2020 Subaru Crosstrek

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Robert Duffer Robert Duffer Senior Editor
July 17, 2020

Buying tip

Opting for the $1,350 CVT over the manual transmission adds all kinds of safety gear to make the base model the best buy.

features & specs

Limited CVT
27 city / 33 hwy
27 city / 33 hwy
22 city / 29 hwy

The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek puts safety first, with capability a close second.

The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek is a small crossover with big ambitions. It wants to help owners conquer all their outdoorsy pursuits yet still fit in around town and not needlessly suck up gas like its larger counterparts. Noble, right?

Redesigned in 2018, the 2020 Crosstrek gets more standard active safety technology when equipped with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) for $1,350 more than the 6-speed manual. It’s odd the manual is still offered, but it might draw some of the few remaining self-reliant manual purists. 

The 2020 Crosstrek rates 5.8 out of 10 for good overall value, excellent safety scores, around-town handling and off-road capability. It is underpowered on highway passing moves, but the stepped gearing feel and available paddle shifters of the CVT helps address that. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Review continues below

The Crosstrek is essentially a Subaru Impreza riding a bit higher. Available in base, Premium, and Limited trims, the all-wheel-drive Crosstrek mates a 152-horsepower 2.0-liter flat-4 to either a 6-speed manual or CVT. Not only does the CVT comes with standard active safety features, it also has an X-Mode button for better traction control from slipping wheels, as well as SI-Drive modes that can tweak the transmission to improve fuel economy or a more responsive throttle.

Inside, form follows function as the Crosstrek seats four comfortably and all their gear with nearly 23 cubic feet of cargo room and available roof storage with the standard roof rails. There’s nothing flashy about the interior, though it comes well-equipped with a 6.5-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The Crosstrek Limited features an 8.0-inch touchscreen and leather seating, with a host of options that take it out of the value classification.

For 2020, the Crosstrek with the CVT comes with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, lane departure warnings, and a rear-seat reminder. The Crosstrek is also top-rated in crash testing. 

A Crosstrek plug-in hybrid with 17-mile electric range joined the lineup for 2020, but is limited to the ZEV states. It comes better equipped, is just as capable, and is quicker than the gas Crosstrek, thanks in part to a 118-hp electric motor used with the flat-4 engine. Unlike the previous Crosstrek PHEV, it’s much more than a badge. Read the review here.


2020 Subaru Crosstrek


The Colorado Department of Tourism welcomes you to the 2020 Subaru Crosstrek.

Live in the Rockies or the Pacific Northwest, or anywhere else where you fancy yourself an outdoorsy type, chances are the 2020 Subaru Crosstrek is on the car shopping list. With black cladding on the sills and arches over 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels, as well as integrated roof rails, the Crosstrek looks like a baby Subaru Outback, but doesn’t have the same attractive wagon proportions. It’s a 5 out of 10 overall. 

Form follows function on the inside as well, which comes with cloth seats, soft-touch dash materials, and an angular, busy look about the cabin. Premium trims adds contrasting stitching and leather-wrapped steering wheel, while to Limited trim adds leather to the seats and orange stitching on the seats and dash. The Crosstrek excels more at what it can do than how it looks.

Review continues below


2020 Subaru Crosstrek


The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek isn’t going anywhere fast, but at least it can go just about anywhere.

The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek comes standard with those defining Subaru traits: all-wheel drive, an 8.7-inch ground clearance, and a flat-4 engine. This go-anywhere attitude earns a point, which is then deducted for its sluggish around-town performance. The small crossover earns a 5 out of 10.

The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek is powered by a 152-horsepower 2.0-liter flat-4 that makes 145 pound-feet of torque. Standard all-wheel drive weighs down the smallest Subaru crossover compared to the competition, so a heavy foot will be needed to get the heavy 3,100-pound car moving. 

The 2020 Crosstrek comes with a 6-speed manual in base and Premium trims. Spending $1,350 will get you the CVT that comes standard on the Limited trim. The unremarkable manual gives you more control and a greater sense of power, as well as increased odds of beating fuel economy estimates if you so choose, but the active safety features that come with the CVT is the preferred option. 

Around town, the CVT is responsive enough to quick stabs of the pedal, and this iteration of the CVT offers a stepped feel that approximates the shift points you’d expect on an automatic transmission. This satisfies the biggest complaint of earlier CVTs, which tended to drone on and on the higher it climbed in rpm. But at highway speeds above 55 mph or so, when you might be tempted to pass that cow trailer, requires a huge gap because there just isn’t much power on demand at those speeds. 

Yet the Crosstrek handles well, with a relatively low roofline offsetting the higher ground clearance. There’s not as much roll as taller subcompacts such as the Chevy Trax and Honda HR-V, and the active torque vectoring provides sharper handling with precise steering. Independent suspension soaks up the road, but there is a bit more road noise at higher speeds. 

The Crosstrek is more off-road capable than its peers, but don’t mistake it for a Jeep Wrangler. 

CVT models feature an X-Mode button that reduces wheelspin on slipping tires for added control in weather and off-road surfaces, and also engages hill descent control to limit speed going downhill. 

CVT models also come with SI-Drive, which lets the driver choose between more efficient “Intelligent” mode or the more responsive “Sport” mode. On all but the base model, there are paddle shifters to pretend like you’re shifting within eight pre-set gear ratios. 

In short, get the CVT is you like the help offered by Subaru’s suite of safety technology helpers. 

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid

The plug-in hybrid uses the same flat-4 engine but with a few changes to make 137 hp and 134 lb-ft of torque. The 118-hp motor supplements the gas engine, or provides 17 miles of all-electric range. It’s about one second quicker than the gas model, and feels more refined and premium than the standard Crosstrek. 

The all-wheel-drive system is borrowed from Toyota’s front-drive hybrids but with a propshaft to the rear wheels that can split front- and rear-drive power. It weighs nearly 500 pounds more, but doesn’t ride any heavier due to suspension modifications.

Review continues below

2020 Subaru Crosstrek

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek is basic and functional.

The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek makes it easy to fit four passengers and their gear, and an optional roof carrier with standard roof rails. Its compact size is great for daily needs, and its versatility is also good for weekend getaways, but there’s nothing exceptional about interior comfort or roominess. It earns an average 6 out of 10. 

Base models come with manually adjustable front seats that lack lumbar support. Rear leg room is good enough to fit three rear passengers in a bind, but it’s better for two. A standard 60/40 split-folding rear seat expands cargo space from about 23 to more than 50 cubic feet of cargo space.

The overall feel inside is of value, with soft-touch materials on the dash and doors, and good cloth upholstery on base models. The most expensive Limited models add a whole lot of leather on the seats and other areas but doesn’t justify the near-$30,000 price.

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2020 Subaru Crosstrek


With the CVT, the 2020 Subaru Crosstrek comes loaded with standard active safety features.

Crash testers agree that the 2020 Subaru Crosstrek gets top marks in safety. 

The 2020 Crosstrek earns an 8 out of 10 thanks to the ratings and excellent standard safety technology, but only if you spend $1,350 for the CVT over the manual transmission. With the manual, it only gets a 7. 

All models with the CVT come with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, lane-departure warnings, and rear-seat reminder. Only rear-seat reminder is available with the manual. 

The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek earns a five-star overall rating from the NHTSA, though it got only four stars on rollover and passenger-side frontal crash tests. The IIHS awarded the Crosstrek a Top Safety Pick+ award when equipped with the CVT and the LED projector headlights on Limited trim. Other trims without those headlights are downgraded to a Top Safety Pick award.


2020 Subaru Crosstrek


Base models of the 2020 Subaru Crosstrek come well-equipped, as long as you pay up for the CVT.

The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek comes with standard all-wheel drive, 17-inch alloy wheels, all-season tires, roof rails, power features, a USB port, Bluetooth, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. New for 2020 is automatic power door locks that lock when you pull away. 

It earns a 6 out of 10 overall, with a point added for overall value. 

The Crosstrek comes in base, Premium, and Limited trim levels. The base model starts at $23,145 (all prices include the $1,010 destination), while the CVT is a $1,350 option over the 6-speed manual on base and Premium trims. 

Premium starts at $24,205 and adds heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded cloth upholstery with orange stitching, fog lights, heated side mirrors, automatic headlights, a second USB port, and wi-fi capability. We would recommend Premium with the CVT for $25,555.  

The top Limited model is a jump at $28,405, but comes standard with the CVT. Subaru wants you in this model, it would seem, adding 18-inch wheels, a power driver seat, leather upholstery, automatic climate controls, keyless ignition, dual USB rear ports, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen. There are even more premium options but that cancels one of the Crosstrek’s biggest charms in its overall value.

Review continues below


2020 Subaru Crosstrek

Fuel Economy

If fuel economy is a concern, get the CVT for a boost of 5 mpg combined over the manual.

The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek trades power for fuel economy, and the CVT does it far better than the manual transmission. There is a plug-in hybrid Crosstrek with availability limited mostly to the coastal ZEV states, but it only gets 17 miles of electric range or the equivalent of 90 mpg. 

We rate it at 5 out of 10 on our scale, based on the CVT. 

The CVT comes with automatic start/stop that shuts off the engine while idling, bumping the 2020 Crosstrek up to 27 mpg city, 33 highway, 30 combined. The base 6-speed manual drops fuel economy to 23/29/25 mpg, though most manual drivers will get exceed the EPA estimates.

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Styling 5
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