26 September 2023

Crosstrek Changes The Game

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By Paul Gover.

It’s about time the Subaru XV was put into the rear-vision mirror.

The smallest Subaru was underdone from the get-go, although a fair number of Australians warmed to an SUV size that dropped it into the Subaru line-up below the Forester and Outback.

Now there is the Crosstrek, a new name for a new approach.

The size is much the same, but the Crosstrek is better than the XV in every way.

Even the starting price, a premium position from $34,990, is relatively good value.

There are two hybrid versions of the Crosstrek, too, from $38,590.

The first few moments with, and in, the Crosstrek prove the improvements over the outgoing XV.

Styled to look bigger and more modern, it’s also closely related to the latest Forester and Outback. That’s no surprise, since the car is built from the all-new Subaru Global Platform which provides the foundations for all of its latest models.

From the wheel, the car feels bigger and more plush. The performance is better, too.

But there is one disappointment – the car only comes with a space-saver spare the, or an inflator kit on the hybrids. It was one of the regular complaints about the XV from owners, who worried about getting home safely from a weekend getaway – one of the selling points of any Subaru – after a puncture.

Performance from the 2-litre ‘boxer’ engine is good without turning the car into a firebrand, and the CVT transmission – even with eight artificial ‘gear’ steps – holds the car back. The flip-side is claimed fuel economy of 7.2 litres/100km, which can dip into the ’sixes’ with a light foot.

As always, the car comes with Subaru’s signature all-wheel drive – one reason for the premium price-tag – and the car always feels balanced and competent. Dirt roads are no threat.

The Crosstrek arrives to complete a full refresh of the Subaru line-up in Australia and the brand has timed things well, as showroom demand continues to outstrip supplies of popular models.

Subaru has also increased its safety focus on the Crosstrek, with nine airbags and an updated ‘Eyesight’ package of driver-assist systems that now includes a driver monitor to combat fatigue and drowsiness.

But it’s the basics that are best.

The Crosstrek genuinely feels premium, with a well-designed cabin and suspension that’s right up with the best in class. It’s not a sporty tune, like you find in a Kia, but is just what’s needed for long-distance freeways or gnarly country roads in Australia.

The seats are comfy, there is good space in the back seat, LED headlights and wireless smartphone connection.

The pricing is not great, but the Crosstrek justifies the spend with a package that makes it one of the very best in the class and a smart choice.


Position: small SUV

Price: from $34,990

Engine: 2.0-litre petrol

Power: 115kW/196Nm

Transmission: CVT auto, all-wheel drive

Plus: plush, comfortable, improved

Minus: no full-sized spare, CVT transmission

THE TICK: Subaru learned from the XV

Score: 8.5/10

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