2022 Subaru Crosstrek Outdoor: AWDsome

Strong points
  • Asymmetrical AWD
  • Comfortable interior
  • Good gas mileage despite AWD
Weak points
  • Smallish trunk
  • Gets pricey with Eyesight
Full report

If you’re lucky enough to establish yourself in a specific market and be known for something and known for something good, then you likely solidify yourself a solid following of loyal buyers and supporters: Well, Subaru’s done just that over the years.

With a lineup of vehicles that continue to impress and perform, no matter the shape/size (or exterior design … which we’ll talk about in a little bit), Subarus have always dominated when it comes to their all-wheel-drive system and all-weather performance/capabilities.

When the Crosstrek was first launched about 8 years ago, I remember attending the event and driving it for the first time. While it was much simpler in terms of interior design, it still got my sign of approval after spending a few days with it. Why? Because it drove and felt like every other Subaru I’d driven up to that point.

And it’s important to note that (full disclosure), my first vehicle was a 2006 Subaru Impreza, and my family’s car and the vehicle my newborn son came home from the hospital in was a 2005 Subaru WRX.

Subarus hold a special place in my life - and no matter how they’ve changed or evolved over the years, they continue to do so.

Aren’t all Subarus “Outdoor” Models?

Oh, what’s in a name, right? Well, Subaru has taken its vehicle naming to extremes as of late, it seems. Wilderness, Outdoor, Onyx, we could go on. What do they mean, really? Well, nothing more than aesthetics, so be honest. The naming doesn’t change the engine specs or the performance, but instead influences the exterior design and look of the vehicles.

Now, for the Crosstrek Outdoor, that means you get bigger, thicker plastic cladding around the wheel wells and beefier-looking fog light covers. It’s the only one in the Crosstrek lineup that looks that way.

And outfitted in Yellow Pearl like our tester was definitely helped those extra-large wheel well covers stand out that much more. It’s a great look for the Crosstrek and really helps drive home the idea that Subarus are made for weekend adventures and able to tackle any road you decide to journey on.

Photo: Miranda Lightstone

Rugged Inside Too

Now, one of the things we’ve always liked about Subarus is the simplicity of the interiors. Of course, some may feel that they were just too bare bones a few generations ago, but over the years they have improved significantly in terms of amenities without being overly complicated or over-designed inside.

A simple centre stack means ease of use, and easy-to-clean surfaces mean that taking your Subie to the lake for a fishing trip is a welcome weekend getaway that won’t result in lingering odours afterwards, since everything can be wiped down (especially with the optional rubber cargo-space liner).

Speaking of cargo space, the Crosstrek has over 1,500L of available space in the back, which is one of the largest in its segment when compared to the likes of the Chevy Trailblazer or Buick Encore.

Photo: Miranda Lightstone

The CVT can be Forgiven

That’s right: The continuous variable transmission is actually quite good. And in fact, Subaru has one of the most tolerable systems in the auto industry. Why? Because it feels and “performs” like a properly geared transmission. No drone and even the feel of gear changes (when there truthfully aren’t any).

Coupled with a 2.5L 4-cylinder boxer engine, the Crosstrek produces 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. This is more than enough power for the compact crossover, and it feels peppy without being overly zippy.

Now, the Outdoor comes equipped with Subaru’s Eyesight system as well (standard when the Outdoor trim is selected), which means you get the Japanese automaker’s active safety system that uses a pair of cameras pointed out the windshield.

This safety system is much more precise and functional in the winter months as opposed to laser systems used by others. The cameras are mounted in an area that can be easily cleaned with the windshield wipers, unlike bumper-mounted sensors/lasers.

Of course, Subaru’s best safety feature is its asymmetrical all-wheel-drive system. One of the very best AWD systems in the auto world, the 50/50 split makes all the difference and really keeps the Crosstrek grounded and stable.

Photo: Miranda Lightstone

Crosstrek FTW

The only real negative with the Subaru Crosstrek Outdoor with Eyesight is the final price tag. Spending close to $45k for a compact crossover that’s not overly luxurious seems like a little much. However, knowing what the Crosstrek has to offer in terms of safety, drivability and overall bang-for-your-buck still makes it a great option and well worth looking into.

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