Subaru’s bestseller gets a redesign but doesn’t stray far from its original formula.Subaru’s bestseller gets a redesign but doesn’t stray far from its original formula.

In the Subaru Crosstrek, off-roading is part of the DNA ….

2024 Crosstrek looks different, but the drive is familiar. The carmaker dropped its plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and will offer a Wilderness package.

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Onyx and Limited

Type: Compact, five-seat hatchback; front-engine; full-time all-wheel-drive

Engine: 2.5-litre, boxer, four-cylinder, producing 182 horsepower, 178 lbs. ft. of torque (motive force)

Transmission: Continuously variable automatic

Fuel economy: 8.9 litres/100 km in the city; 7.2 k/100 km on the highway

Cargo: 564 litres, or 19.9 cubic feet; with the seats down: 1,549 litres, or 54.7 cu. ft.

Towing: 680 kg, or 1,500 lbs.

Price: $33,995 (Onyx); $36,995 (Limited); not including $1,995 freight, taxes and fees)

Off-roading is embedded in the Subaru Crosstrek.

Kelowna, B.C.—As the Crosstrek is Subaru’s bestselling model in Canada, accounting for just over a third of all its sales, the company has taken a decidedly conservative approach to its 2024 redesign. The third generation Crosstrek offers the same basic dimensions as the previous one, and the same engine choices (minus the limited production Crosstrek PHEV, or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.) But Subaru Canada has to draw a fine line in the sand with this latest Crosstrek, as many of its subcompact crossover rivals (Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-30) offer an off-road package.

In the Crosstrek, off-roading is part of its DNA.

Later this year, Subaru will also offer its Wilderness package on the Crosstrek, which will make it even more capable.

On the road, driving the Crosstrek feels very familiar. There’s the same two-litre, four-cylinder engine, producing 152 horsepower and 145 lbs.-ft. of torque (motive force) The upmarket Onyx and Limited models I drove get a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder engine that nudges the power up to 182 hp and 178 lbs.-ft. of torque. Both of these engines are traditional (for Subaru) flat-four engines, which mean the cylinders run side to side, not up and down, which improves handling and stability. Paddles behind the steering wheel on the Onyx version and higher models provide sporty character.

Subaru’s standard all-wheel system in the Crosstrek defaults to 60 per cent power to the front and 40 per cent to the rear, then shifts back and forth as needed, versus an equal split before. That slight difference isn’t noticeable generally.

The company did set us loose on a couple of forested off-road paths to demonstrate that the all-wheel drive (AWD) could, indeed, tackle some dirt roads. Its 22 centimetres of ground clearance and lower cladding help protect its underbody over the rough stuff, although some may argue against Subaru’s labelling of the Crosstrek as a “compact SUV.” It could be described as a lifted hatchback.

Twenty-two centimetres of ground clearance and lower cladding help protect its underbody over the rough stuff.

The 2024 Crosstrek certainly looks different, as it has all-new wheel designs for each of the four trims, with even the base Convenience model (which starts at $28,995) receiving black 17-inch rims. The new Onyx trim ($33,995) that slots between the Touring ($32,195) and the top Limited model (MSRP of $36,995) is the most unique, sporting mustard-yellow fog light housings, yellow seat trim, and stitching accents to match. All models have an automatic CVT, or Continuously Variable Transmission. (A CVT dispenses with gears and uses pulleys that vary continuously in their width according to the amount of power from the engine.)

I sampled the Limited version of the Outback for half the day and encountered a slow-moving mountain goat just outside Kelowna. It wasn’t white like the one seen in the Subaru ads, apparently named Gus, but was happily munching on grass at the side of the road. For the afternoon, I switched into the Onyx version and frankly didn’t note many extra features in the top trim apart from the leather seats. (The yellow-dabbed interior of the Onyx was much more fun.)

All ’24 Crosstrek models have new black cladding that incorporates subtle aero. outlets on their trailing edge, which reduce wind buffeting at speed, according to Subaru. The Onyx has a black surround panel in between the rear lights, which makes it look like a Nissan Leaf from the rear.

The ’24 Crosstrek’s $28,995 base price is still $1,800 higher than the last base automatic CVT model, due to the addition of a host of standard equipment. This includes advanced LED headlights with steering response; auto high beams; heated seats; dual zone climate control; a windshield wiper de-icer; dual seven-inch screens, and SiriusXM.

As with most Subarus, AWD is standard.

The Onyx trim sports yellow fog light housings.

There’s plenty of room in the Crosstrek’s cargo area, but there’s no power tailgate option. Most buyers will be more impressed with the upgrades inside, especially the 11.6-inch touchscreen, standard on all but the base Crosstrek. It will bring with it wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, although navigation will only be offered on top models, and, after three months, you’ll have to subscribe to the SiriusXM service to be able to use the GPS directions from your car, not your phone.

Wireless phone charging is available on the Onyx and higher-end models, with both USB-A and newer USB-C options up front and for rear passengers. (Subaru says over-the-air updates will be coming.)

The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek is solid value, if unambitious. Electric vehicles are starting to arrive in this segment, and are helping drive its growth, just as Subaru has dropped its PHEV.

Editor’s note: Please be aware that availability of vehicles depends on supply.

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