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Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 review


The Subaru XV has been rebadged and restyled globally as the Crosstrek. So has the small SUV moved its game with the new name?

Good points

  • Surprisingly off-road capable
  • Stellar Harman Kardon sound system
  • Quiet highway refinement
  • All-wheel-drive grip
  • Heaps of standard safety kit
  • Good value in the segment

Needs work

  • Thrashy engine and CVT combo
  • Leather seats could be more comfortable
  • Can get thirsty
  • Small boot for the segment
  • Temporary spare only
  • Interior feels a little low rent

The Subaru XV is dead, but don’t stress, because a new name – the Crosstrek – is replacing it, and it can now be ordered in Australia.

The outgoing XV sold in big numbers in 2022, with Subaru shifting 9090 units across the year.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 rear driving 3

Now, for 2023, the Subaru XV has had a makeover and has a new global name to go with it in Crosstrek.

Pricing now starts from $34,990 before on-road costs for the new Crosstrek range – up $1800 over the old XV entry point – with the highest-spec hybrid model starting from $45,090 before on-road costs.

The model we are testing is the 2.0S petrol model, the flagship of the Crosstrek non-hybrid range that is priced from $41,490 before on-road costs.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 front 3/4 2

So what bumps this 2.0S up two notches above the base 2.0L and mid-grade 2.0R? That comes down to a list of features that includes a glass sunroof, leather-appointed seats and a ten-speaker Harman Kardon sound system we’ve outlined below.

While Subaru has done quite a bit to change the styling of the XV/Crosstrek for 2023, what it hasn’t done is touch the engine. Outputs for the 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated flat-four engine remain at 115kW/196Nm.

So let’s find out what else has changed for the Crosstrek in 2023, and more importantly, how it drives.

What are the Crosstrek 2.0S’s features and options for the price?

As standard, the new Crosstrek 2.0S comes fitted with the following features:

  • 11.6-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen
  • 4.2-inch instrument cluster 
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Satellite navigation
  • 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system  
  • Wireless phone charging 
  • Front and rear USB-A and USB-C ports 
  • Leather-appointed seats 
  • Electrically-adjustable driver seat 
  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Roof rails 
  • LED headlights and daytime running lights 
  • Electric sunroof 

There are several colour options available for the Crosstrek, including four new paint options for 2023: Offshore Blue Metallic, Sun Blaze Pearl, Oasis Blue and Sapphire Blue Pearl.

My pick of the colours is Oasis Blue, which looks great in full sunlight, along with the darker orange hues of Sun Blaze Pearl. 

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 front 3/4 close

Some of the optional extras for the Crosstrek that are available immediately include:

  • Thule roof basket – $727
  • Front mud guards – $147
  • Cargo step panel – $223
  • Weather shields – $250
  • Rugged wheel set – $3217
  • Front nose garnish – $838
  • Door under garnish – $695
  • Front grille finish – $795

Some of the accessories available through into June, include:

  • Rear roof spoiler in black – $1041
  • Roof cross bars – $637
  • Lifestyle side awning kit – $550

So how does the Crosstrek look in terms of overall value?

I think that for the $41,490 before on-road cost asking price, the Crosstrek 2.0S is excellent value with what it brings to the table.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 taillight

Not only is it well appointed and specced, but it still has that classic Subaru DNA thanks to its symmetrical all-wheel-driven system.

To compare, to purchase a Kia Seltos GT-Line with all-wheel drive will set you back $44,900 before on-road costs, while a Skoda Karoq Sportline all-wheel drive is priced much higher, from $49,490 before on-road costs.

How does the Crosstrek 2.0S drive?

Getting behind the wheel of the Crosstrek for the first time, things certainly do feel familiar.

We’ve had the opportunity to drive the Crosstrek on and off the road for its national media launch in Australia, so this segment of the review will touch on both. Let’s start with the on-road.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 front driving distance

The 2.0-litre flat-four engine can drum up a fair bit of noise at cold start-up, but once up to temperature the boxer engine’s manner is generally pleasant enough..

The Crosstrek is most certainly an easy car to drive. If you’re relatively new to driving, or haven’t been behind the wheel for some time, the Crosstrek will be a breeze to operate.

Subaru hasn’t tweaked the engine of the Crosstrek this time around, meaning that it still uses the same 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated flat-four engine from the last XV, with identical outputs of 115kW/196Nm.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 rear driving 2

Those numbers might not blow your socks off, but it’s surprisingly punchy for most driving situations.

The suspension setup up is the right mix between being really softly sprung and very dialled in, which makes for what I consider to be a very livable suspension setup. Ride comfort is very good, especially on the highway.

Through corners, there is definitely some noticeable body roll – it’s an SUV, after all – but the standard all-wheel-drive system really grips and goes, giving you a sense of security and safety that some other small SUVs can’t really match.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 zak driving

It’s a full-time system, meaning that it is driving all-four wheels for all of the time, rather than switching between front- and rear-drive when it detects slip.

Although most of how the new Crosstrek drives on road can be commended, the major gripe I have with this new car is its CVT transmission and engine combination, an issue that plagued the old XV as well as other Subaru models such as the Outback 2.5-litre, which we had as a long-termer here at Chasing Cars.

Under light throttle, the Crosstrek is quiet and refined, but if you need to conduct an overtake or get up to speed to merge with traffic on the highway, you’ll be met with an unrefined, high-revving and somewhat thrashy engine as it finds its way through its continuously variable transmission.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 front driving

Let me tell you, there’s a lot of acoustic theatre happening inside the cabin for not a lot of go. I just wish that the transmission was more sorted – for me it somewhat let down the driving experience.

However, it’s not all bad news. During the launch program, we were able to take the Crosstrek off the beaten path and see what it was like doing some light off-roading and it’s here that it asserts itself quite confidently.

The Crosstrek has 220mm of ground clearance, which certainly helps its off-road cause as we were led down a pretty severe bit of road which had seen the worst of last year’s rain.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 front driving

I was completely surprised by the Subaru’s broken surface capabilities. Apart from the very minor scrape here and there, the Crosstrek traversed the rough track with ease.

It was able to articulate its way through a variety of obstacles, and when using X-Mode’s dirt and snow setting (Subaru’s off-road focused driving mode), you could feel the Crosstrek distributing torque front and rear and side to side to ensure it gripped up through the challenging terrain.

But the challenges didn’t stop there. We were also taken to a very steep ascent that frankly looked a little too steep for what the Crosstrek could manage.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 rear 3/4

Would its 2.0-litre engine off enough gusto to get up the steep incline and back down again?

With an instructor by my side, we slowly took the Crosstrek up the hill. I was told to stop at the gnarliest and steepest section, to test X-Mode.

I let go of the brake and slowly applied my foot to the throttle, and the Crosstrek just walked up the incline with no trouble at all and with minimal wheel slippage.

When we turned around and came back down, X-Mode automatically activated its hill descent control, so that meant leaving my feet off all the pedals and letting the small SUV do all the work.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 front 3/4 driving

I was amazed that not only had we made it back down alive, but that the Crosstrek would likely be happy to do that sort of thing all day long.

Is this new Crosstrek the true off-road underdog? Watch out, Suzuki Jimny, because I’m looking at you.

A Crosstrek Wilderness edition has been unveiled for the US market, and we could get it here, too. It has even better ground clearance and tweaked suspension to conquer the toughest of tracks, so I look forward to seeing how it goes when it gets officially announced for Australia.

What is the Crosstrek 2.0S’s interior and tech like?

Inside the Crosstrek, the look and ambience are familiar, yet different.

You’re immediately met by nice leather-appointed seats and steering wheel. There are quite a few scratchy plastics here and there, along with some pretty fake carbon-fibre-looking materials.

But you can feel that this interior has been designed with adventure in mind – I can see the interior wearing very well over the car’s lifespan.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 interior
Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 fake carbon

Gone is the smaller dual display setup of the past. Now, most functions sit within a new 11.6-inch portrait-orientated touchscreen that runs both wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto.

The multimedia operating system is pretty well put together and runs smoothly – I like how easy it is to get to the vehicle’s settings from the main menu – but I found the reversing camera screen to be pretty tiny and a little hard to see, as well as the camera vision being a little distorted in the frame.

The good news is that this 2.0S variant is fitted with a ten-speaker Harman Kardon sound system that really sounds the business. If you’ve sampled a mid-spec 2.0R and you’re not sure if you want to go up that extra $3000, the sound system is almost worth it alone.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 front seats

I love my music and listen to it everywhere I go, so if you’re like me, this may be an important part of your buying decision.

Other important tech bits to note about the Subaru Crosstrek’s interior include four USB points – two USB-A and two USB-C (one of each front and back) – plus a wireless charging pad and dual-zone climate control.

For the 2.0S, you also gain a glass sunroof with tilt and slide functionality, however it is on the smaller side.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 interior back seats

Storage is plentiful, with four cup-holders, large door bins for drink bottles and a decent sized centre armrest console, too.

In the back, you get the aforementioned single USB-A and one USB-C ports but no air vents or climate control functionality. There are two cup-holders located in the fold-down armrest and decently-sized door bins as well.

Space in the second row is pretty good, even for a 180cm-tall adult like myself. Subaru has worked to provide more head room, which is positive, but there is limited legroom for people much taller than I am.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 interior boot
Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 interior boot tyre

This being said, the kids should be pretty happy back here. The seats are comfortable and there is good visibility.

At the very back, the Subaru Crosstrek has 291 litres of boot capacity – certainly on the smaller side of this class – and has a temporary spare tyre. The boot lid itself is not electric, which is a little odd considering this is the flagship petrol variant.

All in all, there is a lot to love about the interior, technologies and practicalities of the new Subaru Crosstrek.

Is the Crosstrek 2.0S a safe car?

Although the new Crosstrek is technically unrated by ANCAP, its very-much related XV cousin has a five-star safety rating from assessment back in 2017. The old XV scored an overall result of 35.90 out of 37, albeit from a now-redundant testing regime.

Despite being unrated (thus far) for 2023, for safety inclusions, the Crosstrek has been fitted as standard with Subaru’s Eyesight active safety that includes an extensive list of features:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Autonomous emergency braking and steering 
  • Emergency lane keep assist 
  • Intelligent speed limiter 
  • Lane centering and departure warning 
  • Lane sway warning 
  • Pre-collision braking system and throttle management 
  • Front side radar 
  • Rear cross-traffic alert 
  • Blind spot monitoring 
  • High-beam assist 
  • 360-degree camera 
  • Rear parking sensors 
  • Front-view monitor 
  • Reverse autonomous braking

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 front driving far

Passive safety systems fitted include:

  • Dual front, dual front-side, dual curtain, driver’s knee, far side and front passenger seat cushion airbags 
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system
  • Dual ISOFIX anchor points 
  • Three child seat anchor points 

How do all these safety systems work out on the road in the real world?

Well, Subaru’s Eyesight system is one of the better tuned systems on the market. I found the adaptive cruise control to work really well along my drive along the Pacific Highway from Newcastle back to Sydney.

It held speed well, sped up quickly once I had indicated into the passing lane, and could clearly distinguish the vehicles in front of me and the distance to those vehicles.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 interior steering wheel

When on the launch of the Crosstrek, the driver monitoring system kept sounding the warning chime over and over.

It forced me to simply switch it off, which is pretty easy to do with a couple of taps at the touchscreen. I am all for a well-tuned driver monitoring system, especially when people start to get fatigued behind the wheel, but I think some systems work better than others.

Lane management systems seemed to work pretty well and I didn’t really find the need to turn them off. If anything, they made me more attentive and made my driving better as a result.

All in all, Subaru has jam-packed the Crosstrek with safety, and for the most part it works really well. If you’re after a safe vehicle for your whole family, the Crosstrek ticks a lot of those boxes.

What are the Crosstrek 2.0S’s ownership costs?

For ownership costs, the Crosstrek will cost you $2373 over five years of ownership. Service intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first.

The Crosstrek is covered under the company’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is the case for all brand-new Subaru models.

In terms of fuel use, Subaru claims that the new Crosstrek will average 7.2L/100km on the combined fuel cycle, however we got a real-world figure of 7.7L/100km during the launch of the Crosstrek.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 engine

This road loop covered freeway, urban streets and some light off-roading. Do be aware that for extended periods of off-roading or sporty driving, your average fuel in the Crosstrek will easily rise up around the 9.0L/100km mark or higher.

Also to note, the 2023 Crosstrek will run on 91 octane and does not require premium unleaded fuel.

Subaru will release a hybrid Crosstrek in this year, too, that will have a claimed 6.5L/100km combined fuel economy figure. However, we have not yet tested the new hybrid here at Chasing Cars.

The honest verdict on the Crosstrek 2.0S

I’ve come away from my time with the Subaru Crosstrek liking it much more than I did at the start.

For a little over $40,000 before on-road costs, I’m struggling to think of another new car in Australia that will offer as much bang-for-your-buck value, as well as being proficient off the bitumen, for the same amount of money.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 front 3/4 far

Yes, sure, you could get a Suzuki Jimny Lite for less coin, but does the Jimny have the space, comfort and safety credentials to back it all up? It really can’t come close to the Crosstrek in these regards.

And yes, I know you’re probably thinking, “Zak, the Crosstrek isn’t an off-roader to begin with”, and you may be right there, but on evidence of first-hand experience the Crosstrek is surprisingly capable in a wide variety of off-road conditions.

Will it go up a huge sand dune or a rock-step hillclimb extravaganza? That I can’t confirm. But regardless of that, the Crosstrek will get you to where you want to go.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 rear

If you love camping or going for a hike in the wilderness on the weekend, the Crosstrek ought to do the job without much fuss at all.

Broadly speaking, the Crosstrek is a great value proposition for couples and young families that might want something a bit bigger than a hatch but with the practicalities of a small SUV. It’s a safe car, looks smarter than ever and is pretty fun and engaging to drive, too.

What lets the Crosstrek down, however, is a disappointing engine and CVT transmission combo that means well, but misses the mark. A sense of unrefined character under heavier throttle applications means you are left with a lot of noise and not much go.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 shifter

The engine itself could well and truly benefit from turbocharging, or a slightly larger displacement. And I just don’t think the CVT is a good match, even though Subaru promises that it is.

All in all, the Crosstrek nails the budget small-SUV brief with on- and off-road prowess, a comfortable ride, plenty of safety and enough technology to keep you well connected.

The 2.0S variant that we got the chance to test adds to the feeling of premium motoring with its sunroof, leather-appointed interior, satellite navigation and wonderful ten-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.

Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S 2023 duo with 2.0R 2
Pictured: the Crosstrek 2.0R (left) alongside the as-tested 2.0S (right)

But is it worth the $3000 over the 2.0R?

If you love listening to music tunes or podcasts, the sound system is worth that investment alone. It’s excellent. But it’s an easy omission if you want to trim some frills and get into the range at a more attainable price point with the 2.0R.

That said, as a range, if you’re after a small SUV that will take most places without fuss, check out the new Crosstrek.

It might just bring out the adventure in you.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs
Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

1995 cc
115kW at 6000rpm
196Nm at 4000rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
63 litres
7.2L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
874km (claimed)
All Wheel Drive
Single gear
4495 mm
1800 mm
1600 mm
Unoccupied weight
1493 kg

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