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10 Years of Crosstrekin’: How Subaru’s Funky Soft-Roader Became a Favorite of Sensible Car-Buyers & Enthusiasts Alike

When looking at crossover or CUV, a buyer is typically going to be looking at price, fuel economy, practicality—and if they intend on venturing beyond paved roads, off-road capability.

There are any number of models out there today that can deliver on all of these points, but when it comes to being a cheap, capable and easily upgradeable crossover, Subaru’s Crosstrek is hard to beat.

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid Off-Roading

Whether it's trail junkies or just everyday commuters looking for a hatchback with some extra ground clearance and AWD, in just two generations the Crosstrek has already made a big name for itself—and it really doesn’t have much direct competition.

Subaru Crosstrek on Trail with Nitto Nomad Grappler Tires

So let’s look back and see how this little CUV came to be and what makes it so popular among enthusiasts.

A Different Kind of Impreza

The Crosstrek first appeared in concept form Subaru XV Concept in 2011, and its formula was simple. It took the existing Impreza five-door hatchback, lifted the body, added some cladding and larger wheels and tires to transform it into a distinct compact SUV.

Subaru XV Concept Front View

Seeing the benefit of putting the Impreza’s capable AWD and good fuel economy in a more rugged and more capable package, the concept got the green light for production and it debuted in the US as the 2013 XV Crosstrek.

Subaru XV Crosstrek 2013 Orange

Despite its new name, there was nothing hiding its Impreza roots. And there was nothing wrong with that. The Crosstrek was one of the cheapest AWD CUVs you could buy, and with its small size and proven capability, it didn’t have any real direct competition.

Subaru XV Crosstrek Orange on Trail

Power-wise, the North American Crosstrek had just one engine, a 148hp 2.0L boxer four-cylinder, mated to either five-speed manual or CVT automatic.

Subaru Crosstrek Interior First Generation

Despite its relative lack of power, buyers were drawn the Crosstrek’s rugged personality, capable AWD system and cheap price. A hybrid version also joined the lineup, but its higher price and small fuel economy gains didn’t result in high demand.

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid Green Side View

Instant Success

Sales picked up each year, and the second-generation Crosstrek debuted for the 2018 model year with a familiar look, but now riding on Subaru’s new global platform.

2018 Subaru Crosstrek Gray

The 2.0 liter engine got a small power bump with the second generation, but not enough to address complaints about the Crosstrek being underpowered. Most buyers didn’t seem to care about the lack of power though, as sales numbers continued to climb.

2018 Subaru Crosstrek Rear View

A second-generation Crosstrek Hybrid arrived for the 2019 model year, and it now had the ability to plug-in and drive on battery alone—even though its electric driving range was less than 20 miles.

Subaru Crosstrek PHEV Plugged In

The biggest change came with the 2021 model year and the addition of a larger, more powerful 2.5L Boxer engine option and a new Sport trim with unique styling.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Yellow

With an output of 182 horsepower, the 2.5 liter Crosstrek wasn’t quite the high-performance Crosstrek some were hoping for, but it did bring a noticeable improvement in acceleration without any real fuel economy trade-off.

Subaru Crosstrek Sport Yellow

Today, more than a decade after the Crosstrek first debuted, its become one of the most popular and recognizable models In Subaru’s lineup—and it’s also built a sizable enthusiast following.

Subaru Crosstrek with Nitto Nomad Grappler Tires

It also enjoys a sizable aftermarket, with everything from lift kits and body accessories to upgraded all-terrain tires, like the Nitto Nomad Grappler Crossover-Terrain A/T tire, that further improve its already-impressive off-road ability.

Subaru Crosstrek in Snow

And when it comes to that off-road capability the Crosstrek has built a nice reputation for itself thanks to its small and nimble size, which when combined with its ground clearance and AWD has made it one most enthusiast-friendly CUVs out there.

Subaru Crosstrek on Trail

More Power & More Options

Yes, we still wish to see a proper performance version of the Crosstrek with turbo power under the hood - and maybe that will happen in the car’s third generation. But even without that, it’s hard to call it anything but a smash hit for Subaru.

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