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2023 Subaru Crosstrek: Choosing the Right Trim

The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek continues to lure buyers, bundling a car-like ride and interior comfort with the ground clearance and all-wheel-drive ability of an SUV. While it lacks the tall roofline of many competitors, the Crosstrek has a very roomy rear seat, a reasonably sized cargo bay, and good fuel economy.

Offered with a choice of two gas engines and manual or automatic transmissions, the Crosstrek stands apart from competitors like the Toyota Corolla Cross, Kia Seltos, Jeep Compass, Honda HR-V, and Chevy Trailblazer. There’s also a plug-in hybrid option, but it’s not as fuel-efficient as the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid.

With the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the 2.0-liter Crosstrek is rated by the EPA at 28 mpg city/33 mpg highway/30 mpg combined. With the manual, the 2.0-liter Crosstrek drops to 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway/25 mpg combined.

Crosstreks fitted with the larger 2.5-liter engine come exclusively with the CVT, and they are rated at 27 mpg city/34 mpg highway/29 mpg combined. That means the 2.5-liter Crosstrek models provide more power with almost no drop in efficiency compared to the 2.0-liter versions.

As this is likely the final year for this generation Crosstrek, Subaru has added a limited Special Edition trim with exclusive paint color and interior treatment.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek
(starting at $23,645 with 6MT, $24,995 with CVT)

The base Crosstrek comes standard with a 152-horsepower 2.0-liter boxer engine, Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, and a 6-speed manual transmission (6MT). Although finding this version will likely require quite a bit of legwork, the wait may be worth it for those who enjoy shifting their gears.

A manual transmission Crosstrek varies significantly from one equipped with the CVT because Subaru deletes the EyeSight driver-assist system and a few other features.

The 6MT’s all-wheel-drive system is also different, using a mechanical viscous coupling center differential that routes torque evenly in a 50/50 front/rear split. Another feature worth noting is the incline start assist, which prevents the vehicle from rolling backward when the clutch is depressed.

Standard equipment for the base Crosstrek includes rear privacy glass, power side mirrors, auto-on/off halogen headlights, variable intermittent wipers, a rear wiper/washer, 17-inch alloy wheels, remote keyless entry, and black roof rails.

Basic interior features include automatic climate control, power door locks, power windows with auto-up/down front windows, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with controls for the cruise, audio and Bluetooth, carpeted floor mats, and a multifunction display. Cloth upholstery covers the seats, including a manually height-adjustable driver’s seat and 60/40-split-folding rear seats.

A 6.5-inch color touchscreen operates the radio and infotainment system, connected to a 4-speaker stereo. The system includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a rear backup camera, and a single USB-A charge port.

Opt for the CVT automatic, and you’ll get better fuel economy and an advanced electronic all-wheel-drive setup capable of routing power to the wheel or wheels that need it most.

The CVT brings Subaru’s X-Mode, designed to improve traction at low speeds. Hill descent control keeps speed in check when descending steep inclines, and SI-DRIVE changes throttle mapping and shift points for better acceleration. Auto-start/stop is also standard, but drivers can switch it off.

The CVT option carries Subaru’s EyeSight suite of active safety features. The package includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with lane centering, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist.

Additional options included when ordering the CVT are Rear Seat Reminder (which urges the driver to check the rear seat before leaving the car), a color 4.2-inch LCD instrument cluster display, overhead pin lighting, and an upgraded tire pressure monitor with readouts for all four tires.

There are no options or packages for the base Crosstrek. However, you’ll find numerous dealer accessories, including roof-mounted racks for bikes, skis, and kayaks, as well as pet-friendly accessories and various add-ons for protecting the interior and exterior.

With the $1,225 destination charge, the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek CVT costs $26,220. On a 60-month loan with 3% financing and zero down, the monthly payment comes to about $471. See 2023 Subaru Crosstrek models for sale

2023 Subaru Crosstrek includes:

  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – These apps pair a smartphone with the car’s infotainment system, granting full access to music, navigation, phone book, and messaging.
  • Automatic climate control – This automated system keeps the cabin at the desired temperature, eliminating the need to fiddle with the temperature control constantly.
  • 6-speed manual – A rarity these days and a feature no other competitor offers. The Crosstrek’s manual transmission provides better driver control. It also deletes EyeSight, a plus for folks not looking for additional driver aids.
  • Available X-Mode – This system is most helpful when off-roading or tackling deep snow, adjusting the traction in low-speed situations for maximum grip.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Premium
(starting at $24,795 with 6MT, $26,145 with CVT)

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Premium in red.

The Premium adds about $1,000 to the base car’s price, but if you live in a region where cold weather is a regular part of life, you’ll find the added features worth every penny.

Like the base car, the Premium derives power from a 2.0-liter engine and comes standard with a 6-speed manual transmission. The CVT upgrade includes all features mentioned in the base trim.

The Premium’s most attractive features are its heated front seats, windshield-wiper de-icers, and heated side mirrors. Also part of the Premium package are headlights that activate when the front wipers turn on, fog lights, welcome lighting, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

While the touchscreen size remains 6.5 inches, the audio system gains two additional speakers for a total of six. It also gets a single-disc CD player (yes, they still exist). SiriusXM satellite radio, two USB-A ports (one for charging and one for data), a Wi-Fi hot spot, and access to Subaru Starlink Safety and Security features are standard. With a paid subscription, buyers can opt for services that send maintenance reminders, can help locate a lost or stolen vehicle, and allow remote start and climate settings via a smartphone.

The Premium trim comes standard with a rear cargo cover, lighted vanity mirrors, a lighted glove box, and backlit rear door power window switches.

Besides the CVT upgrade, buyers can opt for a package with a power moonroof, a blind-spot monitor with lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic detection, a 6-way power driver’s seat, and keyless access with push-button start.

With the $1,225 destination charge, the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Premium CVT costs $27,370. On a 60-month loan with 3% financing and zero down, the monthly payment comes to approximately $492. See 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Premium models for sale

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Premium includes:

  • Power driver’s seat – Permits a greater range of motion to help find the perfect driving position but lacks any adjustable lumbar support.
  • Upgraded audio – Brings two additional speakers, SiriusXM satellite radio, and a CD player, plus access to Subaru Starlink services.
  • Heated front seats – A must-have for cold climates, these two-stage heated seats are a welcome addition on cold winter days.
  • Windshield-wiper de-icers – Using heating elements at the windshield’s base, this system helps prevent ice and snow from building up on the wiper blades.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Special Edition
(starting at $26,745)

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Special Edition in beige.

The Crosstrek Special Edition builds off the Premium CVT, adding exclusive Desert Khaki paint, dark gray 17-inch alloy wheels, black door handles, and black badging. The SE’s interior gets black and red upholstery with red contrast stitching, low-luster black accent trim, and an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen.

With the $1,225 destination charge, the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Special Edition costs $27,970. On a 60-month loan with 3% financing and zero down, the monthly payment comes to about $503. See 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Special Edition models for sale

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Sport
(starting at $27,995)

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Sport in yellow.

The Crosstrek Sport trim may be our pick for the best overall value. Its main advantage over the Premium and SE is a larger 2.5-liter engine that bumps horsepower to 182. Along with better acceleration and passing power, the Sport also comes standard with an improved CVT that simulates the gear changes of an 8-speed automatic. It also gets steering wheel paddle shifters and EyeSight.

One feature found only on the Sport is Dual-Function X-Mode, which includes an additional setting for Deep Snow and Mud.

In addition to the Premium CVT’s standard equipment, the Sport adds oversized black wheel arches, unique exterior badges and trim, a black Sport grille, and 17-inch dark gray alloy wheels. Keyless access with proximity key fob and push-button start come standard, along with dual USB charge ports for the rear seat.

The Sport’s interior features StarTex water-repellent upholstery in gray with yellow stitching and a yellow Sport logo. Yellow stitching also graces the steering wheel, doors, and dash. An LED light built into the rear liftgate is another Sport plus.

A single option package adds a blind-spot monitor with lane-change assist, rear cross-traffic detection, a power moonroof, and an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen. For some reason, the Premium’s available 6-way power driver seat fails to make the cut, an omission some may find a deal killer.

With the $1,225 destination charge, the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Sport costs $29,220. On a 60-month loan with 3% financing and zero down, the monthly payment comes to about $525. See 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Sport models for sale

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Sport includes:

  • 2.5-liter engine – If there’s one thing everyone agrees on, it’s that the base engine in the Crosstrek is woefully underpowered. The Sport’s 2.5-liter engine solves this issue yet still returns impressive fuel economy.
  • Dual-Function X-Mode – Along with the standard X-Mode settings for Snow/Dirt, the Dual-mode system includes a more aggressive mode for Deep Snow/Mud.
  • Sport styling – With its dark gray wheels, oversized black wheel arches, and unique badging, the Sport is the most stylish of the Crosstrek line.
  • Available 8-inch Starlink infotainment – The larger 8-inch touchscreen looks better, reacts faster, and offers more real estate for viewing icons and information.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Limited
(starting at $29,495)

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Limited in blue.

The Limited is the best-equipped Crosstrek trim, offering more upscale features and additional driver aids but also a higher price tag.

Building off the Premium, the Limited gains the Sport’s a 2.5-liter engine, 8-step CVT and SI-Drive, but with the single-mode X-Mode system.

The Limited’s cabin features leather upholstery, a 6-way power driver’s seat (but still no lumbar support), an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen, a color multi-information display, a rear-seat armrest with built-in cup holders, and keyless access with push-button start.

The Limited furthers its status as top dog with 18-inch alloy wheels, steering-responsive LED headlights, LED fog lights, automatic high-beam headlights, and Reverse Automatic Emergency Braking.

Options for the Limited include a power moonroof, an 8-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system, and built-in navigation powered by TomTom.

With the $1,225 destination fee, the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Limited costs $30,720. On a 60-month loan with 3% financing and zero down, the monthly payment comes to about $552. See 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Limited models for sale

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Limited includes:

  • Steering-responsive LED headlights – Bright LEDs provide an impressively long light pattern, while steering-responsive headlights help illuminate dark corners by turning in the direction of the steering wheel.
  • Reverse Automatic Braking – Sensors in the rear bumper can detect objects behind the Crosstrek and alert the driver. If the driver fails to stop, the system automatically applies the brakes, slowing or stopping the vehicle before an accident can occur.
  • Automatic high-beam headlights – Using light sensors, the headlights can detect oncoming traffic and automatically dim the high beams. Once the coast is clear, the high beams automatically reactivate.
  • Available Harman Kardon audio – Attached to a 423-watt amp, the eight Harman Kardon speakers deliver impressive sound quality. However, unlike the other Harman Kardon system in Subaru vehicles, this one does not include a subwoofer.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid
(starting at $36,845)

The most fuel-efficient Crosstrek is the Hybrid. It employs a 2.0-liter gas engine paired with two electric motors/generators for a combined output of 148 horsepower. The Crosstrek Hybrid can be plugged in, although it’s not necessary. With a full battery, the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid has an all-electric range of 17 miles.

The Crosstrek Hybrid mirrors the content found in the Limited but adds a few hybrid-specific features. Among them is a unique instrument cluster with hybrid readouts and a hybrid-specific multi-information display.

The Hybrid features special Starlink upgrades that allow operation of the interior climate controls without starting the car and the ability to automatically set a charge time outside peak hours to help save money.

Some notable interior differences include the Hybrid’s blue and gray leather seating, blue interior accents, and blue stitching. There’s also a reduction in cargo space due to the battery pack placement below the cargo floor. The fuel tank also is three gallons smaller.

The Hybrid offers only one option package containing a power moonroof, navigation, the Harman Kardon audio system, and a heated steering wheel.

The Crosstrek Hybrid has an EPA combined fuel economy rating of 35 mpg and an impressive range of 480 miles.

With the $1,225 destination fee, the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid costs $38,070. On a 60-month loan with 3% financing and zero down, the monthly payment comes to about $684. See 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid models for sale


What is the best 2023 Subaru Crosstrek trim?

This is a tough one. If you’re not a fan of driver-assist systems, the Premium with the manual transmission is the obvious choice. The Sport is probably the best value for its styling, power, and features.

Off-road adventurers will love the Dual-mode X-Mode and water-repellent seats, but the Sport lacks some creature comforts expected at this price, so there is a trade-off. The Limited has it all, minus the Sport’s Dual-mode X-Mode, but its cost may prove prohibitive.

How many MPGs does the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek get?

With the manual transmission, the Crosstrek base and Premium trims earn an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway/25 mpg combined. When equipped with the CVT automatic, fuel economy figures jump to 28 mpg city/33 mpg highway/30 mpg combined.

The Sport and Limited come with a larger 2.5-liter engine and standard CVT. Fuel economy figures for these trims come in at 27 mpg city/34 mpg highway/29 mpg combined.

The Crosstrek Hybrid earns an EPA-estimated 35 mpg/90 mpge.

Which 2023 Subaru Crosstrek offers the most safety?

In crash testing, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Subaru Crosstrek its highest rating of five stars overall, earning four stars in the frontal and rollover crash tests and five stars in the side-impact test.

The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Subaru Crosstrek excellent marks in all crash-test categories and rates it a Top Safety Pick. The Crosstrek Hybrid does even better, snagging a Top Safety Pick + accolade.

We’d opt for a trim with blind-spot monitoring and rear emergency braking, just for good measure.

Joe Tralongo
Joe Tralongo is a longtime contributor who started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2002 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He’s well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to translate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations. Joe has worked for a number of outlets as... Read More about Joe Tralongo

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