"I'd like a little bit more power, but the CVT and powerplant work well together, getting an EPA fuel rating of 33 miles per gallon in the city, an excellent score for an all-wheel drive small SUV. The transmission mimics a traditional automatic under heavy acceleration, and there are paddle shifters to click through seven preset ratios if you want to channel your inner race car driver.
The paddle shifters came in handy on my Subaru-sponsored press drive through the Black Hills of South Dakota. Half our day was spent on well-maintained dirt roads, and I used the paddle shifters to keep the revs high, keeping the Crosstrek motivated out of the turns. The back end slid out on the loose dirt, but the traction control kicked in quickly to keep things in line."
-- Emme Hall, Roadshow by CNET
"Most impressive are the enhancements made to ride quality, noise reduction, and overall agility. My test route mixed up high-speed and often times curvy back roads, with long stretches on dirt and gravel. The in-cabin quiet I experienced during all of these conditions was excellent for the class, and things like wind and tire noise were quite a bit lower than what I remembered from driving the older Crosstrek. Transitioning from rough to smooth roads called out a really nice compliance in the suspension, with a very settled ride even when I got a little aggressive on some wide-open gravel roads out in the hills. And, though this is not a vehicle I'd feel pushed to drive near its dynamic limits, it's not so soft as to bog down in corners with body roll or flex in the structure."
-- Seyth Miersma, Motor1.com
"I sampled both transmissions and have come to the rare conclusion that the CVT-equipped model is the one to have. This is odd given my penchant for enjoying doing the shifting duty myself, but the problem here is the engine, not the transmission. My biggest beef with the old Crosstrek was that it couldn't get out of its own way — it was woefully underpowered with either the manual or automatic. This has not been solved with the new vehicle, as the 2.0-liter engine is still anemic, although I do also wonder if this might have to do with the altitude at which I tested it — in Deadwood, S.D., elevation 4,300 feet, at Subaru's national media introduction. Calculations that adjust for altitude suggest the Crosstrek was producing closer to 132 hp instead of its rated 152 hp.
From a standing start, it feels like acceleration can be measured with a calendar. If you've already got some momentum built, it's not quite so bad; the Crosstrek responds quickly when you power through a corner. The CVT is very well matched to the engine, always keeping it on boil if you're driving it aggressively, but you'll need to be prepared for it to be revving its heart out as it tries to deliver what little power it has. There's little oomph below 2,500 rpm, and it seems to run out a little after 4,000 rpm. If you opted for the manual transmission, you'll be shifting it like mad to try and keep your speed up on even slight grades. Save yourself the angst and go for the CVT, a much more pleasant experience."
-- Aaron Bragman, Cars.com
"Improvements that were made to the Impreza carry over to the Crosstrek. We were impressed by the cushy and steady ride that's head and shoulders better than its competitors. Its handling is responsive but less so than the Impreza, because of its additional height, and it's certainly less frisky than the Mazda CX-3 or Toyota CH-R."
-- Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports
"Aside from the somewhat anemic engine, the new Crosstrek is relatively fun to drive. Subaru uses a quicker steering ratio this year, sharpening response, and it does take some time to acclimate to the vehicle's immediate reply to input. The suspension supplies a deft blend of ride quality and handling capability, feeling a bit softer yet no less capable. The brakes behave exactly as the driver expects, the pedal calibrated to facilitate the fine-tuning necessary while off-roading or traveling on slippery surfaces."
"Subaru has done a good job of quieting and refining the Crosstrek for daily driver duty. On the highway, it is easier to carry on a conversation or to enjoy your favorite music through the new Harmon Kardon premium sound system. In town, the car feels more compliant, better filtering pavement aberrations, a trait most people will welcome. Yet on trails through the woods, the Crosstrek retains its stiff and scrappy character, bounding along at speeds that would divorce a typical crossover from its vital fluids."
-- Christian Wardlaw, New York Daily News
"Overall, the Subaru Crosstrek is a solid little car that lives and dies by its Impreza base. The weak powertrain really brings it down, but it still has the Impreza's usable space and maneuverability with a dash of crossover flair and comfort. Add in its dirt-trail capability, and it becomes a great option for someone looking for a small, practical car that won't quit when the going gets (a little) rough, or even for someone who just wants the look of a car like that. Because of that, we expect Subaru will sell plenty more Crosstreks in the next few years."
-- Joel Stocksdale, Autoblog
"Base Crosstrek 2.0i models weigh just 4 pounds less than the outgoing model, which makes the added 4 hp to the Crosstrek's power-to-weight ratio a slightly less significant rounding error. If you weren't impressed by the last generation's speed, chances are that your opinion won't improve. Subaru doesn't quote official 0-to-60 mph times because "about 10 seconds" doesn't sound all that great.
There's no coaxing the power out either. The engine is mated to either a 6-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The former is for frugality, and the latter is for efficiency, since the CVT is actually the less thirsty of the two. The smooth uptake and sharp-shifting stick are nice for feeling, but lousy at drawing speed from the Crosstrek. Most of the engine's power is on the low end, so constant shifts are required to keep it in its sweet-spot without strangling the overmatched mill."
-- Aaron Cole, The Car Connection