2022 Subaru Crosstrek: more power to ya. Was bigger engine the answer?

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited

by Chuck Giametta

What changes will make the 2022 Subaru Crosstrek different?

Maybe some new color choices but no big changes as this popular subcompact-crossover SUV stands pat after several years of notable upgrades.

Spunky kid brother to Subaru’s marginally larger, more family-focused Forester compact crossover, the 2022 Crosstrek will continue with a choice of three powertrains – one a plug-in hybrid — and that rarest of options these days, a manual transmission. All versions of this space-efficient five-seater will again come standard with all-wheel drive (AWD).

Today’s second-generation Crosstrek debuted for model-year 2018 and gained the plug-in for ’19. The 2021 Crosstrek received a facelift, suspension upgrades, and a much-needed power boost. It’s unlikely to receive major alterations until its next full redesign, likely for model-year 2025.       

Should I wait for the 2022 Subaru Crosstrek or buy a 2021?

2021 Crosstrek Limited

Little reason to wait. In all important respects, the 2022 Crosstrek will be a rerun of the ’21, although prices are almost certain to increase. Buy a ’21 to avoid paying more for an essentially unchanged vehicle.  

Look for the 2022 lineup to be a repeat. It should again start with Base and Premium trims with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Sport and Limited models should return with a more powerful 2.5-liter four. The most expensive 2022 Crosstrek will again be the Hybrid. It can travel 17 miles on battery power alone before reverting to conventional-hybrid operation for a total range of 480 miles.

Small-outside/big-inside design and youthful styling will remain line-wide highlights. So will sporty on-road handling off-road capability matched in this segment only by the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk.

Subaru’s top-notch EyeSight driver-assist system will return as standard on Crosstreks with the continuously variable automatic transmission. Unfortunately, that important safety adjunct probably will remain unavailable to the small number of buyers who choose manual transmission.

Along with the more expensive Mini Cooper SE Countryman ALL4, the 2022 Crosstrek Hybrid should remain only subcompact crossover to combine gas-electric propulsion with AWD. However, it may not be available at a Subaru dealer near you.

The automaker prioritizes sales in states where it says hybrid demand is highest: California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and New Hampshire. It’s also available from Subaru dealers in other states provided they complete training and purchase equipment specific to the Hybrid.

Will 2022 Subaru Crosstrek styling be different?

2021 Crosstrek Sport

Subaru could of course introduce a new appearance package or even a new trim level. It added the Sport for model-year 2021, for example. One possibility would be a second Hybrid model, perhaps priced lower than the single, well-equipped Hybrid grade available thus far.

More likely, 2022 styling changes will be limited to a new color choice or two (for ’21, Plasma Yellow Pearl replaced Sunshine Orange, for example).

Even with model-year 2021 changes that included revised wheels and a new front fascia, bumper, and grille, this little wagon will continue to look like a beefed-up version of Subaru’s Impreza compact hatchback, which it essential is. Black body cladding helps give it crossover cred, as does a suspension raised for 8.7 inches of ground clearance, a lift matched in the class only by the Renegade Trailhawk.

Expect visual differences among 2022 Crosstrek trim levels to mirror those of 2021. The Base grade should return with body-colored door handles and a black rear spoiler, roof rails, and mirrors. The Premium should again have body-colored mirrors and fog lights.

Look for the 2022 Crosstrek Sport to return with gunmetal-finish badges and mirrors (with integrated turn signals) and more aggressive wheel-arch moldings. The Limited should reprise chrome door handles, steering-linked LED headlights with automatic high beams, and mirrors with integrated turn signals.

All but the Base model have fog lights, with the Limited’s being LED. Wheels will also remain differentiators. Base, Sport, and Premium should return with 17-inch alloys, the Sport’s finished in gunmetal gray. The ’22 Limited should reprise black-finished 18-inch alloys.

2021 Crosstrek Sport with 8-inch infotainment screen

The ’22 Crosstrek Hybrid will again be distinguished by blue headlight rings, blue-accented silver-metallic-finished grille, silver body trim, and unique 18-inch black alloy wheels. It’ll retain LED fog lamps, low-profile roof rails, and “Plug-In Hybrid” badges. The gas-filler door on the right rear fender is joined by a charge-port door on left-rear fender labeled “Plug-in.”

All ’22 Crosstreks will again share a dashboard that blends contemporary forms with straight-forward function. Base, Premium, and Sport models should return with a 6.5-inch central dashboard screen supporting Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Premium and Sport’s Multimedia Plus screen should again feature a single-disc CD player, satellite radio, and a WiFi hotspot.

Multimedia Plus with an 8-inch screen should again be optional for the Sport and standard for the ’22 Limited and Hybrid. Expect the Limited and Hybrid to again be the only Crosstreks available with imbedded navigation that doesn’t require a cell signal for real-time GPS mapping. The Hybrid will also be back with a multi-function instrument screen to display range, power flow, state of charge, and related data.

2021 Crosstrek Sport

With the upper dashboard and frequently touched surfaces nicely padded and the instrument panel tastefully trimmed in simulated carbon fiber, materials quality should remain impressive for the price. The only obvious cost-cutting may again be evident in climate-control dials that feel featherweight and hollow.

The 2022 Crosstrek Base model should remain quite basic, with plain cloth upholstery and niceties such as lighted visor mirrors likely costing extra. The Premium grade will again feel more upscale, with orange-stitched cloth upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift handle, plus illumination for the ignition-switch ring, glovebox, and power-window switches.  

Look for the Sport to again have all that, plus fancier gunmetal-tinted trim, Subaru’s durable StarTex upholstery with yellow stitching, and a yellow-accented steering wheel. Expect the Limited and Hybrid to return with leather upholstery and cabin trim in sliver for the Limited and blue for the Hybrid.

2021 Crosstrek rear seat

Every 2022 Crosstrek will again feature roomy front bucket seats and all but those in the Base will be heated. A power driver’s seat should again be optional for the Premium and standard on the Limited and Hybrid. Keyless access with pushbutton ignition should remain optional for the Premium and standard for the Sport, Limited, and Hybrid. The latter three should again be the sole Crosstreks with USB ports that also charge devices.  

Back seaters will again enjoy better-than-class-average legroom, even if the rear bench shortchanges on thigh support and taller folks will pine for a bit more headroom.  Curiously, Subaru has thus far equipped only the Limited and Hybrid will a rear center armrest.

2021 Crosstrek

Numerous generously sized bins and pockets will remain a cabin highlight and all ’22 Crosstreks will again have 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks. Gas-only models will return with 20.8 cubic feet of cargo volume with the seatbacks up, 55.3 cubic feet with them folded. Both figures are above average for the segment.

Making room for the battery pack requires a plastic housing that elevates the Hybrid’s cargo floor several inches. This reduces overall volume to 15.9 and 43.1 cubic feet, respectively, and raises Crosstrek’s otherwise low liftover height. A few of rivals are available with a power liftgate, but don’t expect this Subaru to gain that feature for 2022.

Any 2022 Subaru Crosstrek mechanical changes?

2021 Crosstrek Hybrid

Very unlikely. All models will return with four-cylinder gas engines that arrange the cylinders in horizonal opposition. Appreciated for its compactness and low center of gravity, this “boxer” design is used by Subaru in all its cars and crossovers.

Look for the 2022 Crosstrek Base and Premium grades to continue with a 2.0-liter engine of 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. (Think of torque as the force that gets a vehicle moving, horsepower as the energy that keeps it moving.) This 2.0-liter’s output will again be about par for base engines in the competitive set. A ’22 Base or Premium Crosstrek, however, should again feel underpowered. Road test one thoroughly to see if you can live with the tepid acceleration.

Expect the 2022 Base and Premium models to continue among the very few crossovers of any strip available with manual transmission, here a six-speed. It’s a fun way to feel more involved in the driving experience and it does enliven acceleration just a bit.

The lion’s share of Base and Premium Crosstreks will again be sold with the optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Subaru calibrates this CVT to approximate the stepped gear changes of a conventional automatic. It allows the driver to select fuel-saving Intelligent or throttle-sharpening Sport modes. And the Premium model will again get paddle shifters for a semblance of manual-type control.

But ultimately, the CVT throws a wet blanket on performance. It saps throttle response and allows the overly coarse engine to drone intrusively during acceleration. At a leisurely 9.1 seconds 0-60 mph, a 2022 Crosstrek Base or Premium with either transmission should again be among the slowest crossovers in the competitive set. And be advised that highway-speed passing and merging will again require careful planning.

Credit Subaru with recognizing the 2.0-liter’s shortcomings and introducing a more desirable alternative for model-year 2021: a 2.5-liter boxer borrowed from the Japanese automaker’s midsize Legacy sedan and Outback crossover. It’ll again be standard in ’22 Crosstrek Sport and Limited models, giving them 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. It links to the CVT with Intelligent and Sport modes and the paddle shifters.

2021 Crosstrek Sport

The 2.5 solves some of Crosstrek’s power deficiencies, but not all. Zero-60 drops to a more palatable 7.5 seconds, but there’s not enough power in reserve for truly assertive high-speed merging and overtaking. Worse, the CVT neuters even this engine’s ability to react quickly to throttle inputs from midrange speeds. And engine drone remains annoying, contributing another layer of noise to Crosstrek’s already intrusive wind rush and tire roar.   

The 2022 Crosstrek Hybrid will return a modified version of the 2.0-liter engine and combine it with electric-motor assist. Net output is 148 horsepower. Subaru doesn’t publish a torque figure, but with torque the key to acceleration, the electric motor’s ability to generate it instantaneously makes the Hybrid feel livelier than any other Crosstrek.

The Hybrid uses a CTV, too, (sans paddle shifters), but nonetheless furnishes alert midrange throttle response and confident passing power. It does 0-60 in a respectable 8.3 seconds, although it’s subject to the same invasive engine drone that plagues the gas-only models during rapid acceleration.

A corporate tie-in enables the Crosstrek Hybrid to share technology with the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. The Crosstrek Hybrid’s 8.8-kilowatt battery pack can draw enough initial charge from a residential or commercial outlet for 17 miles of travel solely on electricity. When that range is expended (or 65 mph exceeded), the Crosstrek plug-in automatically reverts to conventional-hybrid operation. Sensors automatically determine the optimal mix of gas and electric power and battery recharging is through regenerative braking and coasting.

Unlike some plug-in hybrids, the Crosstrek Hybrid doesn’t give its driver an EV button to lock in battery-only driving. It does, however, have a “B-range” shift mode to maximize regenerative engine braking.

Ride and handling should remain selling points for any 2022 Crosstrek. The rigid substructure teams with astute suspension tuning to furnish impressive absorbency even over deep ruts and sharp ridges. Cornering grip and balance is aided by standard active torque vectoring, which applies light brake pressure to the inside front wheel in a turn, pushing more power to the outside front wheel. Steering feel is firm and natural, and Crosstreks change direction confidently and remain true to their line even through bumpy turns.

2021 Crosstrek Sport

Every ’22 Crosstrek will again be surprisingly adept off pavement, too. Thank lavish ground clearance teamed with standard AWD. The system with manual transmission distributes torque 50:50 front to rear. On CVT-equipped models torque is automatically and continuously transferred to the tires with the best traction.

Also included with the CVT is Subaru’s driver-selectable X-Mode, which acts much like low-range gearing for extra tenacity off-road. The Sport should again get the automaker’s Dual-mode X-Mode with Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud settings.

Note that while most other plug-in hybrids achieve AWD with a dedicated electric motor to power the rear wheels as needed, the Crosstrek Hybrid retains the mechanical system used by its gas-only sibling.

Will 2022 Subaru Crosstrek fuel economy improve?

2021 Crosstrek Sport

Unlikely. Expect 2022 Crosstreks to repeat their model-year-2021 EPA ratings. That would place the gas models on par with AWD rivals, although many of those competitors deliver stronger acceleration than the Base and Premium Crosstreks.

Look for the ’22 Base and Premium grades to again rate a pleasing 28/33/30 mpg city/highway/combined with the CVT but a relatively lackluster 23/29/25 with the six-speed manual transmission. With the 2.5-liter engine and CVT standard, the 2022 Crosstrek Sport and Limited should continue at 27/34/29 mpg.

Expect the EPA to again rate ‘22 Crosstrek Hybrid the equivalent of 90 mpg of gasoline when operating on electricity alone and 35 mpg city-highway combined when running as a conventional hybrid. Note that at 13.2 gallons, the Hybrid’s gas tank holds 3.4 gallons less than the gas-only models’ although they share a roughly 480-mile range between fill ups.

Will the 2022 Subaru Crosstrek have new features?

2021 Crosstrek Multimedia Plus with 8-inch screen

Subaru may shuffle a few items among trim levels but probably won’t introduce new features. We applaud the automaker’s decision to equip even the Base Crosstrek with its respected EyeSight driver-assist system, although we’d urge it to make it available on models with manual transmission — and to expand availability of blind-spot detection.

Using dual forward-facing stereo cameras mounted at the top of the windshield, EyeSight includes autonomous emergency braking that can stop the Crosstrek to mitigate a frontal collision. It also comes with adaptive cruise control to maintain a set distance from traffic ahead. When engaged, the system can read pavement markings and make subtle steering corrections to help keep the crossover centered in its lane, even around gentle turns. Lane-departure warning with automatic steering correction is also included.

Another vital driver assist — blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection – has been standard only on the Crosstrek Limited and Hybrid models and optional for the Premium and Sport. Top competitors make this important safety adjunct standard across the board. We’d suggest Subaru follow suit on the 2022 Crosstrek.

For model-year 2021, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection was optional on Premium grades equipped with the CVT and on the Sport model. The assists were part of an option package that also included a power moonroof and keyless access with pushbutton ignition. The package cost $1,600 on the Sport but $1,995 for the Premium, where it also included a power driver’s seat.

Every Crosstrek will return with a rear-seat reminder that alerts the driver to check for children or pets before exiting. Exclusive again to the Hybrid will be Subaru’s Starlink Connected Services smartphone control. It lets the owner remotely start and adjust the climate system even with the engine off and to manage and monitor the plug-in charging schedule.

Rounding out available features, expect the power moonroof to be a stand-alone option for the ’22 Limited at around $1,000. Also available for the Limited should be a $2,395 package that includes the moonroof, imbedded navigation, and a Karman Kardon-branded audio upgrade with 432 watts and 8 speakers.

The sole option for the ’22 Crosstrek Hybrid should again be a $2,500 package that includes all that, plus a heated steering wheel.

How will 2022 Subaru Crosstrek prices be different?

2021 Crosstrek Sport

Along with popular rivals such as the Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Compass, and Honda HR-V, Crosstrek remains among the top sellers in one of the most congested and hotly contested vehicle segments. Subaru recognizes it’s a price-sensitive class and to its credit has kept Crosstrek increases modest. Returning 2021 models rose less than $200.   

With no major standard-equipment upgrades, assume a similarly conservative price hike for model-year 2022. That ought to keep Crosstrek competitive with AWD versions of most rivals, which typically charge extra for AWD. For reference, here are 2021 Crosstrek base prices, including Subaru’s $1,050 destination fee.

The 2021 Crosstrek Base trim was $23,295 with manual transmission and $24,645 with the CVT. The 2021 Premium started at $24,345 with manual and $25,695 with the CVT.

Base prices were $27,545 for the ’21 Crosstrek Sport and $29,045 for the ’21 Limited.

The 2021 Crosstrek Hybrid was priced from $36,395. Buyers of the 2022 Hybrid should again be eligible for a $4,502 federal tax credit, as well as additional state rebates up to $1,500. The Crosstrek Hybrid also qualifies for High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) permits in several states, including California, Maryland, and New York.

When will the 2022 Subaru Crosstrek come out?

2021 Crosstrek Sport

Look for a 2022 Crosstrek release date during the third quarter of 2021.

Best 2022 Subaru Crosstrek competitors

Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax and Trailblazer, Fiat 500X, Ford EcoSport, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Kona and Venue, Jeep Compass and Renegade, Mazda CX-3 and CX-30, Mini Cooper Countryman, Nissan Kicks and Rogue Sport, Toyota C-HR.

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About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]