While a number of compact cars and SUVs now offer the option off all-wheel drive, very few can actually tackle mild to rugged off-road conditions and come out unscathed. That’s not the case with the 2020 Subaru Crosstrek, a compact crossover based on the popular Impreza platform and one of Subaru‘s best selling vehicles. With its 8.7 inches of ground clearance, standard symmetrical all-wheel drive and X-Mode off-road traction system, the Crosstrek goes above what is offered on a Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 or Hyundai Kona. However, Jeep‘s Renegade and Compass Trailhawk models are definitely a threat, as is a slightly larger SUV such as the Toyota RAV4 Adventure. Despite its standard AWD, the Crosstrek’s fuel economy tops the segment in both city and highway driving when equipped with the optional CVT automatic transmission. The hybrid model does even better. The Crosstrek’s price is also highly competitive, as is its advanced suite of available EyeSight driver safety assists.
What’s New for 2020?
All CVT-equipped models now come standard with the EyeSight driver assist system, SI-Drive performance management system and auto start/stop. Other upgrades include standard automatic climate control and available Rear Seat Reminder. New model pricing increases by just $250 over last year’s gas-powered models and $150 for Crosstrek Hybrid. See the 2020 Subaru Crosstrek models for sale near you
What We Like
- Good fuel economy
- Hybrid model
- Excellent safety scores and resale value
- Standard EyeSight driver assists on CVT-equipped models
- Roomy rear seat
- Real off-road capability
What We Don’t
- Slow to reach 60 mph
- Seats lack adjustable lumbar support
- EyeSight not offered on manual transmission cars
- Hybrid mileage not much better than gas-only models
$23,155–$39,000 (includes $1,010 destination fee)
The Crosstrek offers a choice of two engines. On the gasoline-only trims, a 2.0-liter boxer flat-4 rated at 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque comes standard, mated with Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. On cars with a manual transmission, the AWD system uses a mechanical viscous coupling center differential that evenly distributes power 50:50 front to rear. Models equipped with the CVT automatic use a more advanced electronic system that can vary torque distribution for better traction. CVT-equipped cars also feature X-Mode with hill-descent control. When equipped with the 6-speed manual, the Crosstrek earns an Environmental Protection Agency-estimated 22 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Adding the optional CVT automatic improves these figures to 27 mpg city/33 mpg hwy.
The hybrid engine option pairs the same 2.0-liter gas engine with two electric motors. The CrossTrek Hybrid can be driven for 17 miles in full electric mode at speeds up to 65 mph. The EPA gives the Crosstrek Hybrid a 90 MPGe combined rating and a 35 mpg combined rating overall, giving it a range of around 480 miles. Subaru claims the added torque from the electric motors helps the hybrid model reach 60 mph one second faster than the non-hybrid model.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek comes in four trims: base, Premium, Limited and Hybrid. A 6-speed manual is standard on the base and Premium, while the Limited and Hybrid come standard with a CVT automatic transmission that’s optional on the other two trims.
The Crosstrek ($23,155) comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, raised roof rails, 17-in alloy wheels, power side mirrors, power windows and door locks, automatic power lock, automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, 6.5-in Starlink touchscreen radio with four speakers and a USB/iPod port, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, a rearview monitor, air conditioning, cruise control, multi-function display and a tilt-and-telescopic steering column. Adding the CVT transmission brings the EyeSight system (automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist), SI-Drive and auto start/stop.
The Crosstrek Premium ($24,205) adds fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, the All Weather package (heated front seats, heated side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer), auto on/off headlights, illuminated visor vanity mirrors, a rear cargo tray and retractable cover, upgraded Starlink audio with two additional speakers, SiriusXM satellite radio and color-keyed side mirror caps. Optional equipment for the Premium comes only when the CVT automatic is added, which also includes X-Mode, SI-Drive with paddle shifter and the EyeSight driver assist suite. Options are bundled into two packages and include a power moonroof, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic assist, keyless access with push-button start and a power driver’s seat. Notable dealer add-ons include a Rockford-Fosgate speaker and amp upgrade, protective side molding, a rear bumper cover, mudguards and remote start.
The Crosstrek Limited ($28,405) adds the CVT automatic transmission with X-Mode, EyeSight, SI-Drive, auto stop/start, leather seating, a power driver’s seat, steering wheel paddle shifters, an 8-in touchscreen radio, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic assist, reverse automatic braking, 18-in alloy wheels, LED steering responsive headlights, high beam assist, integrated side-mirror turn signals, Rear Seat Reminder (reminds driver to check the rear seat before leaving the vehicle), a 4.2-in color LCD display, a 6.3-in color multifunction display, keyless access with push-button start and PIN-code access and a folding rear armrest with cupholders. Options for the Limited trim include a Harman Kardon audio system, navigation and a power moonroof.
The Crosstrek Hybrid ($36,155) adds to Limited’s feature with a hybrid readout instrument cluster, unique interior trim and slightly decreased cargo bay (to make room for the battery). There is one option package for the hybrid model that adds navigation, a heated steering wheel, Harman Kardon audio and a power moonroof.
Subaru equips every Crosstrek with anti-lock brakes, electronic traction and stability control, a rearview monitor and seven airbags including front, front-side impact, front and rear side-curtain and driver’s knee airbag. The Crosstrek features a wealth of available safety options, including Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist that includes adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. Steering-responsive headlights and high-beam assist are available to help drivers see in dark conditions, while reverse automatic braking helps avoid accidents when backing up.
In crash tests, both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) give the 2020 Crosstrek top marks in almost every category, with a 5-star overall rating from the government and a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS when equipped with the EyeSight system.
Behind the Wheel
While the Crosstrek isn’t a track star, it has just enough muscle to get you where you need to go. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter directed-injected 4-cylinder boxer engine providing 152 hp to the wheels. While 152 doesn’t sound like a tremendous amount of hp, at no point in the mountains of South Dakota did the Crosstrek feel like it was straining to conquer steep inclines, even in the higher elevations. However, once up to speed, ample power needed for quick passing maneuvers proved in short supply.
Behind the wheel, Subaru’s tiniest SUV failed to disappoint once again, as it felt nimble and ready for whatever the winding mountain roads could throw at it. Even the steering wheel felt perfectly designed and comfortable in my hands as I transitioned from secluded rural roads to the tourist congestion of Mount Rushmore. The hybrid model offers a bit better acceleration due to the added torque supplied by its hybrid batteries. Unfortunately, the added weight of the hybrid system somewhat diminishes those returns.
Off-road is where Subaru’s tiny crossover really shines. We had an opportunity to test out the Crosstrek’s symmetrical AWD and X-Mode’s prowess at a rock quarry while driving some of the sketchiest hills I’ve ever traversed. Admittedly, the experience was exhilarating and even somewhat shocking. At no point did the Subaru feel loose or unsure as it steadily climbed the mini-mountains of loose rock, giving the driver confidence in a situation that was far from ideal. But what goes up must come down, and in turn the Crosstrek and myself were forced to descend a hill consisting of small stones that were constantly tumbling, shifting and sliding. In addition, the grade was so steep that when I approached the edge of the precipice, I could no longer see the descending path in front of me. This is where the capability of the Crosstrek’s hill-descent control came into play. As I let my foot off the brake gently, the tiny crossover slowly made its way down a hill that I was unable to navigate on foot without falling. The descent was careful, agile and downright awe-inspiring.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Jeep Compass — The Compass offers similar power, interior room and features, plus the trail-rated Trailhawk trim. But the Compass’ fuel economy, reliability and resale numbers are not as good, nor are its available driver assist features.
2020 Honda HR-V — The HR-V offers a choice of front– or all-wheel drive, has a lower base price and holds its value nearly as well as the Crosstrek. However, the HR-V doesn’t offer the Crosstrek’s extensive list of driver assists or features, and it can’t venture too far off road.
2020 Hyundai Kona — The Hyundai Kona offers a turbocharged engine, a locking center differential on AWD models and loads of standard and available equipment plus a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Kona’s interior is much smaller than the Crosstrek’s, however, and it’s still too new to talk about long-term reliability or resale numbers.
Used Subaru Outback — A 2015-2018 Subaru Outback offers more power, more interior room and more features but the same 8.7 inches of ground clearance, Subaru AWD setup and excellent safety and resale figures.
While we love the idea of the Limited trim’s rocking Harman Kardon stereo, leather seats and a power driver’s seat, we think the best value is the Premium with the CVT that brings EyeSight, SI-Drive and auto stop/start. To this, we’d add the option package with the moonroof, power driver’s seat, keyless entry and push button start, blind spot detection and rear cross-traffic assist. Toss in the Rockford-Fosgate speaker upgrade for better sound and you’re still out the door for about $28,000. However, if you’re a lover of auto high beams, leather seats and built-in navigation, you’ll have to pony up some extra cash and opt for the Limited. Find a Subaru Crosstrek for sale