The Best & Worst Years of Subaru Crosstrek

The Subaru Crosstrek is a subcompact crossover made by the Japanese automaker. It succeeded the Outback Sport, using the lifted Impreza hatchback design. It was first released in 2013 and is now in its third generation. Yet, not all of the model years are worth driving. That’s why it’s vital to know the best and worst years of Subaru Crosstrek models. 

In this guide, we outline the best Subaru Crosstrek models with the highest consumer reviews. We also examine the models you should stay clear of, show you some of the top Crosstrek problems and answer your most pressing questions. 

Best Subaru Crosstrek Model Years

If you want to buy a Subaru Crosstrek, consider the 2023 and 2022 model years. We also recommend the 2020, 2015 and 2014 Subaru Crosstrek models because of the reliability and consumer satisfaction scores. 

Let’s look at these models a little closer.

1. 2023 Subaru Crosstrek

2023 Subaru Crosstrek - one of the best model years

It’s difficult to argue with having a newer-model Crosstrek. As part of the latest generation, many of the kinks and bugs have been worked out. Plus, these Subaru models are jam-packed with the latest technologies and features.

There’s a Special Edition model for this year that offers an even better upgrade to the Premium trim. When you buy one in the Desert Khaki color, you gain a head-turning ride that’s worthy of pride. 

2. 2022 Subaru Crosstrek

Another highly reviewed Crosstrek model is the 2022. It provides the adventurous appeal enthusiasts are hoping for without any major malfunctions. 

There’s also a plug-in hybrid variant that helps to save some fuel. Plus, every Crosstrek includes standard all-wheel drive, which is helpful if you are navigating rough terrain. 

3. 2020 Subaru Crosstrek

2020 Subaru Crosstrek - one of the best model years

The 2020 Crosstrek started a new generation and, surprisingly didn’t have a lot of problems. It also includes some important upgrades, such as the auto stop-start in conjunction with CVT models, automatic climate control, and the Intelligent Drive system.

If you want a newer model that’s going to be reliable but you aren’t looking to buy new, the 2020 model is a great option. It’s also going to retain its resale value. 

4. 2015 Subaru Crosstrek

The 2015 Subaru Crosstrek is a close replica of the Impreza from the same year. It is a fun car to drive and with its 8.7” of ground clearance, it can be used to blaze new trails. The upgraded Starlink infotainment system was released this year, adding even more excitement to the mix.

While this is an older model, it’s worth buying if you want to save some money. Without major complaints, it should last many more years. 

5. 2014 Subaru Crosstrek

Moving one more year back, the 2014 Crosstrek is also a good option. It is available in two trim levels, so there aren’t a lot of options to pick from. Yet, it also looks a lot like the Subaru Impreza and offers impressive ground clearance. 

What’s even more fun is that this model can be found with a manual transmission but still has standard all-wheel drive. Heated front seats were also included with every model. 

Worst Model Years

Not all Subaru Crosstrek models are worth buying. Some of the models with the most complaints include the 2019, 2018 and 2013 years. We also recommend avoiding the 2017 and 2016 Subaru Crosstrek models unless you want to pay for expensive repairs.

Let’s see why these Crosstrek models made the worst year list. 

1. 2019 Subaru Crosstrek

2019 Subaru Crosstrek - bad model year

When it comes to defects, the 2019 model year takes the cake. It’s rated as one of the worst because of the windshield defects. Countless drivers deal with spontaneous cracking of the windshield, even when it hasn’t been impacted by any object. Owners have to replace the windshield several times out of their own pocket, which can become costly and annoying.

Yet these aren’t the only issues. Customers are also complaining about radio memory loss and failure of the Starlink system. There have also been an insane number of vehicles recalled because of a failed rear suspension part or engine stalling. 

2. 2018 Subaru Crosstrek

The 2018 Crosstrek shares many of the same recalls as the 2019 model year. It also has a fragile windshield that has caused it to be a loathed option by drivers.

In fact, the 2018 Crosstrek is such a terrible option that it would have made the top of our list if it wasn’t for how much people despise the 2019 model. The moral of the story is to avoid both of these Crosstreks. 

3. 2013 Subaru Crosstrek

2013 Subaru Crosstrek - one of the worst years

If you are on a tight budget, you may be tempted to buy a 2013 Crosstrek, but we have to warn against it. As the very first Crosstrek model, it has a lot of defects that can cost excessive amounts of money to fix. One of these problems is a stalling engine that has caused some accidents.

The engine stalling has to do with a recall about a valve spring defect. This recall affected more than 400,000 Subaru vehicles and the fix didn’t repair much. Many drivers complained that the problems got even worse after the recall repair. 

4. 2017 Subaru Crosstrek

While talking about massive recalls, it would be critical to discuss what happened with the 2017 Crosstrek models. For starters, you can’t overlook the recall that affected more than one million vehicles because the brake lights wouldn’t illuminate. 

There were also issues with unintended acceleration, which was the cause of accidents. There is simply no reason for any car buyer to get behind the wheel of this model, lovingly referred to as a death trap by some drivers. 

5. 2016 Subaru Crosstrek

Rounding out the list of Crosstrek models you don’t want to drive is the 2016. While the majority of the complaints have to do with interior accessories, these smaller issues can quickly add up and cost a lot of money to repair.

There are also complaints about the steering and corrosion. It seems that Subaru’s biggest issues all joined up to attack this model year. 

Most Common Subaru Crosstrek Problems

Of the most complained about Subaru Crosstrek problems, we see a higher instance of cracking windshields. There’s also the issue of defective brake lights, excessive oil consumption and rust or corrosion on the body.

Let’s dive in a little deeper. 

1. Cracking Windshields

Subaru Crosstrek windshield cracked

One of the most prevalent Crosstrek issues has to do with those defective windshields. With drivers not hitting anything and no road debris being kicked up, some of the windshields can shatter or crack with no notice. 

Sadly, Subaru hasn’t covered the repairs for drivers. Instead, they are left replacing the defective windshields with the cost coming straight out of the owner’s pocket. Some drivers have to replace them multiple times. 

2. Defective Brake Lights

Subaru Crosstrek brake lights not working

More than a million Subaru Crosstrek models were recalled because of the defective brake light. Even if the driver is pushing on the brake pedal, the light doesn’t illuminate and other drivers aren’t warned. 

With people unaware of the braking car, accidents have occurred. It turns out that a buildup of silicone caused the lights to fail. 

3. Excessive Oil Consumption

Subaru Crosstrek burns oil

Some Subaru Crosstrek models go through oil faster than they should. If drivers aren’t careful, serious engine damage can occur.

Of course, Subaru never resolved the issue for customers. Instead, drivers were told that the engines were exhibiting normal behavior. 

4. Rust/Corrosion

Subaru Crosstrek rust damage

Another big complaint is the development of rust and corrosion on the body. Of course, this isn’t just a Crosstrek issue, as many Subaru models have been plagued with this problem. 

In fact, Subaru has issued recalls in the past because of corrosion. If you decide to buy a Crosstrek that’s susceptible to this issue, expect to lose valuable resale value over the years. 

Are Subaru Crosstreks reliable?

The Subaru Crosstrek has earned a 4.5 score from RepairPal. This is above average for compact SUVs, proving that some Crosstrek models can be highly reliable. You must do your homework before choosing a model because some have serious defects that can add to costly repair bills. 

What is the average life of a Subaru Crosstrek?

Some of the Crosstrek models could easily exceed 200,000 miles. However, there are some models dealing with excessive oil consumption, which puts them at risk for premature failure. If the engine isn’t well cared for, it won’t have the lubrication it needs to run properly. This causes problems when trying to buy a used Crosstrek if you don’t know the service history.

Is the Crosstrek as safe as the Outback?

Based on IIHS scores, both the Subaru Crosstrek and Subaru Outback models are deemed top choices. The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek is a Top Safety Pick, while the Subaru Outback earns a better spot as a Top Safety Pick+. If you want a safe vehicle, it seems you can’t go wrong with either option. In fact, most Subaru models tend to score high safety ratings.

What year did Subaru Crosstrek have problems?

Early Subaru Crosstrek models suffered from excessive oil consumption issues that put more wear on the engine than needed. 2017-2019 Crosstrek models also have fragile windshields that can crack for no reason. 2017 models also deal with defective brake lights, causing a higher chance of accidents.

If you are in the market for a used Subaru Crosstrek, you must be careful what model year you choose. Some perform exceedingly well, while others fall short of the mark. We highly recommend looking for a 2022-2023, 2020 or 2014-2015 Subaru Crosstrek if you want to avoid issues.

On the other hand, it’s best to stay far away from the 2013 and 2016-2019 Subaru Crosstrek SUVs. These seem to have the most complaints overall and suffer from catastrophic issues. While you may spend a few bucks more to drive a reliable Crosstrek, the investment pays off in the long run. 


Categories: General

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