. turbos in vehicles other than sporty ones
    8. 4 cylinder engines in vehicles that should be V6’s or V8’s
    9. electric motors
    10. hybrids
    11. crossovers and more crossovers
    12. “bonus” for diesel owners DEF (Diesel exhaust fluid)

    The free market wouldn’t have created any of these things, and if they had, would have probably failed.

  6. Folks,

    I just did some digging, and one of the only cars you can get with a manual tranny is the Nissan Versa, but only in the base trim level; all others have the CVT.

  7. Eric’s been talking so much about manual transmissions lately I had to go out and get myself one. I picked up an older Mini Cooper, 5 speed. What a blast it is zipping around town! I had forgotten how much fun it is to be an integral part of the driving process. It won’t be my main driver but it seems I find an excuse to drive it everyday. I think it’s crazy you can’t get a manual in some models. Why have a sports car or hot rod and not have a stick shift?

    • I got a ‘21 2dr Bronco in Rapid Red (21 only color) with a stick, I love it.

      I cant imagine driving it without one, Id be in a Wrangler if they weren’t available in manual. If I wanted an automatic, Id be driving a 4Runner

  8. And its a shame its no longer manual, as my sister would love one.

    In regards to CVT, Wooly here (https://s3mag.com/the-pontiac-vibe-is-back/) put it so eloquently: I think I speak for most people when I say that I’d rather sniff pollen off an old man’s asscrack than drive a CVT.

    Guess if she doesn’t like the Mazda CX-5, or Honda passport, Ill drag her by her hair if I have to to teach her manual, since I’d rather find a manual ‘23 than see her in a Chevy “Trailblazer” or any other weird car she thinks is “cute”

  9. Anything that gives people pleasure and fun such as actually driving your car, along comes the feds to quash it. For me, driving a manual provides more fun and a better feel for the car and road. I guess outdoor BBQs are next on the prohibited list.

    • No Automatic Start Stop in a manual, at least not any I’ve seen, and I imagine that a remote kill switch would be difficult to implement.

    • And they’ll also ensure you can go offroading on your own property too most likely

      Also gonna drop the speed limits once again and make then bucket heads amongst the ranks traffic cop’s who go after “speeders” for merely going 56 in a 55

  10. ‘Next model year the Crosstrek joins the rest of its rivals in being automatic (CVT) only.’ — eric

    Which means the only Crosstrek I’ll ever own is a used one. I hear great things about them. But life is too short to drive a gov-mandated, p.o.s. CVTeeee.

    In the penultimate photo, Subaru actually has done a better job than most auto makers in integrating the colorful, icon-studded screeeeeen into the dash. (I’m thinking of the ones where its top edge just sticks up in the air, as if were Velcroed to the dash.)

    Yet the screeeeen is still grossly disproportionate in size, almost matching the diameter of the steering wheel. Catering to dipshit phone addicts has destroyed the aesthetics of auto interior design.

    *reaches for his small sledgehammer, to ‘fix’ it so it can’t be fixed*

  11. My wife just bought one. She ordered it in July and is waiting for it. We expect to get it in September.

    We’d be glad to tell you how we like it. We’ve liked the other Subaru cars we’ve owned, and we hope we’ll like this one.

    This brings us to three: an Outback, an Impreza, and a Crosstrek. My Outback has been relegated to “beater car” status since it is the oldest and highest mileage vehicle.

    • Hi Bryce,

      They are great little cars, in my opinion. I think it’s a loss, though, that they no longer offer the manual, which made the 2.0 Crosstrek fun-to-drive in the way slow cars with manuals always are. The ’24 with the CVT and the 2.0 is very pleasant; the car is quiet and remarkably soft without being sloshy, But – again – the loss of the manual is kind of like Elvis’ back-up band without the King.

      • Thanks!

        It meets our needs as basic reliable transportation that isn’t too expensive (geez, when did economy cars cost almost $30,000?) and is good for snow days.

        Because our knees aren’t what they used to be, and we have stop and go traffic to deal with, we’re OK with the automatic.

  12. EyeSight. Stereo optical system. Lots of Patent royalty checks flowing.

    So, how much is a windshield replacement on the Crosstrek?

  13. I see a point where the gassers won’t be able to keep up with the CAFE and will all become hybrid – and more expensive – until they all become EVs.

  14. Almost pulled the trigger on a manual Crosstrek several years ago…didn’t want the debt. And the time has passed, “now the stiff is froze and the case is closed, on the one, that got away” [h/t Tom Waits]

  15. That’s too bad. I love my manual Subie and the outside visibility is great. It’s peppy enough, just a well designed car. I’m sure your sister loves her Eric. Taking choices away is what is called “progress” now I suppose.

    • Hi Mark,

      Yup! With the manual (and for $23k) the Crosstrek was very appealing. The new one – without the manual (and for about $1,300 more to start) is less so. I hate what the government is doing to our cars…

      • You and me both. Govts sole role was to deliver the mail and protect us from enemies foreign and domestic, nothing more

        We need a reverse Pimp my Ride, or Unpimp Ze Auto for our govt, instead of this Double supercharged chrome everywhere with outdated spinners on air suspension Escalade with more lights and audio than a rave, we strip out all the crap, sell it to pay off debts and replace it with a Nissan Versa or something dirt cheap with a 5spd manual, and AC and radio at most

        • ” Govts sole role was to deliver the mail and protect us from enemies foreign and domestic, nothing more” -zane

          That was the role of the “Articles of Confederation” before the coup.

          The founders trashed the Articles for this Constitution which eliminated the sovereignty of the states and citizens and moved it to the Federales without any plebiscite. One day a free man,,, next day a tax donkey and war fodder.

          Today most everyone is the enemy, especially most anyone that isn’t a fascist of the uniparty.


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