- Go anywhere...
- Go everywhere...
- Go whenever...
- And with whomever you want.
- But you won't get there quickly...
- And it might be loud inside...
- Without a whole lot to look at.
The 2017 Subaru Outback is an extremely versatile, rugged, compact SUV that's relatively efficient compared to other crossovers.
The types of people who have Tevas and "dress Tevas" already know, but for the rest of us, the 2017 Subaru Crosstrek is the automaker's smallest crossover SUV—a Swiss Army approach to automaking.
The compact crossover started life as a tall Impreza hatchback, bent on conquering the beyond—and looking the part too. This year, the Crosstrek Hybrid has been axed, but the regular version carries forward with a mid-level grade, dubbed Premium Special Edition, which could sway some buyers into its utilitarian approach. Starting at base 2.0i trim for roughly $22,500, the Crosstrek comes in Premium, Premium Special Edition, and Limited trims.
It earns a respectable 6.2 out of 10 overall on our scale thanks to its versatility, safety, and fuel economy. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
The Crosstrek prioritizes capability and versatility, with some concessions to style. Subaru's Crosstrek has an air of cross-trainer shoes about it: it's suitable for a variety of uses, with a wash-and-ready quality that few cars possess. To that end, most of the surfaces inside are straightforward and plain, the exterior body is more at home on a mountain trail than a valet lot.
Under the hood, a 2.0-liter flat-4 engine is mated to either a 5-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The CVT is our pick here because it's relatively smooth and keeps the Crosstrek the most efficient, but also because the aged 5-speed manual holds on to some pretense that the Crosstrek is fast—it's not.
The flat-4 makes 148 horsepower and is better suited to traversing rough roads slowly than climbing up mountain passes quickly—we've enjoyed doing far more of the former than we have of the latter. All-wheel drive is standard in the Crosstrek and it's rated to tow up to 1,500 pounds. (Yes, we've done that too.)
If you're looking for 0-60 mph times, you're in the wrong place. Fuel efficiency is well within the Crosstrek's wheelhouse if you're looking for an SUV; it manages up to 29 mpg combined for a CVT.
Comfort, safety, and features
The Crosstrek thrives on versatility and utility. It can fit four adults—five in a pinch—and plenty of gear, with standard roof racks that can carry up to 150 pounds. Fold the rear seats down and the Crosstrek swallows nearly 52 cubic feet of gear, or enough kit to traverse the entire territories negotiated in the 1846 Oregon Treaty.
Subaru's reputation for safety carries on in the Crosstrek, which manages very good scores from both major U.S. safety rating agencies. The IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick when equipped with Subaru's optional EyeSight suite of advanced safety features and federal testers give it five stars overall in crash testing.
That EyeSight system is a nerve farm located near the rearview mirror that adds adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning systems for a very affordable price. Rearview cameras are standard on all Crosstreks, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert were new for last year.
Base cars get a very nice infotainment system, a 6.2-inch touchscreen with internet radio streaming capabilities and Bluetooth connectivity, wheels Subaru calls Starlink. Chunky 17-inch wheels and cloth seats are the only other highlights on 2.0i models, but Premium and Limited cars are trimmed much better. Top-of-the-line Limited cars get leather, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with navigation, and a standard CVT, but don't necessarily feel luxurious.
Base models start at $22,170, including $915 destination.
2017 Subaru Crosstrek
The Crosstrek doesn't make many concessions to utility, inside or out.
The 2017 Subaru Crosstrek is utilitarian first, stylish second.
Its exterior borrows much from the last-generation Impreza and has aged, and its interior is certainly functional, but merely average for the class. It earns a 4 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
In essence, the Crosstrek is a lifted hatchback with cladding and restyled bumpers to help it look more macho. Subaru has managed to keep the Crosstrek interesting with some wild colors such as bright blue, shocking yellow, and construction-cone orange, which we appreciate.
No matter the color, the Crosstrek looks outdoors ready with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, a tough looking roof rack, and chunky wheels.
That's the good news. The bad news? The cross-trainer look hasn't kept up. Small SUVs in its class can look stylish without being aggressive, and the Crosstrek's overall shape is a little bulky in comparison.
Inside, the Crosstrek is fairly straightforward with a utilitarian bent. The dash is simple and fundamentally the same as the Impreza, with analog gauges and a multifunction display in the middle. Straightforward lines maximize interior space with a no-nonsense interior. It's better inside in higher trims—contrast stitching and varied interior materials help—but it's only up to average now for the class.
2017 Subaru Crosstrek
The Crosstrek certainly isn't blindingly fast, but it is shockingly capable. We have pictures to prove it.
The 2017 Subaru Crosstrek is an all-weather hauler first that focuses on capability rather than outright power.
At its heart, it's an Impreza hatchback with a lift, bigger wheels and tires, a larger gas tank, beefier running gear, and bigger front brakes.
Its engine isn't overwhelming with power, in fact, it certainly needs more. But its ride quality is relatively good and Subaru has nailed its continuously variable transmission (CVT) programming. It earns a 6 out of 10 on our performance index. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
This year, Subaru has dropped its slow-selling Crosstrek Hybrid model, paring down the number of available engines from two to one. The standard setup in all Crosstreks is a 2.0-liter flat-4 engine that makes 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. The "flat" there refers to the orientation of the Crosstrek's cylinders, a horizontally opposed layout (most automakers align 4-cylinder engines in an straight format) that helps keep the weight lower in car's frame. Sometimes there's an efficiency tradeoff with laying those cylinders flat, but for the most part, it keeps the Crosstrek's center of gravity closer to the ground.
That engine can be paired with a 5-speed manual transmission that's very old at this point, or more commonly, a CVT automatic that we prefer. It's a $1,000 option on Premium models, standard on Limited trim.
All Crosstreks are equipped with all-wheel drive as standard, but two different systems are used based on the selected transmission. On manual-equipped cars, the Crosstrek comes with a viscous coupling all-wheel-drive system with a locking center differential. Cars with the CVT use an electronically managed continuously variable transfer-clutch system. In both models, power is sent to the wheels with the most grip, but the manual version provides a more direct, connected driving feel.
Behind the wheel, the Crosstrek doesn't feel all that fast or responsive. All 148 hp struggle to motivate the 3,200-pound mass up to highway speeds, something that can be temporarily fixed by opting for the 5-speed, but that's not a permanent solution. The manual transmission has a longer throw than we'd like, and feels like its geared lower for off-roading, rather than for highway jaunts. The CVT is seamless and keeps the flat-4 relatively fuel efficient, but lacks any urgency.
On road, the Crosstrek doesn't handle as well as the related Impreza, but its light steering and athletic chassis make it somewhat fun to drive. Its fairly composed on highways and dirt roads alike, although with a higher ride height there's considerable nose dive and rebound on hard stops.
Because of its loftier height, the Crosstrek is more susceptible to crosswinds than its Impreza hatch cousin. On the highway, it also tends to wander, requiring frequent corrections to maintain a straight path. This is likely due to the off-road-friendlier tires that are fitted, and may also be a result of modified suspension geometry from the lift it receives. On rough roads, interior noise can reach a level where normal conversation is difficult. Limited models add a thicker, acoustic windshield to cut down on road noise.
Base Crosstreks can tow up to 1,500 pounds—and we've done it up and over some of the tallest highways in the U.S., specifically Interstate 70 in Colorado. In short: yes, it can—but load up those podcasts first, you're not going to do it quickly.
Off road, the Crosstrek bounds between mud and rocks, dusty trails and blizzards alike. It's incredibly versatile and surprisingly capable. Again: Yes, it can.
2017 Subaru Crosstrek
Comfort & Quality
The Crosstrek lives in the mud, it's the perfect tool for trekking into the abyss.
The Crosstrek trades—and succeeds—on its brutal versatility. The automaker's reputation for rugged, outdoors-ready vehicles is known and documented, but so is its reputation for relatively plain interiors.
The front and rear seats are adequate for adults, and so is its cargo area for gear and pets. In keeping with most hatchbacks, the Crosstrek an excellent multipurpose tool for life, so we give it an 6 out of 10 for comfort based entirely on its utility. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Seating is upright and commodious for four adults. We'll admit that the front seats are a little short and flat for taller drivers and passengers, so long-distance comfort may be slightly compromised, but the rear seats are surprisingly accommodating for rear-seat riders. Four will fit within the Crosstrek's confines, five in a pinch. A small knob on the tops of the rear seats split the rear seat backs 60/40, making it easy to flip forward the seats from inside the car.
The rear hatch opens to make available all 22.3 cubic feet of cargo area available. The load floor isn't especially high nor is it encumbered by intrusive strut towers. A removable rubber tray can be hosed off after muddy hikes, and the standard roof rack will carry up to 150 pounds if the bikes are better kept outside. Fold down the rear seats and the Crosstrek swallows 51.9 cubes of gear—enough for any zesty run to a home improvement store.
Subaru has brought up to speed the Crosstrek's interior materials with other SUVs on the market, but not necessarily past them. The dashboard is topped with a nice soft-touch surface, but we've found the material to get a little sticky in hot or humid climates. Beyond the dash, most of the Crosstrek has a "utilitarian" feel, with seating surfaces and interior appointments hearty enough to withstand ground-in dirt and greasy fingers.
In short: The Crosstrek doesn't mind being ridden hard and put away wet.
2017 Subaru Crosstrek
Subaru's Crosstrek upholds the automaker's famous reputation for stellar safety.
The 2017 Subaru Crosstrek has a stellar reputation for safety, thanks to good scores and available active features.
This year's Crosstrek is an IIHS Top Safety Pick with top "Good" scores all the way around (except for the newer headlight test) and federal testers gave it a five-star overall score, with two four-star individual test scores for front and rollover crash protection. That report card, plus the available suite of active safety tech that Subaru calls "EyeSight" is how we arrive at an 8 out of 10 for safety. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Subaru's EyeSight system helps give the Crosstrek a leg up on some of the competition. Standard in Limited models, and available in Premium and Premium Special Edition grades, the system includes a nerve farm near the top of the windshield that packs together many impressive technologies for a car starting well short of $30,000, including adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert.
All Crosstreks come with a standard complement of airbags and stability control systems. Subaru added rollover sensors for the side-curtain airbags, and its available telematics system (subscription required) includes automatic emergency assistance and automatic collision notification.
In addition to active safety systems, the Crosstrek affords good outward visibility, due to its reasonably low window line, thin pillars, and large windows.
2017 Subaru Crosstrek
The Crosstrek's base infotainment setup is fairly good, but options are mostly confined to pricier trims.
New for 2017, Subaru has added a Premium Special Edition rung in the Crosstrek ladder, which we imagine will be popular for buyers of the affable crossover.
Starting at 2.0i base trim, the Crosstrek includes a rearview camera, a 6.2-inch touchscreen for its infotainment with streaming internet radio capabilities, cloth upholstery, and 17-inch wheels.
That's a good infotainment system for base cars starting at just over $22,000, but the rest is pretty standard. We're giving it a point over average on our features scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Premium models add to the 2.0i trim and include heated front seats, upgraded cloth trim, a better six-speaker stereo, and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. Premium models also are available with a power moonroof and Subaru's active safety technology, which they call EyeSight. We cover those features separately in our safety section.
The new-for-2017 Premium Special Edition adds contrast stitching to the interior upholstery, gloss black accents to interior trim, keyless ignition, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert, satellite radio, and dark gray 17-inch wheels. Premium SE models start at around $26,000.
Top-of-the line Limited models get the continuously variable automatic transmission as standard, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, an upgraded 7.0-inch touchscreen for its infotainment including navigation, and an acoustic windshield for a quieter ride. These models top out at less than $30,000, which is a good value, but they're not necessarily luxurious.
Last year, Subaru added a telematics suite of features to its infotainment system that adds automatic collision notification, roadside assistance, diagnostic alerts, and remote locking/unlocking for an extra subscription fee.
Like several other automakers, Subaru doesn't offer many a la carte options beyond its packages, and we'd like to see features such as automatic climate control and upgraded interior materials available on more modestly priced cars.
2017 Subaru Crosstrek
The hybrid is gone this year, but the Crosstrek still manages to be fairly efficient—if you're using it like a crossover.
The hybrid version of the Subaru Crosstrek is gone for 2017, but the small 'ute manages to be fairly fuel efficient.
Most models on the road manage 26 mpg city, 33 highway, 29 combined, according to the EPA. That's good enough for a 7 out of 10 in our books for fuel efficiency. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Crosstreks equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission fare slightly worse, down to 23/30/26 mpg, according to the EPA.
It's worth noting that the lower, less rugged (but nearly identical) Impreza hatchback was rated last year at 28/37/31 mpg when fitted with the CVT.
If the Crosstrek is a versatile hatchback to you, there are more efficient options available: the Chevy Cruze Hatchback manages 32 combined, according to the EPA.
However, if the Crosstrek is a small utility vehicle with all-wheel drive to you, then it's very efficient. The Ford Escape with all-wheel drive is rated by the EPA at 23 combined.
CVT versions of all Subarus tend to get better mileage than the manual in real-world driving. We've seen upward of 30 mpg in mixed driving in several Crosstrek models.