2023 Subaru Crosstrek: Is the Subaru XV replacement the best small compact SUV?

A grey and an orange Subaru Crosstrek parked on a rocky beach

Toby Hagon

Posted May 31, 2023

With fresh new looks and branding, Subaru’s new Crosstrek SUV takes the fight to small compact SUV category leaders including the Toyota Corolla Cross, Kia Seltos and Hyundai Kona.

The Subaru Crosstrek represents a new nameplate for the Japanese car maker – but not an all-new model. The Crosstrek is a rebranding of the Subaru XV compact SUV, with the Impreza-based five-door adopting the model’s name used in the USA since 2013.  
The new Crosstrek nameplate coincides with the arrival of a new model, albeit one that evolves, rather than revolutionises, the theme of the XV.

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The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek is a rebranding of the Subaru XV Compact SUV. Image: Supplied.
All-wheel drive comes standard with each model of the Crosstrek. Image: Supplied.

Subaru Crosstrek pricing and features

The Subaru Crosstrek is available in three trim levels, all of them offered with all-wheel drive. That’s something of a rarity in the compact SUV segment, where two-wheel drive is often the only option.

There’s also the choice of a regular 2.0-litre engine and – for two of the three model grades - a petrol-electric hybrid system. 

For now, it’s only the 2.0-litre that has arrived in dealerships and all of them have crept up a few grand over the XVs they replace. 

The entry-level 2.0L Subaru Crosstrek is priced from $34,990 plus on-road costs and includes 17-inch alloy wheels, wireless phone charging, dual-zone ventilation, smart key entry and an 11.6-inch infotainment screen incorporating wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

The 2.0R adds 18-inch wheels, alloy pedals, powered driver’s seat, heated front seats and various trim changes, including more upmarket cloth for the seats. 

At the top of the tree is the 2.0-S, at $41,490 plus costs. It gets a sunroof, leather trim, sat-nav and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. 

The R and S models are available with a hybrid system that costs another $3600.


2023 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S

The top-of-the-line 2.0S model gives you a sunroof, leather trim, sat-nav and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.  Image: Supplied.. Image: Supplied


Subaru Crosstrek safety equipment

The Subaru Crosstrek has a long list of standard safety gear, including nine airbags, one of which is designed to prevent head clashes between the front occupants. Rather than a forward-facing radar, Subaru uses its EyeSight system that has two cameras. As well as adaptive cruise control and auto braking, it also caters for lane keeping and even keeping an eye on the brake lights of a vehicle ahead. Plus, it can give you a polite alert if the car in front has moved away and you’re still stationary. 

There’s also blind spot monitoring, plus R and S Subaru Crosstrk models get a 360-degree camera.

The Subaru Crosstrek is yet been tested by ANCAP.


Wireless phone charger in the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek

A wireless phone charger is handy but let down by how phones slide off the charger when taking corners. Image: Supplied


Subaru Crosstrek interiors and design

The new Subaru Crosstrek gets a neater and more upmarket interior than the XV it replaces.

Key to that improvement is the addition of an 11.6-inch single touchscreen, rather than the two displays of the previous model. It’s a far simpler way of integrating the main functions and incorporates physical buttons, as well as a dial for the volume control.  

It still pays to familiarise yourself with the Subaru Crosstrek’s menus, which include some of the ventilation controls. And not everything works seamlessly; the wireless phone charging pad, for example, is flat and lacks support, so gentle corners can have it sliding around to the point where it stops charging. 

Thankfully, there are two USB ports up front to take care of gadget charging, while R and S Subaru Crosstrek models add another pair of USB ports in the rear. 

Despite the push upmarket, there’s still some old school thinking when it comes to the Subaru Crosstrek. They include traditional analogue dials and a lack of air vents to the rear seats. 

We only drove R and S Subaru Crosstrek models, each of which gets some key interior appointments over the L.  The R’s cloth seat finishes look hardy and modern, although there aren’t the vibrant highlights available with the previous car. The S’s leather has the anticipated grey formality. 

Those in the rear don’t get the same sprawling room as those up front – knee room can be tight if the front occupants have their seats slid back – but by compact SUV standards it’s relatively spacious.


Rear leg room might seem sparse but the Crosstrek is relatively spacious for a compact SUV . Image: Supplied
The Crosstrek gets a neater and more upmarket interior than the XV it replaces. Image: Supplied.

Subaru Crosstrek engine, specs and fuel efficiency

There’s a familiarity to the engines of the Subaru Crosstrek. Subaru’s venerable 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine is back for duty, although the outputs are nothing special, at just 115kW and 196Nm. 

Fuel use is claimed at 7.2 litres per 100km, which is higher than key rivals. 

A hybrid version is available, although we haven’t driven it yet. It’s claimed to drop average fuel use to 6.5L/100km. Again, that’s nothing special in the compact SUV space – less so when compared with Toyota hybrid systems found in the Corolla Cross or Yaris Cross that dominate at this end of the market.


A 2023 Subaru Crosstrek driving along a dirt road in the bush

The Crosstrek's suspension means it handles bumps and country roads with ease. Image: Supplied


Subaru Crosstrek performance and handling

The Crosstrek is the first of the new generation of small Subaru models. Its five-door SUV body is shared with the upcoming Subaru Impreza hatch, albeit with additional bulges and black highlights for a more rugged look. The significance of this is that it also has new mechanical underpinnings and it’s clear Subaru has paid plenty of attention to everyday comfort.  
The Subaru Crosstrek’s suspension controls the body beautifully and also soaks up bumps nicely.

It’s particularly well settled on country roads where it drives more like a larger, more mature vehicle. It also hushes outside noises nicely, adding to its comfort levels.

But arguably the best attribute of the Subaru Crosstrek is its ability to adventure. While many small compact SUVs are designed to scale only the heights of suburbia, the Crosstrek has also been designed to live up to the marketing. There’s a full 220mm of ground clearance and the bumpers aren’t as low-slung as most. That means you can clamber over jagged trails and undulations with ease. 

Subaru’s simple but effective all-wheel drive system ensures traction at each corner. That’s only foiled when a wheel hangs in the air, which is relatively easy to do given the car-based independent suspension system. So, while the Subaru Crosstrek is adventurous, it’s ultimately not as capable as more serious off-roaders. 

Thankfully, the traction control system is quick to step in, helping apportion drive to the wheels with grip. Subaru’s X-Mode system also tailors the electronics to different surfaces, including gravel, mud and snow. 

Less impressive is the engine. The 2.0-litre is a modest performer that needs to be worked hard for more enthusiastic acceleration. However, it’s hooked up to a CVT auto transmission; instead of fixed ratios, it adjusts engine revs to what the driver is demanding, allowing greater flexibility and smoother progress. That CVT works well in harnessing the power on offer, although for country road hill climbing you’ll have to keep the right foot planted to maintain pace. All up, though, the driving experience is a step up for a compact SUV that delivers on its adventurous positioning.


The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit racv.com.au. As distributor, RACV Insurance Services Pty Ltd AFS Licence No. 230039 receives commission for each policy sold or renewed. Product(s) issued by Insurance Manufacturers of Australia ABN 93 004 208 084 AFS Licence No. 227678.

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