Best & Worst Subaru Crosstrek Years

Go for the best Subaru Crosstrek years and avoid the worst years by using this guide. The overview below shows you which ones you should go for.

In this ultimate guide, I’ll analyze the details of the Subaru Crosstrek, from the most reliable Crosstrek model years to the most problematic.

Drawing from known authoritative sources like NHTSA, Consumer Reports, and Edmunds, I’ve meticulously researched and curated data, ensuring you receive an accurate understanding of Subaru Crosstrek problems and standout features.

I’ll shine a light on the owner experience and satisfaction as well as complaints for the worst Crosstrek years to avoid.

Let’s dive right into it.

Related:Best & Worst Subaru Impreza YearsBest & Worst Subaru Forester Years

Table of ContentsShow

Subaru Crosstrek Generations

The Subaru Crosstrek, initially introduced in 2012 as the Subaru XV in global markets, made its debut in the United States in 2016.

A dynamic crossover designed to bridge the gap between urban agility and off-road prowess, the first-generation Crosstrek was lauded for its high ground clearance, standard all-wheel drive, and versatility.

Below is a table that outlines the various generations of the Subaru Crosstrek from its inception in 2016 to the present.

1st generation (GP)2016-2017
2nd generation (GT)2018-2023
3rd generation2024-Present

Subaru, with each new generation, introduces innovations, design changes, and performance tweaks that make each one distinct.

It’s crucial to be aware of these generational distinctions as they often encapsulate key shifts in technology, safety, and design – factors that might significantly influence one’s purchase decision.

Subaru Crosstrek Best, Neutral and Worst Years

When evaluating and categorizing Subaru Crosstrek’s model years, our rankings are influenced by a myriad of factors. These include but are not limited to:

  • Owner-reported reliability (surveys)
  • Annual maintenance costs
  • Safety ratings
  • Consumer Reports reliability scores
  • Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores
  • NHTSA recalls, investigations, and complaints
  • Edmunds owner ratings
  • JD Power owner ratings
  • Kelley’s Blue Book (KBB) owner ratings
  • VehicleHistory owner ratings
  • owner ratings

Next, you’ll find a graph that combines ratings from the above-mentioned sources, offering a clearer view of each model year’s performance.

Subaru Crosstrek Car Smite Score Combined Overall Score

Following this, a table categorizes each model year into one of three classifications: best, neutral, or worst based on accumulated data.

GenerationBest YearsNeutral YearsWorst Years
1st generation (GP)2017N/A2016
2nd generation (GT)2022

Neutral Years are the years that neither sparkle for their exceptional qualities nor have significant issues, offering a well-balanced performance that doesn’t sway too positively or negatively.

It’s crucial to note that certain factors can have a harmful effect on the vehicle’s ranking. For instance, data from the NHTSA relating to recalls can significantly lower a car’s reliability score.

Now, let’s dive into the specifications of the best, neutral, and worst years.

Best & Worst Years for Subaru Crosstrek 1st Generation (2016-2017)

Subaru Impreza 1st generation 2016 model
The 2016 Subaru Crosstrek

In 2016, Subaru introduced its compact SUV, the Crosstrek, offering a perfect blend of urban sophistication with off-road ruggedness.

The first generation aimed to provide consumers with a vehicle that could seamlessly transition from city streets to challenging terrains. Despite its compelling offering, these initial years presented both commendable features and problematic issues.

The Best Years: 2017

The 2017 Subaru Crosstrek, while not without its issues, notably offered better satisfaction scores than its 2016 counterpart.

This model came primarily equipped with a 2.0-liter flat-four engine. When paired with Subaru’s renowned Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and the available Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), the 2017 Crosstrek delivered an enviable balance of performance and fuel efficiency.

Subaru’s dedication to technology was evident with the integration of their STARLINK Multimedia system, ensuring that drivers remained connected and entertained on the go.

Additionally, specific trims were equipped with the advanced EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, enhancing safety and driving convenience. The vehicle’s fuel efficiency remained competitive at 19 mpg for city and 34 mpg for highway driving.

Even though electrical and transmission problems persisted from the previous year, with specific issues like spontaneous windshield cracks echoing those in other Subaru Impreza, Outback and Forester models, the 2017 model managed to etch a slightly more favorable impression in the market.

The Worst Years: 2016

The debut model 2016 Subaru Crosstrek lamentably came with several teething problems.

A significant portion of complaints from owners revolved around electrical system malfunctions. The most recurring grievance, as recorded by NHTSA, involved the ignition switch where owners couldn’t remove the ignition key when the transmission was set to the park position.

Furthermore, the 2016 model was plagued with issues related to its CVT transmissions. To compound matters, Subaru had to recall certain 2016 Crosstrek vehicles due to brake light switch malfunctions.

Exposure to specific contaminants would prevent the brake lights from illuminating, consequently obstructing keyless ignition vehicles from starting and impeding the CVT or automatic transmissions from shifting out of Park.

Kelley Blue Book’s rating of 4.3 for this generation, the lowest among all, underscored the array of challenges faced by this model year. Despite its pioneering status in the Crosstrek lineage and the promise it held, the 2016 model was overshadowed by its subsequent iterations.

See NHTSA 2016, 2017 Subaru Crosstrek recalls and complaints.

Best & Worst Years for Subaru Crosstrek 2nd Generation (2018-2023)

Subaru Impreza 2nd generation 2018 model
The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek

The second generation of the Subaru Crosstrek, commencing in 2018, continued the brand’s journey to refine and enhance the compact SUV offering.

As with many vehicle lineages, the evolution across years presented a mix of both advancements and setbacks, as Subaru addressed concerns, integrated modern tech, and recalibrated its design philosophy.

The Best Years: 2022, 2023

By 2022 and 2023, the Subaru Crosstrek had firmly established itself as a reliable and versatile compact SUV. These years showcased Subaru’s finesse in addressing past concerns while introducing state-of-the-art features.

The vehicles from these years were powered predominantly by a 2.5-liter flat-four engine, which when combined with Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, provided an optimum blend of power and efficiency.

The advanced STARLINK Multimedia system’s integration continued, offering a seamless connectivity experience for drivers. Safety remained paramount, with the EyeSight Driver Assist Technology becoming more prevalent across trims, incorporating features like adaptive cruise control and pre-collision braking.

Furthermore, the fuel efficiency of the Crosstrek during these years was commendable, reaching 20 mpg for city and an impressive 39 mpg for highway driving. J.D Power ranked 2022 and 2023 Crosstrek models at #3 in the Small SUV segment.

The Neutral Years: 2020, 2021

While 2020 and 2021 Crosstrek models indeed brought forth several enhancements in technology and drivetrain options, they weren’t free from consumer complaints.

Issues such as complications with the Engine Coolant Bypass Valve and starter problems surfaced, alongside concerns about battery drain. However, on the brighter side, Subaru remained consistent in its commitment to safety and technological advancements.

The integration of driver-assist features and the multimedia connectivity system continued, ensuring that the Crosstrek remained competitive in a rapidly evolving market.

The Worst Years: 2018, 2019

Echoing the first generation’s problems, complaints regarding windshield cracks remained persistent for the 2018 and 2019 Subaru Crosstrek models.

Notably, electrical system malfunctions and engine stalling became areas of concern. Subaru found itself addressing these through recalls, including one for the Engine Control Module (ECM) potentially causing short circuits and another concerning the aluminum Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PCV) valve. The latter could result in components entering the engine, possibly causing a loss of power during drives.

Another recall in 2021, affecting the 2018 and 2019 models, pertained to the rear stabilizer bracket bolts, which posed a risk of loosening and detaching.

These setbacks, combined with a competitive compact SUV market, meant that while the 2018 and 2019 Crosstreks had their merits, they were overshadowed by the challenges they presented.

Subaru Crosstrek Average Resale Values

Here is a graph that shows the Subaru Crosstrek’s average resale values over the years, offering insights into its depreciation trends and enduring market appeal.

Subaru Crosstrek Average List Price


It’s clear that understanding each generation’s specifics can aid in selecting the ideal model year for your needs. Ensure that you do proper research to choose the optimal model for your preferences.

Given the detailed insights into each generation, which Subaru Crosstrek year stands out to you as the most appealing and why?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Jonathan Eckert

Jonathan is an ASE-certified mechanic with over 22 years of hands-on experience in the automotive industry. His expertise spans a wide range of vehicles, but he specializes in diagnosing and repairing Japanese cars. His previous workplace highly commended his meticulous attention to detail, and that's exaclty what he uses at Car Smite to craft the best guides for each purpose.