For families, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek Outdoor is the most livable subcompact crossover for the least amount of money.
Big or small, crossovers are the “go-to” choice for North American families. They are not just practical, but easy to use, lots of visibility, and more importantly they come with AWD. As a brand known for having great AWD system, Subaru has always been a serious contender.
Since the last decade, all manufacturers come up with multiple different crossover offerings due to the increasing demand, which is why Subaru has the Crosstrek since 2013. Although it is updated in 2018, Subaru has still been adding new trims to keep it competitive, which is called the Outdoor.
Exterior and Interior
If you are familiar with the Subaru products, you already know that the Crosstrek has been on the market for a while. Despite the age, Subaru did a great job keeping the Crosstrek’s exterior design and overall looks modern. There is no sharp body lines in the front, except plastic parts in the front bumper for more rugged look.
Speaking of plastic parts, Crosstrek shares the platform with Subaru Impreza hatchback, and it always had unpainted plastic parts. Outdoor trim comes with bigger unpainted trims not just in the front bumper, but also around the front and rear fenders.
Second generation Crosstrek has been on the market since 2018, and rear design is probably the most significant changes made to the car. The rear end has also some amount of unpainted plastics, but I’m surprised by the fact that it is much less than the front end.
Overall I think 2022 Subaru Crosstrek is one of the better looking subcompact SUVs on the market, even though it is not the latest addition in its segment. Outdoor trim makes it look a little bit more rugged and off-road capable, but not as much as the Wilderness trim offered in other Subaru models.
The interior of the 2022 Subaru Crosstrek is much like any other modern Subaru available today. There are many common parts that are used in other Subaru models, which is a good thing for Crosstrek. Pretty much everything is analog except the digital infotainment system, which is rare but expected from this price point.
The changes for Outdoor trim is not just for the exterior, as there are some features available only with this trim. For instance, it comes with bronze accents throughout the cabin, and seats with Crosstrek logo that makes it feel more special than other trims.
Regardless of which trim you choose, 2022 Subaru Crosstrek has a class leading rear legroom and headroom, and it is probably one of the few in this segment that large adults can actually fit in the rear. It is even better than some compact crossovers like the Mazda CX-5, which is quite impressive.
2022 Subaru Crosstrek does not have the class leading trunk space unlike the rear seats, but it is definitely above average. It has 590L of cargo space behind the rear seats, and it can go up to 1569L if you fold down the rear seats.
Engine and Drivetrain
As expected from a Subaru, it comes with a 4 cylinder boxer engine. However, the engine that comes with the Outdoor trim is quite different than other trims, as it has the bigger 2.5L naturally aspirated engine that is used in other bigger Subaru models such as the Forester and Outback.
During our test, despite the lack of torque of a naturally aspirated engine, it is a great fit for the Crosstrek. Compared to the 2.0L engine, 2.5L engine pumps out 30 more horsepower (182 hp total) and 176 lb-ft of torque. These numbers may not look very high, but anything below 180 hp feels quite underpowered for modern North American highways.
2.5L boxer engine is matched with a continuously variable transmission and Subaru’s well known Symmetrical All Wheel Drive system. Outdoor trim gets two-stage X-mode for extra off-road capability.
Driving Features and Impressions
If you are coming from another Subaru, this would feel right at home. As it uses common parts with the latest Subaru models, it carries over Subaru’s corporate design language in the interior. Of course, as a brand with a great AWD system, it is quite sure footed in all types of terrains.
That said, it is not an off-road vehicle. It does not have extra ground clearance like in the Wilderness trim, it comes with 8.7 inches of ground clearance just like any other Subaru crossover. It does come with Dual X-Mode which allows more wheel spin and sends power to the right wheel based on the traction.
Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD system always sends power to all wheels, unlike the competition where they only send power to the rear wheel at certain conditions. Despite sending power to all wheels and bigger engine, Crosstrek’s fuel economy numbers were quite impressive at 8.0L / 100 km.
Performance wise, the bigger 2.5L engine is a great addition, but it won’t be the optimal choice if you are looking for more horsepower. Though it doesn’t feel slow, it may not feel as fast as turbocharged entries such as the Mazda CX-30.
The suspension and overall ride quality is not as good as bigger crossovers like the Forester, and it is perfectly fine for an economy based platform. You hear more road noise and less refined driving experience that feels more like SUVs from 5-6 years ago.
There are some features that I wish it was available with the Outdoor trim, but for the price range I would let that slide. For instance, halogen headlights just make the car look older, and it’s less safe for night driving, I was hoping to see LED headlights like the upper trims.
Another missed opportunity is that lane centering feature. Subaru’s Adaptive Cruise Control system works quite well, but unfortunately lane keep assist can’t be as good as lane centering feature like we have in Forester. It would have been a nice-to-have, but can’t really complain when you consider the price range.
What I like about the Crosstrek is the infotainment system. It comes with the latest Subaru infotainment software, but what’s more important that it is quite simple, responsive and there is no input lag.
You don’t have to have cutting edge technology to be good, and Subaru’s infotainment system is a perfect proof that you don’t need 15 inch screen with 4k resolution to offer a good infotainment system. It is the most user friendly and simple platforms in the market. It also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.
Some automotive journalists criticized Subaru’s dual screen infotainment system as it looks quite complicated, and I agree with that. However, once you get the hang of it, having dual screen makes your life easier as long as you know which information you’re looking for.
Rear view camera resolution is not the greatest, but acceptable for the price range. However, Outdoor trim comes with an extra camera in the front that you can activate it through the steering wheel, which surprisingly have better resolution than the rear camera.
Speaking of steering wheel, I think Crosstrek’s steering feeling is quite numb and heavy for daily driving. Functionality wise, there are lots of physical buttons that make it look much complicated, but you don’t have to get your hands off the steering wheel for anything except using the HVAC buttons.
Pricing and the Verdict
Subcompact crossovers are not the ideal choice for large families, but 2022 Subaru Crosstrek Outdoor would be my first choice if you are looking for the most livable option especially for large adults, as it offers class leading rear legroom and headroom.
Outdoor trim is the best bang for the buck in Crosstrek model lineup, as it offers better 2.5L engine and great features for a reasonable price tag. 2022 Subaru Crosstrek starts at $23,995 CAD and Outdoor trim is priced at $30,495. For more details – please visit www.subaru.ca