Below the surface of the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek AWD 2.0L is a revised platform that’s been honed to be a better vehicle than the model from which it was spawned – the near iconic XV. An improved powertrain and better standard equipment also feature.
The vehicle we’re testing here is the entry level model, which kicks off pricing wise at $34,990 plus on-roads, ensuring it’s still a pretty competitive rival to the likes of the Volkswagen T-Roc and Toyota’s Corolla Cross compact SUV.
What sets it apart from those though is the fact it’s all-wheel drive, with the entry level variants in the two rivals we’ve mentioned here only coming in front-wheel drive. It’s a not insignificant difference you should consider when looking at your options.
One of the other niceties about the Crosstrek is the fact it feels similar to its siblings, like the WRX, and features the same vertical 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system. You’ll even get wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, regardless of the variant.
The interface is clean and easy to use, while the funky fonts and blue colour theme offer some visual pop. Response to inputs and processing speeds are good, and it’s hooked up to a decent audio system, in this case a 6-speaker offering.
While the climate control menu is on the touchscreen, there are physical temperature controls and the widget is permanently located at the base of the display. Comfort is pretty good for the driver and passenger as well.
The steering wheel is trimmed in a hardy, grained leather that while not soft and supple like other vehicles in the segment, is grippy and well-suited to the Subaru’s more adventurous persona. The multifunction switchgear is chunky and well laid out too.
Ahead of the driver you won’t find a flashy all-digital cluster, instead the classic gauges are flanked by a coloured information display. The second row of seating are adequate although you won’t find rear air vents.
There are USB-A and USB-C charging points to keep devices juiced though, and there’s good headroom as well. The large driveline hump in the floor impedes on rear-centre passenger space, but it will fit four adults comfortably.
Child seats are no problem either, with top-tether points across all three seats and ISOFIX anchors on the outboard spots. Less impressive is the boot space, which remains one of the smallest in the class.
Subaru quotes a measly 291-litres with the rear seats up, and 883-litres with them folded. You can eke out 1,278-litres if you’re prepared to stack stuff to the roof. Safety is where the Crosstrek shines though.
Everything from forward and reverse autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, speed sign recognition, a digital speed display, tyre pressure monitors, blind-zone warning, rear cross-traffic alert and LED headlights features across the range.
In addition, the Crosstrek has some very alert driver-monitoring cameras that know when you’re sneaking a peek at your phone or not paying attention to the traffic ahead. You’ll also find rear parking sensors.
Under the hood is the standard but now more refined 2.0-litre Boxer petrol engine, offering 115kW of power and 196Nm of torque. Subaru claims combined fuel economy of 7.2-litres/100km and we achieved around 8.4-litres in testing.
It has a braked towing capacity of 1,400kg and a tow ball download of 140kg. It’s pretty quiet inside thanks to improved sound dampening, and you’ll hear very little road noise. The chassis feels more rigid than the XV, with less body roll.
You’ll also notice the CVT transmission is more linear than in the past, along with the option to drive with paddle shifters, to utilise its manual mode. Feeling more hatchback than SUV, it has decent steering and suspension that smooths out the bumps and pot holes.
It’s precise through corners and while the steering is a little light, it’s got a good feel and sense of control. There’s plenty of grip thanks to the AWD, and the front/rear torque split has been improved as well. All-in-all it’s a fun vehicle to drive.
And then there’s its off road capabilities. Thanks to X-Mode, decent ground clearance and its body shape, the Crosstrek does a pretty fine job of taking on the trails. While you probably aren’t going mountaineering with it, Subaru has put together a good off-roader.
Hill descent control works a treat and is intelligent enough to adjust its speed. The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0L comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and 12 months roadside assistance. Servicing is every 15,000km or 12 months, but is on the pricey side.
Colour choices include Crystal White Pearl, Ice Silver Metallic, Oasis Blue, Pure Red, Sun Blaze Pearl, Offshore Blue Metallic, Horizon Blue Pearl, Sapphire Blue Pearl, Magnetite Grey Metallic and Crystal Black Silica.
Our test vehicle was provided by Subaru Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek AWD 2.0L, contact your local Subaru dealer.